Have you ever looked at the tender, green leaves on a freshly picked radish and wondered if they were edible?
Radish leaves are a peppery addition to salads, and your rabbit will love radish leaves, too.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the nutritional value of radish leaves and other parts of the plant for rabbits.
We will also have some suggestions for using radish leaves as a treat for your rabbit.
Radish Leaves are Highly Nutritious for Rabbits Too
There is a lot to like about radishes.
This spicy vegetable is a member of the Brassica family, related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choi, mustard, turnips, collards, horseradish wasabi, arugula, and watercress.
Radishes and all the other vegetables in the Brassica family make antioxidants in their leaves.
The reason these plants make antioxidants is to help the plant repair damage from insects and sunburn. The stronger the peppery taste of the plant, the more antioxidants it contains.
Rabbits need antioxidants for many of the same reasons people do.
Unlike people, rabbits make their own vitamin C, but antioxidants in their food help them fight off cancer and maintain heart health.
These are problems older rabbits can have the same way people can have them.
Radish leaves are also a good course of calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. They don’t actually contain vitamin A, but they are packed with chemicals that rabbit’s body can turn into vitamin A.
Radish leaves are also a great source of fiber, as is the radish root that most people eat.
Fiber is important to rabbits for preventing two potentially fatal conditions:
- Malocclusion, excessive growth of the teeth into the rabbit’s face (fiber helps wear down the rabbit’s constantly growing teeth), and
- Woolblock, a kind of hairball in the rabbit’s stomach that it can’t cough up and that can block the passage of food to the rest of the digestive tract.
So, if you have a rabbit, don’t throw radish leaves away!
The leaves of any kind of radish, including daikon and Easter Egg (colored) radishes are tasty and nutritious for rabbits.
And for people, too!
Also read: What Human Foods Can Rabbits Eat?
How to Give Your Rabbit Radish Leaves
It’s fun to feed your rabbit radish leaves one by one.
Hold a radish leaf about 6 inches (15 cm) in front of your rabbit, and let it come up to you and nibble it.
Or use radish leaves as a treat for training your rabbit to sit in your lap, walk around in a circle, give you a high five, or come when you call it.
You can also give your rabbit all the leaves from a bunch of radishes at the same time. Your rabbit will nibble them from the stem down to the tip, like the radish-eating rabbit in this video below.
Note: Your rabbit’s main food should always be hay. Vegetables of all kinds should not make up more than about 20 percent of its diet.
Variety is always best when choosing the veggies you give your rabbit. But up to half a cup (30 grams) of radish leaves per rabbit per day will be acceptable unless your rabbit objects to the spicy taste.
Never force a rabbit to eat one particular food. If your rabbit does not eat radish leaves (which is unusual), next time, you can just eat them yourself!
Also read: Can Rabbits Eat Beet Leaves?
Rabbits Eat Radish Roots, Too
Rabbits also enjoy rabish roots, as this YouTube video of a different radish-eating rabbit shows.
You can give your rabbit the same part of the radish that most people eat.
Rabbits can nibble on whole radishes, although it you are addigin daikon or other large radishes to their feed, it helps them to cut the radishes into matchstick-sized slices.
In nature, rabbits consume roots with rootlets, dirt, and bugs attached, but your rabbits will prefer vegetables that have been washed first.
Also read: Do Rabbits Eat Tomato Plants?
Can Anything Go Wrong When You Give Radish Leaves to Your Rabbit?
If you would eat a radish, it’s also OK for your rabbit.
There aren’t a lot of situations in which you should not give radish tops or radish roots to your rabbit.
- There is visible pesticide residue on the radish leaves. This can happen when home gardeners dust plants with the pesticide Sevin. If you see pesticide on the radish greens, neither you nor your rabbit should eat them.
- There is a slug on the leaves. Some slugs and their slime are poisonous. Even people can become very sick if they consume the slug or its slime.
- The leaves are yellow with black spots. This is a sign the plant was infected with bacteria. The roots may still be edible.
- The radish leaves are leftovers from a salad to which you have added oil or a salad dressing, or they have been cooked. Rabbits eat whole, raw, vegan food.
Now, let’s consider the health benefits of radish leaves for your rabbit.
Also read: Can Rabbits Eat Plantain?
Health Benefits of Radish Leaves for Rabbits
Radisn leaves aren’t a superfood.
There is no recommended daily allowance of radish leaves for rabbits, the way there is a recommended daily allowance of hay (approximately the same volume as the rabbit’s body).
Radish leaves are just a healthy addition to your rabbit’s diet.
People who know rabbits give them a variety of leafy plant foods in a variety of ways.
Using radish leaves as a treat gives you a tool for reinforcing desirable behaviors, such as using the litter box and performing tricks.
Placing radish leaves where rabbits have to stand and stretch to reach them helps them exercise. It also gives your rabbits an incentive to practice their standing and walking skills.
Rabbits are intelligent animals that can get bored and get into trouble. Radish leaves are one more piece of the stimulation that all rabbits need to stay happy and active in small spaces.
There aren’t any scientific studies of the effects of including radish leaves in either rabbit or human diets. (There are many studies of the health effects of chemical extracts of radish leaves.)
But your rabbit will let you know if it finds radish leaves to be a tasty treat.
Also read: Can Rabbits Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?
Frequently Asked Questions About Rabbits and Radishes
Q. How do I keep rabbits away from the radishes in my salad garden?
A, The easiest way to deal with crop loss due to rabbits in your garden is to grow salad vegetables in a cold frame.
A cold frame keeps rabbits out, and extends your growing season in both early summer and early winter.
You can also surround your garden plants with a fence that rabbits cannot hop over, dig under, or crawl through.
A fence made of chicken wire extending about 3-1/2 feet )around a meter) above the ground and 6 inches (15 cm) below it with 1/2-i chch (13mm ) mesh will keep all but the very largest rabbits out.
Be aware that if a rabbit hops in when you leave a gate open, it will be trapped inside your garden, eating until it is full.
Q. Which vegetables can rabbits eat in addition to radish leaves?
A. Rabbits love green vegetables of all kinds. Plants in the cabbage and lettuce families are the healthiest for them.
Spinach, sorrel, and lamb’s quarters are OK in servings of a few leaves a day. More than that, rabbits can develop problems from excessive oxalates.
The darker the leafy vegetable, the better. A few leaves of Iceberg lettuce or Endive won’t hurt, but they do not have enough beta-carotene to be a good choice for the vegetable portion of your rabbit’s diet.
Keep vegetables, including radish leaves and carrots, to about 10 percemt of your rabbit’s diet. Make sure your rabbit gets unlikmited fresh hay every day.
Q. What is the best way to give my rabbit a radish leaf as a treat?
A. Hold the radish leaf between your index finger and your middle finger so the stem points outward.
Wave the leaf in front of your rabbit so it comes toward you. Release the leaf when your rabbit walks around in a circle, stands on its hind legs, or rests on your hand.
A radish leaf is also a good treat for rewarding a rabbit that does a high five.
Q. How many times do I need to wash radish leaves before I give them to my bunny?
A. No amount of washing is enough if there is visible pesticide dust on radish leaves. Throw these leaves away.
One of two rinsings under the tap, taking care to expose both sides of the leaves to running water, is enough for organically grown radishes or radishes you buy in a bunch at the supermarket.
You do not need to use special cleansing agents to get radish leaves ready for rabbit (or human) consumption.
Q. Will bugs on radish leaves harm my rabbit?
A. Rabbits consume small insects stuck to leaves and stems when they graze in nature.
These bugs are not harmful. They even provide your rabbit with vitamin B12. Slugs and snails, on the other hand, can carry toxins and parasites and can harm your rabbit if ingested.
Also read: Can Rabbits Eat Yucca?
Q. Should I do anything if my pet rabbits get into my radish patch and eat a lot of them?
A. Rabbits are non-toxic to rabbits. They do not contain large amounts of the oxalates that are the problem with eating large amounts of spinach or any amount of rhubarb leaves or certain houseplants.
Chances are that rabbits will only nibble at any one garden plant and quickly move on unless they are extremely hungry. Prevent this problem by making sure your rabbit has unlimited access to hay at all times.
If your rabbit develops diarrhea, depression, or visible lumps in its stomach, the problem likely is not eating radishes.
But you need to take your rabbit to the vet to find out what the problem is and get it treated.
Nearly all diet-related problems in rabbits are relieved simply by providing them with abundant, clean, fresh hay. Timothy hay and Timothy hay pellets are best. Alfalfa hay is too high in oxalates and calcium, except for bunnies being weaned from their mother’s milk.
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