One of the most common errors that I see online is the assumption that because a food is high in nutrients for people, it must also be suitable for rabbits.
If you doubt that, search for almost any food on this list. You will quickly find articles that list vitamins, talk about how people can eat that food, and list all the great things the food does for people, assuming that it will also help rabbits.
Assuming that rabbits benefit from foods in the same ways as people is false and can be dangerous for your rabbits. Rabbits have very different digestive tracts than people. Thus, they benefit differently from foods.
The most significant difference in a rabbit’s digestive tract from other animals is that rabbits digest food by fermenting it. In this way, rabbits are more similar to goats and other ruminants than people. Rabbits have a single-chambered stomach, so they are often called pseudo ruminants.
Sugars Affect Rabbit Digestion
Fermentation requires that the right bacteria be present in your rabbit’s stomach. When food has too much sugar, it changes the strains of bacteria in your rabbit’s gut. This can cause diarrhea and other digestion issues.
Sugar feeds “bad” bacteria and starves the “good” bacteria in your rabbit’s gut. It can also lead to overweight rabbits.
Fat in Your Rabbits Diet
Because of the fermentation process, rabbits use to digest foods, they don’t have a way to break down fats. Eating fats is bad for rabbits. Never feed your rabbit fatty foods. Nuts and seeds are higher in fats than other plants and aren’t great for your rabbit to eat. Some seeds and nuts can be toxic for your rabbit.
Unless your rabbit is starving and you have no other options, I recommend that you avoid feeding seeds or nuts to your rabbit.
Rabbits Produce Vitamin C
Rabbits need Vitamin C, but it’s one of the few vitamins rabbits can produce themselves. You don’t need to feed your rabbits foods that are high in Vitamin C because too much vitamin C can harm rabbits. Although they need it, they don’t need a ton of Vitamin C.
Oxalates and Oxalite Acid
Oxalite acid, also called Oxalates, are anti-nutrients to rabbits. When rabbits eat foods with oxalates, it can keep them from absorbing good nutrients. Over time, oxalates can cause damage to a rabbit’s kidneys.
Sparingly feed foods high in oxalates in small quantities and as a rare treat. Avoid feeding oxalates to your rabbit daily. Even if you only feed some foods a couple of times a week to your rabbit, enough foods have oxalates in them that your rabbit may still be getting oxalates.
For example, if you feed your rabbit spinach one day, mustard greens the next day, purslain, and so on, your rabbit gets oxalates every day.
Can I Feed My Rabbit Cooked Vegetables, Herbs, or Fruit?
Never feed rabbits cooked herbs, vegetables, or fruits. Rabbits are herbivores, and their digestive system can handle raw plants. If you feed your rabbit cooked foods, they won’t get any nutritional value out of those foods, and they might gain harm from harmful bacteria growth inside their gut.
Can My Rabbit Eat Canned Vegetables?
Never feed rabbits canned vegetables. Canned veggies are high in sodium, and too much sodium can be harmful, even deadly, for rabbits. Fresh vegetables are best for rabbits. Additionally, many canned vegetables are higher in sugars and starches, which are bad for rabbits.
Can I Feed My Rabbit Frozen Vegetables or Fruit?
Rabbits should not eat frozen vegetables or fruit. Although most frozen vegetables won’t harm rabbits, it doesn’t help them either. Most of the frozen types of vegetables are high in sugars and starches. They aren’t the kinds of veggies that you should feed to rabbits frequently.
The best vegetables, leafy greens, don’t freeze well. If you stick to feeding rabbits fresh foods, they will be healthier overall.
Fruits That Rabbits Can Safely Eat
|Fruits Rabbits Can Eat||Frequency||Health Information|
|Apples||Daily in small quantities||The apple tree leaves are healthy for rabbits daily|
|Apricots||Weekly||Take out the pit and chop the fruit up.|
|Banana||Twice a week||High in fiber. The peel is ok for your rabbit to eat.|
|Blackberries||Weekly||High in antioxidants|
|Cantaloupe||Weekly||High in sugar and Vitamin B6|
|Cherries||Weekly||Take out the seeds first|
|Cranberries||Weekly||Take out the pit. It helps to build strong bunny bones.|
|Grapes||Weekly||Reduces the plaque levels in your rabbit’s arteries|
|Kiwi||Bi-Weekly||Seeds are safe|
|Mango||Bi-Weekly||Excellent source of Vitamin A and C|
|Nectarines||Weekly||High in Sugar, remove the pit.|
|Oranges||Occasionally, Less than weekly||High in acids|
|Papaya||Weekly||Remove the skin and seeds|
|Pears||Bi-Weekly||Stems and dried branches are great chew toys for rabbits|
|Pineapples||Weekly||It contains bromelain, which helps with stress relief.|
|Plums||Weekly||Remove the seeds.|
|Raspberries||3 Times a Week||Low in Sugar, Great snack|
|Strawberries||Weekly||Leaves and stems are also safe|
Vegetables That Rabbits Can Safely Eat Daily
Many types of vegetables are good for rabbits. In particular, leafy greens are usually the healthiest veggies for rabbits to eat. Other vegetables are non-toxic but can contain higher amounts of sugar and oxalates. Others have higher levels of calcium, which can cause bladder stones in rabbits.
|Vegetable||How Often Can Rabbits Eat This Vegetable?||Benefits or Cons:|
|Romaine Lettuce||Multiple Times Daily||The darker leaves are healthier|
|Green Leaf Lettuce||Multiple Times Daily||Low calories for overweight bunnies|
|Red Leaf Lettuce||Multiple Times Daily||High in Vitamin K, B-6, and antioxidants|
|Bibb Lettuce||Multiple Times Daily||Offers a great crunch|
|Butterhead Lettuce||Daily||Higher than average in Vitamin C|
|Spinach||Daily||High in Oxalic acid|
|Arugula||Multiple Times Daily||Packed full of vitamins|
|Carrot Tops||Multiple Times Daily||Do not feed the carrots to rabbits more than occasionally|
|Turnip Greens||Multiple Times Daily||Low in fiber, so mix with other greens|
|Tatsoi||Daily||High in fiber, protein, and vitamins|
|Basil||Once or twice a week||High in Vitamin K. Also high in calcium, which isn’t suitable for rabbits. Young rabbits should never be fed basil.|
|Cilantro||Multiple Times Daily||Packed full of minerals|
|Oregano||Multiple Times Daily||Mix with leafy greens|
|Parsley||Multiple Times Daily||Has Iron and Vitamin C|
|Peppermint||Multiple Times Daily||Good source of Iron and Fiber|
|Rosemary||Multiple Times Daily||It helps with blood circulation|
|Wheatgrass||2-4 Times a Week||Shouldn’t be fed solely|
|Bell Peppers||Daily||Any color of bell pepper is excellent for bunnies.|
|Bok Choi||Daily||Nutrient Dense|
|Broccoli||Daily in small quantities||Leaves are best, stems and florets are ok also.|
|Brussel Sprouts||3-7 times a week||Introduce slowly into rabbits’ diet as it can cause gas.|
|Carrots||2 times a week||Carrots are high in sugar, but you can feed the tops daily|
|Celery||Daily||All parts are good to eat|
|Chard||Weekly||High in Oxalic acid|
|Cucumber||Twice a week||Not high in nutrients|
|Eggplant / Aubergine||2 Time a Week||Low in sugar. Never feed anything but the fruit.|
|Endive||Weekly||High in acids. It can be skipped altogether|
|Escarole||Weekly or less||High in sugar, similar to Endive|
|Fennel||Daily||Entire plant edible|
|Kale||Daily||High in Iron|
|Mustard Greens||Weekly||High in Oxalite Acid|
|Okra||Daily||Rabbits love chewing the tough exterior|
|Pumpkins||Weekly||High in sugar, feed in small amounts|
|Watercress||Daily||High in calcium.|
Herbs Rabbits Can Safely Eat
Herbs are great for humans, but not all herbs are healthy for rabbits. Some rabbits won’t eat herbs because of their intense flavors. You can feed herbs to your rabbit as part of a supplemental diet of treats and leafy greens. Herbs should never be a large part of a rabbit’s diet and some herbs should be fed to rabbits only a few times a week.
|Herbs Rabbits Can Eat||Frequency||Health Information|
|Basil||Limited to once or twice a week||Basil has a lot of calcium and should be fed sparingly to rabbits. Never feed bunnies basil.|
|Dill||A few times a week||Dill is edible but doesn’t offer as many health benefits as other herbs. Many bunnies won’t eat it because of the taste.|
|Coriander (Cilantro)||Daily||Stem and leaves are healthy for rabbits as part of their daily leafy greens.|
|Fennel||Daily||The plant and bulb are safe for rabbits. You can feed it daily.|
|Lavender||Daily||Rabbits can eat lavender without side effects but usually won’t unless they have limited food choices. Lavender has fiber and contains no toxins.|
|Lemon Balm||Twice a week||Many rabbits won’t eat it, but it won’t harm them if they do. Leaves and stems are ok to feed.|
|Mint||A small amount, a couple of times a week||Mint has high levels of calcium, which aren’t great for rabbits to consume.|
|Oregano||Daily as part of their mixed greens.||Leaves and stems are safe for rabbits. Stems are better because of their higher fiber. Many rabbits won’t eat it due to the taste.|
|Parsley||Up to a few sprigs a day||Parsley can be part of mixed greens daily treat. It has calcium and isn’t good for rabbits in large quantities.|
|Rosemary||In small amounts||Rosemary can give rabbits diarrhea and should be fed in small amounts.|
|Sage||Daily: a handful of sage.||Stems and leaves are ok. High in Vitamin K, iron, and potassium.|
|Thyme||Daily||High in fiber. One of the better herbs to feed rabbits. The entire plant is ok for rabbits. Dried and fresh is ok.|
Herbs Your Rabbit Can NEVER Eat
- Chives: poisonous to rabbits
- Golden Sorrel: very toxic to rabbits. High in oxalates.
- Ginger: Not toxic, but can upset a rabbit’s digestive system
- Blue-green Algae
- Hog wart
- Lily of the valley
- Oak leaves
Weeds That Are Healthy For Your Rabbit
Rabbits can safely eat many weeds found around the country and world. Many of these weeds are foods that keep wild rabbits healthy and are loved as a forage food. You can gather these weeds as treats or to supplement your rabbits diet.
Be sure that you still offer a continuous supply of grass hay for your bunny!
|Weeds Rabbits Can Eat||Frequency||Health Information|
|Chamomille||Daily||Safe for rabbits|
|Chickweed||Daily||Often used as a forage food|
|Clover||Daily as hay, but in lower quantities||Clover has high calcium and sugar in it. It can be fed as part of a hay diet but should be limited. Grass hay is much better for rabbits.|
|Dandelions||Lots Daily||Dandelions are healthy for rabbits.|
|Grass||Large quantities daily||Grass should be the primary diet for rabbits. It should make up about 80% or more of a rabbit’s diet.|
|Mallow (Marshmellow plant)||Small quantities daily||Mallow is not toxic to rabbits, but usually not preferred|
|Nettle||Daily||Doesn’t bother rabbits. One of the safest forage foods for rabbits to eat. Dried and fresh is ok.|
|Plantain (broadleaf or narrow-leaf)||Daily||Great fiber for rabbits|
|Purslain||Small quantities daily||Purslain is high in Omega 3, but also has oxalates|
|Shepherds Purse||Small quantities daily||Can be good to help with diarrhea in your rabbit.|
|Sow Thistle||Daily||Rabbits love this weed! It’s good for them also.|
|Watercrest||1-2 Times a week||Use in moderation, can cause bladder stones and diarrhea in rabbits|
|Wild Rose||Small amounts daily||The entire plant is safe for rabbits to eat|
|Yarrow||Watch for reactions||Yarrow is controversial. Some owners say their rabbit loves it and thrives on it, others say that yarrow can be dangerous.|
Toxic Weeds For Rabbits
Never feed your rabbits any of the following weeds. They are very toxic and can cause permanent damage to your rabbit’s system.
- Bindweed (also known as morning glory)
- Avocado leaves
Sharing many of your favorite foods with your pet rabbit can be tempting. But, your rabbit will be happier and healthier if you feed it the foods that rabbits love best.
Recommended Rabbit Supplies
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Housing: If your rabbit is indoor, you’ll need a cage, a hideout (to keep your rabbit from death by heart attack), and a space for it to get exercise and spend time with you. If you don’t want to let it run free in your house, this animal playpen provides space and keeps your rabbit from hiding under your couch.
If you keep your rabbit outdoors, an outdoor hutch that provides space and protection from predators is needed. (I’d still keep mine in a barn for further protection from the elements.)
You’ll also need bedding, toys, a grooming brush, and treats for your little friend. A litter box is important because rabbits can be potty trained. Timothy hay is the best kind of hay for rabbits as alfalfa is too sweet. Don’t forget a water drinker. I like the half-gallon waterer because it can cover two rabbits for several days. Pair it with a food bowl or a food manger (a little cleaner) and you’ll be set up!
Finally, if you plan on taking your rabbit with you on trips, you’ll need a carrier. Here’s a small carrier or larger carrier that work great for occasional travel. If you travel a lot, you might want the carrier that’s rated #1 in safety for safe travels
Lastly, I use this odor eliminator for accidents and to wipe out the bottom of the cage and litter box when I clean it.
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