Rabbit Mag

Do Rabbits Eat Marigolds? – Risks, Caution and Tips

If you’re looking to add a splash of color to your garden, you may be wondering if marigolds are a good choice for your furry friend. Do rabbits eat marigolds? This is a question that rabbit owners and gardeners alike often ponder.

Many gardeners plant marigolds to discourage rabbits from eating their other plants, but there is some debate as to whether or not this actually works. Some believe that the pungent smell of marigolds is unappealing to rabbits, while others believe that the bright flowers simply aren’t on a rabbit’s radar. Read on to find the answer.

Do Rabbits eat marigolds?

Do rabbits eat marigolds? The answer is yes, wild rabbits will eat marigolds. Rabbits are mostly herbivores and their diet consists mainly of grasses and plants. However, they will also supplement this with flowers such as marigolds if the opportunity arises.

So, if you’re having problems with animals eating your gorgeous marigolds my money is on the local bunnies. If a rabbit is hungry, it will eat all parts of a marigold plant including the flower, leaves, and stem. Some marigold species can be highly scented or toxic making them unappetizing for rabbits to eat such as African and French Marigolds and so you are better off planting these.

Can I feed Marigolds to My Pet Rabbit?

Yes, rabbits can eat marigolds – specifically pot marigolds. They are considered a safe and tasty treat for them to eat. Both wild and domestic rabbits will readily munch on marigolds if given the opportunity.

In fact, many rabbit owners use marigolds as a way to add some variety to their bun’s diet. If you have marigolds growing in your garden, be sure to keep an eye on them, as rabbits may be tempted to nibble on the brightly-colored blooms!

What do I mean by pot marigolds?

By pot marigolds, I mean the small, cheerful flowers that are often planted in pots or window boxes. These lovely little blossoms come in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, and red.

They are relatively easy to grow and make a great addition to any garden. Although they are technically annuals, they often self-seed and come back year after year. In addition to being pretty, pot marigolds are also quite useful. The petals can be used to add color and flavor to salads, soups, and stews. And as a treat for your rabbit.

While they may look similar at first glance, pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) should not be confused with the Francis marigold (Tagetes patula) or African marigold (Tagetes erecta).

Though all three flowers are members of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, pot marigolds are actually not a marigold at all and are part of the calendula family. These are safe for rabbits to eat. Whereas true marigolds (such as the African marigold) are a bit of a mixed bag and many can be toxic to rabbits.

Confused yet?!

The easiest way to tell the difference is by looking at the flower heads. Pot marigolds have small, yellow-orange flowers with petals that curve inward, while French and African marigolds have larger showier flowers with petals that point outward.

Below are some images of pot marigolds that are safe for your bunny to eat

Below are some images of marigolds that are not safe for your rabbit to eat

Are Marigolds Good For Rabbits?

Rabbits love to eat marigolds! Not only are they a tasty treat, but marigolds are also packed with nutrients that are good for rabbits.

Marigolds contain beta-carotene, which helps to keep rabbits’ fur healthy is great for eye health. They also contain vitamins A, C, and E, which are essential for rabbits’ overall health.

In addition, marigolds can help to improve digestion and prevent GI problems in your furry friend. So if you’re looking for a healthy treat to give your rabbit, go ahead and give them some pot marigolds!

Do rabbits like marigolds?

As I mentioned above. While most rabbits enjoy snacking on pot marigolds – very few enjoy the true marigolds such as African and French marigolds. This is for good reason as true marigolds tend to be toxic and can cause GI upsets if eaten. The pungent aroma of these flowers tends to put all but the hungriest bunnies off.

My Rabbit ate some marigolds in the yard, what should I do?

If your rabbit has accidentally eaten marigolds. First check what type of marigolds they snacked on. If they were pot marigolds there should be no problems.

It is pretty unlikely your bunny will munch on other types of marigold as they are pretty pungeant in small which will put off all but the greddiest of rabbits.

BUT if your rabbit did eat African or french marigolds, you should keep an eye on them. If they display any of the symptoms like drooling or acting lethargic, take them to a veterinarian immediately.

Is it a rabbit eating your marigolds?

Check for teeth marks

Get a good look at the plant from various angles and look for teeth marks. If there are any then my bet is on the bunny. Most other flower eating culprits are either a lot smaller or a lot bigger. Also check the surrounding area to see if there’s evidence of chewing on other plants, flowers, or vegetables too.

Signs a rabbit is eating your marigolds

If you have rabbits in your garden, you may find that they enjoy snacking on your marigolds. If you suspect that one is munching on your flowers, there are a few telltale signs to look for.

  • First, check for chewed leaves or flowers. Rabbits typically prefer to eat the flower petals, so if you see shredded petals near the base of the plant, it’s a good indication that a rabbit is responsible. You may also see clean bite marks on the marigold leaves.
  • Plants are eaten from the bottom up and all you may find left of the plant is the marigold stem at a 45 degree angle.
  • You may also see bunny footprints in the soil around the plant. If you’re really lucky, you might even catch the culprit in the act!
  • Rabbits typically leave behind neat piles of droppings, so if you see a lot of rabbit poop near your marigolds, it’s a good indication that they’re the culprits.
  • Damage from rabbits is often more extensive at night (technically sunset and just before dawn), since they’re nocturnal creatures.
wild rabbit in grass

What else could be eating your marigolds?

If you don’t find any rabbit evidence you may want to consider the following:

  • Birds. While most birds won’t eat marigolds there are a few that do such as blackbirds, black headed gulls and crows.
  • Slugs and snails: These slimy predators are the most likely animal munching on your marigolds. You will find large holes on the leaves
  • Grasshoppers and locusts: These hopping critters will chew just about anything including marigolds. They start at the petals (the highest energy part of the plant), moving onto the leaves and lastly the stem.
  • Caterpillars
  • Deer

Will marigolds grow back if eaten by rabbits?

No gardener wants to see their beloved plants being eaten by rabbits – even if they are your precious pet. But sometimes, rabbits can’t resist nibbling on a marigold or two. The good news is that, in most cases, the plant will recover and continue to grow.

The key is to act quickly and take steps to discourage the rabbits from nibbling on them again. First, trim any damaged leaves or stems. This will help the plant to focus its energy on regrowing. Next, make sure the area around the plant is clean and free of debris. Rabbits are attracted to areas that are overgrown and cluttered, so keeping your garden tidy will help to deter them.

Finally, consider fencing off vulnerable plants or spraying them with a rabbit-resistant repellent such as citronella.

You may also need to give the plant some extra water and fertilizer to help it along. With a little care and attention, your marigolds should be back to their old selves in no time!

How to protect marigolds from rabbits

If you suspect that rabbits are eating your marigolds, there are a few things you can do to deter them.

  1. First, try planting your flowers in raised beds or containers. This will make it more difficult for rabbits to reach them.
  2. You can also try using fencing or netting to keep rabbits out of your garden.
  3. Try using a rabbit deterrent such as citronella spray. Rabbits hate the smell and this can be a great natural deterrant.
  4. The final option is to not worry about it!
pot marigold

Which marigolds are not good for rabbits?

There are many types of marigolds as I have mentioned and only one – the pot marigold that rabbits actually like eating and are good for them. The below are all harmful for rabbits to eat and can cause gastrointestinal upsets and diarrhea. Not to worry however as due to their strong pungeant aromas it is unlikely rabbits will eat them!

French marigolds

The French marigold in particular is a strong repellant of rabbits, and will deter them while they’re growing in your garden.

African marigolds

This particular marigold has an intense smell which helps to keep rabbits away while it’s growing in your garden. They also have gorgeous powder puff blooms.

Signet marigolds

Signet marigolds are possibly the strongest smelling types of marigolds out there, making them particularly useful for protecting any other plants around them. If you only have room for one variety then this is definitely the best choice if you want to protect against hungry bunnies.

Citronella marigold

Although this marigold variety does have a stronger smell than some others, it has the bonus of smelling like citronella – a scent that rabbits despise.

What are some alternatives to marigolds for my rabbit to eat?

If you’re looking for some different flowers or weeds to feed your rabbit besides marigolds, there are plenty of other options. For example, dandelions are a popular choice. Not only do they provide your rabbit with a nutritional boost, but they also help to keep their teeth healthy.

Another option is clover. Clover is high in fiber, which helps to keep your rabbit’s digestive system running smoothly. Or you could try parsley. Parsley is a good source of Vitamin C, and it also has a mild flavor that many rabbits enjoy.

Other alternatives include:


Q. Do marigolds really keep rabbits away?

A. Yes! I’ve been growing African marigolds in my garden for a few years now and I haven’t had any problems with my rabbits eating the plants or seedlings at all.

Q. Are rabbits attracted to marigolds?

A. It depends on the type of marigold. They do seem to be attracted to pot marigolds but have shown no interest in my African marigolds for example. It seems that my rabbits are only interested in eating other plants around the marigolds – they don’t seem to care about the marigold itself.

Q. What part of a marigold can rabbits eat?

A. Rabbits can eat all parts of the pot marigold.

Q. Are marigolds poisonous to rabbits?

A. No, pot marigolds are safe for rabbits or any other animal to eat. Some other marigolds such as French and African can be toxic though, so it might be worth checking out which ones you’re planning on growing.

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