What Food Do Wild Rabbits Eat? (Facts & Feeding Guide)

Food For Wild Rabbits

For most pet rabbits, the food source is easy because they have an owner that provides them with meals daily. But wild rabbits have a different situation. They do not have unlimited choices. They are known to graze for food from dawn until dusk. 

Wild rabbits are classified the same as pet rabbits; they are all herbivores. This means their food is based on plants and grasses containing fiber. The fiber helps their stomach easily break down all the food they consume. 

Now, you might wonder what other kinds of food wild rabbits eat. If you suddenly become the parent of a wild rabbit, if you are planning to adopt a wild rabbit, if you often see a wild rabbit in your yard, and if you want to understand the organic lifestyle of your pet rabbit, keep on reading.

Feeding Wild Rabbit

Rabbits are known as sociable animals. That is why many pet owners have tried to adopt rabbits as their pets for the past years. These pets are also great companions since they love cuddling. However, regarding their diet, rabbits tend to have sensitive stomachs because of how their digestive system works. For that reason, some of the foods are unsafe for them to intake.

As a pet lover, feeding animals is fun, especially if you see them enjoying the pieces of food you offer them. But when it comes to feeding animals in the wild, you might wanna consider giving them food. 

Some people mistake wild rabbits for carnivorous wild animals. That is why when they see one, they feed on the rabbit with some meat. But according to Peta, meat is one of the foods you should avoid feeding herbivore animals, even if they are wild.

In addition, according to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, feeding wild animals is not recommended. That is because some types of food, like pieces of bread, are unsuitable for the animal’s natural diet. 

Feeding will also disrupt their instinct to hunt food because you provide them with an easy way to find meals. Hence, they will only rely on the food scraps you offer them.

Here are the other reasons why feeding wild animals are not ideal:

The Wild Rabbit Can Have Digestive Problems

Since you give them food that is not part of their natural diet. Like other rabbits, unknown nutrients can cause problems in their digestive system. The wild rabbit will have difficulty eating food when their stomach is upset. Therefore they will refuse to eat for a few days. If the wild rabbit is familiar with your backyard and you always see them, try to keep an eye on them. And if they show signs of digestive issues, contact a government official or veterinarian that can handle a wild rabbit to provide treatment immediately. 

Signs of Digestive Problems:

The Wild Rabbit Can Be Aggressive

Although rabbits are generally friendly animals, some of the rabbits that grow in the wild tend to be aggressive. That is because of the natural habitat where they belong, where hierarchy is instilled.  And if you are trying to feed an aggressive animal, there is a chance that the rabbit will bite you. 

The rabbit might also think that you are a threat in their territory, especially if the rabbit has a dominant personality. Most wild animals have territorial attitudes making them aggressive to newcomers, even to humans. 

The Wild Rabbit Can Have Bacteria / Virus

Another thing you should remember in wild rabbits is that they can be carriers of viruses and bacteria. By trying to feed them, especially through hand-feeding, the animal can pass on the virus to you. Or if you have pet animals in your house, your pet can also acquire the disease-causing health risk in the household. 

According to some reports,  there are known diseases in animals that can be passed on to humans. So to avoid these risks, refrain yourself from feeding wild rabbits. 

Finding Food for Wild Rabbits

You don’t have to worry about food sources for wild rabbits. Since these kinds of animals grow outside shelters or cages, they have their instinct to find food. In fact, when they are sleeping, some of the rabbits have learned how to sleep with their eyes open. This helps them survive daily in the wild and immediately escape threats from predators. 

Since they are plant-based eaters, most of their diet will consist of plants and grasses in the area. So if you think there are some wild rabbits in your area, avoid putting pesticides in the plants in your backyard. This is to help wild rabbits acquire toxicity from eating pesticides in the plants. 

But if you are growing vegetation, wild rabbits become some sort of a pest. Just put up tall fences surrounding your crops so they cannot eat or destroy the plants. 

Foods that Wild Rabbits Eat

Wood Branches/Twigs

Rabbits enjoy chewing on most types of wood. That is because it helps wild rabbits improve their dental health. Since they grow in the wild, their natural way of cleaning their teeth is chewing on hard foods such as twigs. According to the Monster Pet Vet article, chewing is part of an oral exercise on animals like rabbits. In addition, this is also an activity for them when they are bored. 

Since rabbits need a lot of fiber, most food they try to find in the wild is fiber-rich. Having wooden twigs around helps the rabbits to get a cheap and easily replenished source of nutrients to sustain their needs. Wood twigs are also good for their digestion. Hence, the wild rabbit will digest the pieces of twigs well. 

Here are some of the tree twigs that Wild Rabbit eat:

  • Birch
  • Blackberry
  • Fir tree
  • Hazel
  • Hawthorn
  • Maple
  • Pear
  • Raspberry
  • Spruce tree
  • Willow

Pine Needles

Another food that wild rabbits will try to eat is pine needles. As stated by some reports, they come from pine trees and range in size from 3 to 5 inches. This type of plant is commonly seen in deep forest green. They are thin and long needles that vary slightly from different types of variety. This depends on the region in which they grow. These animals have a strong pine scent and a resinous flavor that can be quite biting.

In the wild, pine needles can be foraged by wild rabbits throughout the entire year, especially if their area has many Pine trees. Moreover, this is typically grown worldwide in evergreen trees or forests. Pine needles can benefit wild rabbits because they contain Vitamin C, which alleviates congestion and helps against other respiratory problems. They are known to have wound healing, disinfectant, and decongestant properties.

Plant Seedlings

A seedling or plant’s sprout can be defined as a young plant developed from seed or embryo. The development of a seedling starts with the germination of a seed. Wild rabbits love eating these tiny plants. 

Seedlings also have health benefits, especially if it is a seedling from the nutritional fruit of vegetables. This type of food is usually found in gardens and landscapes. That is why some farmers consider wild animals like rabbits a kind of pest because it destroys young vegetation plants. 

Take note that seedlings are different from seeds. Seeds are part of a grown plant, and some of it is dangerous for rabbits, such as apple and avocado seed, since they contain toxic content. 

Here is the list of seedlings the wild rabbit eats:

  • Weeping Willows
  • American Sycamore
  • Cilantro
  • Borage
  • Hackberry
  • Jewelweed
  • Sugar Maple
  • Silver Maple
  • Mesquite
  • White Mulberry
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Pear
  • Pigweed
  • Plantain
  • Purslane


Wild Rabbits love foddering on shrubs. This type of food is easy to locate for them since it is grown on almost every corner of the area. The shrub is defined as a medium-sized plant that is mostly grown near wild plants. Or sometimes, people purposely plant them outside their houses for decoration purposes. 

That is why it can be a severe nuisance to some homeowners and gardeners because wild animals eat shrubs. Some rabbits see certain plants as so tasty and addictive that they can take residence in areas where they see their favorite shrubs.

Foods that Wild Rabbits Eat in Captivity

There are times when wild rabbits need to be captive for many reasons, such as health treatment. Moreover, some wild rabbits also don’t have a natural instinct. Hence it will be a dangerous world outside because predators can hunt them. That is why captivity is the option for this type of wild rabbit. There are several government and non-government agencies that are responsible for taking care of wild rabbits in danger. 

However, there are also times when you can adopt them through legal papers. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), there will be terms and conditions such as your capability, responsibility, and the location of the rabbit’s new shelter. This is to ensure that the wild rabbit will not be neglected. Now, if you are one of the adopters, you might wonder what food captive rabbits eat. 

As a new rabbit owner, you must remember that feeding a rabbit, especially from the wild, is not easy. Since their digestion might be sensitive and their diet is used to natural foods from the wild. To avoid complications, consult with local veterinarians that know about wild rabbits. As well as do a proper transition of foods to gradually introduce new nutrients.  

To guide you better, here is the list of diets you can offer to a wild rabbit captive.


Most rabbits’ primary source of nutrients comes from hays. According to The Educated Rabbit report, almost 75% of their diet is hays. That is because it provides rich fiber content for the rabbit’s body. There are different types of hays; grass, alfalfa, timothy, and out hays. 

You can select which type best suits the captive wild rabbits. Or if you want to mix a variety of hays, it is also ideal since it can provide vast nutrients. It will be an enjoyable food for the rabbits since they can have food options. For a feeding guide, provide fresh rabbit hays every day. Do not overfeed them to avoid upset stomach and other digestive issues. 

Rabbit Pellets

Rabbit pellets are another option for you in feeding captive rabbits. Since this type of food is specifically manufactured to reach the desired nutrients for each rabbit. The rabbit will mostly like pellets because they have a strong smell and taste that suits their pallet. But be careful when choosing a brand for rabbit pellets. 

There are many available commercial rabbit foods in the market, but choose the type that can benefit your rabbit. Some of the pellets also have poor nutrition and can be salty just to suit the taste of rabbits. 

To know what brand is best for your pet, try and let them eat a few pellets. If there is an improvement or they don’t experience adverse effects, the food is good for their body. Look at the texture of their poop as well. If it appears soft, change the brand immediately because it suggests disruption in the stomach.


Fruit is a great food that you can add to the diet of the captive wild rabbit since most fruits offer great benefits such as vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Take note that when giving fruits, slice them in small pieces so the rabbit can chew them easily. This can also help them avoid choking hazards from swallowing the food. In addition, not all fruits are safe for rabbits because some contain a high amount of sugar that can lead to obesity for animals. 

Here is the list of safe fruits for Wild Rabbits:


For humans, vegetables have health advantages because of the number of nutrients they can give. That is why offering a captive wild rabbit small pieces of veggies is also recommended. It can do wonders in their body since it is packed with minerals and vitamins. Moreover, veggies can also be additional nourishment for your rabbit aside from the usual food they will eat, like hays and pellets. 

When feeding a wild rabbit with vegetables, remember to introduce them to the new food slowly. For example, add two to three veggie pieces along with the hays or pellets. If you think they like the veggie, gradually increase the amount weekly and add another new food to their meal. 

But immediately remove the vegetable from their diet when the rabbit starts showing stomach ache symptoms such as fever and diarrhea. 

This might suggest that their body is unsuitable for that kind of nourishment. If you want to know more about the food for a captive wild rabbit, you can ask the local veterinarian what is a balanced diet for them. They can guide you and your rabbit into a healthy and wealthy lifestyle. 

Here is the list of vegetables for Wild Rabbits:

Key Takeaways

  • Wild rabbits hunt for their food, especially from dawn until dusk. This is to avoid contact with predators and animals that see them as prey. 
  • Wild rabbits are not carnivores but are classified as herbivores like rabbit pets. Hence, their meal is plant-based, and they need fiber-rich food to help improve their digestive function.
  • Feeding wild animals like rabbits is not recommended because it can destroy their natural instinct to hunt food. Moreover, several reasons can also affect you and your rabbit when you start feeding them. First, wild rabbits can have digestive problems because they are unfamiliar with the nutrients. Second, rabbits can be aggressive because of their territorial behavior. And last, they can get past diseases or bacteria to humans and other animals. 
  • In the wild, most rabbits started to learn to sleep while their eyes were open. This is a defense mechanism for the animal in case a threat or emergency occurs.
  • Wild rabbits are sometimes considered animal pests on vegetation and plants because they eat seedlings and crops. 
  • Here is the list that most Wild Rabbits eat; wood branches/twigs, pine needles, fruit/vegetable seedlings, and shrubs.
  • Here is the list that you can feed on to captive Wild Rabbits; hays, pellets, fruits, and vegetables.
  • When it comes to feeding captive wild rabbits, the proper transition is recommended because their natural diet is mostly from forests, such as grass and shrubs. It’s important to introduce them to new nutrients so that they will not have any complications. 
  • Wild rabbits can be captive because they have health issues and can no longer live in the wild. If they are left in the wild, there is a possibility they could be a target of other wild animals. And it will just cause harm to the life of the rabbit. 

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