Do Rabbits Need to Eat Grass?

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No, but it’s a great, cost effective addition to their diet. They’ll still need hay though.

When I was a kid, our rabbits used to eat a lot of grass. We’d pick swathes of it for them every morning. But it was more of a cost thing – why pay for veggies when the grass is just sitting there?

My dad made a big run for them and he’d move it around the garden to save on mowing the lawn. It was great for my dad because the dandelions were always kept at bay. This is not a good method for anyone precious about their lawn (my dad just wanted it not to be a jungle), because rabbits, er, poop. A lot.

I also used to go to the greengrocers and ask for the weird veggies they couldn’t sell, like cauliflowers that were 99% leaf.

And to think I grow my rabbits fresh herbs in an Aerogarden now.

Can rabbits eat grass?

Yup, they love it. I was really excited about moving to a house with a garden because my 10 year old rabbit would finally know what it was like outside.

As it turns out, she was underwhelmed. Humans have a habit of projecting their ideas onto animals. I thought she’d like being outside, but she really didn’t care.

She did like the grass though. She’d never eaten it before, or walked on it, but she really liked it. She was NOT happy about wind (and it was the gentlest of gentle breezes), but god, she loved grass. And dandelions.

I imagine the novelty of being totally surrounded by food was exciting. I mean, I’d quite like that.

Like any new food, you need to introduce your rabbit to grass slowly. it’s more nutrient dense than hay and can cause digestive upsets. Any greedy buns should have access to grass limited at first.

How to collect grass for your rabbits

If you don’t want to put your rabbit outside, then just pick a few handfuls of grass, wash it, dry it off as much as you can (I like to stand outside the back door and shake it).

Don’t give your rabbits lawn clippings that have been mown. They have a tendency to overeat them, and clippings ferment quickly and cause gas in the gut. It’s best to pick fresh grass every time rather than risk GI stasis.

I always compost my grass clippings, since both my parents were horsey in their youth and have instilled a weird fear of grass clippings in me. A small handful when they’re very fresh is probably fine, but I’m not risking it.

Is grass better than hay for rabbits?

No.

I like to include grass in the 10% of their diet that comes from veggies. Grass is an alternative to veggies, not hay. This may not be strictly true, but it removes any idea that hay and grass are interchangeable.

Hay is less nutritious but has more fibre, and helps keep bun’s digestive system working properly.

If your rabbit doesn’t like eating hay, I have a few tricks for convincing them to try it in this post, but subbing in grass is not the answer.

Can you let your rabbit outside to eat grass?

Yes, if you make sure they’re safe.

  • Make sure you remove any poisonous plants (if you’re not sure, don’t risk it).
  • Your rabbit needs to be supervised all the time.
  • You need to make sure the garden is enclosed. If you’re not sure, your rabbit needs to go in an x-pen. I used to put my elderly bun outside in her x-pen until it became abundantly clear that she wasn’t moving anywhere quickly.
  • If it’s sunny, make sure your rabbit has somewhere shady they can retreat to – a box or a towel over the pen is ample). We don’t always appreciate how much brighter it is outside, and it can be a big adjustment to our rabbit’s eyes when they first go outside.

Can rabbits live off grass?

Well, I suppose they could, but it’s not advisable – like how humans could technically live off potatoes and butter. Wild rabbits live primarily off grass, but that’s because they have to. Given the opportunity, they’ll eat other veggies too, and whatever else they find.

Your rabbits diet should consist of:

  • 85% hay
  • 5% pellets
  • 10% veggies (can include grass).

Can rabbits eat all kinds of grass?

Yes, but if you have a weird species of grass (rather than just regular lawn grass), it’s always best to research that specific type. Make sure that the grass you’re giving your rabbit is free from pesticides and other nasties.

Final thoughts

A lot of people (usually non-bunny people) have this innate instinct that rabbits eat grass. It’s usually something people who don’t think rabbits should be kept inside use as a counter argument – ‘but how are they going to get enough grass if they’re inside all the time?’.

It’s just…not a thing. I’ve had rabbits live their whole lives never eating grass, and they’ve all managed to make double digits without no health issues.

However, if you’re on a budget and you have grass in your garden, feel free to add it your rabbits veggies, just be sure to wash it first. It’s far better for them that sugary veggies like carrots. As long as you introduce it slowly and don’t use it as a replacement for hay, it’s a great addition to a rabbit’s diet.

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