What NOT to Feed Pet Bunnies – Foods List
On average, most pet rabbits eat roughly 30 times daily, and there must be a steady food supply to them. The dietary and nutritional requirements for rabbits differ from those of other animals. It is therefore very important that we know what they need and what they don’t.
Ultimately, we need to be certain of the foods poisonous to them.
The fatal three foods for rabbits include rhubarb, fruit pips, and avocado; they should not even be given in small quantities. Some others which are not toxic but can cause terrible digestive issues for them include dog and cat food, Muesli.
If properly fed, rabbits won’t need to graze on poisonous foods. Feeding your rabbits and moderating what you give them is your responsibility. Note that some foods, if not regulated for your rabbits, can cause obesity.
What Rabbits are Not Meant to Eat?
Certain foods are a no-go-area for rabbits; out of these, only a few results in rabbits’ death. Foods that when ingested by the rabbits, causes instant fatality are called Toxic foods. Interestingly, what we know as unhealthy foods never make rabbits die, instead they cause illness or digestive problems.
Fruit Seeds (Pips)
In tiny amounts, rabbits can also enjoy apple flesh, but that is not the case fir for apple seeds. Apple seeds have been found out to contain a compound that is poisonous to rabbits. Next time you give apples to your rabbits, do the honors of removing all the seeds.
Other harmful seeds include plums, apricot, and peach seeds, as they contain traces of cyanide. When an adverse reaction is observed on rabbits after taking fruit seeds, pits, or pips, they should be stopped immediately.
Because of the presence of a poisonous compound known as Persin, avocados are one of the most toxic substance foods for rabbits. The adverse effects that ensue after ingesting Persin are heart failure and breathing problems.
One or two bites of avocados would not pose a threat or cause any adverse reaction to rabbits. It is, however, imperative that you should consult your vet before any new diet is given.
It contains a compound called oxalates and possesses irritant qualities. These properties make it dangerous as it can cause calcium absorption problems for your rabbits. Keep rhubarb out of reach of your rabbits if you grow it in your home garden.
These are the symptoms of rhubarb poisoning:
- Drinking excess quantities of water
- Sore or bloated tummy
- Sore or swollen mouth
As we have highlighted, the symptoms from rhubarb poisoning seem to be severe. Interesting to note is the fact that death from this poisoning has been minimal, especially when rabbits are taken to vets on time.
It contains two different kinds of methylxanthines, which are very toxic to your pet rabbits. On eating a few dark chocolate squares, your rabbit would have to be taken to the vet due to a medical emergency.
Dark chocolate isn’t the only variety implicated in this; white chocolate also causes the poisoning. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning, according to the PDSA, include:
- High temperature
- Squirming on trying to touch rabbit’s stomach
- Panting and trembling,
Most times, we do not intentionally feed our rabbits with dark chocolate bars directly. But extra caution has to be given, especially when you have a pet rabbit. The chances are that it could go to the place where you kept the chocolate and have some and get sick.
You must form the habit of keeping your chocolate bars away safely.
Although they are not toxic in themselves, due to their high level of starch, rabbits can’t digest potatoes. Just a little bite of potatoes is harmless for your rabbit, but a combination of potato leaves and tops could be harmful to your pet rabbits.
These vegetables are known to cause terrible illnesses to your pet rabbit. They include:
- Red/brown onions
The consequence of their ingestion is the development of a condition known as hemolytic anemia. This condition leads to symptoms ranging from generalized body weakness to death eventually, if not well handled. They are also known to be a major cause of anaphylactic shock in rabbits.
Don’t fall for the common temptation of wanting to give your rabbit a piece of cookie or cake in your jolly moments. Sugary foods and foods rich in carbohydrates can trigger enterotoxemia, a serious case of diarrhea. The outcome is usually a serious episode of diarrhea that is usually fatal.
Clostridium-type bacteria present in the pouch between the large and small intestine can be overgrown in Enterotoxemia. The resultant effect is the release of toxins into the bloodstream of your rabbit and then cause fatality. The common thought is that foods that are high in carbohydrates are notorious for making these bacteria multiply.
The most susceptible types of rabbits are those that do not have an adequate intake of fiber. Although just one serving of sugary foods is too weak to cause this toxic condition, young rabbits develop it easily.
We have commonly tagged lettuce as rabbit food, right? Well, technically, yes! Only the dark lettuce variant is safe for your rabbit. Iceberg lettuce contains a toxic substance known as lactucarium, making it a poor option for your rabbit.
Physical weakness and diarrhea are the two most common symptoms caused by iceberg lettuce when taken in high amounts. It could be so fatal for young rabbits if eaten in excess. Romaine is dark lettuce that is safe for your pet rabbit.
What Can You If Your Rabbit Eats Something Poisonous?
The best advice you can receive now is to take your pet rabbit straight to your vet. The fatality of most of these rabbits is seen in just a matter of hours. Adult rabbits with no underlying health condition are less likely to be affected by foods like cookies and iceberg lettuce.
If your rabbit needs treatment, your vet can provide you with the best advice possible.
Most of the time, we are usually unaware of the toxic substance ingested by our pet rabbits until the symptoms suffice. Some symptoms seen include:
- Excessive water intake
- Diarrhea, etc.
Foods That Rabbits Should Never Eat
When pet rabbits eat certain foods over time, they move from just being “unhealthy” to diseases. They may not be toxic in themselves, but rabbits should avoid them even in small quantities. They cause obesity and stomach pains because of their indigestible nature.
Some of these foods include:
Well, you may say that since your pet rabbit is a herbivore, it should eat every and any vegetable, right? That’s not the case, as even though rabbits can feed on veggies, an exception to that rule is the cauliflower. Cauliflower can cause serious bloating in rabbits, either cooked or raw forms.
Nuts make rabbits “go nuts,” right? Even at that, be conscious about feeding your rabbits with nuts in the right proportion. Since fats only need low-fat diets to survive, rabbits only need small amounts of fat.
Apart from being choking hazards, nuts cause bowel problems and digestive issues in rabbits.
In the previous paragraphs, we said that foods packed with carbohydrates and sugar are harmful to rabbits, right? The truth is Muesli is one of such foods. In times past, Muesli was a popular rabbit food until they found out it contained high-carbs.
Foods that are high in carbohydrate can cause the following problems:
- Weight gain
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Dental disease (which is highly common for rabbits that ingest muesli-based foods)
The reason the rabbits take in more carbohydrates from muesli-based foods is that they eat the much tastier cereals. Typically, the diet has pellets and cereals; the cereals are much tastier than the pellets, hence the preference.
When you have many pets living together, there is a likelihood that most pets would want to feed on each other’s meal. Rabbits may end up being gluttonous and want to eat what the dogs are eating. How safe is it for them to eat dog food?
Even though these foods are not poisonous by nature, they cause unwanted weight gain because of high-calorie content. Proteins are the chief nutrients found in dog foods, and since rabbits are herbivores, they can’t readily digest them because they lack the enzymes needed.
Also, dog foods have amino acids, minerals, and vitamins that may be unnecessary for your pet rabbits.
Urinary tract infections and kidney stones are common consequences of high-calcium diet intake. Since dogs and cat food contain large amounts of calcium, your rabbit should therefore not eat them.
They have very high sugar content, are difficult to digest, and can therefore cause Enterotoxemia. Due to this property, they can therefore obstruct the exit of rabbits’ stomachs and are dangerous.
Even when you notice your rabbit has a longing for raisins, never give it to them as there are many other methods available to feed your rabbit.
In a small amount, parsnips are acceptable but are not a recommended bunch. It may be difficult to digest parsnips due to its high level of starch. They also lead to weight gain as they are very high in calories.
Foods Safe for Rabbits
For a while now, we have focused on what foods are unsafe for rabbits. Now, let us see precisely what you should give to your rabbit:
The recommended diet for your adult rabbit includes:
- Green vegetables (Leafy) – one cup for every pound of the rabbit’s weight daily
- Grass Hay—It is a general requirement for rabbits either they are fed pellets or not
- Water supply—It should be an unlimited supply for them. Rabbits usually prefer to drink from bowls.
If given in the right proportion, the following are great diet enhancers for your rabbit:
- Fruits—in negligible amounts
- Growing grass
- High-fiber pellets (50g every day)
- Vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, celery. Serve them at least one tablespoon for every pound per body weight daily.
The uniqueness of rabbits’ dietary requirements makes it necessary to pay special attention to what you feed them. Not meeting these requirements is an invitation to illness. It is not rocket science for rabbits to feed on toxic substances. If they are not well fed, they have to eat.
Importance of Feeding Fiber to Rabbits
The intestines of rabbits are fashioned to handle high-fiber diets low in calories. They don’t do well with foods high in fat, starch, or protein.
What then is the best source of fiber for your rabbit? Well, your rabbit should eat loads of hay. The percentage of hay that should comprise your rabbit’s diet is 80%. The best kind of hay for your rabbit is Timothy hay, as it contains low calcium levels and protein.
The hay you should give your rabbits every day should be bigger than them in size, at least. Hay not only provides fiber; it also helps to shorten the rabbits’ teeth and then clean up the GIT, preventing Enterotoxemia.
Also, give your rabbits lots of vegetables, both green ones and small portions of other veggies. These provide extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water to your rabbits.
Vegetables You Can Feed Your Rabbits
Well, it is quite tough to remember which vegetables are safe or not. For most leafy veggies, here are some safe vegetables:
- Radish greens
- Spring greens
- Curly kale
- Beetroot greens
- Romaine lettuce in small amounts
- Cabbage (dark green)
For every pound of body weight, give your rabbits one cup of greens. The average rabbit weighs approximately 5 pounds, and it could be fed five cups. Since rabbits eat up to 30 times daily, you can split these portions.
You can also give your rabbits these vegetables in tiny amounts:
- Jerusalem artichoke
Give rabbits one tablespoon for every body weight daily. Small amounts of herbs can be given to your rabbits, including Mint, Dill, and Basil.
Size for Rabbit Pellets
Pellets are excellent supplements for rabbits by most rabbit pet owners. It is true as it offers extra fiber, nutrients, and proteins. One rule of thumb is never to feed your rabbit excessively.
Since the larger portion of your rabbit’s meal is from hay, they do not require many pellets (usually one cup daily). The exception to this rule is an underweight rabbit. For cases like these, alfalfa hay can supplement them.
What to watch out for in your search to purchase pellets is high-quality and high-fiber.
Healthy Rabbit Treats
Foods that we feel are alright for rabbits are usually harmful. What do we then refer to as a healthy treat for rabbits? Below are some options you should try out:
- Tiny pieces of apple
- Negligible quantities of carrot
- Tiny portions of sweet potato
- Brussel sprouts (ensure that you detach
Since fruits can damage your rabbit’s teeth, you should not give it to them every day.
What to Do When Your Rabbits Refuse Hay
A disturbing action may start with your rabbit as they may decide not to eat hay. It is a major issue, especially as this comes with an adverse effect of your rabbit feeding excessively on pellets. Your rabbit may also steal your chocolate bars or cookies.
Does your rabbit dislike hay? Try doing these:
- Select a hay variant that is of high-quality and is dust-free.
- Be flexible with the variants in your experiments; give hay-cubes, hay-cookies, etc.
- Set aside a little piece of hay and put some herbs on it.
- Put some hay into one or more cardboard tubes, so it is easier to locate; this makes it more interesting for the rabbit.
- Bring down the number of pellets gradually.
When it proves problematic to persuade rabbits to eat hay, it could bring up significant dental issues. It is best to go to your vet for the best advice.
Changing the Diet of Your Rabbit
Always remember that for any dietary changes you would love to make, do so gently and gradually. Sudden changes make your diet sick as their GI goes into some shock when quick changes are made to the diet. Gradual changes make your rabbits sick as there has to be a stipulated time for your rabbit’s gut to adjust.
Pellets are the best option when changing from muesli-based diets (do this in a 2-3-week interval). The trick is this, daily, reduce the amount of museli and increase the quantity of pellets. By the close of the third week, your rabbit would go back to eating pellets.
Do offer a large variety of veggies to your rabbits. It is good to make use of variety, but that should also be done gradually. As you introduce fresh variants, make sure you watch out for any bowel symptoms.
As you can see, feeding your rabbit with the wrong meal can be expensive for you and inconvenient for your pet. In worse instances, it can lead to death. Note the meals to avoid above, keep them away from your rabbit, and watch them live a healthy life.