What kind of food do rabbits eat?

Answer

Rabbits eat plant material such as grasses, leafy shrubs and leaves. The House Rabbit Society explains that wild rabbits also consume seeds, fruit, bark and twigs, although leafy greens dominate their diet. The society recommends a similar diet for pet rabbits and emphasizes the importance of grasses. Hay is particularly important because it benefits rabbits' digestive tracts and keeps their teeth sharp.

Although wild rabbits consume alfalfa in small amounts, many rabbit owners accidentally harm their pets by providing them with too much of this protein- and calorie-rich grass. According to the House Rabbit Society, diets of varied hays and grasses are more healthful. Variety is important in domesticated rabbit diets because rabbits that enjoy a variety of tastes and food textures are less likely to grow bored and damage their surroundings by gnawing on them.

Rabbits consume their own feces, a practice called coprophagy, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. After eating, rabbits pass soft stool pellets containing high proportions of undigested vegetable matter. When they eat those soft pellets, their digestive systems break down that undigested matter and pass the remainder as hard fecal pellets.

Coprophagy reduces the amount of time wild rabbits spend exposed to predators while distracted by food, the department said. Once they are nestled in their burrows, the rabbits have ample time to eat their soft pellets and extract the essential vitamins and minerals contained therein.

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