Cilantro – the leafy green herb with a distinctively bold, divisive flavor. rabbit owners often wonder: can bunnies eat cilantro? Is it safe or healthy for them? Will they even like it? Cilantro contains beneficial nutrients but also risks if overfed. Within lies the complete guide for rabbit owners to make informed decisions about incorporating cilantro into their pet’s diet. Discover proper serving sizes, preparation methods, and frequency guidelines. Learn how to entice picky bunnies to try cilantro and watch for signs of excess. Get the fascinating facts on if and how much cilantro can be part of a balanced diet for a hoppy and healthy rabbit companion.
Is Cilantro Good For Your Rabbit?
Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a herb that is commonly used in human cooking. It has a very distinct taste and smell that some people love while others hate. But what about rabbits – can they eat cilantro? The answer is yes, rabbits can eat cilantro in moderation.
Cilantro is not toxic to rabbits and can provide some nutritional benefits when fed in small amounts. Here are some of the positives of feeding cilantro to bunnies:
Cilantro contains vitamin K, vitamin C, and antioxidants. This makes it beneficial for a rabbit's immune system and overall health. The vitamin K in particular is important for proper blood clotting.
The fiber found in cilantro may help with gastrointestinal function in rabbits. Fiber helps move food through the digestive tract and promotes gut motility.
Cilantro has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. This could help relieve inflammation that causes discomfort for a rabbit.
Some bunny owners find that cilantro helps provide variety to their rabbit's diet and may increase appetite. The unique flavor profile can make mealtimes more interesting.
Cilantro has a fresh, crisp texture that provides a nice crunch that rabbits seem to enjoy. The different textures in their diet keep their teeth healthy.
So in small amounts, cilantro can be a healthy supplemental food for rabbits. It provides beneficial nutrients and vitamins that support their health. The fiber, crunch, and flavor can make it an appealing addition to your bunny's usual greens.
However, there are some downsides to be aware of too. Cilantro should only be fed in moderation:
Cilantro contains oxalic acid which can bind to calcium in the body and cause kidney damage if consumed in very high amounts. Rabbits prone to bladder sludge issues may want to avoid cilantro.
The strong scent and flavor of cilantro may cause some sensitive rabbits to refuse to eat it. Always introduce new foods slowly.
Cilantro grown with pesticides could be problematic if ingested by a rabbit. Try to find organically grown cilantro when possible.
Diarrhea or upset stomach is possible if a rabbit eats too much cilantro at once. Limit portions to a few sprigs.
So in conclusion, yes cilantro can be a healthy part of your bunny's diet when fed properly. Offer small portions of organic cilantro 2-3 times per week at most. Monitor your rabbit's stool and appetite to ensure they tolerate it well. Remove cilantro if any digestive upset occurs. Used sparingly, cilantro can be a beneficial supplemental food for most rabbits.
How Much Cilantro Should I Give To My Rabbit?
When offering cilantro to your pet rabbit for the first time, start with just a small sprig or two. This allows you to monitor if they like the taste and make sure they tolerate it well. Overfeeding cilantro initially may lead to soft stools or diarrhea.
Once you have determined your bunny enjoys cilantro and has no adverse reactions, you can slowly increase the amount. As a general rule, rabbits should have no more than 1⁄4 cup of cilantro 3 times per week at most. A few small sprigs equal about 1⁄4 cup when fully packed into the measuring cup.
To break this down further:
Baby rabbits under 6 months can have about 1-2 sprigs of cilantro every other day.
Medium sized adult rabbits can have 2-3 sprigs of cilantro 2-3 times per week.
Larger adult rabbits can have 3-4 sprigs of cilantro 2-3 times per week.
Giant breed rabbits may be able to tolerate slightly larger portions of cilantro, but never over 1⁄4 cup at once.
Always watch for any diarrhea, refusal to eat, or other symptoms of tummy upset after introducing new vegetables. If your rabbit seems sensitive to the cilantro, reduce the amount or frequency. Some rabbits may not tolerate it well.
Provide the cilantro in addition to your rabbit's regular diet of grass hay, leafy greens, pellets, and water. The majority of their food should still be hay. Cilantro is just a supplemental treat a few times a week for variety.
You can also try mixing chopped cilantro in with other greens your rabbit is used to, such as kale, lettuce, or herbs. This masks the strong flavor a bit and prevents them from pigging out on the new ingredient.
No matter how much your bunny begs for more, resist over-feeding cilantro. The excess oxalic acid content at high levels could harm your rabbit's health. Stick within the recommended serving guidelines for their weight and monitor for any reactions.
How Should I Prepare Cilantro?
Cilantro requires very little preparation before serving to your pet rabbit. Here are some tips for serving cilantro safely:
Rinse thoroughly – Make sure to rinse the cilantro under cool water even if organic. This removes any dirt or debris that may be hiding in theleaves. Pat dry with a paper towel after rinsing.
Chop or tear – You can leave sprigs of cilantro intact for your bunny to much on. But for fussier eaters, try finely chopping the leaves and tender stems. This releases more aroma and flavor to entice them.
Mix with other greens – Combine a few pieces of cilantro in with a handful of kale, romaine, or other familiar vegetables. This prevents your rabbit from binging on the new ingredient. The other greens also balance out the strong cilantro taste.
Avoid stems – The thicker, woodier stems of cilantro have limited nutrients or appeal to rabbits. They are also harder to chew and digest. Only provide the tender, leafy parts of the cilantro plant.
No seasoning – Never add any oil, salt, sugar, spices, dressings, or other flavorings to cilantro before giving to a rabbit. This upsets their sensitive digestive balance. Feed plain, unseasoned cilantro straight to your bunny.
Serve immediately – After rinsing and prepping the cilantro, feed to your pet rabbit right away. Do not leave cilantro sitting for prolonged periods, as it will wilt and lose freshness. Discard any uneaten cilantro after a few hours.
Provide in a bowl – Place chopped cilantro in a small bowl for your rabbit. Do not hand feed them or scatter on the ground, as this risks contamination. Keep their food and water bowls clean between uses.
Start slowly – Only introduce a bit of cilantro at first, gradually increasing every few days. Monitor litterbox habits to ensure appropriate digestion and watch for refusal to eat. Not all rabbits will like cilantro.
With a few simple rinses and chops, cilantro makes an easy addition to your rabbit's meals a few days a week. Following these tips will help make cilantro feeding safe while allowing your bunny to reap the nutritional benefits of this fresh herb. Adjust amounts and frequency based on their preferences.
Should I Give My Rabbit Cilantro Every Day?
While cilantro has some beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for rabbits, it is best reserved as an occasional treat. Cilantro should not be given to rabbits daily due to a few concerns:
Excess oxalic acid – Cilantro contains substances called oxalates which may bind to calcium in the body and cause kidney damage over time. Daily cilantro could lead to excessive oxalate consumption.
Digestive upset – Some rabbits may develop soft stool or diarrhea when fed cilantro regularly. It has a natural laxative effect.
Decreased hay intake – The strong taste of cilantro may cause rabbits to fill up on it, leaving less room for critical hay in their diet.
Reduced variety – Eating cilantro daily reduces opportunities to provide other veggies which offer different nutrients. Variety is key in rabbit nutrition.
Finicky habits – Picky rabbits may start refusing greens or pellets if offered tastier cilantro every day. They may hold out for the yummy herb.
Boredom – Rabbits tend to get bored of the same food if served daily. The uniqueness of cilantro may wear off if given too often.
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why cilantro is best limited to no more than 2-3 times per week for rabbits. Following are some healthy Alternatives to give your bunny instead on non-cilantro days:
- Romaine, green leaf, or red leaf lettuce
- Kale, spinach, arugula, or swiss chard
- Small pieces of carrot or apple
- Celery leaves or broccoli slaw
- Dill, basil, mint, or parsley
- A handful of timothy hay pellets
Continue providing unlimited timothy hay daily along with at least 1 cup of leafy greens. Spread out treats like fruits, veggies, and herbs over the week for variety.
While cilantro has benefits, rabbits do not require it in their diet to be healthy. Use it as part of a diverse veggie rotation a few times per week rather than every day. This allows you to reap the advantages of cilantro while avoiding potential problems from overuse.
What If My Rabbit Does Not Eat Cilantro?
Given its strong scent and flavor, there are some rabbits that will not take to cilantro right away. If your bunny turns their nose up at this new herb, do not despair. Here are some tips for getting picky rabbits to try cilantro:
Mix in small pieces with their usual greens until they get used to the taste.
Add a tiny pinch of crushed pellets or treat on top to encourage the first bite.
Offer very young, tender cilantro leaves which are milder in flavor.
Introduce just after their usual feeding time when appetite is strong.
Demonstrate by pretending to eat some yourself – rabbits are very food-motivated!
Try adding lemon or citrus juice to dampen the flavor intensity.
Tempt with a favorite herb like dill first, following by the new cilantro.
Give apetite stimulant like fenugreek or fennel seed before serving.
Grow cilantro plants and let the rabbit graze fresh leaves right from the start.
Never force or starve your rabbit into eating something new; stay patient!
However, some rabbits may never develop a taste for cilantro no matter what you try. If your bunny continues to avoid it after multiple gentle attempts, do not stress. Simply re-try cilantro every couple weeks to see if their preferences change as they mature.
There are many other fresh herbs and leafy greens you can offer instead if cilantro remains snubbed. Parsley, basil, dill, romaine, and kale are good alternatives. Respect your rabbit's dislikes and focus on providing plentiful hay, pellets, and their known favorite veggies.
What Happens If I Feed My Rabbit Too Much Cilantro?
While the ideal amount of cilantro for rabbits is 1⁄4 cup, 2-3 times per week, some warnings signs will appear if your bunny eats too much. Be alert for the following:
One common effect of overfeeding high-oxalate vegetables like cilantro is digestive upset and loose stool. The excess plant compounds have a laxative effect on the sensitive rabbit digestive tract. Monitor your bunny's litterbox for runny or muddy poops. If this occurs, remove cilantro for a few days and slowly re-introduce it later in smaller amounts. Provide plenty of hay and water to resolve the diarrhea. Seek vet advice if it persists longer than 24 hours.
Diarrhea in rabbits can quickly lead to dehydration which is dangerous. Make sure your rabbit is drinking normally if cilantro causes loose stools. Offer flavored electrolytes and monitor their energy levels. Lethargy, weakness, skin tenting, and dry eyes/nose are red flags for dehydration. Seek veterinary treatment if these occur.
The oxalic acid in cilantro binds to calcium and can lead to bladder sludge or kidney stones in some rabbits. Signs include difficulty urinating, blood in urine, straining, or frequent small urine amounts. Stop cilantro immediately if your rabbit shows these symptoms and have your vet evaluate for underlying urinary tract issues.
Refusal to Eat
Some rabbits dislike cilantro so much that eating too much causes them to go on hunger strike! Rabbits must eat daily to stay healthy, so monitor appetite closely when introducing new foods. Make sure your bunny is still consuming some hay and greens each day, even if refusing cilantro.
If a rabbit goes too long without eating due to dislike of cilantro, dangerous weight loss can occur. Weigh your rabbit weekly on a kitchen scale to look for any drops in body weight after introducing cilantro. Cease cilantro feeding if weight decreases and appetite declines.
As you can see, GI and urinary problems are the main risks if rabbits get too much cilantro. Stay within the recommended serving sizes and frequencies, and monitor litterbox habits closely. Discontinue cilantro at the first sign of tummy upset or bladder changes and have your rabbit seen if significant health issues emerge. Moderation is key when feeding high-oxalate veggies!