As I mentioned back in an earlier post about feeding wild rabbits in 2011, I have wild rabbits in my backyard. They show their wonderful faces mostly during the spring and summer. This year has been a little different because I have seen at least one of them every now and then when I take my dog Maggie out before bed. Only about once or twice a week but still more than I’ve seen them other years. This got me thinking about feeding them again.
The cool thing about feeding during winter vs summer is that the cold helps preserve any fruit or vegetables you might want to put out. Here in Nashville, the summers are very warm and that can make feeding even at night difficult. Some evenings are so warm things could go bad before the rabbits make nightly rounds to get them. I couldn’t imagine being responsible for harming one of these animals in any way. Even though we aren’t in Alaska, night time temps can get very cold at times and this makes an ideal situation for putting out live food.
5 Things I Recommend Feeding Wild Rabbits
- Sunflower Seed-as long as you’re willing to make sure it doesn’t get wet or moldy, sunflower seed can help them stay warm and they like it.
- Kale-a very hardy green that’s also very inexpensive to feed. I recommend putting out a little of the kale you eat (uncooked) before buying some of this to see if they’ll take it.
- Baby Carrots-another one that would be good for you to put some of yours out first before you buy some. They’ll eat them for sure but it may take a few nights. Just remember that carrots have a high sugar content so they should be fed sparingly. This is true of ALL fruit!
- Rabbit pellets-start with just a few in with some other food to see if they’ll select them. We’re moving up the expense scale here but you could be doing a lot to help them with good nutrition.
- Apples-These are best cut up. This is another food that is relatively inexpensive to feed. If you have room, it’s best to store these in a bin in your refrigerator. The same as with baby carrots. Feed these as a treat because of the high sugar content which is not good for their digestion.
As you can see, you don’t have to turn your world or budget upside-down to be feeding wild rabbits in your back yard. Of course, if you have other wildlife in your backyard it may present a bit of a challenge. Most of the time, it’s a matter of learning when they feed and having just one night’s food available to them at that time. Or, you may have to try different food to see if your other visitors might leave it alone. Kind of like feeding safflower where your squirrels are known to frequent.
Are you feeding wild rabbits in your yard this winter? What have you had success feeding them? Leave us a comment below and help us out!
Marilyn Kruse says
I live in the cold north, so I help the little critters have food and water available to them. Every morning the squirrels are waiting for their peanuts (unsalted, of course). I keep a big bowl of fresh water plugged into an electric outlet so it won’t freeze. You can get these bowls through Amazon or Sam’s, and probably at Walmart and most likely all pet stores. I throw out a cob of dried corn for them. Just before dusk, because that’s when the rabbits come out, I put out rabbit pellets and two huge carrots cut up into smaller pieces.. i’ve actually seen rabbits eat peanuts and squirrels eat carrots when they have their own kind of food available. Interesting!
Thank you for stopping by and telling about your neck of the woods. I must say, I’ve never had any of my squirrels eat a carrot any longer than getting the taste and spitting it out-LOL! I’ve had no rabbits last summer and I’m hoping that will change this year.They are the sweetest little creatures. I’ve also cut back my squirrel feeding to just the wildlife mix. I’ve had a LOT of trouble in prior years with them getting in my gutters and trying to get into our attic. The house needs some work but I’ve just needed to reduce the number of them calling my back yard home. At one point, I could count 13 feeding at once when I was feeding peanuts from the patio, cobs on a squongee and fence and food in a box on the same fence. How many rabbits do you have and do you have them all year?
Ruth carlisle says
The birds are eating the sack of rabbit food I put out???
What do you mean by “rabbit food”? Pellets or the greens you put out for them?
I have a wild cotton tale I’ve been feeding for 3 years. He likes sliced almonds, shredded carrot, squirrel food lettuce, raisins, and his favorite treat is dried bananas! I do have a question though. How long do they live?
I’ve read that wild rabbits live about three years so it’s quite possible you’re feeding siblings or relatives unless the rabbit has some distinctive markings. Here’s a Penn State article on wild Eastern Cottontails: http://www.psu.edu/dept/nkbiology/naturetrail/speciespages/cottontail.htm
That’s quite a banquet you’ve given your little visitor. Does he come by mostly in the summer or winter? Here are a few resources that you should find helpful in deciding what to feed them. It sounds like it’s best to keep them to grasses and hay as they can be upset by changes in their diet.
I would also make sure you’re not using chemicals on your lawn as they directly consume grass most of the time.
Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by.
I live in central Colorado outside of town and have rabbits who live in close proximity to the back door. My house is on over 3 acres. I have been feeding the rabbits since living here in 2006. They will attack whole organic carrots, raw spinach, apples, and carrot peels. There are also coyotes here so don’t want them to have to go far to find food.
Was in our local grocery store yesterday and a man behind me heard me telling the check-out woman that the bag of romaine was free and would make the bunnies happy. That man who I’ve never before seen nor met, started getting assertive and telling me that I am killing them by feeding them. He wouldn’t let up and started calling me “sweetheart”, “honey” etc. to be demeaning to me as I’m older than he. He eventually called me an asshole and kept on into the parking lot. The check out lady also told me I was killing them by feeding them. So I am copying your article and will give it to her. Thanks for the message of sanity. I really felt badly after his verbal attacks.
I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough go of it! I don’t know where the hostility is coming from. I don’t claim to be a wildlife expert but I don’t understand how feeding rabbits is killing them. Was any explanation forthcoming?
Was he saying you’re killing the rabbits by feeding them or killing the coyotes? Can’t see how lettuce would do either.
It sounds like you just had an out of body experience with somebody very angry and I’m glad you were not hurt in any way.
I would think if you were actually harming them in any way, starting in 2006, you wouldn’t have any rabbits to feed long before now.
Thank you for sharing your story. Glad you’re ok.
cecilia roualet says
We have been feeding wild bunny baby carrots then I read not good for them she always comes around everyday she has a baby the baby is now coming in the yard by fence! Today already been out there quite a few time’s but haven’t seen the momma bunny today worried about her is this common put some fresh spinach out today after reading not to feed carrots everyday! Help please
I’ve never heard it was not good to put out carrots for bunnies. When I’ve had them in my back yard they would ALL come out at once or one at a time.The babies are very cute. The mother is probably just being careful. My bunnies were usually happy to eat anything not grass in my yard since I don’t treat with chemicals. Let me know if I can help you further.
I wouldn’t be worried at this point. As long as the baby is coming by regularly he/she is probably being watched by mom.
cecilia roualet says
Thank you so much! we just have the one bunny and her one baby! We live in the city! Yes the baby is really cute! Your probably right the mother would come every morning and afternoon until yesterday and that is when the baby was in our back yard of and on all day eating grass! I bought so Timothy hay because they read babies could also eat that but the baby didn’t eat any lol! And I put some in the place we put the carrots for the mom but she didn’t come! Hopefully she is just close by letting her baby learn to be independent!thanks again
Your bunnies are so lucky to have you looking after them! You should give yourself a big pat on the back!
With the Timothy hay I think you’re just seeing a fussy kid, you know? LOL!
I remember the mom leaving them in the yard and also coming and chasing them out-LOL! No kidding.
If the baby were not eating I’d be more concerned. Mine grazed like billy goats.
Happy to help any time. Enjoy your bunnies!
I live in a suburb of Pittsburgh in PA. I feed the birds, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, and deer. All love my shaded front yard and I love seeing them. I put out quality bird seed, organic veggies and fruits, organic sugar water for the hummingbirds, etc. I love them more than my neighbors but that’s ok with me.
My dad’s family was from Johnstown. Not that it’s important but I thought I needed to say that-LOL!
So glad to hear how much you enjoy feeding your wild friends, ALL of them. Organic? You ARE a class act for sure!
I’ve made it a habit to spend at least 30 minutes before my Tai Chi and dinner just sitting on my back steps with some patio mix food to see who will become bold enough. I’ve already had house finches, bluejays and a chipping sparrow or two. Of course, I leave in plenty of time for the cardinals to come and get their fill-HA!
I don’t think I’ve heard the term Trumpster used yet but my neighbors must ALL think I’m insane. Standing by feeders, talking to birds (and trees, yes, trees) and generally impersonating a person with a warped sense of reality.
You know what? Like with you, doing these things makes me feel alive and part of this planet no matter who thinks I’ve got a screw loose. We know better, right?
If I can help in any way please reach out to me.
Linda M Schneerer says
I am feeding wild baby bunnies under the trees in our front yard and I’m including bunny pellets, but now the doves are eating the pellets. What can I do?
Thanks for stopping by and trying to help them. I’ve got to ask. Why are you having to feed them? Are you sure they’re old enough to eat pellets? Are they out of the nest?
Keeping in mind that the parents go out of their way to not feed them during the day if they’re still in their den to not attract predators.
I just need a little more info on them. If they’re out of the nest and feeding with mom or dad then they probably don’t need food. Mom and dad know how to introduce them to food slowly.
For ideas of what else to feed them, here is an article that covers the dos and don’ts of feeding wild rabbits. Theres’s a lot of alternatives but make sure to be consistent and add new foods slowly.
Let me know if I can help any further. It’s what I’m here for!
Mela Russano says
We live in Northeast Pennsylvania and a few months ago we spotted a mama rabbit and baby bunny in our front yard nibbling on tiny berry flavored deer nuggets. We have a raised shed that sits on cinder blocks and we noticed mama and baby taking shelter under the shed and sometimes running across the backyard and under our neighbor’s shed. We still see mama rabbit but mostly baby bunny coming out to nibble grass and wander around. I’ve started leaving a couple deer nuggets in front of the shed and baby bunny comes out to eat them as soon as I walk away. My question now is this: When winter snow falls should I clear the snow away from the shed so baby bunny can get out?
So glad to hear you’ve got a little family hanging about! Good on you for taking the time to care how they get along.
My instinctive answer is that the bunnies will figure it out and no action is necessary on your part. Chances are, they’ll find some woods nearby and hunker down there most of the time anyway.
Could I ask why you’re putting out deer pellets? If you have a herd that frequents your property I get it. I would still consider getting some rabbit pellets to feed them near or under your shed. And put them in the same place every time.
Hope this helps. Please comment again if I can be of any further assistance. It’s why I’m here.
Peggy Labrozzi says
I live in sarasota florida which has become way over developed. I am blessed to have little bit of my
property not cleared and have had families of bunnies for years. By trial and error I am feeding Kale and many
carrots 5 pounds each week so now I see that carrots not so good :-(!! I tried many veggies and real expensive
bunny pellets over years but Kale and carrots their favorite. Guess I try more Kale less carrots. Any other
ideas on inexpensive offerings? I have counted as many as 13 one night!
Have you tried feeding them sunflower seeds? The article I link to in the post claims it’s good for them and safe as well. Being in Florida, I would be extra careful to only put out what they’ll eat at night and not risk it getting moldy.
Good on you for watching the sugars too! I was unaware of that issue until just recently so you’re way ahead of me-LOL!
Thank you from your bunny friends!
Let me know if I can be of more help. It’s why I’m here.
Alice Carroll says
It’s nice to know that even wild rabbits can be fed carrots. I’m planning to take my son to a wildlife sanctuary soon for a vacation and I didn’t know that there is a possibility to interact with the animals personally. I bet he would love to feed some of them and pet them too.
Sounds like a cool place with a great mission and vibe.
Hope you and your son have a great time!
Georgina Duffy says
I’m glad to see I’m not the only weirdo feeding the wild bunnies on my property and talking to them. I have one this year who has been around every day since early May. Now only coming by at just after sunset so I can’t see “her” as well but I know it’s her. She has really liked wheat grass that I grow for her, but now that it’s colder, the mesquite leaves, sunflower seeds and bird seed are the preference. So nice to read about everyone’s bunny care.
Thank you for stopping by and sharing your bunny story. I think you’ll find there are a LOT of weirdos feeding bunnies all the time. Glad you’ve had so much success with yours.
Since this article I’ve only had momentary glimpses of bunnies feeding that live around me. Nothing as constant as I’ve had earlier.
I have to ask. Do you have a wooden fence in your back yard? Mine seemed to like being in the safety of that area. Like they could relax and just feed even though hawks could still see them.
We have a bunny in our shed who has attached to my husband. He eats apple and we found he loves broccoli. How do I know if it is mail or female without handling it
Thank you for stopping by. Unfortunately, determining the sex of the rabbit is very difficult. Especially if they are young. Experts recommend only having qualified vets do this. However, think of the stress you’ll put it through taking it to the vet.
Is there some reason you need to know? Sounds like you’re doing right by it now.Here is a list of foods for house rabbits that I’m sure works for wild rabbits too.
The main thing is to try to feed less of the sugar containing foods than others.
Hope this helps and let me know if I can help in any way.
I’m so glad I found your page, lots of good info.
We live in Southern Ontario Canada and currently have a fair amount of snow on the ground and it’s cold at night (about 23 f) it’s been colder than usual for our neck of the woods so when I saw a cute bunny in our yard I decided to leave a carrot out. Well the bunny ate it, and next 3 nights I left carrots out again. I didn’t realize they really shouldn’t eat too many carrots, I will buy some kale tomorrow.
My question is this… will the bunny leave or stop coming when it gets warmer? I don’t want to necessarily feed the bunnies year round, most of our backyard is an in-ground pool and some landscaping. I think the bunny sleeps behind our shed. We don’t often have as much snow as the last couple of weeks and I can see their poop all over 😉 I definitely want to help the bunnies but wondering how to do it so they don’t destroy my yard and how to wean them off the food we provide in the next couple of months when it gets warmer. Any advice is hugely appreciated. I can’t not feed the little guy (there are possibly more than one) but at the same time I don’t want this to become a year round thing.
Thank you, Kimi
First of all, thank you from the bottom of the bunnies’ hearts for caring enough to help them out during this winter season! Helping animals like this shows you care about them and you should be proud. The world needs more people like you.
My experience with the cottontails which have come and gone over the years is this: THEY will decide if there is a reason to stay. If you simply stop feeding them when the weather warms up, they will find other sources of food. It sounds too simple to be true but it is. I promise you. You will not harm them in any way nor cause them to forget how to forage for themselves.
The odd thing here is that my cottontails tend to come in the summer when they really don’t want for food. They just prefer my mostly wild grasses in my back yard. Something back there ripens and they come. This past summer, none came. So it can be very hit or miss. Mine also have done a lot of day feeding when I think they prefer night. Also, I have NEVER had bunnies all year round.
Make sure you get some pics if you can so you have something to remember them by. I’d love to see them if you do!
Finally, keeping your heart open as you have will probably ensure they return whenever they need your help again.
We have wild rabbits in our backyard and living underneath our deck. I’ve seen them out in the middle of the night (fenced in yard- so I imagine they feel safe) and assume they were looking for food. We’ve since had a fair amount of snow – and I do see their tracks a bit here and there, but with everything covered, I worry they aren’t able to get to any food sources. So I bought some Timothy hay and put it just near where the go to get under the deck. However they haven’t touched it at all. What could be the reason? Should I try something else?
Good on you for really trying to help these little ones out!
I too have a fenced in yard. Mine borders on woods and that is the main reason I see them come out to get my grasses. We get very little snow in Nashville so them finding something is not a challenge at all.
Does your property back up or surrounded by woods? If so, they probably have been able to find all the wild sources of food they need. I would continue putting out the Timothy grass because if they don’t eat it, they probably don’t need it. That’s been my experience with them. I’ve yet to see my bunnies refuse anything I put out IF they are truly hungry. I would also consider putting the grass out at multiple places and have it look more like something growing through the snow rather than odd clumps of an unidentified food source.
Hope this helps. Please comment again and let me know how you’re doing with them, will you?
Thanks for your reply the other day (above)
Our bunny comes every evening, sometimes late close to midnight even. I try to look for him so whatever food we leave doesn’t freeze. It’s been unusually cold this past week with another cold one ahead. First few days the bunny reached for the carrots only, clearly prefers them. However last couple of days he also grabbed some kale and sunflower seeds. Carrots are definitely a favourite though, is it safe to give him those every day?
Water unfortunately freezers very fast right now, so I don’t think he drinks any.
I’ll continue feeding the bunny as long as he comes, come spring I would prefer to stop because we open our pool but we’ll see how it goes. I feel better now knowing that they can fend for themselves once you stop feeding them.
If I can get a photo I’ll post it, unfortunately when he comes it’s dark 🙂
Thanks for quick reply Jeff. Well, I spoke too soon… just a few hours after I commented, I saw two of them eating the hay. After several more inches of snow yesterday, I put more out and just saw one having breakfast! We do have woods within our fence line so I’m sure they can find food, but glad they are finally enjoying the hay. We also have several bunnies at my summer cottage. Left hay for them, but they never touched it – so as you said, they just didn’t need it. Plenty of food sources in the summer… My summer squirrels on the other hand…. boy do they love to eat. They are thisclose to eating out of my hand. There are several and they love to hang out on my deck. When my car pulls in… they run to the deck and wait for me… I think I have spoiled them a bit. It all started out because I was feeding them to get them away from the bird food… and now they are a huge part of my daily routine (and grocery bill)!!
So glad to hear your bunnies are eating the hay! That’s wonderful! Enjoy them as long as you can because they will probably become scarce at some point. Again, kudos to you for caring enough to take care of them. As I type this, one of my rare winter bunny visitors had come out, eaten some wild grasses (yes, my back yard IS mostly wild even though it is also mowed during the season) and gone back into the woods. I’ve seen one adult at night when I let my dog out but they’re just not eating much during the day. With my local Cooper’s hawks, I don’t blame them.
We have similar experiences with squirrels. I actually put food in a box at the back of my property and a couple places for those corn cobs. By the way, if you have squirrels and you don’t have a Squngee feeder you are really missing out on some fun!
I’m trying to train Titmice to come closer and closer to me for a freebie I’m working on so I’m actively discouraging them for now. Nothing mean but I just don’t need my patio cleaned off in two minutes-HA! Right now, I’ve seen as many as 13 squirrels roaming around back there. Baffles on all the feeders keep them from taking what they will. When I’m not putting anything out they really love, they thin out to the five or so I have today. They would totally feed from my hand if I encouraged it. I don’t because I’m afraid I’d teach them something that a mean person would use against them. That’s just my personal preference.
If you want to save some money you should put up a metal squirrel box and put a cup of the Wildlife mix you can buy at Walmart. They’re not crazy about it but WILL eat it when times get tough. I’d need a personal line of credit if I fed them like you do-LOL!
I’ll tell anybody who will listen: squirrels are about the smartest animals you’re likely to see in your back yard. Their ability to figure out how to get to food is mind boggling. I learned long ago NEVER underestimate a squirrel.
Enjoy all your wildlife and if you can get any pics, I’d love to see them!
It would be best if you could leave out some Timothy hay. Carrots are good as a treat but not as a consistent food. One of my readers, Kay, has just gotten her bunnies to start eating the hay.
I did some checking and bunnies have no trouble getting water from snow. They also get a lot of their water from the foods they eat. I would think a few carrots with the hay would quench their thirsts very nicely.
As I had just told, Kay, I wouldn’t worry about having to impose any rules on the bunnies when the weather gets nicer. They will probably thank you and move on when they can get food elsewhere. Even if they hung around a bit, you would not be hurting them in any way when you decided to stop feeding them.
Keep up the great work! Any photos would be great.
John Misiak says
We have been feeding some wild rabbits the last couple of years. We started by leaving bird seed with sunflowerseed on our deck for the birds and the rabbits started coming at night to snack. During this past summer we had a couple of rabbits just off of our deck which I threw saltings to. They would eat one or two of them then go under our Buckthorn shrub, dig a shallow hole and lay down in it. After that later he would come out looking for more saltines. They actually run toward the deck when they see us.
I appreciate you taking the time to feed and try to help your local bunnies. However, saltines are not a food they should be eating. It would be much better if you could buy some Timothy hay (Walmart) and just throw some of that out for them. Here is the PETA article talking about things not to feed bunnies. I know you said they come running for them but I would remind you that a dog will lap up antifreeze too. It’s great to establish a connection with them like you have. I would just like to see them eating better than that. Not judging either. Thank you for looking out for the little ones!
Hi Jeff, I live just six blocks away from where George Floyd’s incident took place in South Minneapolis. My Family has lived in this home since 1915 and I am the current owner of our Family home. Our Family has always enjoyed all the wild life that we have throughout the year. Rabbits in particular are everywhere and each one has their own turff. Every Spring there’s always a new pile of little babies that pop out of the burrow by my clothes line. However with all the riots and upheaval that occurred this Past year the Rabbits I’ve grown up with disappeared. Especially when the fireworks became a nightly terror for all. Tonight I’ve noticed a Familiar hopping on my outside cameras and I am pleased to say that a few are coming back. I want to do something to make them feel safe again. Feeding them comes to mind too. Growing up with them there is a sense of trust that has developed year after year but understandably last year was different. What would you suggest for our furry and feathered friends to feel safe again. Without them around it makes being at home because of the pandemic all the More sad. Thank you for your time. Jeremy
Hello again, I wanted to update you on “our rabbit” situation. We have been leaving out Timothy hay with some rabbit food (pellets and seeds) as well as the occasional apple or carrot and he eats everything for the most part each night. I would say the treats (carrots and apples) are fav, but as per your advice he’s getting little of this, maybe a quarter of an apple or half a carrot. The Timothy hay is hit and miss, every few days he’ll finish the stash (about 2 handfuls) and leaves it other days. Likes the rabbit food.
Things were going well, as mentioned above I planned to only feed the bunny throughout the winter as it’s been unusually cold and snowy.
Things are starting to warm up though and daytime highs are mostly around 35-45 and night lows in the 20s. Snow will start melting now. I planned on feeding the bunny until April or so however this week noticed he started to eat the tips of our ornamental yuccas that are sticking out above the snow. He has chowed down half of one and started on another. I caught him doing it haha. I tried spraying vinegar nearby and leaving some vinegar in a container but doesn’t seem to work, presumably because of the cold and snow.
Once my husband notices the bunny is doing damage in our yard he will be mad because he thinks I invited the bunny here by feeding it. The rabbit was already sleeping behind our shed earlier before I ever fed him.
Do you have any advice to get the bunny out of our yard now? I thought just stop feeding it but he clearly will eat our ornamental yuccas to start, we don’t have much of actual grass, under the snow, we have an in-ground pool and mostly some ornamental grasses and shrubs around it, otherwise stone and mulch.
I don’t want to be mean to the bunny but I also hope he leaves before my husband notices he’s eating our plants. I thought feeding it other things would prevent that from happening.
I am quite certain he sleeps behind our shed which is against a wooden fence, there is probably a space that’s a foot wide there. How can I make that less inviting?
Any advice would be appreciated, I was going to buy a rabbit repellant and spray the plants maybe?
I was hoping the bunny could stay another month or so but at this point he survived through the worst of our winter.
I’m sorry but I don’t think I understood that if they continued to stay they would be unwelcome. I totally understand your husband’s concerns about them eating plants. I probably would have advised against feeding them at all had I known this. I would stop feeding them now and put out repellant if you think it will be effective at this time of year.
Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. I honestly only thought your timetable was the opening of your pool which didn’t seem to be anytime soon.
Just remember, like with squirrels, you can’t feed them one thing to try to make them eating another. If they like it, they’ll eat it.
Do let me know what you decide and how it goes, will you?
Thanks for your comment – yes I was okay with the bunny sticking around until our pool opening (late April or so) but I didn’t think that he would start eating our yuccas. One
One of them is almost gone… so I worry he’ll eat them all if he sticks around. This is when he’s fed rabbit food, Timothy hay etc daily.
Good thing is that the weather is definitely improving now. I certainly don’t want the bunny to leave already but wasn’t expecting it to eat our plants now. Torn on what to do. I care for all critters 🙂
Thank you for stopping by and letting us know what’s going on in your neck of the woods. To have something so horrible happen that close to you I can see why you need any sense of normalcy you can get.
Congratulations on maintaining this family landmark through all of this past year’s nonsense and loss!
That your bunnies are coming back is a gift in itself. Animals just know when it’s safe to return to their favorite places. I would start out by offering them some Timothy Hay you can get at Walmart. The fact that they have felt safe at your home for so long tells me you don’t need to do anything but put out a little hay and just watch the fun begin-LOL!
If you could take a pic from your phone the next time you see them out and grazing, send it to email@example.com I’d love to see them.
Finally, I hope they are able to help your soul heal as much as they want that for you.
Do let us know how this story develops, won’t you?
I totally understand not wanting to sacrifice your plants here. I would definitely stop feeding them and look at a rabbit repellant if possible.
Don’t worry. Your concern for your critters is more than obvious. Remember that they knew where to get food before you started offering it. They will be fine. Especially with the weather improving.
You don’t have squirrels by the way? Squirrels are notorious for chewing on and digging up plant roots. Just a thought.
Hi Jeff, no I haven’t seen any squirrels and I have seen the bunny nibble at the yucca. He nearly finished one … what I have done so far is sprinkle some talcum powder on them. I still left some Timothy hay out last night but the bunny didn’t eat any, didn’t touch the yuccas yesterday as far as I can see anyway. There has only been one night before where the bunny didn’t eat anything we left out.
I haven’t been able to find any in stock rabbit repellent so that’s why trying the talcum powder over our plants for now. Supposedly they don’t like the smell.
I will stop feeding it as well, I just need to peek behind our shed first to make sure there aren’t any bunny babies there etc. And maybe spray some rabbit repellent once I get some behind there. My friend suggested relocating the bunny to a wooded area somewhere (don’t ask me how haha) but I don’t know. We do live in the suburbs/ people have fairly small backyards here. There are some woods nearby but not sure how far we’d have to move him and if this is even advisable. Anyway I digress. At the moment just trying to discourage the bunny from eating our plants.
I think as long as you can be sure there’s no babies there I would go ahead and shut down your feeding. You should be safe as it’s a bit early for them to be having babies yet. At least cottontails breed between February and September but heavier starting in March.
I wouldn’t under any circumstances relocate the bunny without talking to your local wildlife agency. They are where they are not by accident and it would not be a good idea to rewrite their plan.
Finally, if you find you have babies near then you may have to make a choice. Care for your critters or your yucca plants. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, ok? I’m sure this will all work out.
Let me know if I can help in any way.
My wild bunny comes every evening for dinner on my patio. He likes bird food and bunny pellets. But his favorite is cilantro. I’ve tried many things that he doesn’t seem to like but he’ll go for cilantro first thing, every time.!
So glad you’ve found something that your little friend really likes. I’ve checked and cilantro is safe for them. It’s really good that you’re feeding them bunny pellets because this is really good for them. Have you tried timothy hay? You can get it at Walmart and it’s not expensive. Or is this one of the things you have tried and they didn’t want?
Here’s an easy to digest Wikihow on feeding wild rabbits that might give you some more things to try:
Let us know how it goes as we transition into Spring and Summer. My bunnies, if I have them, usually start feeding in Spring but others say they stop feeding where they are at this time. Oddly, I don’t remember ever having bunnies around during the winter when they need the most help.
I commented above, thanks for all your help!
“Our” bunny only came during the coldest time when everything was covered in snow for a month and once the weather got mild (it’s consistently above 50 now, even 60s during the day, the bunny, after starting on our yuccas initially, stopped coming. I left some food out at first but he hasn’t come, at least not on regular basis once the snow melted. There isn’t a lot of shelter in our yard though aside from the shed, when we had lots of snow though there was. Anyway just wanted to give you an update, it seems like the bunny moved on when it got nicer out, my mom was also feeding bunnies throughout Jan and Feb and hers stopped coming at the same time.
I haven’t had to actually spray anything with the repellent. We will be opening our pool at the end of April so I’m relieved I didn’t have to kick him out. If I see a bunny next winter I’ll probably feed them again.
Thank you so much for the update!
Glad everything worked out and you’ll be able to open your pool when you want to. Also, I know the bunny feels lucky for having you take care of them during the harsh winter. You should look forward to them coming back next year. They remember kindness!
ANDREA PALENIK says
I live in Chgo and we had a rough winter. I love animals and when walking my dog n a field close to my apartment we saw a rabbit. I was concerned for the rabbit and started leaving carrots, apples and corn on the cobb. On my walks I noticed the food would be gone immediately . I was skeptical about the corn nut I broke it up in 2-3 pcs and immediately gone. This is now a thing as because I enjoy helping our furry friends.
Thanks for sharing your story with us and for caring about the little ones! This puts you in the top 2% of humans, surely. How many others were too busy to notice or couldn’t be bothered to help.You were open to receive the rabbit’s needs and took action. Good for you!
If you don’t do anything today, you should make sure to pat yourself on the back for this amazing act of kindness!
PS-Grew up in Cleveland so I have a clear idea of what a rough winter is-LOL!
Loved reading all the comments. We have a small fenced yard behind our home in upstate NY near Albany. We feed the birds, cardinals, bluejays, doves, hummingbirds, one large woodpecker, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits under our shed. This year we’re going to let a patch of grass and wildflowers grow wild for the rabbits and the bees. We have black oil sunflower seed, unsalted peanuts in the shell, hazelnuts, and Timothy hay for everyone. We use a heated water dish during the winter. Was especially enjoyable during the pandemic. Cheers.
Thanks for stopping by and telling us what’s happening in your yard!
Sounds like you’re living in a paradise and all of your visitors are so lucky to have you! Good for you to leave the grass and wildflowers alone.
This past year has been hard on everybody. I’m so happy that people chose to spend time in their own back yards and help and feed the wildlife there. Between decreased air pollution, traffic and such it is the greatest silver lining to this pandemic.
Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with. It’s why I’m here.
I feel awful I live 35 south of Pittsburgh and we have so many bunnies I buy huge bags of carrots peeled and washed every evening I didn’t know this was bad for them they seem to love them and even stand by my deck and look up to my backdoor almost saying ‘c’mon mom feed us ‘ am I hurting them ?
First of all, the thought of another human caring this much about their “resident” wildlife brings a smile to my heart! You should be proud that this makes a real difference to you!
I would only recommend transitioning to more of a timothy hay diet with the carrots as treats. There’s just too much sugar in them for it to be a mainstay of their diet. They eat mostly greens in the wild. I think the beloved Bugs Bunny is the reason we humans think it’s all they need-LOL!
I’ve had other readers who said the bunnies will resist but timothy hay is available at Walmart and doesn’t go back quickly. What I’m saying is you may have to be patient. The good news is that they have all kinds of other things to eat now. They will NOT suffer even if you stopped feeding them altogether.
I hope this helps. Feel free to comment again if you have any other questions or need more help.
Adrienne B says
Hi! I am so glad to come across your article. My husband and I live in central Alabama and we have a baby bunny that keeps coming to our yard. We are trying to feed him/her the right things and I am putting out baby carrots, almonds, and yesterday I put out a big pile of alfalfa sprouts. The bunny will eat the almonds and a bit of the carrots but he/she won’t touch the sprouts, which I thought he/she would love! Do you know if this is normal for the bunny to not like the sprouts? I won’t put them out but I just thought bunny would love it and it surprises me that bunny doesn’t!
Thanks for your article – very interesting and I am bookmarking your page!
Thank you for stopping by and telling us your bunny story. I’ve never heard of them eating almonds or sprouts. What I would do is make sure to buy some Timothy Hay and see if they’ll eat that. Make sure to make carrots a treat and not a mainstay. Bugs Bunny ruined it for all bunnies-LOL!
The best idea I can pass along is to remember to feed them things they are most likely to encounter in the wild. Almonds definitely don’t make that cut. Also, remember that some foods can actually cause a toxic buildup of gas that can harm or kill them. They know what they CAN eat but, just like humans, don’t always pick what’s best for them. I believe this article has some specific recommendations as well.
Keep helping your little bunnies!
Hi there. Just saw your article here. I live on central east coast of Florida. I have been feeding birds quite a while then it has seemed the squirrels eat more than the birds. We have dove, red bellied woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jay and many other but they are the mainstay. Then I found I have rabbits enjoying the bounty. I couldn’t figure out what they were eating out of the seed but I suppose it must be the safflower seeds after reading your information. I’ve also started putting out kale, broccoli, carrot, lettuce or other stems and leaves of veggies I may have left. Now I have several coons. Everyone used to come in after dark but it seems they are coming in sometimes well before dark. I live in a developed neighborhood and it worries me about that. I have Peter, Bun Bun and Bunny Foo Foo. This is the first time I’ve seen 3. I obviously have no idea the sex but it’s almost as if a family so I’ve stuck with that. Although Peter, the bigger one, is seldom with what I call the mom, Bun Bun, and Foo Foo. Foo Foo was the baby and is now getting big enough I’m starting to have trouble telling them apart. I suppose I’ll cut down on the ones with more sugar content as suggested. Although I really think they prefer the seeds. Thanks for sharing feeding information. I don’t guess I need to worry about grasses/hay products
I love that you’ve given them names and family roles! It’s awesome!
To be honest with you, I would try putting out some Timothy hay and cut back on the things the Raccoons will eat like seeds. Also, your feeders should have raccoon baffles on them so they don’t have ready access to everything the birds do. This will also take care of your squirrel issue.
For the bunnies, seeds are not the best for them. Do you have a heavily managed lawn? I have all kinds of wild grasses and various plants as well as grass. It’s all well manicured just not selectively managed with a ton of chemicals. My bunnies always can find something they like.
Hope this is some help. Let me know if I can suggest anything else you might try.
I live in the foothills just north of Tucson Arizona and have had a large family of Desert Cottontails that we have been feeding for about 5 years. Two of the rabbits are so friendly I was told that they have imprinted on me. They will follow me around the yard and will run up to me within a few feet, We provide them with carrots, spinach, bird seed (dried corn), and fresh water every day. They come at sun up then will dig a small ditch and flop into it. All within feet of my elevated wood deck. They love to hang out with us all day. Every hour they get up and have a snack then go back to laying down with their ears fully back and eyes fully shut. We have names for each and every one and talk to them. My neighbors probably think we are nuts but we don’t care. I have fallen hard for these beautiful animals and they are an integral part of our lives (and our food budget). I don’t need advice as I’m just relating this love story to you and you’re readers, I’m retired twice over (Military 20 years, and Delta Airlines 18 years). I retired in 2015 and began seeing the Cottontails shortly after that. Started feeding them in 2016 and naming them and talking to them. I just want to relay the fact that I just can’t wait for the daylight to come so I can see and talk to my little friends. They look at us with absolute love in their eyes. I have been blown away by the intelligence and personality of these little sweet babies. They play, jump, and run around chasing each other and look totally content and happy. It makes me feel so proud and lucky to have found this gift at this juncture of my life. I have a facebook page with pictures of the bunnies. Just do a search for (Anthony Tocco)
Your story has touched my heart! I know all too well about neighbors thinking we’re nuts and I know neither of us cares-LOL! I’m outside talking to my birds and squirrels all the time. You’v tapped into what very few humans are willing to admit: animals have their own intelligence and can share it with us IF WE’RE LISTENING! You ARE truly blessed and doubly so because you realize it! You have helped them so much and they trust and love (yes, I said love too) for it. It’s a symbiotic relationship as your calm helps them relax which in turn helps your mind and body.
I just looked over your FB page and can see the love in their eyes and how at peace they are around you!
Keep the enthusiasm and it will take you very far. Even past the double retirements-LOL!
Somebody you might be interested in Googling: Nancy Windheart. She is an animal communication specialist and I think you’d find her work fascinating. She offers courses but has some freebies too.
Please feel free to check in with any updates to report, will you?
LOVE this story!
Anthony Tocco says
Thank you Jeff, I will stay in touch….
I bought a 40 lb. bag of Enchanted Garden birdseed from Menards and didn’t realize it was moldy until I used half of it. I did notice that there was a thin white coating on some of the sunflower seed but I thought it was from the dust from the smaller pieces of corn. I have a lot of wild birds and two bunny rabbits that are daily feeders…are they going to get sick? And if so, are they to perish?
The store is going to exchange it for some other birdfood, but who is to blame for the moldy food…the store of the manufacturer? My heart is so broken over this!
Sorry to hear about your bad bag of seed. I’m glad you caught it and are remedying the situation. Moldy seed can make birds sick but the good news is that moldy seed is generally not as appealing to them. The best part here is the knowledge you’ve gained to look over any seed you purchase and not assume because it’s on the shelf at a store that it’s safe.
In the supply chain for seed there are many places where seed can go bad. It may have been packed with moisture that started the molding. It could have sat in a warehouse in intense heat. The trucks transporting it could have also gotten too warm. It’s really hard to say.
What I’m most proud of you for doing is seeing the problem and addressing it as quickly as you were aware of it! Don’t beat yourself up about what’s happened and have confidence that this will turn out ok.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.
“My” backyard bunny is apparently a renegade! I offer him lettuce, celery, even carrots, he turns up his nose and eats the weeds next to the veggies. I know he’s not “fronting” because when I come out the next day, the veggies are still untouched.
But when I throw down the bird food? Finches and Sparrows, get out of the way, here comes the bunny. It’s even gotten to the point now where when I come home from work, he’s sitting where I throw the bird food, looking at me like, “Dude, are you gonna feed me?”. And if I take too long coming out with the bird food, like if I decide to light the grill first, he comes up to about 5 feet away from me and starts nibbling weeds, staring at me, just to make sure I know he’s starving.
So now I’ve got 2 bird food zones, 1 for the bunny, who doesn’t eat a whole lot and leaves the rest for the actual birds, and another one for the poor birds who can’t get to “their” food ‘cuz the bunny is all over it.
Thanks for stopping by and adding to this awesome discussion! Where are you located?
It’s so much fun to feed these little ones, isn’t it? It cracks me up to hear your bunny is now waiting and hinting when it’s time to feed them-LOL! To be honest, when I’ve had the most bunnies in my back yard it’s because they’re eating the variety of grasses and plants I allow to grow back there. Like you, I’ve tried many things but they always return to my yard for the plants in it.
That’s not to say I haven’t seen that “stare” either. I make a point of sitting outside for at least 30 minutes in the afternoon every day and when bunnies are about, I’ll just turn around and one will be munching clover less than ten feet from me.
You’re doing a great job here, Rob. The biggest problem I see from most people is feeding them too much of the sugary stuff like, believe it or not, carrots. As long as you keep making sure the bunny isn’t making bad choices this relationship should last a long time.
I live near an open space/trail where there are bunnies. This is in quite congested and densely populated Orange County, California.
When I walk in the morning, I take this trail and see so many bunnies. I started bringing them greens, carrots, whatever, maybe six weeks ago. I put the food in the same places.
What are bunnies’ memories like? Do you think the same bunnies come around to those spots because they’ve grown use to greens and such being there at least every other day.
I never stick around around for them to get too used to me as it seems they need to remain afraid of humans, esp. humans walking dogs or letting the dogs off the leash.
But if I did stick around, would they eventually eat anyway and grow used to me?
Glad I found your website. Informative!
Hi Inkmama (Barbara?),
All humans should be as careful and concerned as you are! Pat yourself on the back for this, please!
Your thinking is spot on: the bunnies DO remember where they get food and even whom they get it from. One of our community has bunnies in their back yard and all they do is feed them. The bunnies have gotten more and more comfortable with them and even stand around hinting they still need something-LOL! But they also feel your energy. If you had ill-will towards them they would NOT become comfortable around you. Make no mistake. I and they appreciate your interest in NOT domesticating them. Even if they CAN discern one human from another, the momentary decision process could cost them their lives.
Keep doing exactly what you’re doing. Thank you for sharing your story. Speaking of stories, I’m honored to have an author deem my work useful!
Thanks for your response, Jeff.
I have another question, this time about birds.
In our yard we have hummingbird feeders but I want to also have a seed feeder again, for the other birds. When we had it last time, it seemed to attract squirrels and rats. One hanging from the eave of the house attracted a roof rat, apparently, and I don’t want to do that again.
Any seed feeders you recommend that squirrels can’t get to?
Thanks for your response and for providing this forum.
The best situation is to have a feeder pole with a baffle on it to keep things from climbing up to the feeders above. If you just want to hang a feeder on a tree limb that’s squirrel-proof, the Brome Bird Care line seen here: https://bromebirdcare.com/busterproducts/
I’ve had a number of these and they still work! The company is awesome and stands behind their products 100%. They are not the cheapest but you do get what you pay for. I am NOT receiving any compensation from that link, by the way.
As for rats, just having bird feces and seeds dropped below a feeder can attract them. Keeping the area cleaned weekly is best.
Let me know if I can help you any further. It’s why I’m here.
Debra Taylor says
Hello again. I wrote you back in May and you responded with suggestions. Thank you. As far as the Timothy grass, my rabbits haven’t eaten any of it. I constantly throw out a handful or two at a time. I’ve watched it sit there and be ignored and eventually blow and scatter away. Yes, of course, we have have our landscaped manicured since we live in a development with HOA. But I’m not a great favorite of everyone because I get letters now and then about feeding wildlife. I’m honestly not attempting to bait up wildlife. It was all about the birds at first. Of course we ended up being the neighborhood diner for the squirrels. I really don’t mind but gets expensive. Then it was the flying squirrels. I really do enjoy catching a peep now and then of them at the feeders at night. Very elusive though. Then as I said before the bunnies came. I’m so surprised they are still here to be honest. One or two are very brave and I’ll see them in the middle of the day. In my front yard under the oak searching for what’s left under the feeders. That’s where I also put the treats for them. They are not crazy about pellets either. I’ve seen maybe eating a few and most are left to dissolve in rain or whatever else is happening to them. I have 3 very picky bunnies. LOL! Not sure witch it is but either Bun Bun or Foo Foo has gotten very used to me and my voice. If I see him/ her out in the middle of the day under the tree sitting, I’ll go throw something out for him. I’ve gotten close enough that if I wanted I could reach over and touch him if I’d wanted. I alway am slow and talk softly as I approach and I don’t make make eye contact because that’s what I’ve seen that’s what predators do. He just sits there watching. When one of the others are together with him, the other will run to bushes in next yard. He hasn’t let my husband close so I hope that means he is trustful of everyone. I so worry about these little guys.
Hello again Debra,
So nice to hear from you again! I’m really glad you’ve given the Timothy grass and pellets a go. Some people have had success with them and some not. Usually, as it is with yours, if they’ve settled on something from your feeders it’s hard to change their minds. I understand about your squirrels and I would recommend to you what I did to Barbara. The Brome Bird Care line of squirrel-proof feeders. That way, whether they crawl or fly to them they can’t feed from them. Keeping the ground beneath feeders cleaned on a regular basis (which I’m sure you do) also helps a lot.
Make no mistake about your bunnies. They do sense your energy and intent and react to it. I’m sure your husband has no ill will towards them but sometimes trusting ONE human is enough for them to stay safe. You’re very wise not to make eye contact much either. It is predatory. When I sit outside and have my birdies and squirrels come down to feed, I’ll stay stock still while the birds are either contemplating landing or are feeding. My squirrels don’t care and seem to like me talking to them.
We’ve already been through the HOA stuff and I like your attitude about it. Not confrontational but not just blindly compliant. You are NOT violating anything but somebody’s idea of how it’s supposed to be. Realizing the difference makes all the difference.
Do make sure to pop in and let me know if you try the Brome feeders or not and how your little ones are doing. You’re doing all the right things, I promise.
Oh my, I am so happy to have stumbled upon this…. simply to know I’m not alone in my love woodland creatures! I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m a few nuggets short of a happy meal, because I am “that girl” – the one walking around with binoculars around her neck, carrying a canister of bird seed and a bag of produce, strategically placing them around the yard.
I have deer, squirrels, bunnies, a plethora of bird species – including screech owls and barred owls), raccoons, armadillo, turkey, a huge groundhog who adores apples, 3 possums (who are usually the bravest & friendliest of all…they will come right up to me at night and wait on me to hand them treats, sometimes even getting on top of the back porch table and waiting if I am not out there on time).
I have an Australian Shepherd who is so accustomed to it, that she never bothers any of them and can sit beside me and just watch the animals feed and roam around. It took the critters a while to get used to her coming out with me, but now they seem to know she isn’t a threat. Part of me didn’t want them getting acclimated to the presence of a dog, but at the same time, it was important to me so I don’t have to worry about their well being if the kids let her out to potty unsupervised, etc. I don’t have to worry about her chasing or hurting them.
My family has called me Snow White for as long as I can remember, because I started interacting with nature/animals in my pre-teen years. This summer has been a struggle though because a feral cat showed up in the woods behind our house. I am keeping her fed (canned wet cat food) because she was actively digging up bunny nests, going after birds, squirrels, etc. It broke my heart, but I know that’s how she has survived. Keeping her tummy full at least twice a day seems to help because now she spends most of the days lounging under some shrubbery. She has gotten braver, but still won’t get within 6 feet of me (perhaps she is social distancing! Lol). Any tips on feral cats?
I really enjoyed your story about you, your animals and your neighbors because my neighbors also think I’m a few nuggets short of a happy meal. Sitting outside on my back steps and talking to the squirrels who come down to feed isn’t helping either-LOL!
You’ve done all the right things and you’re correct: the animals KNOW you and your dog mean them no harm. They wouldn’t be as careless with anybody else. I have no scientific studies to prove this but I know animals are as tuned into the energy humans give off as with other animals. Everything is energy and it’s out there for those who will pay attention to it Nancy Windheart, an animal communication specialist would be a great person for you to look up and learn from.
As for the feral cat, no good can come of that. I totally understand you placating them to distract them from the animals they target. But I would honestly recommend checking with an animal relocation person in your area. Make sure they really DO move them to a safe and sustainable location and get it out of your yard.
Thank you so much for stopping by and telling your story and I couldn’t be happier you found us! Do let me know what you decide and how things go, will you?
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett says
Hi again, Jeff…
So today on my hike after I left greens for the rabbits, one rabbit immediately began feeding and then a rat came out of the brush, interested in the greens and chased the bunny off!
I’m thinking it’s time to change it up. What don’t rats eat that rabbits eat–Timothy grass, I think it’s called?
Thanks for your help,
So good to hear from you again!
I’d try the Timothy grass for sure! People have had some success with it. It seems like the difference is whether there’s something you offer that they’re stuck on which doesn’t seem to be the case here. At any rate, the rats should NOT find it interesting in the least.
Give it a go and report back but make sure to give them some time to find it and see it consistently.
Vickey Ianoale says
I have been feeding one Rabbit this summer.
He loves the figs from my tree.
So glad to hear you’ve found an easy way to fee your wild rabbits! Make sure not to give them too many of them because the high sugar content is not good for them as a sole source of nutrition. Make sure they have plenty of leafy greens too.
Thank you for taking care of your little ones! They wanted me to tell you they love and appreciate you.
shirley anne says
Just came across your site while i was looking for answers to questions about a wild baby bunbun that I have been feeding and loving along with a few other rabbits in my yard this season. I found the nest in a bad place and protected it and them during the terribly hot spring weather this year, Momma had them under a coiled hose in a shallow sandy and rocky nest so I cut piles of green ground cover from my front yard and piled it on the nest for safety from crows and the heat and sun…..checked them every day, every few hours and was happy to find momma nursing one early morning! The one biggest baby would look up at me and I believe he/she imprinted in some way because shortly after the nest was abandoned, one baby and momma would come to my patio to have carrots and romaine every day or evening, I know it was baby and momma because the wee one would go upside-down under her and still try to nurse! She would have none of it, time to move on! lol! Baby BunBun (my name for him/her) eventually started to come when I would call out and decided one day that it was ok to trust me and started taking food from my hand!! What a joy and I felt blessed to be allowed to connect with this precious little life. I had many tragedies this spring also, I buried 2 adult rabbits that were injured by cars or hawks….I also had to clean out a nest of 4 tiny but fully furred baby rabbits that had just been attacked by a cat and all died from fright! THAT was horrible, to hold those tiny still warm bodies in my hands! I cried and cried and made a grave for them in my garden. My love for animals has been with me since birth and I have cared for so so many.
My BunBun turned up to feed again after a 3 day absence which had me worried. so thankful cause I missed him/her so much! I am also concerned about his/her right rear leg…there is a good size red and nasty lump or boil on it…..I called our local Nature Conservator and he (Steve) advised me that it may be a “Botfly” larvae under the skin. It is not uncommon and dogs can get them, we can get them! ugh!! Very nasty,. I don’t know if you are familiar with this parasite but if not, read up on it. I won’t go into detail here but it is something that does happen more often to wild rabbits….they can survive it if they do not get a bad infection after the parasite hatches and falls out….ewwww yuk! But there could also be a sad outcome, so I am keeping a watch. There is nothing I can do because catching a wild bunny can be too traumatic and cause a little bunny heart attack. I know nature can be cruel but better to let this take its course and not try to intervene. At present he/her seem to be fine, eating, grazing and still hopping!
You have a wonderful and helpful site here and I hope other people who love the animals like we do, continue to focus on how we can help THEM. Rather than getting caught up in the differences between us humans. We all need to work together here!
“and God did make them voiceless”…please adopt a shelter dog….. Shirley
So glad you’ve established this relationship with your bunnies. Very sorry for the awful turns some of this has taken. Will be thinking about your BunBun and that the leg continues to heal without further complications.
Do keep us updated on your bunny world, will you?
Thank you for visiting the site and your kind words! So glad you’ve enjoyed reading others’ connection stories with their bunnies!
I’ve read that peanuts are not really good for them and may actually make them sick. I would concentrate your feeding on the greens, grains and fruits in that order. High sugar fruits are best as a treat and not a staple.
Hope this helps and keep up the good work!
Thanks for that tip about peanuts. I had no idea!
I’ll concentrate of the greens and oats. He likes romaine, but prefers it warm, i.e., not right out of the refrigerator. I keep my grass cut, so MY grass doesn’t help him much. I always have bok choy in my frig, so I never have to run out and get a green. He likes that bok warm, too. I might spring for some fresh spinach on my next grocery run.
He does drink the water I put out, every day.
Sounds like you’ve got a great plan! Warming the greens? Awesome!
Go for the spinach!
Kathleen Anderson says
I live in Western New York and have a bunny living nearby. He comes across my front door stoop every evening often leaving me lil droppings and piddles. I’d like to feed him since we live in a very heavy snow belt but how do I keep the food from freezing (kale, carrots, spinach)? Would a small open-faced wooden food shelter of some kind work? Something to keep things dry. I believe he lives under my neighbors evergreen bush since it is low to the ground and would provide him shelter. He seems to be nibbling on my firebush bark so he may need a little help through the winter this year.
Hello and welcome to the BirdOculars community! Happy to have you along!
Could you try to put out some rabbit pellets? As far as shelter is concerned or a covered feeding place, I have no experience with that but do know they should be able to find and eat your pellets if you put them where you know he/she hangs out.
Let me know how this goes.
I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I feed the rabbits, squirrels the birds (Blue Jay’s, Ravens, crows, chickadee’s, and any others who find their way here.) I know people (neighbors) are annoyed that I do this. And here is me smiling and not caring what people say. 🙂 I love the animals, I enjoy seeing them they brighten my day, my neighbors however, do not. LOL. If people ask you, why you feed the animals, tell them this. “There were more animals than people on Noah’s Ark, which tells me they are pretty important if God himself had Noah and his family care for his living creations.” Let people talk, insult and slander. Pray for them and God will put a crown on your beautiful animal loving head.
I know my neighbors think I’m one brick short as well. I know there are other much more expensive neighborhoods in our area that their Homeowners’ Associations specifically ban feeding of anything wild. We ARE all made of the same stuff. Thank you for stopping by to remind us once again how important what we do is. Both for our mental health and the enjoyment and sustenance of our back yard visitors!
There is a baby wild bunny in my backyard. I’ve tried to feed baby carrots, blueberries, and apples, in moderation of course, but it hasn’t eaten the food. What do I feed this bunny and how can I get him to trust me more?
I know it’s tough to hear but: you don’t need to feed the baby anything and probably shouldn’t and you don’t want them to trust you more. That trust will not serve them most of the time when it comes to humans.
Baby bunnies should be cared for by their parents. Even if it like it’s abandoned you can bet one or both of them isn’t far away watching them. They try not to draw attention to them as much as possible.
Hope this helps.
Lori n says
I live in Stamford Connecticut…I just started feeding the birds, rabbits, chipmunks, etc. in my area and have no idea what I am doing but am trying my best. I purchased a bird feeder with 5 different types of feeders (suet, cracked corn, seed, regular feed etc. Where is the best place to put the feeder? I have a huge rock in my front yard surrounded by some bushes, flowers and small greenery, I put it there but then I read you should not put them near bushes, is that correct? Also, how many times a day do you fill the feeders? Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks
Congratulations on starting your back yard bird feeding adventure! I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and learn something new all the time.
The first thing I’ll advise you is to START SLOW! You need to get a feel for what’s in your back yard and have some time to watch them before deciding what else to put out. Having five different types of feeders to start is just overwhelming. Start with just some water and sunflower seed and see who shows up. I’m happy to guide you as you go. But get some time to see what’s there.
As for the location, you want it close enough to trees and bushes so the birds feel like they can safely escape if they need to but NOT close enough that predators can hide easily that close. 20 feet is a good benchmark, I believe.
Don’t forget to give yourself some time on your back deck or steps to just sit out there with them. I do this every day and I am restored each time I do!
Let me know how your experiment goes and I’d love to hear what you see. I’m here to help.
Hi Jeff- came across your site while looking for other things to feed wild bunnies. This year’s kits (4th year of litters born under the shed in the fenced in back yard) are picky eaters. Over the winter, I leave veggies and pellets for the new mom (by the end of winter, she usually lets me hand feed her). In spring, I move the decorative potted kale from the front porch and the kits will usually chomp it down to nubs when they’re grown enough that she leaves the litter. I usually substitute the litter’s diet of clover (haven’t seeded or treated my back yard in as many years, so it’s a sea of clover) with timothy pellets, but this year’s straggler of the litter of 3 (to leave the yard – there’s always one) is move interested in the leftover sunflower seeds from the bird/ chipmunk/ squirrel feeder. Sometimes “Rascal” prefers the sunflowers to Swiss chard or basil. He often steals from the chipmunk (poor things – they had a litter of 2 this past winter). I was worried at first, but after reading your site, feel better about letting him have a handful of bird food (minus the nuts), so thanks. Makes the peanut picking easier for the woodpecker and blue jays too. Was wondering if anyone else had advice on picky bunny eaters?
Was also wondering if anyone from a colder area (usually southern NJ doesn’t get as cold as this past winter) had any advice on squirrel bedding? The new mom squirrel took all the stuffing from the front chair cushions for her nest this past winter (baby squirrel born in the 2 story evergreen beside the front porch was adorable!) The new chair cushions are quite lovely, but to avoid having to get another set, I’m going to put them away this winter, so was wondering if I leave a bag of poly-fill cushion stuffing – will the squirrels use it or will they go in the attic instead? I’d rather help nature outside. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’ve written quite a bit about feeding and helping squirrels on my site. I would start with this article because you mentioned them going into your attic? If this is not a sealed space, it’s a problem. See the article for more detail.
Let me know if you have any questions after reading the article. I’m happy to help.
Hi Jeff I love your site! I came here searching for what to feed wild rabbits. William and Mary are the rabbits we have in our garden and though they have a lovely sheltered space under the shed I worry about food as we have afoot of snow covering everything! There is so much conflicting advice on rabbit food for example anything that can cause gas and kill them: any pale colored lettuce, kale, broccoli, cabbage is a no no. Ugh it’s so confusing, I always have swiss chard on hand but even that is cautioned due to the oxalic acid. I might just buy them a few bunches of mixed herbs and hay for the cold weather. Is that okay do you think?
Thanks in advance
Thank you for stopping by and your kind words! I would consider trying Timothy grass and see what they think of it. It’s available at Walmart and has many good recommendations for their diet.
Let me know how it goes, ok?
Hi there! How are y’all? I have been feeding several generations of bunnies in my front yard. Actually started by mistake, I have bird feeders under an oak tree and also through in ground for the doves. Use cracked corn too. I have squirrels, lots of happy squirrels, woodpeckers, whistling ducks, cardinals, now and then raccoons and occasionally a possum. Then one day at dusk I saw two bunnies. Before I knew it there were 4. Over the years they don’t come in groups anymore but mostly single. I know it’s the same ones that keep coming back because as I talk softly to them and I can all but walk right up to them and put out tidbits by them. Apples, romaine, sunflower seeds (and they eat what they want from bird seed thrown around. I tried kale, rabbit pellets and Timothy hay but they wouldn’t eat it. Now and then I put tops of celery out too but not often because I’ve heard that and iceberg lettuce have no nutritional value. I love my bunnies. Worry about them though.
Thanks for stopping back again! Glad to have you here!
I always say you’d be surprised at what an animal will eat if they’re hungry enough. They also know how to play you. If they know there’s something they like better on the menu, they’ll simply hold out for it. Sugar is a universal attractant so anything following an apple will almost certainly be ignored-LOL!
I know it’s tough but you should try just putting out apple bits very sparingly and concentrate on the pellets and Timothy grass. They WILL eat them and they’re much better for them too.
Let me know how it goes, ok?
Kathy Sanders says
Hey Jeff I’m in Virginia and I started noticing a bunny in the yard. I had been throwing out some apples plus a purple birdseed out there that has nuts and a bunch of different stuff in it for what I was thinking deer were eating. But one night I finally saw it the bunny was there eating the apple in along came a possum I guess possum like apples too. I threw big apples out but evidently little bunny didn’t want them I guess I’ll have to try the small ones. What else can I put out there that not only my bunny would like but my visiting possum? Thanks for any information that you can provide and I love your column.
Hi Kathy and thanks for your kind words!
As for the bunny, I’d be careful about the sugar in them and try to put out some rabbit pellets and/or Timothy grass. The possum will probably be happy to get whatever he/she can from underneath your feeders. Just make sure you rake up the shells about once a week so they aren’t moldy or dangerous.
Let me know how this works for you and enjoy your bunnies!
Susan Hedger says
I live in Ottawa, Canada and am feeding at least 3 rabbits during this winter 2023. I give them some thin apple slices, a few baby carrots, spinach + bird seed + some peanuts. What they don’t eat… the squirrels and black birds consume.
The winters are freezing up here, with temps sometimes as low as -40°.
In summer we over seed our lawn with white clover, which the rabbits absolutely luv! They actually lounge in the grass clover mix for hours = so sweet 🙂
Sounds like you have what is called an ecosystem-LOL! Your dedication to helping your visitors is stellar! Pat yourself on the back!
Have you lived in Ottawa your whole life?
I know from experience here in Tennessee how much they LOVE the clover! The lounging IS sweet! The funny thing is the only time I usually see rabbits around here is spring and summer.