What to Feed Wild Rabbits in Winter (Do’s & Don’t)

Most of us have a great attraction to wild rabbits. When you see a wild rabbit in your yard, you probably want to feed the bunny. Yes, it is necessary to provide food to the wild bunny because they don’t get available food like the pet rabbit, especially in the winter.

You should handle a wild rabbit carefully because she may be a vector of disease or a sick one. 

However, here, I have covered all the answers related to wild adults and baby rabbit’s diet and lifestyle, especially in winter. Without further ado, let’s go on.

Can You Feed Wild Rabbits?

While many of us consider wild rabbits as pests, they always want to keep away from rabbits because wild rabbits destroy the garden, vegetables, and fruits.

On the other hand, people like me who love wild rabbits feel love for them.

Anyway, you could feed the wild rabbits in extreme weather when the natural food is unavailable like in the extreme winter. But in general, you should not feed the wild rabbits directly because they will depend on humans completely.

So, use your common sense when you see a wild rabbit. If the bunny is poor, you should provide some rabbit safe food for the bunny.

Hay, Pellet, water, vegetables, and fruits are the basic diet for the house rabbit. The feeding behavior of wild rabbits is completely different from house rabbits. All fruits and vegetables are not safe for the bunny. Anyway, I have added a list of rabbit-safe vegetables and fruits in the latter part of this article. 

What to Feed Wild Rabbits in Winter

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat?

In the warmer months, rabbits generally eat fresh grass, weeds, clover, crops from fields, wild vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Wild rabbits mainly rely on buds, bark, twigs, and greens left in nature during harsh winters.

In the winter, we usually find rabbits in our yard, lawn, or garden. The rabbit eats, just like the deer, and regularly wanders around the nearest vegetable garden. In summary, this is what wild rabbits eat.

What to Feed Wild Rabbits in Winter?

Well, first things first. You should have explicit knowledge of the food habit of the wild rabbit before feeding it.

Wild rabbits are experts at finding food. When they don’t get their favorite foods like fresh grasses, hays or clovers, leaves, vegetables, fruits during the winter, they quickly change their food habits.

Then, they eat the bark of trees, leaves, and buds of the bushes.

But they can’t live their entire life on these low nutrient foods items.

Usually, you shouldn’t give any particular food to the wild rabbits for the very first time. But in case if it is heavy snow around them and they have a scarcity of food you may provide them some specific foods.

Hay for wild rabbit 

The best food items that you should provide the wild rabbits are hay. It is safe and also a favorite to them. You may provide timothy hay, alfalfa hay (for baby bunny), orchard grass, or oat hays.

Pellets & Grains

If you want to give them grain, then you should provide vegetables, wheat, rye, or something like that. Before providing grain types of food, you should consider the surroundings first because the grain attracts rats, squirrels, or mice. You could use a hay feeder for the wild bunny.


You might provide a bowl of water. It is a widespread scene that wild bunnies don’t get enough drinking water during winter. So, put them some water

Vegetables For Wild Rabbits 

Like cabbage, most common vegetables are safe for rabbits. Do not provide too many vegetables at once to the wild bunny. If the wild bunny eats too many vegetables, it may get bloated. 

Fruits For Wild Rabbits

You could provide rabbits with fruits containing little or no sugar. Providing sugary fruits to wild rabbits is strictly prohibited. Even though rabbits love sugary items, it causes obesity and digestive problems in them. Therefore, it would be better to keep sugary fruits and vegetables away from the wild rabbits. 

How Much Food Does A Wild Rabbit Need Per Day?

When food is available, wild rabbits consume a lot of food. They need about 300 calories a day. Fresh grass constitutes a large part of their diet. Because of the scarcity of food in the winter, they eat less. Two or three cups of food mixture, including hay, pellets, veggies, and fruits, could be provided to the wild bunny each day. That would be enough for them to survive. 

How to Feed a Wild Rabbit in Winter?

Now the question is how to feed a wild rabbit in winter? It is not a very easy task like the pet one in an indoor cage. You should be careful, first. And you should ensure that you don’t do harm instead of good to a wild rabbit.

If you like to feed wild rabbits, then you may follow the following tips.

Choose A Particular Spot In Your Yard

It might be an excellent decision to choose a grassy area of your yard. Don’t disturb the wild rabbits while they are eating the grass or leaves in the yard. Don’t cut all the grass in the yard or garden. Keep some in a particular place in the yard. Don’t spray pesticides in the yard.

Provide Hay

As earlier in this article, I mentioned that hay is the best for wild rabbits. For the wild rabbits, you might provide Timothy hay and for the baby rabbit, provide alfalfa hay as it contains more nutrients, protein, and fiber.

As a rabbit parent, I believe you have a stock of hay. If you don’t have one, you may buy from the local market or the online market.

Here are some recommended hay brands for rabbits. 

Provide Vegetables for the Wild Bunny 

Vegetables are favorite to the rabbit, whether she is a pet or wild. Among vegetables, the carrot is the most favorite of the bunny. But you shouldn’t provide a lot of carrots at once. It may cause a digestion problem like blotting for the wild rabbit. 

You should give at least two or three items of green vegetables, especially during the cold months. 

What do you feed a wild baby bunny

However, this is a list of rabbit-safe vegetables for the rabbit in general.

  • Mustard greens
  • Peapods
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Swiss chard
  • Broccoli
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Carrots
  • Celery leaves
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Collard greens
  • Beet greens
  • Lettuce
  • Mint
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Fennel
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • thyme

Provide Some Fruits for wild rabbit 

You may also provide some fruits to the wild rabbits. Fruits like various types of berries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are permissible.

You may provide bananas to the wild rabbits, but don’t provide a lot at once. A slice of banana is enough for bunnies. Other types of fruit like pineapple, papaya, plums are permissible to wild rabbits.

However, sugary fruits should not be fed to wild rabbits. Sugar causes obesity to the bunny and hampers its digestion in the long run even though wild rabbits have a shorter life expectancy than house rabbits. 

Here is a list of rabbit-safe fruits. 

  • Berries: blackberries, strawberries, blueberries,  raspberries, cranberries
  • Apple (no seeds)
  • Banana
  • Watermelon
  • Melon
  • Papaya
  • Orange
  • Cherries (no seeds)
  • Grapes
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Plum

Foods That You Should Never Feed To Wild Rabbits

These types of food should not be fed to the wild rabbits 

  • Cookies, nuts, seeds, grains, and bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt Drops
  • Potatoes
  • Silverbeet
  • Avocado
  • Cereal
  • Walnuts
  • Chocolate
  • Peanut Butter
  • Rhubarb
  • Onions (red and brown)
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Chives
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Sugary Processed Foods

What Do You Feed a Wild Baby Bunny?

Well, before feeding a wild baby rabbit, you might ensure whether she is an orphan or not. Sometimes, baby rabbits start exploring their nearby places. In this way, they may come to your yard, especially during the day. But that doesn’t mean that she is an orphan.

However, by close observing, if you identify that the baby bunny is an orphan, you should immediately contact your nearby wildlife rehabilitation center.

Usually, Adult rabbit passes their day outside their nest in search of food. Mother bunny feed milks their baby rabbit during the night and dawn.

 If there is no rehabilitation center nearby you, then you should take care of the wild baby bunny yourself.

You could read this article for the Take care of Orphan Baby Rabbits 

How to Feed a Wild Orphan Baby Bunny?

You could follow the step-by-step guide to feed the wild orphan baby bunny.

  • If the baby bunny is cold, you should warm them up first. Place her in a confined place like a shoe case containing a clean cloth.
  • Please manage some hay for bedding purposes. Or you could use rabbit bedding instead of hay.
  • Goat milk is the right choice, indeed for the orphan bunny. You may find goat milk in the nearby grocery stores.
  • It is challenging to feed the baby bunny because of its size. However, you may feed them with a syringe. You could collect it from a nearby pharmacy.
  • Warm the goat milk and make it bacteria-free.
  • Allow the milk to cool until it is touchable with a hand.
  • Then feed the gentle warm milk with the help of a syringe
  • If you have an opportunity to provide kitten replacement milk, then feed it to them.

What Should Not Feed To Wild Baby Bunny

You should not give Cow’s milk to the baby rabbit.

Also, Pedialyte (human baby milk) is not recommended for the baby bunny.

However, the mother bunny feeds her baby only two times a day. By taking proper care, you can grow baby rabbits.

Frequently Asked Question

Should I Rescue A Wild Rabbit Baby?

Upon confirmation that the wild baby rabbit is orphaned, you could rescue it. If not, do not rescue it. Remember that wild momma bunnies explore their surroundings in search of food. You might come across one. However, it does not mean it is orphaned. 

Do Wild Rabbits Eat Carrot

Whether it is a pet rabbit or a wild rabbit, they love carrots insanely. Moreover, carrot is a popular food for the bunny all over the world. 

In nature, wild rabbits eat a lot of carrots. Carrots contain a high amount of carbohydrates that are not good for a rabbit’s health.

But the wild rabbit runs miles to miles daily. Comparing their workout, this extra amount of carbohydrate doesn’t affect them.

But for the pet rabbit, you should not provide carrots daily because pet rabbits do have not the luxury to run miles to miles daily.

Do wild rabbits eat bird seeds in winter?

It’s Okay to eat the bird seeds for the wild bunny when there is a scarcity of foods. Usually, Bird seeds that fall on the ground are not the regular diet for the bunny. Some birdseed contains a high amount of fat and carbohydrate that keep the rabbits warm and healthy in the winter.

What Are Predators to Wild Rabbits?

Wild rabbits are prey animals. In spite of the rabbit’s life expectancy of 5-8 years (which varies from breed to breed and care), the wild rabbit can not survive for more than a year in the wild. Some exceptions exist. 

  • Foxes
  • Buzzards
  • Falcons
  • Kestrels
  • Hawks
  • Badgers
  • Owls
  • Weasels
  • Ferrets
  • Snake
  • Cats

Final Thoughts

Pet rabbits and wild rabbits are vastly different. Consequently, their behaviors are very different. Now that you know what wild rabbits need to eat in winter, I hope you have a clear picture of what they need. However, this list is not limited to winter. The wild rabbit can eat these foods all year round.  


Alex is a full-time rabbit lover and part-time Biologist. He is a proud parent of two rabbits. It's his childhood dream to rescue endangered animals and make the world better for living.

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