FORAGING IN BERMUDA
There are a lot of wild plants in Bermuda suitable for rabbits to eat. Learning how to identify them will not only make a significant dent in your pet food budget, but also provide your lil' bun with a more diverse diet. I'll update this page periodically as I learn more about Bermuda flora and its relation to maintaining a healthy rabbit. Everything on this page was researched and photographed by yours truly on St. George's Island.
As always, never give your rabbit anything to eat unless you're 100% sure that it's safe.
Match-Me-If-You-Can (Acalypha godseffiana)
This evergreen shrub is not a Bermuda native, but it grows easily in tropical climates and can be found all around the island. They grow 8-10 feet tall and usually look like a large hedge. The leaves will range from green to purple to brown and often have a distinct pink border. Also called the Copperleaf.
Garden Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
This herbaceous annual is really easy to identify. The vines grow along the ground with large, circular leaves and 5-petal flowers that blossom in bright yellow, orange, peach, and red. Every part of this plant is edible (for humans too!) and contains nutritious amounts of calcium and lutein.
Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum)
Not quite the market radish you're used to. This species flowers with exactly four petals and has big, hearty leaves and seed pods that resemble peas. The plants I've seen in Bermuda have pure white flowers, sometimes with a purple tinge at the edge of the petals.
Spiny Sow Thistle (Sonchus asper)
This "weed" has spiny leaves that curl right around the stem. Although prickly, the spiny sow is not a true thistle and usually isn't pointy enough to draw blood. The plants I've seen are anywhere from 1-3 feet tall with dandelion-like flowers that bud at the top of each stalk. Also sometimes called Hare Thistle because rabbits love to eat it! The leaves are said to improve liver health and provide essential omega-6 fatty acids.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
This weed is pretty self-explanatory. The yellow flowers grow on a thick stem that can be milky when snapped off. Greens are simply lobed and look like jagged teeth. This is not only a favorite rabbit snack, but contains a lot of the nutrients and vitamins essential for rabbit health (beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, and tons of B vitamins). All parts are edible!
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
This perennial bunch grass can grow 3-5 feet tall and has really long leaves with a prominent midrib. The more developed leaves will feel prickly on the backside if you slide your fingers tip-to-root. You can find shorter bunches all around the island, but if left wild for long enough, they will grow wheat-like tan spikelets at the top for seed distribution.
In the wild, switchgrass provides excellent cover for rabbits and other small prey creatures. The leaf itself has nutritional value as well as being an active digestive aid, since the texture is sturdier and similar to hay.
Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
The leaves on this plant are 4-15 inches long, have smooth edges, and contain 3-5 strong parallel veins running toward the root. There are sometimes brownish, ovoid flowers standing tall in the center of the plant. These will have a furry stem and very small white petals when in bloom. Plantain leaves are one of the safest foods for rabbits (even small kits) and a good remedy for diarrhea.
You might want to sit down for what I'm about to say... rabbits are individual living, breathing beings with their own tastes in food! Mochi doesn't give a damn about the rest of the plants on this list, but I've researched them as safe for rabbits. The unbeatable price of FREE makes them worth a shot.
- Guava Leaves (Psidium guajava)
- Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
- Tall Fescue Grass (Festuca arundinacea)