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What Do Wild Rabbits Eat?

Lots of people ask ‘are rabbits native to the UK?’, since they seem like such a staple of the English countryside. But believe it or not, wild rabbits are not native to the UK – the Normans brought them over in the 12th century. We’re more used to treating rabbits as pets these days, but wild rabbits still roam free in some areas — often enough to cause homes and businesses some trouble.

This month at Pest Defence, we’re going to be looking into what wild rabbits eat, along with how they cause damage to commercial agricultural operations and domestic properties.

 

What do wild rabbits eat in the UK?

Those familiar with the story of Peter Rabbit will be unsurprised to learn that wild rabbits do indeed eat crops. But ultimately, wild rabbits are herbivores and will eat almost any ground-level vegetation, including leaves, shoots and even the roots of trees.

Regardless of whether you’re growing crops in farmland or plants and shrubs in the garden, it’s bad news if the local wild rabbits begin to take over, gnawing and chomping vegetation. Since they tend to come out between dusk and dawn, you’re unlikely to spot them feeding, although you may be able to spy them during the day from time to time.

Wild rabbit eating in a field

 

Rabbit damage caused to lawns

Along with the nuisance they can create by eating anything and everything within your garden or on your farmland, they can also do damage to lawn turf. Digging holes and upturning soil are just some of the ways wild rabbits can cause cosmetic damage to a garden as they attempt to expand their home.

We’ve touched on ways in which you prevent damage to your lawn in a previous resource, take a look here for more details and tips.

 

Is there an overpopulation of wild rabbits?

Once wild rabbits have found a food source, it can quickly seem like you’re being overwhelmed by them. In reality, they are not as prevalent as they once were. For numerous reasons – including disease and loss of habitat – the wild rabbit population has actually been in decline in the UK, a fact that is at odds with the rate at which they can reproduce. Females can produce roughly five litters each year, with young rabbits able to begin breeding after as little as four months.

It’s likely, therefore, that where you find the odd wild rabbit, there will be more nearby. This is because they create warrens out of sight, usually in secluded areas or hidden in the undergrowth. So while it might seem like there is an issue with overpopulation if your garden is being dug up and your crops are being eaten, the problem is probably just a localised one.

 

Rabbit burrows on your property

If you find that not only have wild rabbits begun eating vegetation on your land, but that they’ve also started to create burrows and warrens, you need to take steps to control their numbers in accordance with the law. If the rabbits are coming from land on an adjacent property, you should speak to your neighbours about the issue. 

When dealing with rabbit burrows on your property, there are a large variety of options available to you. If you’re unsure of your options and what the acceptable steps to take are, then professional rabbit control and removal are available. At Pest Defence, we have decades of experience in helping private landowners and those in the agricultural sector to tackle any wild rabbit problem that may be arising from the local population.

Call today and speak to a member of our expert team about wild rabbit control for your property – domestic or commercial – throughout Colchester, Chelmsford, Brentwood and the surrounding areas of Essex.

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