Can Rabbits Eat Potatoes? (Raw, Cooked, Peel + Leaves)

Can rabbits join in on humankind’s love of potatoes, or are these starchy tubers taboo for the cotton-tailed set? Rabbit parents worldwide have long pondered the question of whether rabbits can sink their teeth into potatoes safely and enjoyably. In this tell-all potato guide, we unpeel all you need to know about which types of potatoes rabbits can eat, potato portion sizes for rabbits, effects of potatoes on sensitive rabbit digestive systems, and much more! Can rabbits eat potato peels? Baked potatoes? Sweet potato fries? We have the need-to-know facts on how to make potatoes into an occasional fun treat, not a dangerous hazard, for your bunny. Grab some spuds and let’s hop to it!

Are Rabbits Allowed To Eat Potatoes?

Potatoes are a common staple food for humans, but can our rabbit companions eat them too? The short answer is yes, rabbits can eat potatoes, but only in moderation and when prepared properly.

Like humans, rabbits are omnivores, meaning they can eat both plant and animal materials. As herbivores, the vast majority of a rabbit's diet should consist of hay, fresh veggies, and leafy greens. However, they can benefit from some starchy foods like potatoes on occasion. Potatoes contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and carbohydrates. As long as they are fed in limited quantities, potatoes can be a nice treat and source of nutrients for bunnies.

That said, there are some risks to be aware of when feeding potatoes to rabbits. First, potatoes should always be given to rabbits raw, never cooked. Raw potatoes contain less simple sugars and are easier for rabbits to digest. Too many simple sugars and carbs can disrupt a rabbit's delicate digestive system. Secondly, potatoes have a high glycemic index, meaning they cause a spike in blood sugar. This can be problematic if rabbits consume too many potatoes.

The other risk with potatoes is a compound they contain called solanine. Solanine is a toxin found in all nightshade vegetables, including potatoes. Usually, solanine is concentrated in the green parts and eyes of potatoes. While rabbits can typically tolerate low levels, feeding potatoes containing solanine can cause digestive upset, drooling, lethargy or neurological problems.

To safely allow your rabbit to enjoy potatoes, be sure to feed them in strict moderation – no more than 1-2 small slices 1-2 times per week. Always wash, peel and chop the potatoes to remove any solanine-containing parts before serving. Introduce new foods slowly and watch for any diarrhea or changes in stool, appetite or behavior. Overall, potatoes make an ok occasional treat, but not a dietary staple.

Why Do Rabbits Like Potatoes?

There are a few reasons why rabbits seem to enjoy munching on potatoes when given to them:

  1. Potatoes have a mildly sweet flavor – Rabbits tend to enjoy foods that taste slightly sweet, like many fruits and vegetables. The subtle sweetness of potatoes is likely pleasing to a rabbit's palate.

  2. The starch provides calories – Potatoes are high in carbohydrates and starch, which provide a good source of energy and calories. Rabbits may gravitate towards potatoes for the extra calories.

  3. The texture is enjoyable – Raw potatoes have a smooth, crisp, juicy texture that makes them fun for rabbits to sink their teeth into and nibble on. The starchiness and moisture are appealing textures.

  4. A new treat – Since potatoes are not a regular part of a rabbit's diet, they provide novelty and variety when introduced occasionally. Rabbits seem to appreciate and get excited by new treats.

  5. Potatoes smell good – Rabbits have a great sense of smell, so the earthy, starchy potato aroma may appeal to them and pique their interest. They investigate new foods first with their sense of smell.

  6. Social bonding – When owners offer potatoes as a treat, rabbits connect that experience with positive bonding time. Rabbits look forward to that social interaction and bonding.

While potatoes have nutrients like vitamin C and fiber, their carbohydrate-rich starch content is likely the main driver behind a rabbit's enjoyment. Potatoes provide quick energy and have a taste and texture that rabbits find quite pleasant. As long as portion sizes are restricted, there's no harm in letting your bunny enjoy this vegetable snack in moderation. Monitor your rabbit's health, weight and litter habits to ensure potatoes are not upsetting their digestive system.

Why Is Potato Bad for Rabbits?

Although potatoes are not toxic to rabbits, there are some risks and downsides to allowing rabbits to eat too many potatoes:

  • High in carbohydrates – Potatoes are dense, starchy vegetables that are high in carbs. Too many carbohydrates can throw off the delicate balance of a rabbit's diet. They require high fiber and low sugar content.

  • High glycemic index – The simple carbohydrates in potatoes cause them to have a high glycemic index. This means they can spike blood sugar levels quickly. Rapid rises and drops in blood sugar are not healthy for rabbits.

  • Excess calories leading to obesity – If a rabbit eats a lot of potatoes frequently, the extra calories and starch could lead to unwanted weight gain or obesity. Obesity is dangerous for rabbits.

  • Possible digestive issues – The high starch content of potatoes could irritate some rabbits' stomachs and intestines, potentially leading to soft stool, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal discomfort.

  • Contains toxic glycoalkaloids – All potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, which are toxic compounds concentrated mostly in the leaves, sprouts and peels. This is why potatoes must be washed and peeled before feeding to bunnies.

  • Low nutritional value – Potatoes contain limited vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients compared to leafy greens, vegetables and hay which are essential to a rabbit's balanced diet.

While the occasional small treat of potato is fine, feeding potatoes too frequently or in large amounts can present digestive upset, blood sugar issues, weight gain and toxicity risks. Potatoes should never make up a substantial part of a house rabbit's regular diet. They simply do not offer the nutrition profile that rabbits require for good health. Monitor your rabbit closely when first introducing potatoes to watch for any adverse reactions.

Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Potatoes?

It's best to avoid feeding cooked potatoes to rabbits. Raw potatoes are preferable for a few key reasons:

  • Cooked potatoes have a higher glycemic index – Cooking breaks down potatoes' starch into simple sugars, increasing the GI. High GI foods spike blood sugar dangerously fast in rabbits.

  • More difficult to digest – Raw potatoes contain resistant starch that is easier on digestion. Cooking destroys those starches, making potatoes more likely to cause gas, bloating or diarrhea.

  • Higher calorie – Cooking potatoes makes more calories available for absorption, contributing to obesity risk if fed too often.

  • Toxin concentration – Cooking can increase the concentration of glycoalkaloids found naturally in potatoes to potentially unsafe levels.

  • Lose nutrients – Some vitamins and minerals are lost when potatoes are cooked, lowering their limited nutritional value. Vitamin C, B-vitamins and iron are reduced with cooking.

  • Acrylamide formation – A potentially carcinogenic compound called acrylamide forms in starchy foods like potatoes when cooked at high temperatures.

While cooked potatoes may be slightly softer, the risks of feeding them to rabbits generally outweigh the benefits. A tiny piece of steamed potato once in awhile is unlikely to harm a healthy rabbit. But for regular treats, raw potato slices or small diced pieces are safer. Be sure to introduce new foods slowly and discontinue use if any digestive upset occurs. Monitor your rabbit's health closely and ask your exotic vet for advice about potato consumption.

Can Rabbits Eat Potatoes Peel?

No, you should not feed potato peels to rabbits. While rabbits can eat the flesh of potatoes in moderation, the peel should always be removed before feeding for a few reasons:

  • Peels contain higher glycoalkaloid toxins – Glycoalkaloids are naturally occurring toxins found in all potatoes, concentrated mostly in the skin. Even small amounts can be dangerous for rabbits.

  • Choking hazard – Potato peels can be difficult to chew and pose a choking risk, especially for smaller rabbits or babies with poor teeth.

  • Irritation to digestive tract – The rougher texture and fiber content of peels may aggravate the intestinal tract or cause diarrhea when eaten.

  • Pesticide residue – More pesticides stick to the peel surface during growth and harvesting. These residual toxins could affect a rabbit's delicate system.

  • Dirt or contaminants – Peels are more likely to harbor dirt, debris or contaminants than the inner flesh. It's safer to remove.

While pesticide levels on organic potato peels are less concerning, the other risks still make them generally unsuitable for rabbits. Plus, peels lack nutritional value that rabbits require. For minimal waste, you can compost, blend or dehydrate peels. When preparing potato treats for your bunny, be sure to thoroughly scrub, peel and chop the potato first. Monitor stool and health closely when introducing any new food. Discontinue use if any concerning symptoms develop.

Can Rabbits Eat Potato Leaves?

No, rabbits should not eat potato plant leaves or stems. The green parts of potato plants contain very high levels of toxic glycoalkaloids that are dangerous even in small doses, causing severe digestive upset, lethargy, or neurological symptoms:

  • Toxic glycoalkaloids – All green parts of potatoes contain solanine and chaconine, two glycoalkaloids that are toxic to rabbits. The levels are especially high in leaves.

  • Disruption of GI tract – Ingesting potato plant parts can cause dangerous inflammation, irritation, and damage to the delicate lining of a rabbit's digestive system.

  • Oral blistering – Potato plant toxins can also cause blistering and sores in and around rabbits' mouths and lips. This can make it painful for them to eat.

  • Neurological effects – At high doses, potato glycoalkaloids may cause neurological impairment, loss of coordination, confusion, paralysis and seizures in rabbits.

  • Potentially fatal – Depending on the amount ingested, rabbit deaths have been reported from consuming potato plant parts. The toxins can be fatal in high enough doses.

While you should never purposefully feed a rabbit potato leaves or vines, also take care to prevent any accidental ingestion if growing potatoes near their living space. Seek emergency vet treatment if you suspect a rabbit has consumed any part of a potato plant to avoid serious, potentially fatal consequences. The fleshy underground tubers are only potato part safe for rabbits in moderation.

Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are another starchy root vegetable that some rabbit owners wonder about feeding as an occasional treat. Here's what you need to know about whether rabbits can eat sweet potatoes:

  • Only in strict moderation – Due to their high carb content, sweet potatoes should only comprise a tiny portion of a rabbit's diet. No more than 1-2 small slices 1-2 times weekly.

  • Lower glycemic index – Sweet potatoes have a lower GI than white potatoes, meaning they don't spike blood sugar levels as severely. But the GI is still moderately high.

  • Higher in vitamins – Sweet potatoes have more vitamin A, vitamin C and B vitamins than white potatoes. But greens still have far more nutrients.

  • Still high in calories – The natural sugars in sweet potatoes mean they are still a high calorie treat that could lead to weight gain if overfed.

  • May cause gas or diarrhea – Too much of the indigestible sugars in sweet potatoes could lead to gassiness, bloating or loose stool in sensitive rabbits.

  • Only feed raw and peeled – To avoid concentrated toxins, never feed cooked, canned or skins. Thoroughly wash and peel before giving small portions.

Overall, an occasional thin slice of raw peeled sweet potato can make a nice treat for most healthy adult rabbits. But the portion size should be restricted to protect your rabbit's delicate digestive and glycemic health. Ask your rabbit vet for advice about which starchy vegetables and how much to feed safely.

Can Rabbits Eat Potato Chips?

It's best to avoid feeding your rabbit any kind of potato chips or crisps. While these are a popular snack for humans, rabbits should not eat potato chips for several important reasons:

  • High fat content – Potato chips are cooked in oil or fat, making them very high in unhealthy fats. This can lead to pancreatitis, liver disease, and obesity in rabbits.

  • High salt content – Most chips are heavily salted as part of the flavoring process. Excess salt is extremely dangerous for rabbits, causing electrolyte imbalances.

  • Contains onion/garlic – Many chip flavors contain onion and/or garlic powder, both of which are toxic to rabbits.

  • Cooked at high heat – Chipping cooking increases the acrylamide in potatoes to hazardous levels as well as destroying nutrients.

  • sharp edges – The thin, sharp edges of chips can cut or puncture a rabbit's mouth, throat, or intestines.

  • No nutritional value – Chips provide none of the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that rabbits require in their diet.

While the occasional plain raw potato slice is ok for rabbits, potato chips should always be avoided. The high fat, salt and seasonings make them very hazardous to a rabbit's health. Stick to healthier treats like a small piece of fresh papaya, cucumber, or green leaf lettuce instead. Your rabbit's body will thank you!


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