Diet

Do Rabbits Eat Insects?   

grey nd white rabbit eating grass.

You know that rabbits are herbivores. That means they only eat plants. So imagine the surprise if you suddenly came upon your bun happily munching on an insect. An insect! Why on earth would a herbivore chow down on something that’s definitely not a plant? Do rabbits eat insects? Or is your pet the odd one who thinks bugs taste great?  

Well, even herbivores can get a little adventurous with their food. With rabbits being the curious creatures that they are, insects are fair game for them. Should you be worried that your pet will get sick? Let’s see if indulging in a creepy crawler now and then will harm your fur baby.  

Do Rabbits Eat Insects?   

Rabbits usually don’t look for insects to feed on when they’re hungry. They’re not hard-wired to do so. Their digestive system is geared toward breaking down plant material, which insects are not.

Also, buns are prey animals. They don’t hunt but are the ones sought after by animals who eat meat. As such, they don’t have the skills to hunt down food. Insects move quickly, making them difficult for rabbits to stalk and capture.  

brown and white rabbit eating grass.

Why?   

Rabbits don’t actively seek insects to eat. Most don’t even like the taste of bugs. So if you see your bun gobbling down a creepy crawler, don’t think that your herbivorous pet suddenly transformed into an omnivore. Neither should you take it as a sign that you should add a beetle or two to your fur baby’s meals.

Even if rabbits generally avoid munching on bugs, there are instances when they’ll take a nibble. Here are a few reasons why.  

It’s Accidental  

Your pet might not have any intention of sampling a bug, but he’s hungry, and the insect happened to be in his veggie. In the wild, rabbits sometimes accidentally pick up bugs, worms, and other food that are not part of their diet while they wolf down plants and grasses.  

Meanwhile, commercially available hay may contain mealworms, mites, and other insects, which pet rabbits swallow along with their food. Insects could also be lurking in the leafy greens you give your bunny. 

Your Rabbit Is Being Territorial   

Yes, rabbits can be territorial, and this behavior is more common in unneutered buns. When a territorial rabbit sees an insect, biting it might be his way to get rid of the intruder. Biting is a stress reaction for most mammals, and since the bug is already in his mouth, your fur baby might have decided to eat it.  

Your Bunny Is Curious   

Rabbits are adventurous animals and often take a bite out of things that pique their interest. Remember how you need to rabbit-proof your home so your bun won’t chew the walls, wires, carpets, and any items that catch his fancy? If rabbits can make chew toys out of your shoes, why will they let a bug pass by without sampling its taste?  

Risks

Nature didn’t equip rabbits for insect feeding. Thus, letting your bun eat bugs can be risky for him. 

The Insect Could Be Poisonous   

Think scorpions and spiders, and you’ll get what we mean. Some bugs have defense mechanisms that can cause serious injuries to your bun.  

Insects Could Cause Choking  

We’re talking of the larger bugs, like, say, a cockroach or beetle. These insects have tough shells. While rabbits have strong teeth that can chew through rigid plant material, they have small throats. The bug could get stuck in your pet’s throat and cause choking.  

Insects Can Cause Diseases   

A rabbit’s sensitive digestive system can only process plant material. Buns don’t eat meat, so even if your pet manages to whittle down a large insect into small pieces, his gut will have trouble digesting the food. Eating bugs can lead to deadly diarrhea or even cause a blockage.  

Insects Can Pass on Parasites to Rabbits   

Some insects harbor parasites they can pass on to your bun through eating or, sometimes, even through simple contact with your pet. 

white rabbit eating lettuce.

Prevention 

Rabbits shouldn’t eat insects, but your fur baby might just be one who enjoys crunching on bugs. However, because of the risks involved, you’ll need to take steps to stop your pet from snacking on the creepy crawlers he comes across.  

Use Training Techniques  

You can stop the unwanted behavior by using training techniques that tell your bun it’s not okay to eat insects. Of course, this entails vigilance as you’ll need to monitor your pet and correct him when you see him indulging in the forbidden behavior.  

Limit Your Rabbit’s Access to Bugs   

Does your bun live outdoors? If he does, he’ll likely come across plenty of insects. You can consider moving him indoors where there are fewer bugs. If you let your pet roam free inside the house, cover holes, nooks, and crannies where insects hide. Examples of these places are under the bed or sofa and around kitchen corners.  

Buy High-quality Food    

Poor-quality hay and other rabbit food may contain insects that your pet ends up eating. There were even reports of rabbits getting mites and mange from their food. Buy only high-quality hay and rabbit food from trusted brands to ensure that insects aren’t included in your bun’s meals.  

Keep Your Place as Bug-free as Possible   

Clean your home and your rabbit’s cage thoroughly to keep bugs away. However, don’t use insecticides containing chemicals toxic to rabbits. You can try natural and homemade pesticides to reduce the chances of accidental poisoning in case your bun eats the dead bugs. Vinegar is one potent insect repellant that’s rabbit-friendly.  

Steps in Case They Ingest an Insect  

Don’t panic if you catch your bun chewing on a bug. Well, not unless it’s something poisonous such as a scorpion or tarantula. Observe your pet for signs of illness or unusual behavior first and take him to the doctor if something looks off. Some symptoms to watch out for are the following:  

  • Severe diarrhea  
  • Collapsing  
  • Screaming  
  • Blood in the urine  
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Breathing through the mouth  

However, if you want to err on the side of caution, you can reach out to your rabbit-savvy vet sooner. Better be safe than sorry, so the saying goes.  

Rabbits don’t usually eat insects. Snacking on bugs carries some risk so keep your bun away from them. If your pet accidentally ate an insect, watch for any adverse reactions and promptly take him to the doctor if you see any.  

More About Rabbit Diets

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