Skip to Content

Do Rabbits Eat Ferns? (Read This First!)

Rabbits and Rabbit lovers! They both know there’s nothing a rabbit loves more than munching on fresh vegetables and greens. Fibrous plants are great for their dental and digestive health. 

However, have you ever wondered if rabbits eat ferns or not? And if they are safe for them? If these questions are brainstorming you, then you are at the right place. 

Today, we are going to have a detailed discussion on whether rabbits can consume ferns or not. Therefore, bear with Us till the end. We will try our best not to disappoint you. 

Let’s get started, Shall we?

Do rabbits eat ferns?

Rabbits do not eat ferns. They would typically not eat grasses, ferns and sedges. However, there are exceptions. Additionally, rabbits eat flowering plants and shrubs. They certainly choose some plants over others, but some of them are considered ‘rabbit proof’. 

The first thing you need to know is that not all plants are safe for rabbits.  It is really important for the owners to be able to identify which plant they can and cannot feed their rabbits. 

To make things simpler, you can make up a list of plants, they are edible. You can provide those plants for your rabbits to nibble on.    

Foxtail ferns:

Rabbits do not eat foxtail ferns. Foxtail ferns are one of the most evergreen plants you will ever see. These amazing ferns are drought-resistant. However, it needs some care and it will look green for the entire year. 

However, your rabbits will not consume foxtail ferns. Moreover, they can be considered toxic for your pet rabbits. Therefore, make sure your rabbits do not come in contact with it.           

Boston ferns:

Boston ferns are edible for rabbits. However, they can also be considered safe for other pets like cats and dogs. These plants are most likely to get moderately damaged by rabbits. 

Therefore, you can add a little amount of Boston fern to your rabbit’s diet.   

Asparagus ferns: 

Rabbits aren’t meant to eat asparagus ferns. Asparagus ferns are considered toxic for rabbits. Rabbits most likely avoid sedges and ferns.

These ferns are not considered toxic for rabbits, they are also toxic for humans. Additionally, these plants have small thorns which can hurt your rabbit’s mouth and tongue.   

Christmas ferns: 

Christmas ferns are usually avoided by deers and rabbits. They are known to be rabbit resistant. However, game birds such as ruffed goose and wild tend to munch on Christmas ferns. 

Apart from that, they are not safe for rabbits. So, they will most likely avoid them. Additionally, be careful about not adding them to your bunny’s diet at any cost. 

Maidenhair ferns: 

Maidenhair ferns are a no-no for rabbits. This is one of the most common types of ferns that are considered poisonous for your rabbit. Therefore, try to keep your rabbit away from them. 

These plants are low maintenance and look great in your garden. However, it is not recommended to have it in your garden, if you own bunnies.   

Japanese painted ferns: 

Rabbits do not eat Japanese painted ferns. Japanese painted ferns are known to naturalize over time. The scary part is, these ferns are considered toxic to both animals and humans.

This is why you should be quite careful about having these around your house. For safety purposes, you’d need to keep your curious minded pets away.       

Ostrich ferns: 

Ostrich ferns are not edible for rabbits. These ferns come with a toxin that hasn’t been discovered yet. Therefore, consumption of ostrich ferns may cause health hazards in your bunnies.        

Sword ferns: 

Sword fern is an exception. Rabbits and deers will eat sword ferns. These ferns are easy to grow and you can have them in your gardens. They have a wonderful texture, protects soil moisture and stabilizes soil. 

Additionally, there is nothing to worry about if your rabbit is eating sword ferns.  

Do rabbits like to eat ferns?

Generally rabbits don’t like to eat ferns. Rabbits like to have flowering plants and shrubs in their meals. However, there are a few exceptions. Ferns like sword ferns are consumed by deers and rabbits. 

Additionally, other ones are considered ‘Rabbit-proof’. Rabbits love eating fresh-vegetables, hawthorn berries, sunflowers etc. 

On the other hand, common plants like aloe, apple seeds, avocado leaves, apricot plants, calendula, begonia etc, are considered toxic for your rabbit. Therefore, keep in mind that feeding such plants and seeds may cause health issues in your rabbits.

However, you must know that true ferns are not usually toxic to rabbits. Therefore, adding a bit of fern to your rabbit’s regular meals will not harm them. But, you need to ensure that the ferns are not toxic.    

Are ferns toxic to rabbits? 

True-ferns are not toxic to rabbits. Not all ferns are toxic or contain toxins. Infact, you can also add a bit of true-fern to your rabbit’s diet. They will enjoy a bit of change in their taste bud. 

Common plants like buttercups, primrose, poppy, nightshade etc are considered toxic for rabbits. Sword ferns are a type of plant that are known to be consumed by deers and rabbits. Therefore, these ferns are true fern and easy to grow. 

These ferns are easy to have around and great for the soil. Moreover, you can feed your rabbits ferns but make sure they are true ferns. Other than that, other ferns can have toxins in them.     

3 reasons why ferns are toxic to rabbits and deer 

It’s better to keep in mind that rabbits and deers will avoid anything that has a strong smell. However, they enjoy munching on your flower beds, and will continue doing it without any issues. Here are three reasons why ferns are  toxic to rabbits and deers:     

Hairy leaves: 

The plants and ferns that come with hairy leaves are toxic to deers and rabbits. Plants like lavender, and black-eyed Susan are not very popular among deers and rabbits. 

Consumption of plants that have hairy leaves may injure the tongue and mouth of your rabbit. Therefore, your curious minded rabbit would stay away from fuzzy and hairy leaves and plants.   

Highly aromatic: 

It is no surprise that highly aromatic plants are unpopular among deers and rabbits. For a common example, you can consider lavender leaves. They will not consume anything that smells too strong for their nose. 

They will tend to avoid anything that comes with a strong fragrance. However, they will consume flowers and edible plants from other sides of the flowerbed, where it is slightly less fragrant.               

Contains toxins:   

You must keep in mind that plants that are toxic to humans are also toxic to rabbits. Therefore, rabbits will avoid them at all costs. Many ferns that are an addition to your garden can be toxic to your little curious friend. So, before you plant anything, be sure they are safe for your rabbits.     

How to stop rabbits eating my ferns? 

There are so many things you can do to protect your ferns from rabbits. Here are a few steps you can follow to  prevent rabbits from eating ferns: 

Using chicken wire fencing: 

Putting up chicken wire fencing is the most effective way to keep rabbits away from your ferns. You must build a fence that is 4-feet higher and 6-feet deeper. 

Spraying dried sulfur: 

Rabbits are a great sniffer. They would do almost everything before consuming it. Therefore, you can sprinkle dried sulfur around or on your plants to keep the rabbits away. 

Planting onions: 

Rabbits dislike anything that smells pretty strong. The smell of onions is something really disliked by rabbits. Therefore, you can plant some onions around your garden to prevent rabbits.

Spraying plants with lysol mixed water: 

Take 1 gallon of water and mix 1 teaspoon of lysol or any disinfecting liquid. Spray the plants with the mixture every once in a while.                   

What animals eat ferns? 

Ferns are not usually consumed by animals as they contain toxins. However, insects and animals tend to eat selective types of ferns. Here are a few animals that eat ferns: 


Birds have a tendency of eating ferns. During winter and early spring, birds tend to eat some specific type of ferns. And during the spring they will even consume the leaves of the ferns.


Several species of caterpillars and sawflies will eat a specific type of fern. Other than that, grasshoppers, cutworms, whiteflies, beetles etc also consume ferns.                 

Final Thoughts 

In general terms, rabbits do not eat ferns. However, there are exceptions. True ferns like sword ferns are consumed by rabbits. Other than that, most ferns are considered toxic as they contain toxins. Additionally, plants that are toxic to humans are also toxic to rabbits.