Rabbit owners must be very cautious about what they are feeding their rabbits.
Most bunny owners have no idea what to feed their rabbits and end up feeding them all types of greens.
But there are certain foods, including greens, that are extremely harmful to your bunny and can result in early death.
To solve all your worries, I’ve put together a list each for:
- Foods that rabbits CAN eat
- Foods that rabbits CAN’T eat
This article will act as an ultimate guide for explaining to you exactly what’s edible and non-edible for rabbits along with safe quantities for these foods.
– Foods that rabbits CAN eat –
Let’s start with the most essential food items for rabbits.
Hay and grass
These two things should ideally make up 80% to 90% of a rabbit’s meal.
There is a common misconception that hay is only used as bedding for rabbits.
No, that isn’t true.
Hay and grass should be provided generously to keep the rabbit well-fed.
Since rabbits are purely vegetarian, they need all types of grass and hay to keep their stomach full.
These foods also maintain a healthy gut.
Moreover, grass and hay strengthen the rabbits’ jaws and fulfill the fiber requirements.
Rabbits love eating.
You’ll find them chewing onto something almost all day long.
Healthy treats for rabbits
While grass and hay will keep them occupied for the most part, the need for healthy treats is still real.
The following make great treat options for rabbits.
- Green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
A lot of people ask me:
Can rabbits eat peppers?
Well, they can. But only in small amounts.
That’s why peppers only make tasty treats because it isn’t recommended to feed these items in large amounts.
Chop them up in large chunks and feed them in small quantities to your rabbit.
They can also be used as treats during training.
Vegetables for rabbits
Rabbits must be fed at least 1 cup of vegetables for every 2lbs of their body weight daily.
Let’s say your rabbit weighs around 2kg, which is the average weight for an adult rabbit. This weight is equivalent to approximately 4.4lbs.
You must regularly feed a little over 2 full cups of vegetables to this rabbit every day.
The following vegetables are suitable for rabbits.
- Celery leaves
- Green beans
The next list of vegetables can also be fed to rabbits.
However, I’d suggest to include these in a rabbit’s meal only occasionally.
Overfeeding these veggies can lead to gas and restlessness in the rabbit:
- Radish Tops
- Carrot roots
Some other vegetables you can add to the rabbit’s meals are:
- Mustard greens
- Carrot tops
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Beet greens
- Swiss chard
- Zucchini squash
- Summer squash
- Spring greens
Fruits for rabbits
Let’s talk about rabbit-friendly fruits.
Rabbits absolutely love fruits.
But, the high sugar content limits the amount that can be fed to rabbits.
A rough idea is to never feed more than 2 tablespoons of sugar in one day.
Any more than that is very harmful to rabbits.
Here are some fruits that rabbits will devour:
Keep in mind that when feeding fruits, especially cherries, only feed the flesh of the fruit and not the seeds.
The pit and the plant contain cyanide which can poison your rabbit.
Pellets for rabbits
Pellets are a seed-like food that is manufactured for rabbits and many other animals.
Pellets look like tiny capsules.
Make sure that when you’re choosing pellets for your rabbits, you go for something that is rich in fiber but has low protein content.
Proteins can cause obesity in rabbits.
Also, avoid pellets with additives such as corn, since they lead to digestive problems.
Stick to fresh pellet seeds that promise high fiber content.
Herbs: can rabbits have them?
Some herbs that are safe for rabbits are:
Rabbits aren’t a fan of herbs due to their strong smells.
If they can get past the smell, these herbs will make delicious additions to their everyday greens.
The following flowers and wild herbs can also be fed to rabbits:
- Sow Thistle
- Shepherd’s purse
Suggested Amounts for these rabbit foods
Plan your rabbit’s meal according to the foods mentioned above.
But, also focus on the amounts of each item.
This table summarizes what an average rabbit’s dietary requirements are.
|Pellets||¼ to a ½ cup per 6lbs of bodyweight|
|Fruits||1 tsp per 2lbs of bodyweight/No more than 2oz in total|
|Vegetables||1 cup per 2lbs of bodyweight|
|Hay and grass||Unlimited|
– Foods that rabbits CAN’T eat –
It may seem like rabbits can pretty much eat everything!
But the truth is:
There are a lot of foods that rabbits can’t eat or are allergic to.
It is imperative to be aware of these foods so that you can ensure your rabbit’s long and healthy life.
Let’s start by busting a widespread myth.
Low-quality commercial rabbit food
I know that this may come as a surprise.
After all, this food is being marketed specifically for rabbits.
But a lot of rabbit mixes are not suitable for your pet bunnies.
Low-quality rabbit foods are made out of all sorts of rabbit-friendly food.
You’ll find pellets, dried fruits, and a lot more.
Now, as previously mentioned, there are certain foods that rabbits love, but if overfed, they can end up being harmful.
Although these items are only added in a small ratio in these mixes, your rabbits can still overfeed on them.
The bunnies will pick and choose pieces from the mix that they like.
The remaining parts will remain untouched.
You will keep replacing the old food, and the rabbits will continue pecking on the unhealthy portions.
Therefore, commercial rabbit mixes end up, causing more harm than good.
It is better if you mix up rabbit-friendly food on your own and feed that to your pet.
The bottom line is:
Invest in a quality commercial rabbit food or don’t buy one at all.
Just like rabbit mixes, hamster food is also harmful to rabbits.
This may sound like common sense, but a lot of rabbit owners make this mistake.
They believe that all small animals can be fed the same things.
This isn’t true at all.
Hamster food is notably lacking in fiber.
Foods high in carbs
While high-fiber content is suitable for rabbits, amount of carbohydrates needs to be very limited.
Their weak stomachs aren’t strong enough to digest high-carb sugary foods.
These foods include:
If a rabbit ends up eating any of these high-carb items, it could be attacked with enterotoxaemia.
Potatoes are also high in carbs and have similar effects.
Yogurt can also lead to enterotoxemia.
It contains a lot of ‘bad’ bacteria, which could cause infections in the rabbits’ intestines.
A similar irritable condition can also be caused by feeding high-fat foods.
Walnuts, in particular, have high-fat content and are low in fiber.
Not only is it useless for the rabbits, but it also leads to indigestion and other stomach related problems.
Another similar food is:
Oatmeal isn’t particularly harmful to rabbits.
It won’t even cause an upset stomach or anything of the sort.
But, it isn’t recommended for rabbits because it is completely useless for them.
With no nutritional value, it will only be waste to feed your rabbits something like oatmeal.
Vegetables that shouldn’t be fed to your rabbits
- Iceberg lettuce
It may come as a surprise that these vegetables shouldn’t be fed to rabbits.
Considering how much rabbits love veggies, it is truly astonishing.
But the thing is:
Avocadoes are way too fatty for bunnies.
Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional benefit; however, if left indigested, the chemical lactucarium from the vegetable can prove harmful for the animal.
Silverbeet can cause colic and bloated stomach, so it is best to avoid this too.
Cauliflower can make the rabbits feel gassy and irritable.
Chocolate and peanut butter
These favorite human foods are poisonous for rabbits.
Chocolates are way too sugary and sweet.
Consumption of the smallest amount of chocolate can lead to fatal effects.
As for peanut butter, it has pretty much the same effects as walnuts do.
It is high in fats, which can lead to stomach aches.
Greens which can be fatal for your bunny
Certain plants can lead to the death of the animal if ingested.
- Oak leaves
- Arum lily
Make sure that you pick and choose wild plants cautiously.
In the wild, rabbits are mostly able to identify the smells of plants.
This sniffing ability helps them steer clear of toxic plants.
However, as pets, you’ll probably be feeding them leaves that have been plucked and probably would’ve lost their scent.
The rabbits won’t be able to identify the plant in such a case.
Herbs with a pungent smell
Remember that I told you rabbits don’t like the scent of herbs?
Well, these are a few herbs that have a very pungent smell.
Rabbits won’t eat these:
- Lemon balm
Not all of these herbs and plants are poisonous or harmful for rabbits.
But their pungent smells make them unappetizing.
Even when these herbs are plucked off of their bushes or trees, they still have a strong smell.
Therefore, your rabbit won’t even go near the food bowl if these herbs are added inside.
Harmful vines and ornamental grasses
Other than herbs, some vines, and ornamental grasses also have a scent that keeps rabbits away.
- Feather grass
- Blue Fescue
- Blue Avena oat grass
- English ivy
- Virginia creeper
Plants with a bad texture
The next quality that rabbits hate in a plant is the texture.
Plants that rabbits wouldn’t eat due to their texture include:
- Bee balm
It is clear that rabbits are very picky about what they eat.
Anything that their noses or tongues don’t like won’t ever get into their stomach!
Plants that have a bad taste
Of course, rabbits are also particular about the taste of what they eat.
The following are plants that your rabbits will absolutely hate the taste of.
- Japanese maple
- Douglas fir
- Oregon grape
- Turpentine bush
Make sure that whatever you’re feeding your rabbit is clear of any of these plants.
In the end, I’d like to mention the most apparent food that rabbits don’t, can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t eat.
For a lot of people, this might be obvious.
But I’ve had many people ask me, “can rabbits eat meat?”
Rabbits are strictly herbivores.
They would never consume any sort of meat or food that may contain meat.
However, in case your rabbit did accidentally ingest it, the consequences can be extremely unsafe.
The first issue will be indigestion.
Of course, the digestive system of a rabbit isn’t designed to digest meat.
Therefore, a lack of enzymes will lead to extreme stomach aches.
Moreover, vomiting may also be noticed.
It is best that you immediately visit a vet to treat your rabbit if any of the aforementioned unsafe foods are eaten.
While some won’t cause much harm, others can lead to your pet’s death in worse cases!
Rabbit feeding tips
Merely pointing out good food from bad isn’t enough.
There are a fair few tips that will further ensure that your rabbit is being fed properly.
First of all:
Never feed rabbits leaves from houseplants.
You may not exactly know what the plant is, and it could end up causing an issue.
Also, most houseplants are poisonous for rabbits.
Whenever you’re introducing a new food item to your rabbit, test it out first.
Every rabbit reacts to food differently.
The poisonous foods are harmful to all bunnies, but some good foods won’t particularly be healthy for all.
Introduce the new food in a small quantity.
If the rabbit is persistent in avoiding the food, don’t force it to consume the new item.
Let the bunny eat as per its own will.
Then, keep an eye out for the rabbit’s behavior.
Any signs of restlessness, a difference in their stool or any other unusual behavior is a red flag.
Keep doing your own research as well to find out what suits or doesn’t suit your rabbit in particular.
Avoid vegetables that may have residual pesticides or insecticides.
Use food that is as fresh as possible.
Moreover, thoroughly wash the fruits and vegetables before letting the rabbit consume them.
Instead of feeding one kind of food in bulk, try creating a good mix.
Rabbits will enjoy a variety in their meal.
Add in a couple of types of leafy vegetables along with some chunky vegetables.
To add a variety of textures, use herbs and flowers.
Also, put in a lot of hay and grass.
Use fruits as a treat occasionally.
However, when mixing together these different things, make sure that you’re maintaining a nutritional balance.
Keep the proteins and fats as low as possible.
Also, keep the vitamin C minimal as rabbits produce their own vitamin C in their body.
Starch and sugar amount should also be controlled.
The fiber content should be maximum.
Generally, hay and grass should make up the majority of the rabbit’s meal.
After that, leafy greens should be fed in the largest amounts.
Other vegetables that aren’t leafy should be equivalent to this ratio:
2lbs bodyweight: 1 tablespoon veggies.
It is best to divide the entire amount of food into parts instead of feeding it at once so that rabbits have a variety of foods in all their meals.
Lastly, keep your rabbits as hydrated as possible.
Provide fresh drinking water regularly.
If there is a chance that the rabbit may turn over the water bowl, use a hanging water dispenser.
On hot summer days, keep refilling the bowl or dispenser with cold water.
You can also add a couple of ice cubes in the water to keep it cool.
Some rabbits just wouldn’t drink enough water.
To tackle this issue, keep the vegetables wet when feeding them to your rabbit.
Why is my rabbit not moving or eating? Rabbits usually continue to graze normally even if they aren’t feeling well.
But, if a rabbit has stopped eating, it could be a sign of gastrointestinal stasis.
In this condition, their gastrointestinal tract shuts down and a big food ball is formed inside their stomach.
The safest option is to visit a vet immediately.
Do rabbits remember their owners? Yes, rabbits are very sensible creatures.
They can recognize their owner simply by the owner’s voice or smell.
They can also identify their owner’s shape to recognize them.
How long can a rabbit go without eating? Rabbits are continuous grazers.
However, they can go for almost 12 hours without consuming anything.
A rabbit who hasn’t eaten for longer than this could be suffering from a painful condition.