Rabbits are one of the most popular pets. Many farm owners raise them for a variety of reasons. To keep your animals safe, you should learn which are the toxic and dangerous foods for rabbits. As a herbivore, rabbits mostly feed on hay, grass, and plants.
Some types of food can be fed to rabbits as treats or to compliment their diet. What to feed them and how much also depends on their age and size.
Fiber is what rabbits need to eat. They have an organ called “cecum” which allows them to process fiber, while using yeast and bacteria to ferment it. This is excreted as cecotropes, from which they get fats and vitamins (yes, rabbits eat their poop!). It is quite a balanced process which should not be thrown off. Sugar and starches are particularly toxic to rabbits.
Food Poisoning Symptoms in Rabbits
Take your rabbit to the vet immediately if it has any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of balance
- Muscle contractions
- Breathing troubles including sneezing, coughing and nose discharge
- Unusual stools
- Change or blood in urine
- Biting, growling, and attacking
The sooner you take your animal to be checked, the higher the changes of survival. Dangerous foods for rabbits can cause cardiac, nervous and pulmonary disorders, as well as poisoning and liver failure.
Rabbits cannot vomit, which this makes matters worse if they eat one of the dangerous foods for rabbits. Avoid letting them eat anything with pesticide or fertilizers, this can be way worse than eating poisonous plants.
Dangerous Foods for Rabbits
Sweets and Chocolate
Children love eating candy and may want to give some to their pets. However, anything with high sugar content – including cakes, candy, pastries and sweets – should be avoided. These dangerous foods for rabbits will cause problems in their intestinal floral and can even be fatal. Chocolate is also toxic for all animals because cocoa has a substance called theobromine.
Tea and Coffee
Any beverage that is not water should not be normally consumed by your rabbits. Caffeine is very harmful to the digestive system of this animal. Avoid giving them coffee or teas that contain caffeine. They can drink herbal teas such as rose petals or chamomile. Other herbs have medicinal properties for rabbits such as parsley for kidney stones or basil for nervous exhaustion or colds.
Dairy products are in the list of dangerous foods for rabbits. This includes cheese, yogurt, and milk. They can cause serious rheumatoid damage or even digestive disorders.
Vegetables and Fruits
While many vegetables and fruits are OK, some are on the list of dangerous foods for rabbits including:
- Turnip: rabbits can only eat the leaves, but not the bulb.
- Garlic and onion: these dangerous foods for rabbits can cause Hemolytic Anemia and poisoning, to the extent of anaphylactic shock. Wild rabbits will avoid these plants instinctively, but domesticated rabbits may not be so lucky.
- Cabbage and cauliflower: can be consumed in very little amounts since they can cause digestive problems and intestinal bloating. Feed only cauliflower leaves to rabbits.
- Corn: is rich in carbohydrates which can cause digestive and liver disorders since it ferments in the rabbit’s stomach. Can even be fatal in large quantities.
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes: both are too high in starch and can cause serious digestive problems.
- Leeks and mushrooms: can lower red blood cells causing anemia.
- Avocados: contain persin which can cause behavioral changes, breathing trouble and even heart failure. The skin is super toxic so make sure to keep this away.
- Peas: have too much sugar and phosphorus, can be fed in small amounts only.
- Spinach: has oxalic acid which can be harmful. This can also be found in kale, parsley and mustard greens, which can be fed in small amounts.
- Rhubarb: has oxalates which can cause weakness, diarrhea and dehydration.
- Lettuce: darker types of lettuce can be fed to rabbits, but some types such as iceberg and light colored lettuce can be very bad because they contain lactucarium which causes runny stools.
- Apple seeds: have arsenic and they are toxic to all species, including humans (if eaten in a large amount). The skin and flesh of the apple is safe for rabbits.
Herbivorous rodents cannot eat wheat, so do not feed your rabbit bread, crackers, pasta, cereals or rusks.
Rabbits cannot eat meat from any animal, they do not the ability to digest meats and they will get sick.
Nuts and Raisins
It is best to avoid feeding nuts to rabbits since they are high in fat, not fiber. Rabbits can eat nuts but they will eventually make them obese and cause health complications. Raisins are not toxic but they have too much sugar and can destabilize your rabbit’s gut flora.
There are plenty of plants, flowers and herbs rabbits can eat. But there are some flowers such as poppies, lily of the valley, chrysanthemums, hydrangea, irises, morning glory, and any bulb flower such as tulips and daffodils that are on the list of dangerous foods for rabbits. Some plants should also be avoided including ferns, ivy, laurel and foxglove.
All plants of the nightshade family, such as tobacco, eggplant (natural pesticide for rabbits), peppers and tomatoes, are dangerous foods for rabbits. They can eat tomatoes and peppers but they do not have any nutritious value.