What Insects Do Rabbits Eat (Worms, Spiders, Crickets, Ants, or Flies)?

Foraging through grassy meadows, rabbits will nibble on all kinds of plant life. But did you know bunnies also actively hunt and feast on crawling and flying insects? It may seem contrary to their cute appearance, but rabbits do in fact eat bugs! Learn the shocking truth about the curious insectivore appetites of rabbits. What juicy and crunchy creepy-crawlies do rabbits love to munch on? Are any bugs dangerous for fluffy hoppers? Why do rabbits chase flies and pounce on moths? Will rabbits devour pesky mosquitos? Discover the answers to these questions and more in this fascinating deep dive into the wild, instincts, and tastes that drive rabbits to consume bugs of all shapes and sizes!

Do Rabbits Eat Insects?

Rabbits are herbivores, meaning they eat plants as their main source of food. However, rabbits will sometimes eat insects and other small creatures to supplement their diet. In the wild, rabbits have been observed eating various insects like crickets, worms, spiders, ants, flies, and more. While not a major part of their diet, insects can provide extra protein and nutrients that rabbits need.

Domestic pet rabbits can also eat some insects, but their diet should still consist primarily of hay, fresh veggies, and rabbit pellets. Eating a few insects here and there is usually not harmful, though certain bugs should be avoided. Overall, insects make up a very small portion of a normal rabbit's diet in captivity. But rabbits do appear to enjoy catching and nibbling on the occasional cricket or moth found in their environment.

What Kinds of Insects Do Rabbits Eat?

Rabbits are opportunistic feeders and will eat many types of insects they come across or that are abundant in their environment. Here are some of the main insects and bugs that rabbits are known to eat:

  • Crickets – Crickets are a favorite insect snack for rabbits. Rabbits like the crunchy texture and high protein content. Crickets contain about 12-25% protein. Wild rabbits hunt and consume crickets and domestic rabbits will readily accept live crickets as treats.

  • Worms – Earthworms and grub worms are soft, moist bugs that rabbits seem to enjoy. The moisture and protein is beneficial. Worms can contain 60-70% protein. Rabbits may dig in the soil or grass to search for worms.

  • Spiders – Rabbits have been observed snacking on spiders like daddy longlegs or orb weavers. Spiders can be 12-65% protein. Smaller spiders may sometimes be accidentally ingested by rabbits when eating grass or plants.

  • Ants – Ants contain about 13-25% protein so they make a good supplemental food source. Rabbits will lick up and consume both ants and ant larvae they come across while foraging.

  • Flies – Flies and maggots are eaten by rabbits, likely more for the moisture content than nutrition. Fly larvae can have 15-40% protein. Rabbits seem to enjoy the chase involved in catching flies and moths.

  • Caterpillars – The larval stage of butterflies and moths can provide nutrition including essential fatty acids. Caterpillars are often an easy catch for foraging rabbits.

  • Beetles – Beetles like June bugs or scarab beetles are occasionally consumed, more for novelty than major dietary requirements. Their crunchy shells likely appeal to rabbits.

So in summary, rabbits in the wild will eat a wide variety of insects with crickets, worms, spiders, ants and flies being most common. Domestic rabbits can eat some bugs but a limited amount.

Are Rabbits Allowed to Eat Bugs?

While rabbits in the wild regularly supplement their diets with various insects, pet owners need to be careful about letting domestic rabbits eat bugs. Small amounts of certain insects are permitted but bugs can also introduce parasites and diseases. Here are some guidelines around bunnies eating bugs:

  • Wild-Caught Bugs – Avoid any insects caught from outside, these have a high risk of carrying pathogens transmissible to rabbits. Do not let pet rabbits eat random bugs from the yard.

  • Commercially Raised Feeder Insects – Insects marketed as feeders for reptiles, birds, or pets are safer. They have been raised in controlled environments and will be parasite-free. Examples include crickets, mealworms, or waxworms from pet stores. Feed in moderation.

  • Remove Insect Parts – Any leafy greens, vegetables, or hay should be inspected and rinsed to remove aphids, mites, or spider webs. Ingesting these accidentally is less risk than directly eating bugs.

  • Limit Bugs as Treats – The protein and fat levels in most insects are too high for rabbits to eat regularly or in large amounts. The optimal rabbit diet is hay-based.

  • Avoid Venomous Insects – Rabbits should never intentionally be given venomous or disease-carrying insects like fleas, ticks, flies, mosquitoes, or stinging bees/wasps.

So in summary, rabbits can eat non-venomous insects that have been commercially raised specifically as feeder insects. These should still only be fed occasionally and in small amounts. Wild-caught insects and large quantities of bugs should be avoided for pet rabbit health and safety.

My Rabbit Keeps Eating Bugs

It's not unusual for pet rabbits kept outdoors or with access to grass/dirt to snack on the occasional bug they come across. However, a rabbit continually seeking out and consuming live insects could indicate:

  • Boredom – Rabbits have an innate need to forage. If a rabbit lacks sufficient enrichment and is bored, they may eat insects for novelty and stimulation. Make sure your rabbit has enough mental stimulation.

  • Nutritional Deficiency – Eating more bugs than normal could indicate the diet requires adjustments to better meet nutritional needs. Have a vet assess your rabbit's diet. Improper calcium/phosphorus balance can cause bug cravings.

  • Ill Health – Intestinal parasites, dental issues, or GI tract conditions may cause unusual eating habits like excess bug consumption. Scheduling a vet check-up can identify underlying issues.

  • Foraging Instincts – Some rabbits are motivated by foraging drives and will seek out insects as they would in the wild. This is not necessarily unhealthy if bugs are non-toxic.

  • Taste Preferences – Rabbits have varying taste preferences. Yours may enjoy the taste of occasional bugs. Monitor for normal appetite and droppings.

To curb excessive insect eating, limit access to areas where rabbits can hunt and consume bugs. Increase enrichment activities to engage your rabbit's mind. Swap plain hay for forage mixes with variety. Offer healthier high-fiber treats. Seek veterinary guidance to rule out underlying issues if needed.

How to Stop a Rabbit Eating Insects

If your rabbit is eating too many insects, here are some tips to discourage this behavior:

  • Remove insect access – Closely trim grass, use landscape fabric under pens, clean up fallen fruits/veggies, and eliminate hiding spots to limit bug availability.

  • Distract with toys – Redirect your rabbit's foraging instincts towards tossing balls, hiding treats in cardboard tubes, throwing vegetable pieces into hay, etc.

  • Increase exercise time – Ensure your rabbit gets adequate active playtime daily so they burn mental and physical energy in positive ways.

  • Adjust diet if needed – Consult your vet but replacing some pellets or treats with more hay and greens could reduce bug cravings.

  • Try bitter deterrents – Spray areas around your rabbit's living space with safe but distasteful insect repellents containing citronella, eucalyptus oil, or bitter apple.

  • Use natural insect control – Diatomaceous earth, neem oil, or nematodes can help limit bugs without harming rabbits.

  • Train your rabbit – If they reliably respond to commands, teach them "leave it" when chasing insects to curb the habit. Reward with a healthy treat when they obey.

With persistence and by making their environment less appealing for insect hunting, you can break a rabbit's habit of overindulging in bugs. Proper nutrition, enrichment, and exercise will also naturally reduce undesirable foraging behaviors.

Would a Rabbit Eat Fleas or Ticks?

Rabbits tend to avoid eating fleas, ticks, and other parasitic insects that can live on a rabbit's body and transmit diseases. Reasons why rabbits generally avoid ingesting fleas and ticks include:

  • Instinct – Rabbits can likely sense on some level that fleas and ticks would be harmful to eat. So they tend to nibble around these insects when grooming.

  • Texture – Fleas and ticks have hard, inedible shells and an unappealing texture compared to soft, squishy insects rabbits prefer.

  • Taste – Parasites likely do not taste pleasant or appealing to rabbits. Some even secrete repellent chemicals.

  • Self-Grooming Targeted – When rabbits lick and nibble themselves to remove fleas/ticks, they are precise in spitting out these insects once dislodged, rather than swallowing them.

  • Risk of Disease – Eating fleas or ticks could make a rabbit sick by transmitting typhus, tularemia, Lyme disease, or other insect-borne illnesses. So rabbits avoid ingesting most parasites.

  • Not Nutritious – Fleas and ticks provide almost no nutritional value, unlike other insects rabbits seek out like high-protein crickets or worms.

Of course, a rabbit may accidentally ingest the occasional flea, tick, or louse while self-grooming. But they actively avoid purposely eating parasitic insects that live on their bodies. Overall, rabbits' inbuilt instincts protect them from the dangers of intentionally consuming most parasites. Keeping rabbits free of fleas and ticks is still vital for their health. But fortunately, they do not deliberately eat these harmful insects.

My Rabbit Chases Flies and Moths

It's common for pet rabbits to enthusiastically chase, leap, and pounce when an insect like a fly or moth flutters nearby. This is perfectly normal behavior EXPLAINING WHY:

  • Prey Drive – Rabbits are driven by prey drive to stalk bugs that move rapidly like flies and moths. Their instincts kick in even if they are not hungry.

  • Mental Stimulation – Stalking flies provides enjoyable mental stimulation and an outlet for energy. It engages natural foraging behaviors.

  • Taste Preferences – Some rabbits seem to enjoy the taste of flies, maggots, and moths, though they offer limited nutrition.

  • Play Behavior – Chasing fluttering insects simply serves as a form of play for some rabbits. They have fun pouncing even if they do not eat the insect.

To encourage natural behaviors, incorporate supervised time outdoors in insect-safe spaces or hang bird mobiles indoors to allow chasing. Just ensure your rabbit does not actually consume any toxic insects like fireflies or venomous bees. The hunting thrill is often reward enough without eating bugs. With plenty of healthy outlets, your fly-chasing rabbit can satisfy their prey drive safely.

Would My Rabbit Try to Eat Bees or Wasps?

No, rabbits will intentionally avoid eating stinging insects like bees and wasps. Reasons rabbits steer clear of consuming bees, wasps, and related venomous bugs include:

  • Painful Stings – Rabbits learn to recognize bee/wasp warning coloration and avoid touching them to prevent painful stings inside the mouth.

  • Instinctive Fear – Rabbits have an innate fear of angry swarming bees or wasps defending a disturbed nest. This instinct protects them from potentially fatal quantities of venom.

  • Unpleasant Taste – The venom and pheromones secreted by hymenoptera gives them an unpalatable taste to discourage predators like rabbits.

  • Lack of Nutrition – Bees and wasps provide very little edible nutrition compared to the high risks associated with trying to eat them.

  • Buzzing Sounds – The buzz of bee/wasp wings sets off alarm bells in rabbits and warns them away from consuming these dangerous insects.

Of course, if a single bee or wasp lands on a piece of grass a rabbit is munching, they may accidentally get ingested. But rabbits will never purposely try to catch or eat living bees, wasps, hornets, yellowjackets or similar stinging, venomous insects due to their self-preservation instincts. Your rabbit likely knows better than to attempt eating anything that may sting or swarm in retaliation.

Would Eating Spiders (Arachnids) Make a Rabbit Sick?

While not technically insects, spiders and other arachnids make up a small part of a rabbit's natural diet in the wild. However, pet rabbits eating spiders does carry some risks of illness, including:

  • Bacterial Infection – Spiders can harbor Salmonella and other bacteria that may sicken rabbits if ingested.

  • Parasitic Infection – Ticks carried by spiders can transmit various infectious diseases to rabbits.

  • Toxic Venom – Though rare, there are a small number of spiders whose venom can be fatally toxic to rabbits if bitten or eaten.

  • Exoskeleton Issues – The chitinous shell and spiny legs of some spiders may be difficult for rabbits to fully digest, causing gastrointestinal irritation or blockages if consumed.

  • Allergic Reaction – Spider proteins in the venom, hairs, or other body parts can potentially trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive rabbits. Signs may include itching, hives, swelling, breathing issues.

To be safe, thoroughly clean any vegetables and plant material from outside to remove all spiders before feeding to pet rabbits. Never intentionally feed wild-caught spiders. Commercially raised feeder insects are a healthier option for occasional treats. If issues develop after a rabbit eats a spider, contact your exotic vet for proper treatment. With reasonable precautions, the risks spiders pose to rabbits can be minimized.

In summary, while spiders and their arachnid cousins are eaten by wild rabbits, pet rabbits are better off avoiding spiders to reduce the chances of transmitting bacteria, parasites, toxins, or causing indigestion. Make sure enclosure cleaning and produce washing eliminates any accidental spider consumption. If spider ingestion issues arise, seek qualified rabbit veterinary care. Be vigilant for signs of illness and allergic reactions which may indicate a spider-related problem.

References:

https://rabbitbreeders.us/questions-and-answers/what-insects-do-rabbits-eat-worms-spiders-crickets-ants-or-flies/
https://www.rabbitsforsale.com/questions-and-answers/what-insects-do-rabbits-eat/

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