Few animals are known for loving leafy green plants more than rabbits. However, you might wonder whether bugs also fit into their veggie-filled diet.
Rabbits are strict herbivores and generally avoid eating insects and other tiny animals. However, they may accidentally ingest bugs that hide in or on their food. Additionally, some rabbits will devour insects territorially even though doing so provides little to no nutritional value.
Below, this article delves into when our bunnies might eat bugs—and whether or not you need to worry about it.
Why Rabbits May Eat Insects
Due to their love of leafy veggies, many view rabbits as the poster children of herbivores. After all, few critters so rigidly avoid consuming meat and other animals.
However, there are a few situations where your bunny may eat bugs.
The most common reason it happens is, funny enough, by accident. While rabbits have excellent farsight, they struggle to see small objects immediately in front of them. As a result, they sometimes inadvertently eat bugs on their fruits and vegetables.
Another cause is that bunnies constantly self-groom. If they detect fleas or ticks, they’ll go out of their way to remove and eat them—even off of other rabbits! They’re so skilled at grooming that your pet may eliminate any fleas before you even notice them.
Finally, rabbits can be highly territorial. And this aggression doesn’t just extend to other rabbits. If they see a bug nearby, they may attack and consume it to ‘defend’ their space.
What Kinds of Insects Do Rabbits Eat?
Now that you know rabbits can eat bugs, you might be wondering which ones. And rabbits themselves aren’t too picky on the matter.
Typically, they eat the kinds of critters regularly found on plants. Think of things like ladybugs and beetles.
Although bunnies will also eat any parasitic creatures they find in their fur.
Below are some insects rabbits may occasionally eat:
- Ticks (from grooming)
- Fleas (from grooming)
In rare cases, rabbits may eat flying critters like mosquitoes and moths. This typically happens when a bunny feels playful and tries to “catch” them.
However, it’s unusual for them to mess with larger insects like mantises and grasshoppers. Or bugs that will fight back, such as centipedes.
Is It Okay for Rabbits To Eat Insects?
In the majority of situations, eating insects is not harmful to rabbits.
Most bugs lack stingers, claws, or poison strong enough to affect a rabbit. So you probably don’t need to worry about your pet munching up the occasional beetle.
Furthermore, while rabbits have sensitive digestive systems, most insects they ingest are minuscule. As a result, they’d have to eat a ton of critters to get sick.
But with that in mind, you should still stop your furry friend from eating them too often.
Some bugs pose a risk to your pet—especially ones that can hurt humans, like wasps. And there are even insects (such as botflies) that specifically target bunnies to infest with parasites.
Plus, most bugs provide little to no dietary value to rabbits. So if your pet chooses to eat creepy crawlies instead of plants, they’ll miss out on crucial nutrients.
Risks of Rabbits Eating Insects
Your bunny can usually eat insects without any issues. However, certain critters may be harmful.
Many of the bugs that we humans avoid are also a risk to our furry friends. So if you see your rabbit near a fire ant hill, for example, it might be a good idea to move them.
Below is a list of risks that your rabbit faces when eating bugs:
- Painful stings and bites: Bugs like hornets and bees may attack your bunny if it tries to devour them. In rare cases, this can lead to severe swelling and allergic reactions.
- Poison: Some insects, like caterpillars, use potent secretions to ward off threats. Ingesting them might give your bunny a stomach ache or other issues.
- Disease: Bugs can carry bacteria and viruses that spread to animals that eat them. Although, this problem is more prevalent in tropical regions.
- Lack of nutrition: Your bunny may miss out on crucial nutrients if they choose creepy crawlies over plants. As a result, ensure your pet isn’t actively seeking out bugs to eat.
How To Stop Rabbits From Eating Insects
After learning about the potential risks bugs pose, you may want to keep your pet away from them.
To help, here are some ways to discourage your bunny from consuming insects:
- Wall off your garden: If you let your pet roam the backyard, make sure they can’t get into the garden. Veggies, fruits, and flowers all attract many kinds of bugs.
- Use rabbit deterrent: Spray deterrents are designed to deter wild bunnies and hares. But they’re also good at dissuading your pet from especially buggy areas.
- Provide nibbling food: Rabbits feel a constant need to munch on things. Ensure they have something like hay available to chew on so that they don’t look for crickets or ants.
- Watch your pet closely: Keep a close eye on your bunny if you let them out to roam. They may regularly find bugs in a particular spot, like an anthill.
- Call pest control: If you have a bug problem, the chances are some of them are getting into your rabbit’s hutch. A pest control service can help remove the insects, preventing your pet from eating them.
Do Rabbits Eat Spiders?
You might think that rabbits would never eat spiders considering they’re strict herbivores.
But as it turns out, your furry friend may sometimes ingest these 8-legged critters. And it happens for the same reasons they occasionally consume insects.
Ordinarily, a bunny will only ingest a spider by accident if it’s on their food. But your pet may also devour the creepy critters in defense when feeling threatened.
Another reason it happens is simple curiosity. Animals tend to taste-test things they aren’t sure about. And as a result, your rabbit may munch on an arachnid without realizing what they’re doing.
However, don’t worry too much—even if that happens, your pet will likely be fine.
While creepy-looking, spiders generally can’t harm rabbits. Most of them are venomous and not poisonous. That means that eating them is almost always safe.
Some species, such as the black widow, can be dangerous if they strike. However, bites from them are exceedingly rare.
Can Rabbits Eat Worms?
Bugs and arachnids are generally not a good food choice for your bunny. So it would stand to reason that worms are also a poor source of sustenance, right?
But surprisingly, worms can actually be an excellent form of nutrition for your pet bunny.
According to research, earthworms pack tons of crucial proteins and amino acids for our furry friends. And including them in meals can even be healthier than all-plant diets.
However, moderation is key.
If your pet only eats these wiggly critters, they’ll miss out on some critical vitamins. As a result, earthworms work best as just a supplement or small part of a rabbit’s diet.
So don’t fret if you notice your bunny munching on these animals in your garden. If anything, your pet is getting a nutritious snack.
Do Rabbits Eat Bees and Wasps?
Typically, your rabbit will avoid bees and wasps like the plague.
And that’s a good thing—because these flying bugs are the last thing you want your pet trying to eat.
Rabbits, like bees, love flowers and plants. And as a result, the creatures often cross paths in gardens. The vast majority of encounters are peaceful. But occasionally, your pet may agitate a bee and get stung.
The problem is that rabbits have allergies just as humans do. Meaning that a sting can lead to anaphylactic shock in rare circumstances.
If your pet gets stung, remove the stinger and pay attention to any symptoms. Vomiting or trouble breathing means you should head to the vet immediately.
Additionally, wasps often build their nests on outdoor rabbit hutches. So look out for any unwanted residents and remove them before they hurt your bunnies.
Are Insects in a Rabbit Enclosure Bad?
Having insects running amok in your rabbit’s pen or hutch poses several problems.
Since rabbits are herbivores, there’s a decent chance your pet won’t try eating any invaders. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still get rid of any bugs.
Here are some issues having infestations in your pet’s enclosure can cause:
- Stress: As mentioned earlier, rabbits are very territorial. So constantly having bugs in their hutch can easily make them feel anxious. Earwigs are especially notorious for agitating bunnies.
- Ingestion: Your bunny’s territorial nature may lead them to eat any invaders they encounter. If they consume too many creepy-crawlies, it can lead to digestive issues.
- Cleanliness: Insect infestations cause your pet’s pen to get dirtier quicker. If not addressed, too much filth may even lead to health issues.
- Illness: Several bugs that might plague your enclosure can also bring sickness to your pet. Lice and mites, in particular, take up residence in the soft fur of bunnies.
Rabbits never hunt or seek out insects but may ingest them by accident. Typically, this happens when bugs are hiding in their leafy foods.
While insects provide bunnies with little nutritional value, they’re also typically harmless to consume.