It’s a beautiful sunny day, and you’ve decided to let your bunny outside to forage in your backyard. After a quick sniff and a look around, he starts nibbling on some grass.
One question immediately pops into your mind: Is it OK for my rabbit to eat grass?
Happily, the answer is yes. Most grasses are perfectly safe for your bunny to eat. However, you’ll need to introduce grass to your rabbit’s diet slowly to avoid causing an upset stomach, while you should also avoid lawn mower clippings and any grass that has been treated with pesticides.
Can Bunnies Eat Grass?
If you’ve ever seen wild rabbits in action, you’ll undoubtedly be aware that they love grazing on wild grasses. So it’s no great surprise that when they’re let loose in the yard, many bunnies will start nibbling on the green grass beneath their feet. They usually love the taste and may even prefer it to their regular hay.
The good news is that most types of grass are completely safe for rabbits to eat. Grass can even provide some important health benefits for your pet.
Grass is high in fiber, which is essential to keep your rabbit’s digestive system functioning properly. Nibbling on grass throughout the day can also ensure that the digestive process keeps running smoothly, preventing GI stasis, and will help wear down your rabbit’s continuously growing teeth.
In fact, according to the UK RSPCA, grass can form an essential part of your bunny’s diet.
Risks of Rabbits Eating Grass
However, just because grass is usually safe for rabbits to eat doesn’t mean there aren’t a few risks to be aware of when letting your rabbit nibble on some grass. These risks include:
- An upset stomach. Every bunny owner is well aware of just how sensitive their pet’s digestive system is. Unfortunately, this means your bun can suffer an upset stomach when you introduce a new food to their diet. If you want to introduce grass into your rabbit’s diet, you’ll need to do so gradually, as eating too much grass in one go could make your furry friend sick.
- Pesticides and chemicals. Rabbits should never be given grass that has been sprayed with any sort of weed or insect killer. The chemicals in pesticides and insecticides could potentially harm your bunny’s health, so they should be avoided at all costs.
- Other pets. If you have other pets that use your yard at a different time to your bunny, for example, the family dog, be aware that they may urinate or defecate on the grass. Avoid giving this grass to your bunny to eat.
- Lawn mower clippings. Can rabbits eat grass clippings? The answer is no. Don’t give your bunny a pile of lawn mower clippings to munch on as the way the grass is cut causes the fermentation process to start faster than usual, which can make your bunny seriously sick and even cause GI stasis.
Is Hay or Grass Better for Rabbits?
Most sources agree that good-quality hay should make up the bulk of your bunny’s diet. While grass offers the same nutritional benefits, including all-important dietary fiber, the simple fact is that bunnies eat a large amount. As a result, it’s often not practical to provide enough fresh grass for your furry friend to eat day after day.
Meanwhile, hay is readily available, and it’s easy to access many different types to provide some variety for your pet’s diet. Hay is also highly effective at wearing down your bunny’s teeth and is high in fiber to aid proper digestion.
Timothy hay is a popular choice, but other hays that are safe for bunnies to eat include meadow hay, orchard hay, and oat hay. Alfalfa hay is good for young rabbits but is too high in calcium for adult bunnies.
How to Let Your Rabbit Eat Grass
There are a few important tips to remember if you’d like to let your rabbit eat some fresh grass.
If you’re planning to let your bunny out to graze in your backyard, make sure there aren’t any toxic plants or weeds they might be able to get into. Ensure that your lawn hasn’t been treated by chemicals and that your bun will be safe from any potential predators.
Next, watch your bunny closely. If fresh grass is a new food for them, limit the amount of time they’re allowed to eat it — going from never having grass before to grazing for an extended period could cause a seriously upset stomach. Over time, you’ll gradually be able to increase the amount of grass your pet eats.
If you don’t have a yard, you may like to consider growing some grass in a window box or pot as a special treat for your bun. And if you ever want to clip some fresh grass for your pet to eat, use a pair of scissors rather than cutting it with a lawn mower.
There’s no need to be alarmed if you notice your rabbit eating grass in your yard. As long as your pet avoids toxic plants and weeds, nasty chemicals and lawn mower clippings, grass is safe for rabbits to eat.
In fact, it’s actually good for them — introduce grass slowly and it can form a healthy part of your bunny’s diet. It can supplement the hay your rabbit eats and help keep them in top shape.