Rabbits Eat Grass

With all the different dry foods, fancy types of hays and treats available for discerning rabbit owner to chose from sometimes the simplest diet options get overlooked. Grass is the most natural of foods for a rabbit to eat and is often readily available at very low (if any) cost.

It is tasty, if you are a rabbit, and will often tempt rabbits who turn their noses up in disgust at hay. It is also high in fibre, great for wearing down teeth and the rabbit digestion system has been perfected to digest it.

So why do many rabbits never get to eat it?

Grass in TraysThere is often a worry among rabbit owners that fresh foods can upset the gut and cause diarrhoea. It’s true, if you suddenly gave your rabbit a large pile of grass it probably would upset their gut, but a large pile of a different brand of dry food or treats would have the same effect. New foods need to be introduced to rabbits gradually. Start by feeding small quantities of grass daily and build up the quantity gradually over10 days of more.

If you are picking grass, rather than letting your rabbit graze, then use scissors or pull it up. Do not feed lawn mower clippings. The heat and crushing action causes the grass to start fermenting which will upset the gut if eaten.

Don’t have a lawn? No problem. Grass is easy to grow and can be grown in trays, window boxes or pots on your window sill.  Put some general purpose compost (available at garden centres/DIY shops) in a tray or pot and sprinkle grass seed on top. Water if it gets dry and wait.

You can either cut the grass or put the whole tray/pot in your rabbits pen.  If you put the tray in your rabbits pen take it out again after they’ve eating it and allow it regrow. In a few weeks it will be ready for them to eat again. As well as being tasty it is an excellent form of enrichment to prevent your rabbit getting bored.

Normal lawn grass seed is fine to use but you you can also buy Timothy grass seed or seed/weed mixes that contain other plants such clover, dandelion and thistle (as shown below).

Grass/Weed Mix

The different plants help provide different vitamins & minerals, mimicking a wild rabbit’s diet which contains a varied assortment of plants in addition to grass.

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26 Responses to “Rabbits Eat Grass”

  1. Debbie Wilkinson says:

    Hi
    Please can you tell me the best place to get:
    seed/weed mixes that contain other plants such clover, dandelion and thistle
    I would like to grow some grass for my rabbits.
    Thanks
    Debbie

  2. Tamsin says:

    Hi Debbie,

    The most varied mixes I’ve found are on ebay, search for “rabbit seed mix” they are also sometimes listed as mixes for tortoises or other herbivores.

    You can also buy seeds here: https://www.thehayexperts.co.uk/Grow+Your+Own.16/

    It’s the wrong time of year now but when it gets a bit warmer you can collect seeds directly from dandelions and thistles and they’ll grow just as well as seed you buy.

    Tamsin

  3. Kylie says:

    I just love rabbit and I feed them till their hearts content. I am actually, giving them fresh vegetables everyday but according to what I have read a few weeks ago. Rabbit should have at least 75% of hay so I always make sure that they have enough hay supply in their rabbit hutch.

  4. Korina says:

    Thanks for the tips!

    I am a new rabbit mom, and i am very anxious about feeding my 2 rabbits well. I just have a question. My partner and i have build a house for them and on the roof we have planted grass.

    Today we opened the roof for the first time for them and they went grazy! They just couldnt stop eating. The one is 1 month old and the other 2.

    I am afraid that too much grass is going to harm them, so i closed the roof. My question now for you is that:

    Do you think i should let them decide by themselves how much grass to eat, or leave them on the roof with the grass for a couple of minutes a day?

    ps i read that diarrhea can be deadly for the rabbits..

    Thank you very much in regard, you have helped a new mom a lot already!!
    Korina

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Korina,

      I would limit the grass, particularly for such young bunnies. It’s important to make any changes to a rabbit’s diet gradually, so start with a little each day and build up the amount gradually over a few weeks.

      Tamsin

  5. Marco says:

    I know you say not to feed them grass clippingsfrom a mower due to the issues with fermenting, but what if I were to dry the clippings as hay would be dried. Could this be used as a direct substitute for hay? Also, is a diet of hay and fresh grasses/weeds/garden wastes sufficient for a rabbit? Many sources insist on pellets, but I feel that there must be an alternative.

    • Tamsin says:

      It might be okay if you spread them out immediately to dry. I’d try it with a small amount and see how it look once dry. The other option would be to use something like a strimmer so the grass didn’t get quite so chewed up. I cut a bowl a day with scissors.

      Yes, rabbits can cope fine on a diet without pellets, it’s usually referred to as the ‘hay and veggies’ diet. Although veggies can also mean weeds. The important thing is to feed a wide range of veggies/plants so your rabbits get a full range of different vitamins & minerals.

  6. Jacob Gjesdahl says:

    Hi. Me and my girlfriend are trying to raise bunnies on our lawn and are trying to get them to have babies. Is it possible that bunnies have been bred to pellets in the past hundred years so that they now have trouble having babies on just their natural diet? We’ve had 3 failed breedings already between 2 does, which seems unusual…

    • Tamsin says:

      I’d strongly advise against this. It’s very easy for breeding to get out of hand. Rescue centres often have to deal with people that started off with two and now have hundreds. I’m not exaggerating, I think the total of the last one I heard about way 174 and that didn’t include the offspring of the females that gave birth after arriving at the rescue. In the US there is a big problem with feral colonies, where people have let a few bunnies breed our of hand in their garden and they’ve ended up populating the whole neighbourhood!

      So, nope, breeding is not usually a problem except on an individual basis, for example STDs can cause infertility as can uterine cancer. If you really want to breed you need to get rabbits from a responsible breeder that will give you advise on genetics, backup and talk you through all the issues.

  7. jolo says:

    May i ask a question… I live in a place almost surrounded with grass. I don’t know what kind of grass it is, if it is cogon or carabao grass. I feed it to my rabbit only a single straw, without drying it up but washed. Can I feed lots of it to my rabbits? Please answer…

    • Tamsin says:

      I’m not sure about the different types of grass, they aren’t something we get in the UK. A good way to work out is if it’s okay for horses. Grass that is good for horses is generally good for bunnies. You’ll need to increase the amount you feed gradually, so just start with a little bit each day and build up over a few weeks, keeping an eye that your rabbit doesn’t get soft droppings which is a sign you’re going too fast.

  8. lisa miller says:

    I am curious, and have been trying to no avail to find the answer to my question. I own angora rabbits, which are prone to wool block. If I let them graze, will this help to prevent wool block, or do I still need to feed them dry hay also? Any info would be great. Thanks.

    • Tamsin says:

      Grass is just as good as hay, as it contains all the same fibre that helps move things through the gut. I would say grass might be even better as it keeps the gut more hydrated and one of the issues with blockages can be food etc. becomes compacted and dried out making it hard to move through the gut.

      I tend to provide hay too as a convenience just in case they eat up all the grass but Scamp won’t bother with hay when grass is available instead.

      If you aren’t keeping your Angoras for wool/showing, and you find they have frequent gut issues, you could consider trimming them. I know many pet angoras do this particularly underneath to reduce matting and it would of course reduce the amount of fluff they could potentially ingest.

  9. Holly says:

    Can i give my rabbits grass instead of hay cos we don’t have a car so we can’t buy hay!?

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Holly, Yes, grass is just as good as hay for rabbit. Introduce it slowly though so your rabbit’s digestive system can adjust to the new food gradually.

  10. Ashley says:

    Hi I was wondering if I could just give grass from my lawn to my rabbits instead of giving them hay (I may give them hay every once in a while) but do you think this would be fine? I also will give them their pellets and veggies too.

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Ashley, yes, that’s absolutely fine, just cut it with scissors for them rather than a mower and don’t use any chemicals on it. You’ll need to build up the amount gradually so their digestive system can adjust. In summer I feed Scamp grass from our lawn, when it stops growing fast enough to produce enough for him in winter I swap back to hay.

      Rabbits need hay or grass available all the time so it doesn’t hurt to have hay available as a backup.

  11. Laurie says:

    What about tics we have wanted to put our rabbits cage on the ground so they can eat grass. Do we have to worry about ticks?

    • Tamsin says:

      It depends where you are and whether ticks are a problem in your garden. I would think most lawns are tick free (certainly in the UK) but I’m not sure about other countries. Try asking your local vet practice for advice – they’ll have local knowledge.

  12. Nichola says:

    Our rabbits usually go mad for there nuggets (they have hay always available and also grass when they come out). One of the rabbits has had a mild infection around her lady bits from pulling out some fur (she malts once year), but that has virtually cleared up after taking her to vets and giving her antibiotics and cleaning the area twice a day. Anyway both rabbits over the last 4 days have hardly had any nuggets but have ate grass when they have been out. The amount of wee’s and poo’s has also gone down, but not stopped. They seem fine enough in themselves, they arent charging around but with the hot weather they have seemed more than happy to lay outside than be running around.

    I am just really wanting to know, should we be concerned that they aren’t eating nuggets and obviously not eating as much as there wee and poo has reduced? Is there anything we can do? We have some Fibreplex (I think that’s what it is called – it encourages the rabbits digestive system to start working again) from the vet for the rabbit with the infection incase she stopped eating, but she is eating grass, it doesn’t seem necessary to be giving that.

    Many Thanks

  13. Tamsin says:

    Hi Nichola,

    I think I’d get them a vet check up just in case. Usually you’d expect poo and wee to increase if they are eating lots of grass as it’s high in fibre and has a high water content.

    Are they used to eating grass? A sudden change from one food to another can trigger digestive problems.

    The vet can give them an injection to stimulate their appetite and encourage gut movement, the fibreplex certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    Tamsin

  14. Micala says:

    Hi, we got a two year old netherland dwarf about two weeks ago. We were told to feed her pellets. I really did not know that there were different kinds of pellets, so i gave her the ones that came with the cage we bought, which had other stuff in them like dried corn and such. Well, these seemed to upset her digestive system so i stopped giving them to her. She eats hay and drinks water fine and then i tried introducing just the plain pellets to her, but this seemed to make her sick too. I am not sure if it is just because she is not used to this kind of pellet or what…and i also have given her some veggies but i am afraid to give her too much of anything. Any suggestions? When you say to introduce new veggies or weeds at a slow pace…what does that mean?? Like one clover a day or three or four? or like one celery top a day for a week and then two a day for a week?? not really sure how to do this and i don’t want her to starve “(

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Micala,

      First don’t panic, as long as she eats plenty of hay she won’t starve. Rabbit’s digestion is designed for grass and they are great at processing all the goodness they can out of it.

      Which pellets and how much did you give her? And when you say she got sick, what were the symptoms? I would suggest starting very slowly with pellets if she’s had trouble, so you could start with one pellet on the first day, two on the second day, three on the third and so on. For a netherland you won’t need many pellets in total – build up to about 10-15g per day and then see how she does on that. The problem may just be too much of a change if you gave her a bowl/handful in one go.

      I would try and introduce one new thing at a time, then you can tell which (if any) cause a problem. So it might be better to hold off on any new veggies (just feed what you have already) and then work on pellets. Clover is quite small so yes, I’d probably try three of four and if that had no negative effect the same the next day or a little more. If the increases over the next few days had no effect you could build up a bit faster. One 6″ dandelion leaf would be another plant to start with. Bramble/blackberry leaves are also good for rabbits with digestion issues as they are nice and fibrous (start with one leaf and work up).

      What you could introduce now would be some different hays, for example you could try readi grass, oat hay, meadow hay etc. If you can get it you could also look for dry plant/herb mixes for example dandelion sometimes they sell hay with it mixed in too. These are generally very gentle on the digestion and add a bit of diversity to the diet as different hays/dried plants have different vitamin/mineral contents.

      I hope that helps :)

      Tamsin

  15. Stephen Blakely says:

    Hi there. Just wondering, would it be safe to give rabbits grass cut with a push mower (eg. http://www.diy.com/nav/garden/garden-power-tools/lawnmowers/cylinder_lawnmowers/B-and-Q-Hand-Push-Cylinder-Lawnmower-12698600)? As it wouldn’t have the heat or chemicals, but does seem to crush the grass a bit (though probably not as much as a powered mower). Many thanks.

  16. D Dis says:

    Can you supplement dry grass for hay?

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