While Bunny gets fresh vegetables twice a day and is allowed to go outside and snack on the mint, parsley, and basil we planted for him on the small stretch of ground that isn’t covered by cement, we often thought how nice it would be to offer him an area with grass as well. After all, that’s what he would eat if he was a wild rabbit. The kind of grass that we humans find attractive for our yards, though, is not the kind our rabbits would pick if they had the choice. So we did some research and found existing grass mixes in European countries that were put together especially for rabbits and guinea pigs. Why not create a similar collection in the US?
Before I go on, I should warn you. The types of grass and herbs we are considering right now are not the pretty kind. In fact, most people would call them “weeds” and would want to get rid of them if they occurred naturally in their yards. They are healthy and tasty for your small pets, though. So if you are interested in these, you may want to grow them in pots instead of adding them to your existing grass area. Now let me introduce you to the grass/herb selection:
Dactylis glomerata, also known as Cock’s-Foot (I’m not kidding) or Orchardgrass. It cures well as hay, and is sometimes mixed with alfalfa or other legumes to provide high quality hay. It also provides excellent pasture and has the ability to remain green and continue growing while being grazed. It recovers very quickly after being grazed or clipped for hay. It is good to excellent forage for livestock and wildlife, and is especially relished by deer. It is perennial and provides early spring forage.
Festuca Pratensis, or Meadow Fescue. A great perennial grazing grass, used to a lesser extent for hay. It is one of the most valuable forage grasses and grows well especially on fresh, moist soils. It is suitable for meadows and pastures, but can also be planted in pots. Meadow Fescue is hardy and can survive drought once established. Preferred by many animals.
Cynosurus Cristatus, or Crested Dog’s Tail (not sure how they come up with these names). Especially the young leaves are eagerly eaten by wildlife as well as cattle.
Poa pratensis, commonly known as Kentucky Bluegrass, Smooth Meadow-grass, or Common Meadow-grass, is one of the most valuable forage grasses and can often be found on pastures. It is durable and relatively drought resistant.
Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion. While the dandelion is considered a weed by most gardeners and lawn owners, the plant has several culinary uses and is great for small pets.
Phleum pratense, also known as Timothy-grass. It is relatively high in fibre, especially when cut late. It is considered part of the standard mix for grass hay and provides quality nutrition. Timothy hay is a staple food for domestic pet rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and degus, often making up the bulk of their diet.
This is the list as of right now. We are still researching other types of grass and herbs. All of the plants mentioned above are recommended for small rodents and rabbits. They are well suited for planting in pots on the window sill and in the garden. The fresh greens are appreciated by pets as a supplementary feed. Please note that every new food introduced to your rabbit’s diet needs to be given in small quantities first to avoid issues such as diarrhea.
I would love to hear your opinions and suggestions!