Rabbits have a specialised digestive system. Their distinctive ability to process fiber and nutrients makes them adaptable to many different environments, but their unique digestive systems mean we must be extra-cautious when we feed rabbits.
A number of foods can disrupt bunnies’ digestion and be harmful to their health. There are also a few foods—some of them surprising—that are potentially poisonous to them. Check out our list of 15 foods that you should never feed rabbits:
1. Yogurt Drops
According to Rabbit.org, research suggests that yogurt drops may contribute to lethal cases of enterotoxemia, “a toxic overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria in the intestinal tract.” If you’re looking for a healthy treat to feed your bunny, try green peppers or Brussels sprouts.
2. Bread, Pasta, Cookies, and Crackers
These high-carb sugary treats will really only “treat” your bunny to stomach issues. Avoid foods high in sugar or artificial ingredients, as—like yogurt drops—they could potentially lead to enterotoxemia.
When you think of ideal rabbit snacks, fresh fruits and veggies probably come to mind. Avocados, however, should never be included in your bunny’s diet. According to Small Pet Select, this fatty fruit can be deadly if ingested by a rabbit.
Feeding your rabbit cereal—like muesli, a processed food made up of flaked maize, peas, pellets, grains, and seeds—can lead to tooth and tummy problems.
5. Iceberg Lettuce
This may come as a shock, but you should avoid feeding your rabbit light-colored lettuce, including iceberg, as it can contain lactucarium, a chemical that can be harmful to your bunny’s health if ingested. Iceberg lettuce also contains mostly water and will add little to no nutrition to a diet.
Like iceberg lettuce, silverbeet—sometimes referred to as chard—is another leafy green that your rabbit should avoid. According to a veterinary center in New Zealand, the vegetable can cause your bunny to suffer from colic and bloating and should be replaced with high-fiber fruits, veggies, and herbs. Radishes, alfalfa, and rosemary are all great options.
7. Hamster Food
We get it. You may have more than one animal companion, and perhaps you were hoping to feed two birds with one hand, so to speak. But while rabbits require a special high-fiber diet—think high-quality Timothy hay, fresh vegetables, and herbs—hamster food will do little to nothing for your bunny’s nutrition.
Walnuts are high in fat, not fiber, which can cause your rabbit uncomfortable indigestion. If you’re looking for a healthy snack to feed rabbits, try fresh veggies or herbs.
Although feeding rabbits oatmeal won’t cause them major harm, it’s not an ideal meal. Rabbits need large amounts of Timothy hay, hearty greens, and fresh water—oatmeal does nothing to boost their nutritious diet.
Absolutely never feed rabbits chocolate. As with companion dogs, chocolate has no place in your rabbit’s diet. The sweet treat can be poisonous.
11. Peanut Butter
Like walnuts, peanut butter—which is also high in fat—should be avoided. The creamy snack will do nothing for rabbits, except possibly give them a tummy ache.
Although potatoes won’t necessarily poison rabbits, this human-favorite vegetable isn’t ideal for them. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates and starch, both of which can cause issues for your bunny’s digestive system.
This common garden plant can be poisonous to animals if eaten raw. If a rabbit were to ingest raw rhubarb, he or she could die, although—according to the RSPCA—this happens rarely.
Some of you are probably asking, “Seriously?” We’re just ensuring that we’re covering all our bases! Rabbits are herbivores, meaning that they eat plants. Wild bunnies would not eat meat, and neither should your domesticated roommate.
Cauliflower is a veggie, so it’d be a perfect, healthy snack for your rabbit, right? Surprisingly, no. Although vegetables are an ideal addition to the high-fiber hay that bunny diets require, cauliflower causes rabbits to bloat and become gassy. If you want to give your rabbit some fresh veggies to snack on, consider green peppers, beets, or radishes.
Hungry for More Rabbit Facts?
Did you know that rabbits can be litter trained? Or that you should never lift a rabbit with just one hand under the stomach? Click here to learn more about these bunny facts and many others.
Rabbits also suffer terribly in the heat, since they can’t pant to cool themselves, nor do they sweat like humans. Click here to find out more about how to keep your furry friends cool as the mercury rises.
Interested in Helping Bunnies?
Rabbits are the third most frequently abandoned animals in shelters. Remember these three words: Adopt—don’t shop! If you’re looking for a long-term relationship with an animal, please visit your local animal shelter and save a life.
Another way to help save rabbits is to stop buying clothing made with angora. Find out more about the cruelty of angora here: