Generally, rabbits do not eat bugs as a part of a healthy diet. Rabbits are strict herbivores. Through the consumption of vegetation, these long-eared animals meet their dietary requirements. They do not purposely seek out flies, spiders, or worms to eat; however, they may accidentally digest a bug or two when eating their greens.
Do rabbits eat bugs?
Rabbits are not predatory by nature. Ideally, they find their meals in green areas where vegetation is plentiful. They do not seek to pounce on fast-moving insects for two distinct reasons: lack of skill and ambition.
Instead, these woodland creatures find the fiber they need to survive in plants rather than insects. The protein received from bug consumption will not satiate a rabbit and does not meet their dietary needs.
If rabbits cannot find food in a green space, they may tackle lower tree branches to find dinner. Rabbits like to explore their environment using their mouths which may lead to the unintentional ingestion of bugs.
Moreover, insects and rabbits seek out the same food source. For this reason, rabbits may accidentally consume a bug while eating their preferred meal.
Is it dangerous for my rabbit to eat insects?
As rabbits do not seek out bugs, they rarely consume them. The safest recourse for your rabbit is to avoid ingesting bugs. Bugs can be too big for rabbits to digest. Similarly, particular insect defense mechanisms can make swallowing difficult.
Rabbits do have large throats. Loewen and Walner, who measured the airway of 35 rabbits between 2.3-5.1 kg, recorded the average airway to be 5.88 mm by 5.41 mm (lateral)wide*. Because of their tiny throats, rabbits can choke on bugs like beetles.
Also, digestive blockages can occur if your rabbit swallows a sizeable insect. Simply put, it is hard for the gut to break down the hard-shelled insect effectively. In contrast, small insects like aphids should pass through the digestive tract safely.
Finally, insects can carry diseases. These diseases can wreak havoc on the immune system of your bunny. A diseased bug has the potential to make your rabbit sick.
What bugs could my rabbit eat by mistake?
One bug your rabbit could consume by mistake is an ant. Wild rabbits live in warrens and come in contact with ants. Ant bites can be extremely painful for a rabbit because they have low pain thresholds.
Another accidental snack for a rabbit might be a caterpillar. Distractions when eating a leaf may cause a rabbit to consume this insect.
If your rabbit finds a flea on their fur, they could bite it and swallow it. Fleas carry tapeworm larva and may cause an internal parasitic infestation.
An ingested tick could make your rabbit extremely sick. These annoying bugs transmit diseases from one animal to another. It is impossible to know whether or not the tick carries the blood of a diseased animal.
When rabbits groom their mates, they can come across ticks. The rabbit could swallow the tick to prevent it from reattaching to its mate.
Like ticks, cockroaches spread diseases that could make your rabbit sick. The hard exteriors of the cockroaches can make it challenging for a rabbit to digest them.
Flystrike can be fatal if not caught in time. Flystrike occurs when a fly lays its eggs on a bunny. Flies usually lay eggs near the bottom of a bunny. Within a few hours, fly eggs hatch into maggots.
When rabbits have maggots, they need to be taken immediately to the vet for treatment. Flystrike causes lethargy in your rabbit and may lead the animal to stop eating or drinking.
Why do rabbits eat bugs?
Researchers have found several potential reasons why a healthy rabbit may consume a bug. The most prominent theory is accidental ingestion. Rabbits inadvertently consume bugs when eating vegetation.
Alternatively, rabbits may act defensively. Biting can be a stress reaction. A rabbit may bite and swallow a bug that has been bothering them or their mates. A rabbit may bite at an invader of their home. Eating the pesky insect may be the easiest way to rid themself of the pest.
Rabbits and Spiders
Likely, your rabbit will leave a spider alone. Most spiders are harmless though a few are poisonous. Assuming a non-poisonous spider infiltrated your rabbit hatch, you may want to let the spider cohabitate with your rabbit.
A spider web can catch flies and prevent the flies from laying eggs on the rabbit. Fewer flies in the hatch lower the chances of your rabbit developing Flystrike.
Rabbits eating bugs
It is rare for a rabbit to search out and eat bugs. Sometimes rabbits will model the behavior of other animals in your home. As long as the rabbit is healthy and not seeking out insects harmful to their digestive system, it is not a huge concern.
If you are unsure of what insects your rabbit eats, it may be time to take your rabbit to a vet for a check-up to make sure they are as healthy as they seem.
To break your rabbit from this potentially dangerous habit, employ behavioral avoidance techniques. Train your pet to avoid ingesting insects as they serve no health benefit.
What should rabbits eat instead of bugs?
If you have a pet rabbit, you want to make sure it is getting proper nutrition. Your rabbit should eat mostly grass and hay. You will want to supplement the bulk of the meal with plenty of fresh drinking water to keep the rabbit hydrated.
Additionally, you can introduce other green vegetables into the daily diet of your rabbit. Including other healthy choices helps keep the diet varied and enjoyable.
Healthy vegetables for your rabbit to eat includes:
- romaine lettuce
- bok choy
Give your rabbit other vegetables sparingly. For example, limit vegetables like Swiss chard, kale, and collard greens. These vegetables contain high levels of calcium. When a rabbit has too much calcium in their diet, they can develop bladder stones.
For a treat, occasionally give your rabbit a carrot. This particular vegetable is high in carbohydrates.
One vegetable you do not want to feed your rabbit is an onion. For details on why this is dangerous, read the article: Can Rabbits Have Onions?
*Loewen, M. S., and D. L. Walner. “Dimensions of Rabbit Subglottis and Trachea.” Laboratory Animals, vol. 35, no. 3, 2001, pp. 253-56. Crossref, doi:10.1258/0023677011911714.