What to Feed Rabbits in the Wild During Winter

Written by helen fitzgerald
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What to Feed Rabbits in the Wild During Winter
Improve the food supply for wild rabbits in your garden and surrounding parkland. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Wild rabbits exist right across the United States in rural areas and on the bordering grass and woodlands near suburbia. All rabbits are herbivores, eating only plant material, and the greater part of their diet is grass and hay, accompanied by large amounts of fresh water. Wild rabbits eat mostly wild grasses and naturally dried hay or dried grass. In the winter months grass can become scarce, and wild rabbits eat bark and twigs and can venture into gardens and parks in search of food.

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Supplying Hay

Rabbits have a very delicate digestive system requiring a balance of good bacteria, and their diet is imperative to a healthy digestive system. Long fibres such as are found in hay and grass are necessary for a rabbit's digestive tract, and that's why they eat so much grass and hay. Supplying piles of alfalfa hay that is high in calcium provides a natural source of fibre and nutrition for wild rabbits in winter and will also deter them from eating other plants in your garden.

Lawn Maintenance

During winter months leave the lawns slightly long, as this will provide natural feed for the wild rabbits, and even if the grass dies off they will consume it as hay. Plant lawn grasses that are hardy in winter months and do not die back easily due to frost to ensure there is grass all year round. The dying back of native grasses is the cause of food shortage in winter for wild rabbits.

Shrubbery

Planting low shrubs in patches or rows around the garden and on the edge of parks provides shelter and protection for the wild rabbits on the move. Leaving piles of leaf litter and twigs can also provides additional food and a place to shelter from predators while feeding. Wild rabbits will sometimes make a burrow under permanent wood piles.

Rabbit Pellets

Alfalfa hay pellets which contain seeds are the best food pellets for wild rabbits as they are a concentrated food source. You do not want wild rabbits to become dependent on your supply of food pellets, and they may also attract rodents, but in winter when other food supply is scarce they are most welcomed by the wild rabbits.

Vegetables

Wild rabbits will eats any green vegetables that you have in your garden if they are short of food in winter, and because only a small percentage of a rabbit's diet is diversified, it is not good for them to eat large amounts of green vegetables. You should put your vegetables in wire enclosures to deter wild rabbits from feeding there and have a supply of hay available close by as a healthier alternative.

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