During periods of warmth and fauna abundance, wild rabbits eat grass, weeds, wildflowers, clover and crops grown on farms or in gardens. In the cold winter months, their diet shrinks to twigs and bark, conifer needles, buds and any green plant they can find.
Some wild rabbits, such as Nuttall's cottontails, can climb slanted tree trunks to reach additional vegetation. Rabbits practice coprophagy, which means they eat their undigested pellets to absorb the foods' nutrients better. Mother rabbits nurse their newborns for about two weeks before the offspring move on to eating solid vegetation. When the young reach their fourth or fifth weeks, their mother takes them with her to find food.
Rabbits are known to practice coprophagy or the re-ingestion of feces. They do not actually ingest their fecal pellets, however, but ingest cecotropes, a type of droppings produced by the rabbit's cecum. This part of their digestive system is located in the junction of the large and small intestines and provides essential nutrients that protect the rabbits from harmful pathogens. These essential nutrients are then passed through the cecotropes that the rabbits ingest at a much leisurely pace. Without these nutrients, wild and domestic rabbits may succumb to malnutrition. This practice also allows wild rabbits to survive the inadequacy of food in winter.