Has anyone here planned gardens for rabbits to live in?
I keep a pastured colony of rabbits on a 1/2 acre protected by an electric fence. I would love to plant mature trees and shrubs in the colony for the rabbit's comfort and to draw visual attention away from the storm shelters which are not as beautiful as they are functional. There is already a separated pen within the colony that I was planning on planting with bunny grub of the vegetable kind, and it would be a safe place for me to start a set of shrub and tree experiments to give supervised access to.
I know apple trees, hackberries and sunflowers would be much appreciated and I feel safe giving the bunnies access to them, but what about serviceberries? Or evergreen natives? Siberian pea shrubs? One serious concern is that lists of bunny-hazardous plants can never be considered exhaustive. While my bunnies are intelligent foragers and probably would not blindly eat poisonous or caustic plants the way that caged rabbits might, I feel a strong responsibility not to introduce strongly scented or otherwise irritating plants.
I imagine serious thought and experimentation will be illuminating, but I like to appeal to the wise, experienced, and creative during the research phase of such projects.
Any thoughts you might have would be much appreciated.
We have some type of maple tree, big leaves, that the rabbits just love. I would prune the branches and toss them into their area. And I would plant cabbages of various types in pots and then place the pots in the area all through the winter. I would plant mostly stuff they wouldn't eat in their area so it had shade and was nice to look at. I do not know of any shurbs - sorry.
Just put a fence up and plant it. You never see a whole bunch of dead rabbits in someones yard around a tree or bush because rabbits aren't going to eat themselves to death on something bad. They will however trim all the bark from around a tasty plant for you, they are considerate like that...
Ive been thinking alot about rabbits lately. I used to raise them for meat and fur when I was a kid. , about 10 years in 4H.
I suspect this of bunny hazard plants: they wont eat them unless they're starving or stupid. You can afford to take the stupid one out of your breed stock.
rabbits, like many other herbivorous creatures, are very habit, and not very driven to explore. So they leave questionable foods alone when they have their favs- like dandelion, plantago, Wild rabbits will circuit the same ground daily, with little variation from norms so long as food sources are available. in western Washington our wild rabbits are introduced- Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) came in the 20's and 30's. their territorial patterns make them easy to predict.
im not sure where you are at, but its likely if you are on the west coast that the wild rabbit you see is also the eastern cottontail.
heres a few things Ive read recently on the topic. not all great, but informative anyhow. some really good.
not much has been done on fodder/forage systems for rabbits in my bioregion. Dandelion is a almost preferred exclusive; Ive read but cant cite that hundreds of years of French breeding influence on modern gene stock of domestic rabbits worldwide is demonstrated by the rabbits ability to get almost all its dietary needs met by dandelion- the historic perennial forage crop of french breeders.
I think ficus- which wild rabbits heartily browsed back here last winter- could be grown in such a manner as to provide excellent browse, provided proper caging of the main trunk.
im still working on my rabbit forage/garden thoughts...dont disregard rabbit coprophagy!
oh goodness. I made mustard and garlic sauces last year... just found this, must do...
4 wild rabbit fillets from the saddle-grilled MR in garlic sauce 4svs. black pudding cut into 1cm slices plenty dandelion, trimmed (id be adding allkinds of wild greens. alder buds. yum) 1tbsp olive oil
cube filets, stir fry the lot of it until greens wilt
for the dandelion salad dressing
1tbsp cider vinegar 1tsp honey 2tsp mustard (make your own, eh.) 2tbsp olive oil 2tbsp nut oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper
I'd add a wedge of blue cheese to that myself, and a few hazelnuts.
I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has chimed in. I'm really looking forward to this year's plantings. Every day the idea of reading a book in a forest garden of friendly rabbits seems less like a pipe dream and more like an eventuality.
Mulberry leaf is good up to about 50% of the rabbit diet. It is easy to propagate, grows rapidly, and it gives nice berries for humans or chickens. The twigs are medicinal, good for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Linden (Tilia, sometimes called basswood or 'lime' because the flowers smell like lime) is another good tree for forage, too warm to grow it in my parts, but its range overlaps with mulberry and extends further north. Linden is also a good tree for bees, and basswood is a very good wood for making kitchen utensils.
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