Bad Rabbit Food: What NOT To Feed Your Bunny
You'd think that feeding rabbits would be easy. Just chuck any old plant matter into the cage and have done with it, right? Wrong. This feeding methodology is an excellent way to kill your bunny or make it very sick indeed. Knowing what to feed your rabbit, and especially what NOT to feed it, is a very important part of rabbit care because some of the foods that might seem great are, in fact, incredibly dangerous.
#1: Most Lettuces
As a general rule, you shouldn't feed your rabbit lettuce, which contains lactucarium, which can give your rabbit diarrhea so bad that it becomes fatal. Iceberg lettuce contains laudanum which can be harmful in large quantities. Yes, some lettuces are worse than others. Some claim that it is okay to feed them small amounts of Romaine because it contains the least amount of lactucarium of the common lettuce varieties. Some people report that their rabbits enjoy (and don't die from) eating small quantities of lettuce, but still, it's best err on the side of caution.
But leafy greens are very good for your bunny: See the list of alternative greens below.
#2: Certain Common Vegetables
Other common foods to avoid include cabbage, parsnips, swedes (rutabaga or turnip), potato, and tomato leaves. Vegetables that contain higher levels of oxalic acid (like spinach, mustard greens, and parsley) can be dangerous, especially in large doses. Onions, leeks and chives can cause blood abnormalities.
There are plenty of good and tasty foods that you can feed your rabbit, so save these for the compost or maybe your own table if you're a fan.
#3: Certain Wild Plants and Grasses
If you let your rabbit roam free in your garden or home, make sure that you don't have any of the following plants growing in places that are accessible, as they can also be dangerous to your bunny:
- Arum Lilies
- Daffodils and other bulbs
- Deadly Nightshade
- Fairy Primrose
In general it is best to restrict your bunny to grass-only-areas with no clover in them. Clover can cause gas, and rabbits have no means to expel it, which can lead to bloat and death.
What Should I Feed My Bunny?
- Safe foods to feed your bunny include hay (preferably Timothy hay, as it contains the most nutrients, and not alfalfa, as it tends to contain too much calcium). There should always be plenty of hay available for your rabbit every day.
- Fresh foods such as peas (English and snow), kale, bok choy, Brussels and other sprouts, celery, wheat grass, watercress, collard greens, squash, bell peppers, and broccoli. Sweet things like carrot, apple, and banana can also be fed in small amounts as treats.
- Reputable pellets from a pet store can be fed in small amounts, but they should not form the bulk of a rabbit's diet.
If you are introducing a new, untested ingredient to your rabbit's diet, consider starting small and gradually increasing the amount. That way, if you see any sign of upset stomach or diarrhea, you can immediately avoid that food. Plus, it's a good rule of thumb to make sure your bunny gets a little bit of a wide variety of foods rather than a bunch of one kind, so keep this in mind, as well, and don't get into the habit of feeding the same foods over and over.
A little care in choosing appropriate food can make a huge difference in your rabbit's health and happiness.