Wintertime can be quite trying for herbivorous and prey animals like rabbits. This begs the question- what do rabbits eat in the winter? The diet of rabbits consists majorly of grass, and during winter, the abundance of grasses and green leaves diminishes considerably or vanishes altogether.
During this period, rabbits have to make do with whatever little grass they can find, or they will have to look for an alternative means of food.
Luckily enough, rabbits are not necessarily picky animals, and so during winter, when foliage, which is their favorite food, is absent or diminished in supply, they’ll eat other things. Different things that replace grasses as food for rabbits during winter include woody plant parts like the bark of trees, twigs, bush buds, and even their pelleted feces.
What Should I Feed To Wild Rabbits During Winter?
A lot of people are familiar with wild rabbits. You may notice them scavenging for food now and then in your backyard, particularly during winter when food is scarce. While you can feed them , you should be careful about handling them as they may be carrying diseases that you do not know about. Below are some of the things that you can feed to wild rabbits during winter:
- Hay: Hay is a favorite food of domestic rabbits, and you can also feed them to wild rabbits that come around searching for something to eat. Types of hay that wild rabbits would love to eat include alfalfa hay, timothy hay, and oat hay. You may also feed rabbit pellets to a wild rabbit, although you should only give them a little quantity at a time as these pellets are very rich in nutrients and may cause the rabbits problems if fed in large amounts.
- Vegetables: Rabbits, whether wild rabbits or domestic ones, also love to eat vegetables, plus vegetables are safe for them. However, it would be best if you were watchful of the amount that you feed to them at once. If you are feeding carrots to wild rabbits, you should do it moderately, as giving them too many carrots at once may cause bloating.
- Other types of vegetables that you can feed to rabbits include Brussels sprouts, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, mustard greens, dill, celery leaves, parsley, beet greens, among others.
- Fruits: In addition to hay and vegetables, you can also feed fruits to wild rabbits and domestic ones. Examples of such fruits include papaya, plums, pineapples, and various berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
What Should You Feed To Your Domestic Rabbit During Winter?
Domestic rabbits are somewhat different from wild rabbits. The food that you feed to your domestic rabbit during winter is primarily the same thing that you should feed to it during summer, except that you will have to change the quantity.
You will need to feed more hay, particularly timothy hay to your rabbit during winter. Feeding this hay to your pet in an increased amount will help it gain more fat, and this fat is essential in keeping the rabbit warm during this cold period. The number of vegetables, fruit, and pellets that you feed to the animal during winter can remain the same as the amount you gave during the summer.
Apart from food, the water of your pet is also essential. It is easy for your rabbit’s water to become frozen during winter, and so, you should check it often. If the water is frozen or it has become too cold for your pet to drink, you should change it.
Is It Safe For You To Feed Wild Rabbits?
Veterinarians do not generally recommend that you feed or adopt wild rabbits. However, you can feed wild adult rabbits, provided that you give them food that will not cause a problem to them. The foods listed above are suitable for consumption by wild rabbits and will not cause them harm, provided that you feed them to the rabbits moderately.
Wild baby bunnies, on the other hand, are a different story. Although they grow and become independent at a faster rate than their domestic counterparts, they still need their mothers when they are very young. The chances of a human successfully taking care of a wild baby bunny are minute, as they cannot eat solid food yet, and all they rely upon for survival is their mother’s milk.
If you happen to come across a litter of wild baby bunnies, the chances are that their mother left them alone to go and forage for food. In this case, you should leave the kits alone so that their mother can come back to feed them. If you are sure that they have been orphaned, the best thing that you can do for them is to take them to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center.
If you own domestic rabbits, you will need to increase the portion of hay you feed to them, as they require more food during winter. You can give them the same amount of other types of food that you usually give them.
On the other hand, wild rabbits will eat things like tree bark, fir, peach, spruces, and the likes during winter when there is a limited supply of foliage.
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