There is no denying that rabbits have a healthy appetite and it’s great for us owners to be able to feed our pets on a budget. One way that we might consider doing this is to collect food directly from nature (after all our pet rabbits are anatomically the same as their wild relatives) with this in mind, is it be OK to pick grass for a rabbit?
You can pick grass to feed to your rabbit, however, picked or cut grass should be fed immediately after picking with leftovers removed immediately after the rabbit has finished. Lawnmower clippings should not be fed to rabbits as they ferment more quickly and can cause digestive issues.
Fresh grass is a great cheap food for a rabbit but there are a few things to consider before running outside and collecting some for your own pet.
Why Is Grass Good For Rabbits?
In the wild, grass is a staple part of a rabbits diet, its coarse texture and high fiber content helps a rabbit keep its teeth in check. It’s also perfect for keeping the digestive system moving.
Our domesticated pet rabbits also enjoy fresh grass, especially when they can graze as nature intended but even failing that, it’s perfectly fine to give your rabbit some handfuls of grass from a yard or garden.
However, as mentioned, there are a couple of considerations before offering picked or cut grass. The first being that unlike pet store bought dried grasses and hays which are preserved during the drying process and can keep for a long time, fresh grass spoils very quickly.
Though rabbits have good instincts and noses for knowing food is bad and will be unlikely not eat grass that has begun to ferment, it’s still a good idea to remove what is left as a precaution after the rabbit has had its fill.
Another thing to remember is that grass treated with chemicals such as weed killers will pose a serious poisoning threat to rabbits.
Always be mindful of where you pick your grass and ensure it’s from a location that you know is safe. Grass from your own garden provided that the lawn is poison-free is perfectly adequate.
As tempting as it may be if you are out and about to pick some beautiful, fresh-looking grass or vegetation for your rabbit, taking unnecessary chances on health is not worth the risk. Unless you can be absolutely certain that the grass is free from harmful chemicals, you should not feed it to your pet.
Allowing a rabbit to free roam in a garden is also a good way to allow access to fresh grass. Of course, if you intend to do this you will need to make sure that there are no escape routes and that the area is safe from predators.
If you are unable to escape-proof an entire garden, purchasing a large rabbit run is the best way to allow a pet some grass while keeping it safe and secure.
Rabbits are proficient diggers (some may even climb) so garden runs should have a closable lid. To stop them digging out (or a predator digging in) the edges of the run should also be positioned on lengths of chicken wire.
Bricks or slabs placed around the outside of the run will also secure it to the ground and prevent predators from lifting it or toppling it over.
Can I Feed a Rabbit Lawn Mower Clippings?
Many pet owners may think that offering grass clippings from a lawnmower to a rabbit is a good idea and while you could be forgiven for thinking this too, grass clippings may make a rabbit sick.
The reason for this is that when it passes through a lawn mower’s rotor blades the grass picks up heat and is ‘mulched’ which speeds up the fermentation process.
If you do plan to feed grass to a rabbit only use that which has been pulled up by hand or cut using a pair of scissors. This will prolong its quality/freshness.
Where Can I Get Grass for My Rabbit?
Some rabbit owners do not have grass in their own gardens and though it can be tempting to go and collect it from the wild as we have learned, you should never do this without being certain that the grass is safe from harmful pesticides/chemicals.
Without a garden or yard of your own, you could always ask a friend or family member if they have any clean, fresh grass that they wouldn’t mind sharing with you.
However, ‘the shelf life’ of picked grass is very short, you will have a window of little more than an hour before it starts to break down and spoil so you will need to feed it to your pet quickly.
What Age Can Rabbits Eat Grass?
Due to their very sensitive digestive systems you should never offer cut grass to a very young rabbit, they will get all the nutrients they require from mothers milk. However, from 3 weeks onwards they can be given alfalfa hay in unlimited amounts. After week 7, grass and other hays can be introduced into their diets.
All rabbits, from the age of 7 weeks onwards should have access to an unlimited supply of hays (and/or grass) as it is vital for the correct functioning of their digestive system.
If you would like to read more on feeding your own rabbit, we’ve written an extensive guide which you can find here.
What Kind of Grass Is Best For Rabbits?
It might interest you to know that a rabbit’s diet should be made up from around 80% grass/hays but with so many different types, knowing which type to give to your pet can be confusing.
Timothy hay seems to be a popular choice for lots of pet owners and seems to be well-liked by rabbits but there are plenty of other varieties such as oat hay, orchard grass, alfalfa, and brome.
Some people like to grow grass for their rabbits themselves, although, with the time taken to grow it from seed, this can be a little time-consuming.
Nevertheless, seed blends often come with grass seed and a mixture of things like dandelion, thistle, and clover; all of which are enjoyed by rabbits in the wild. Weed/grass mixes are also a good option and provide your rabbit with a bit of variety.
Are There Any Grasses That Are Bad For Rabbits?
When it comes to feeding your beloved pet, you will want to be sure not to offer anything that will cause problems. However, there is no such worry with grass, it’s perfect for a rabbit’s digestive system and all types are suitable for rabbits provided that it is dried or fresh.
Can I Give My Rabbit Grass Instead of Hay?
Simply speaking, hay is dried grass and since many people have an abundance of grass in their gardens, the obvious thing to do is to make use of this for your pet. That said, unless you have a very large garden, a rabbit may eat the grass quicker than it grows back.
Rabbits are grazers and adult rabbits need a constant supply of hay to keep their digestive system active and prevent issues such as G.I Stasis. For this reason, providing a mix of dried grass/hay alongside access to fresh grass is the best option.
If you are struggling to choose hay for your rabbit, our personal recommendation is timothy hay. It’s reasonably priced, readily available from most pet stores, and is packed with fiber to keep your rabbit’s gut working at its very best, and will be of enormous benefit to a rabbit’s continually growing teeth.
Picking or cutting grass from a yard or garden is certainly a cheap and natural way of feeding a rabbit but even those of us without any access to a garden should not be put off owning a rabbit. Dried grasses freely available at most pet stores are just as nutritious as fresh grass.
Rabbits Eat Grass therabbithouse.com
Can My Rabbit Eat Grass? Do’s and Don’ts of Eating Grass rabbitholehay.com
Foraging 101 – Collecting Fresh Greens for your Rabbit bunnyapproved.com