Antique Research on Floridian Rabbit Forages

    A biology research paper, written in 1934, and published in the Journal of Mammalogy in 1936, discusses the diets and habitats of the Florida Marsh Rabbit. Unfortunately the paper is not available for public viewing, but I would like to share with you the information gleaned from the rabbits.
     About 9 rabbits were captured from Newnan's Lake area, east of Gainesville, Florida, and fed plants found in the surrounding habitat. Sixty-four different species of plants were offered. Some were eaten right away, others eaten only when hungry, and others were not even on pain of starvation (yes, bunnies died during this experiment).

Trees and Vines Eaten Readily

French Mulberry (Callicarpa americana)
Dwarf thorn (Craiaegus uniflora)
Blackberry (Rubus betulifolius)
Dewberry (Rubus continentalis)
Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Common elder (Sambucus canadensis)
Red bud (Cercis canadensis)
Ward's willow (Salix longipes)
Yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempivirens)
Water oak (Quercus nigra)
Groundsel tree (Baccharis halimifolia)
Saw brier, Green brier, wild bamboo, jackson brier, sarsparilla (Smilax spp.)

Herbs and Small Plants Eaten Readily

Centella (Centella repanda)
Marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle spp.)
Cattail (Typha latifolia)
Rush (Juncus effusus)
Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia)
Smartweed (Persicaria hirsula)
Ground cherry (Physalis floridana)
Nightshade (Solanum sisymbriifolium)
Water hyacinth (Piaropus crassipes)
Ruellia (Ruellia parviflora)
Golden club (Orontium aquaticus)
Violet (Viola esculenta)
Yellow woodsorrel (Xanthoxalis langloisii)
Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
Golden fumeroot (Capnoides aereum)
Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)
Chain fern (Woodwardia arealata)

Eaten when no other food was available : Saw palmetto, Lizard's tail, Hackberry, Cabbage palm, Water starwort, mushroom

Absolutely refused : Papaw, Wild plum, Poison ivy, Persimmon, Magnolia (grandiflora), Holly, Muscadine grape, Red mulberry, Wax myrtle, Gallberry, Deer tongue, Spanish Moss, Bonnets, Pokeweed


Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Nice! One more reason to add cattails to the farm.

chrissy bauman said...

cattails, canna, sweet potato, duckweed...i could go on and on... hey if you do get some cattails let me know, i'll buy a couple from you :) my family has farbaden me from harvesting from ditches. this is like the time i was forbaden from riding the motorcycle with the newborn. that's safe, right?

Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

It's totally safe. TOTALLY! I let my babies drive the van.

And as for cattails, come on up sometime and we'll totally harvest/take cuttings/steal seeds from every park/ditch/school/church/insane asylum in the county. It's fun! I take spectacularly stupid risks when other gardeners are around... it's like a permaculture virus or something. Right now I've got three scavenged hot-tubs in my backyard that will soon be converted to ponds. It's about time I go hunting for water plants.

Incidentally, I talked with a friend from South Africa today and he told me that they raised rabbits back home on Bidens alba alone. One more bit of hearsay for your research.

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