Can Rabbits Eat Roses and Rose Bushes?

Belonging to the family Rosaceae and genus Rosa, roses are flowering plants with thousands of cultivars and about 300 species. Their flowers vary in sizes, colors and their stems have prickles that are very sharp. 

Besides being an ornamental plant, this woody perennial plant is used as cut flowers, making perfume (their oils), in foods and drinks, and for medicinal purposes. 

There are various cultivars including climbing, Modern Garden, English or David Austin. Floribunda, Grandiflora, Groundcover, miniature, polyantha, rambling, Borbon, Damask,  French,  shrub, knockout, hybrid tea, moss, among others. The list is endless.

Do rabbits eat roses including their bushes?

Do rabbits eat rose flowers including petals as well as their bushes or are roses poisonous to rabbits? Yes. Rabbits can eat roses including petals, bushes, canes, branches, bark, and leaves. They are not poisonous, toxic, or harmful in any way. 

Do rabbits eat roses
Do rabbits eat roses?

The University of Illinois Extension notes that these animals prefer the rose family plants including cherries, plum tree, blackberries, red and black raspberries among others. They are among the most damage by rabbits, especially their young trees or shrubs. 

Usually, bunnies will begin by eating what they are able to reach first. This implies that ” your rose bushes are more likely to suffer leaf loss and damaged canes or stems if attacked by rabbits.” [1] However, once their stems have matured, they are not much damaged owing to their rough bark. 

On types, they will eat most of them. They will eat even the knockout roses but not a lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) as it acts as a repellent and not in the genus Rosa meaning they are a different type of plant. 

Can bunnies eat rose petals 

Although their blossoms are much higher and may be out of this animal’s reach, they can also eat their petals. 

Note that these animals tend to eat anything when they are hungry or lack the food they prefer. However, if you have old bushes that are tall, they may not be able to reach their flowers and petals. 

What about wild ones?

In fact, wild roses are one of the main sources of food to bunnies and their presence will often attract them and if they are near your garden, it is possible for these animals to also move into your garden and munch other crops they like. 

Therefore, if you have been having issues with bunnies coming to your garden, you need to check if there are any wild ones growing near your home or garden. They could be attracting bunnies which may advance further to your garden as well as backyard damaging the various plants and crops you may be having.

How to keep rabbits away from rose bushes 

If you have domestic or wild rabbits eating rose bushes, there are various ways to keep these animals away. However, while trying to stop any rabbit eating rose bushes, ensure the method you choose does not harm your bunny if you have one or other domestic pets and animals you may be having. 

Some of the great ways of excluding these animals including the following: 

  • Using repellents such as spraying them with a mixture of water and jalapeno or cayenne pepper. There are also a number of commercial repellents you can go for. 
  • Fencing using a 1nch poultry mesh. Ensure it is about three feet high and buried about 10-12 inches deep since rabbits can burrow into your garden. Furthermore, bend the upper about 6 inches outwards to discourage athletic bunnies from jumping into your garden.
  • Use of ultrasonic devices and scares including fake snakes, owls, water scarecrows, aluminum pie pans, and so on. 
  • Intercropping or planting various repellent crops in your garden.  
  • Trapping in case of wild bunnies. For instance, consider using live traps to catch them. 
  • Keeping a dog in case of wild bunnies eating your landscape and garden plants to help keep them away. The presence of dogs often deters bunnies.

Besides these, consider clearing any bushes around your garden, ripping any warrens or blocking them among other methods. 


We have provided information as to whether bunnies eat these flowering plants or not and how to keep rabbits from eating rose bushes including wild bunnies. We hope this helps. 

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  1. What is a lanted rose plant? Curious. I cannot find info anywhere.

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