Can Rabbits Eat…?

Can your rabbit munch on that leafy green? Nibble on that fruit? Chew on your houseplant? As a loving rabbit owner, you want to keep your bunny happy, healthy and well-fed. But which foods are safe, and which are dangerous? What’s nutritious, and what’s toxic? Don’t let your curious rabbit get into trouble! Dive into this comprehensive guide to find out exactly what rabbits can and can’t eat. We’ll explore the leafy greens they love, talk about fruits and veggies to feed in moderation, discuss surprising foods you can offer as occasional treats, and identify common toxic plants and trees to avoid at all costs. Read on to become an expert in proper rabbit nutrition!

Leafy Greens

Rabbits can safely eat a variety of leafy greens in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Some good options include romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, Boston lettuce, endive, escarole, dandelion greens, arugula, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, collard greens, swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, fennel greens, carrot tops, radish tops, and parsley.

When introducing new greens, do so slowly by starting with small amounts to allow the rabbit's digestive system to adjust. Limit high calcium greens like kale to 1-2 times per week at most. Avoid iceberg lettuce as it has limited nutritional value. Also stay away from spinach, chard and beet greens in excess as they are high in oxalates.

Wash all greens thoroughly and dry well before feeding. Try to offer a variety for maximum nutrition. Leafy greens are an important part of a rabbit’s diet, providing nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, iron and calcium. They also provide fiber to support healthy digestion. Offer at least 1 cup of leafy greens daily, aiming for a variety over the course of the week.

Fruits and Vegetables

Along with leafy greens, rabbits can eat small amounts of certain fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet. Just be sure to introduce new items slowly and limit portions to prevent digestive upset. Some good fruit and veggie choices include:

  • Carrots – great source of vitamin A; feed up to 1 tablespoon daily

  • Celery – provides fiber and minerals; give 1-2 ribs or leaves daily

  • Bell peppers – red, yellow or green; feed a slice or two every other day

  • Apples – core removed; limit to 1-2 thin slices a few times a week

  • Bananas – high in potassium; offer a thin slice as a treat

  • Blueberries – packed with antioxidants; give a few every other day

  • Strawberries – rich in vitamin C; feed a few berries 2-3 times a week

  • Raspberries – high in fiber; provide a few as a treat

  • Pineapple – contains vitamin C and enzymes; offer a small piece of flesh occasionally

  • Melon – including cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon; feed a 1 inch cube every 3-4 days

  • Pear – a good source of fiber; offer a thin slice occasionally

  • Peach – provides vitamin A and C; give a thin slice every 3-4 days

  • Plum – contains vitamin C and copper; provide a thin slice as a treat

  • Apricot – rich in beta-carotene; give a thin slice occasionally

  • Nectarine – similar nutrition to peaches; offer a thin slice every 3-4 days

Introduce new fruits/veggies one at a time. Limit high sugar fruits and stick to a teaspoon or two sized portion 1-2 times per week. Always wash produce and remove peels, seeds, pits and cores before feeding.

Other Foods

In addition to leafy greens and limited fruits/veggies, rabbits can enjoy small amounts of these other foods:

  • Pellets – Provide a tablespoon or two of high-quality pellets daily to ensure proper nutrition. Choose a pellet formulated specifically for rabbits.

  • Hay – Grass hay should make up the bulk of a rabbit’s diet. Always provide unlimited timothy, orchard grass or oat hay. Hay promotes dental health and healthy digestion.

  • Oats – Cooked oats or oat groats make a healthy occasional treat. They provide fiber, carbohydrates and B vitamins. Limit to 1-2 teaspoons, 2-3 times per week.

  • Herbs – Basil, mint, cilantro, dill and parsley can be offered fresh or dried. Use sparingly as treats.

  • Edible flowers – Try marigolds, roses, hibiscus and dandelions in small amounts. Introduce new flowers slowly.

  • Treats – Healthy treat options include rolled oats, dried fruit with no added sugar or sodium, herbal mixes and yogurt drops. Limit to 1 teaspoon sized portion per day.

Avoid feeding rabbits starchy foods like bread, pasta, crackers, beans, rice, corn or nuts. Also do not offer them sugary foods, processed snacks, meat, eggs, dairy or high fat/salty foods. These items can lead to digestive upsets or health problems. Be sure to slowly introduce any new foods to monitor for signs of an upset stomach.

Plants and Trees

Rabbits should not nibble on houseplants or trees, as many common varieties are toxic. Some plants and trees that rabbits should avoid include:

  • Lilies – Extremely poisonous, even in small amounts. All parts are toxic.

  • Tulips – The bulb is especially dangerous but the entire plant is toxic.

  • Daffodils – The bulb is the most poisonous part. Can cause convulsions.

  • Chrysanthemums – Entire plant is toxic. Digestive and cardiac issues may occur.

  • Morning glory – The seeds are particularly toxic and can cause hallucinations.

  • Tomato plants – Contain toxic glycoalkaloids in the leaves, stem and unripe fruit.

  • Potatoes – Toxins are found in the leaves, sprouts and green parts of the vegetable.

  • Rhubarb leaves – Contain oxalic acid which can lead to kidney problems.

  • Amaryllis – The bulb is the most toxic part but the entire plant is poisonous.

  • Iris – Can cause vomiting, diarrhea and hypersalivation.

  • Daisy – Potentially toxic to the liver if ingested.

  • Hyacinth – Contains oxalate crystals that can irritate the skin, mouth and esophagus.

  • Hydrangea – Flowers and buds contain cyanide. May cause diarrhea and vomiting.

  • Avocado – The leaves, bark, pit and skin contain persin, which is toxic to rabbits.

  • Apple trees – Can nibble on apple tree branches and twigs but avoid eating leaves/seeds which contain cyanide.

  • Cherry trees – Cherry tree leaves and wilted cherry tree branches contain cyanide and are toxic.

  • Peach trees – The leaves, bark and pit contain cyanide which is toxic. Stick to peeled fruit flesh only.

  • Plum trees – The leaves, bark and pits contain cyanide. The flesh of the fruit is safe in moderation.

  • Oak trees – Avoid acorns and oak leaves as they contain tannins, which are toxic to rabbits.

In summary, monitor your rabbit closely while exploring outdoors and prevent them from nibbling on unknown plants, trees or yard debris. Stick to providing edible grasses from your lawn along with their regular diet. If you suspect your rabbit ingested something toxic, call your vet right away. With vigilance and proper rabbit-proofing, you can help keep your bunny safe.

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