After My Plants Flower What Should I Feed Them Garden Plants That Are Safe for Your Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

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Garden Plants That Are Safe for Your Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

You can collect various plants/weeds from the garden to feed the rabbits or guinea pigs. During periods of bad weather, when the animals are confined to their huts, they appreciate a handful of grass clippings mixed with ingrown weeds. However, they prefer relatively short lawn grass to coarse, long pasture grass. The supply of wild plants will depend on the season, of course, with the largest selection available in spring and early summer. Before you feed any plants, check that they are not likely to be poisonous. If you are at all in doubt, the best approach is to ignore any plants unless you are sure they cannot harm your stock. As a general guide, the following are all safe to consume as food:

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus): Rabbits especially like the young leaves. You can also give old leaves but if you give them too, be careful not to have thorns on the stems. This is not a problem if one of the cultivated thornless varieties is available.

Chickweed (Stellaria media): Several species of chickweed exist and their distribution can be rather localized. However, in good conditions it is a vigorous grower and produces small white flowers.

Clover (Trifolium species): Not an easy plant to collect in large quantities, as it is often found sporadically in grasslands and is usually fed with hay. It is also often present in grass.

Coltsfoot (Tucilgo farfara): This plant and its flowers are readily consumed by both rabbits and guinea pigs. Grows in all types of soil.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Easily cultivated from rootstock if desired. You can offer both flowers and leaves, but preferably with other items, as this plant is said to have a laxative effect. As summer approaches, the leaves die back and brown spots may appear on the surface. It is probably best to avoid leaves in this condition. Kept in a sheltered and moist environment, however, plants grow well through most of summer and into fall. Other, similar plants that are generally available a little later in the season are varieties of saw-thistle (Sonchusp.) and nipplewort (Lapsana communis).

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris): A common weed that can act as a laxative, but is often contaminated with a white or reddish fungus on the underside of the leaves. Do not use plants affected in this way to feed rabbits and guinea pigs.

Mallow (Malva sylvestris): More likely to be found in grasslands than in the average garden, but still useful as a forage.

Plantain (Plantago species): Various species are known, and the plants are sometimes described as ‘ratstalks’ because of their long seedheads that develop in late summer. Some varieties have wider leaves than others.

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris): Traditionally used by rabbit breeders as a natural scouring deterrent, this plant is particularly distinctive when in flower. It has small white flowers, followed by characteristic triangular seedpods on a central stem.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Also known as millefoil; This plant has delicate pinnate leaves and a compound flowerhead. Yarrow is most evident in late summer.

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