Can Rabbits Eat Roses – Rose Bushes and Petals

Do rabbits eat roses, their bushes (leaves and stems) or are these most popular ornamental flowering plants poisonous to these pets?

Roses are the most loved and popular flower in the world. They stand above others such as carnations, tulips, daisies, daffodil, sunflowers, etc. The term is used to mean both the plant and flower and there are both cultivar and wild ones.



Roses belong to the genus Rosa that has over 100 species whose flowers are commonly red, yellow, white or purple, but you will find other colors including lilac, dark red, and so on. The stems of this flowering herb have prickles (not thorns as many people refer them to).

Some of their uses include as cut flowers, ornamental plants, in making perfumes owing their good scent (using rose water and oil), their hips (fruits) can be used in foods and drinks and some species have medicinal value.

Do rabbits eat rose petals and bushes?

Are roses poisonous to rabbits and do these animals eat them or not? If you happen to be growing them and you have bunnies or there are wild rabbits in your neighborhoods, you already know the answer.

Yes, rabbits do eat rose bushes (branches, tender barks, canes, and leaves) and petals. In fact, they are one of the most loved plants together with others such as plum, apple, raspberries, and blackberry trees.[1]

They will eat all types including the hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, miniature, bourbons, Albas,  climbing, Ground cover, Polyantha, English, French, knockout roses among many other types. The wild roses will not be spared either.

If they get them while still young, they are likely to nip the entire plant and chew it. However, for grown bushes, they will begin by eating what they can reach. Expect some leaf loss, and damaged stems or canes. Since they have prickles and they grow somewhat tall, bunnies may not be able to cause much damage to their matured plants.

Although rabbits can eat rose petals, this is unlikely to happen since they may not be able to reach them. However, should they have a chance, they will also eat them.

Finally, if you have old tall bushes, you are lucky since a normally sized bunny may not cause much damage or even reach their leaves and blossoms. However, you still need to put in place various measures to keep rabbits away from your rose bushes.

Will they eat wild roses too?

Yes. They certainly will. We decided to cover this part separately since their presence often attracts bunnies. If they grow around your neighborhood, they could be the reasons why you have rabbits there including their warrens.

Since they live in your neighborhood, it is possible for such bunnies to come to your garden or backyard and eat any favorable plants or vegetables you may be cultivating. If possible, you can clear these bushes to help keep them away. If not, we are going to look at some of the ways to keep rabbits away from your garden.

Way to keep rabbits away from rose bushes?

Before you decide on the various ways to stop, prevent or keep rabbits from eating your rose bushes, you need to establish that they are the culprit. Sometimes, other animals including the deer could be responsible for the damage. 

The presence of their pellets, their warrens nearby, damages only those below 3 feet, and the presence of their toe prints may indicate they are the main culprits. Also, if you get pencil-sized stems nipped angle that is about 45 degrees, it will also be a possible indication that they are responsible for the damage. Once you are certain, consider the following ways to keep away rabbits:

  • Exclusion – Use a chicken wire (poultry netting) mesh that is less than an inch to a fence around your flowers. Ensure it is at least 3 feet high and bury it at least 10-12 inches deep since these animals are burrowers.
  • Use repellants – Try commercial repellents such as Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Ready-To-Use or Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Granules or any other homemade including cayenne pepper sprays.
  • Scare them – Since they are crepuscular animals, employ various scare techniques including the use of motion scare equipment, shiny lights, or have dogs and cats in roaming around your garden or yard.
  • Clear bushes nearby – Nearby bushes provide a hiding place and attract them. Consider clearing them if they are within your own land especially if there are plants they love.
  • Planting repellent plants – intercropping your roses with the various plants that repel them may help keep them away.

There are other methods including the use of live traps, destroying their warrens, shooting them and so on. However, if you have other pets, consider going for a method that will not harm them, a pet-safe method.


You know rabbits will eat rose bushes and they are among their favored plants. If they are ever damaging these plants, we have looked at some ways to stop, prevent the damage or keep them off your garden, flower bed or backyard.