Foraging for Rabbits – Dandelion, Nettle, Blackberry, Plantain & Herb Robert

We’ve had some lovely weather recently (and some rain) and everywhere is bursting with new growth and tasty looking plants. Foraging has really kicked off amongst the rabbit community and that’s great because it has so many benefits for rabbits – all the different tastes, textures and smells make great enrichment and leafy greens full of different vitamins and minerals are good for their digestion and physical health. Plus, it’s good fun for humans too.

I wrote a post on 5 easy to ID weeds ages ago, and now I want to expand and cover some more. So here are five more rabbit safe weeds and a video at the end to help you find it easier to identify them.

Dandelion

forage dandelion

This is a dandelion  (Taraxacum officinale), they are very common and grow in all sorts of places – you might even have them in your garden. Each stem has a single bright yellow flower on the end and when the flowers die they are replaced with a pompom shaped seed head. The bright green leaves and flower stems all radiate out from a central point. Rabbits can eat the leaves, stems and flowers, and you can dry the leaves for eating later.

Stinging Nettle

stinging nettle

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) grow in big swathes often at the bottom of hedges or tucked under trees. They usually grow in big clumps, around 2 to 3 foot tall. Even if you don’t feed them to your rabbit it’s handy to be able to identify them as they’ll cause a stinging rash if you accidentally brush against them. That doesn’t deter rabbits though; they seem immune to the stings and consider these a tasty snack. They have pointed leaves serrated along the edges; the tassels near the top are flowers. You’ll need gloves and long sleeves to pick them, but they also dry well for winter.

Blackberry

blackberry

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus), or brambles as they as sometimes called, are one of the best plants for rabbits – they have tasty fibrous leave that are great for those with sensitive tummies. They can often be found in hedgerows and under trees. They have thick leaves on long arching stems with lots of spikes (be careful when cutting them). The leave in the photo are quite bright green and shiny as they are new growth. They get darker and duller as they age. From May they’ll have white/pale pink flowers, and as the petals fall away, small green berries appear that grow and turn shiny black. Rabbits can eat the stems and the leaves (they’ll even manage those prickles) and the leaves dry well for winter.

Plantain (Ribwort)

plantain types

This is plantain (Plantago lancelolata/major), it often grows among grass and along side grassy paths, so the long flower heads can make it easier to spot, they are a long stem with a little tuft on the end. Plantain is sometimes called ribwort because the thick leaves have rib like veins running down the length of them. If you tear a leaf you’ll find they are stringy a bit like celery. That is narrow leaf plantain on the left and broad leaf plantain on the right, the leaves are very similar accept short and fat instead of long and thin. Both can be fed fresh or dried for later.

Herb Robert

forage herb robert

Lastly, this is Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) and its part of the geranium family. It’s little less common, at least where I live, but the bright pink – five petal – flowers are easy to spot. The leaves remind me a little bit of parsley in shape, with lots of splits and they sometimes have a red tinge to the edge. Like the other plants you can feed it fresh or dry.

Video

To make identifying them a little easier, here is a video showing clips of each plant:

Let me know if the video is helpful and I’ll add some more to my to do list.

Do you forage? What are your bunnies favourite plants to pick?

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One Response to “Foraging for Rabbits – Dandelion, Nettle, Blackberry, Plantain & Herb Robert”

  1. Edward Dietrich says:

    Thank you for the posting Ms. Tamsin. I try to pick fresh plants for my rabbit Blackberry every day. These include dandelion, clover, plantain and grasses. There are several plants which I do not have here in my yard but I hope to discover others which she can eat. I have gone through your postings to help in making my rabbit’s life more pleasant. (She was abandoned on my property thirteen months ago.)
    Terribly sorry about the loss of Scamp.
    Sincerely,
    Ed Dietrich
    Queens Co., NYC

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