Recently, I walked into a local pet store, where a few rabbits were in cages, waiting for owners.
I was horrified when I saw that the rabbits had only a large bowl of rabbit cubes or pellets to eat.
The shop lady innocently said that she fed them only pellets as this is what the shop buys.
She wanted to know what else she could feed the rabbits because she didn’t know much about rabbits.
I sat her down and we got into what rabbits can eat, especially vegetables, and why these are an essential part of a rabbit’s diet.
Rabbits require vegetables as a daily part of their diet. Green leafy vegetables are a winner for rabbits, but they can also eat root vegetables, herbs, and even a small amount of fruit. Most vegetables are suitable for rabbits, including green peppers, broccoli, wheatgrass, squash, and spinach.
A Broad List of Vegetables to Feed Rabbits
Rabbits enjoy any number of vegetables, and they need the nutritional value of a diverse spectrum of veggies from leafy greens to starchy roots, herbs, and even sprouts.
Knowing what is safe to feed your rabbit is essential to keep them healthy.
Leafy Green Vegetables to Feed Rabbits
Most leafy green vegetables are safe to feed your rabbit, and you should include at least three leafy green vegetables as part of your rabbit’s two daily meals.
The fiber, water content, vitamins, and minerals of green vegetables contribute to keeping the rabbit’s digestive tract running while providing the right mix of healthy nutrition for your rabbit’s optimal health.
Ensure your adult rabbit’s diet contains at least 10% in the form of leafy green vegetables. Feeding at least three leafy green veggies a day is the best way to keep your rabbit healthy.
The leafy tops of carrots are healthy, low in sugar, high in fiber, and provide extra water to your rabbit.
Chinese cabbage or bok choy is rich in vitamins, minerals like iron and magnesium, and fiber.
Rabbits love munching the light green leaves, and the smell is less invasive compared to regular cabbage.
Also read: Can Rabbits Eat Red Cabbage?
While this is the less common type of lettuce, romaine lettuce is a healthy leaf vegetable to feed rabbits, while iceberg lettuce should be avoided.
Being low in carbs, romaine lettuce is ideal for a rabbit’s gut to maintain healthy peristalsis movements.
When the rabbit gut slows down due to the wrong mix of digestive matter (aka food), peristalsis stops, and GI stasis sets in.
Slow digestion is deadly to rabbits. Fiber and water help prevent GI stasis.
Romaine lettuce helps prevent this, as do other leafy green vegetables that are low in sugar or starch but high in fiber and water.
Your rabbit will love munching on the tops of beetroot bulbs. These green leaves are rich in nutrients like copper, iron, vitamin K, and calcium.
Be sure to feed these greens no more than three times per week as the extra vitamin K and calcium can begin to build up in your rabbit’s kidneys leading to kidney stones.
Also read: Can Rabbits Eat Beet Leaves?
Spinach is definitely king among vegetables, and while you shouldn’t feed this leafy green daily, it is a great booster to your rabbit if fed every second or third day.
Rich in iron, calcium, folic acid, potassium, and vitamins, this is a great leafy green for an ailing rabbit.
The extra fiber and water content also don’t hurt.
Rabbits love nibbling on leafy sprouting seeds, also known as fodder or microgreens.
Take care to only feed this after a week of sprouting to avoid the higher alkaloid levels, which can be dangerous to your rabbit.
Fodder is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. For young rabbits, this is an ideal meal as it will contribute to muscle development, healthy bone growth, and a great immune system.
This leafy green is great for antioxidant boosting benefits. Expect a healthy dose of folate, vitamin K, C, and A, and zinc.
However, the dosage of vitamin K may be quite heavy to your rabbit’s system, so only feed Swiss chard once a week in small quantities.
Green Herbs to Feed Rabbits
Sometimes considered a leafy green, herbs offer an additional benefit while being nutritionally dense.
Herbs offer healing properties and can help regulate your rabbit’s body processes. Feed a wide range of herbs, alternating between different herbs on a daily basis.
Watercress is great for healthy bone growth.
The addition of folate, thiamin, B-vitamins, and potassium will help your rabbit regulate their immune system.
If you are searching for a comprehensive herb to feed your rabbit, look no further than parsley.
This simple “salad decoration” is a tasty powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and other useful nutrients.
As a bonus, it leaves your bun’s mouth smelling fresh and clean too.
This two-part herb is considered both herb and vegetable. It is loaded with nutritional benefits like vitamin K, iron, potassium, folate, and carotene.
The sweet taste is popular with rabbits, but there are no sugary starches in this herb.
Vegetables also include squash, cucumbers, carrots, and cabbage.
Rabbits should eat about 0-5% of their body weight in non-leafy vegetables.
While carrots are low in calories, your rabbit should still eat them sparingly. The starch content of carrots is slightly high at 10% of its mass.
I mostly use carrots as a reward instead of a daily staple.
Carrots are rich in potassium, vitamins A and B6, dietary fiber, and water. The crunchy texture is a firm favorite with rabbits.
Rich in protein and a great source of vitamins and minerals, broccoli is a good vegetable to feed your rabbit.
Broccoli is best for younger rabbits that are still developing since the extra protein helps with body functions.
Since rabbits need extra moisture in their gut to ward off GI stasis, zucchini is a great option.
This squash contains extra water, fiber, and many nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Fruits Rabbits Can Eat
The shop lady was now really interested in how she could use her kitchen scraps to boost the rabbits’ health.
She asked whether rabbits would like fruit as well as vegetables.
Rabbits can indeed eat 0-5% of their daily diet in fruit per day, though I opt for feeding fruit mostly as a treat or reward when training.
Fruit tends to have loads of sugar, which can lead to kidney stones and digestive upset in rabbits.
Some fruits you can feed your bun are:
An apple a day may indeed keep the doctor away (or at least the vet) as apples are rich in vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber (in the skin).
Take care though, as apples are also rich in sugars, and apples will ruin your rabbit’s health if the apple is fed daily and in excess.
Take care not to let your bun eat the apple seeds as these are filled with cyanogenic compounds. Apple stems should also be avoided.
The main value of nectarines is that they are rich in water.
This is a great way to hydrate your rabbit on hot summer days. Protein and magnesium are also vital to healthy eating habits.
As a rabbit owner, you should take care to limit the number of peaches your rabbit eats as peaches are rich in sugars and proteins.
Overfeeding the rabbits can lead to digestive complications.
FAQs About Vegetables Rabbit Can Eat
Below are some common questions people have about the vegetable and other food rabbits can eat:
Why are vegetables good for rabbits?
Vegetables are rich in minerals and vitamins that help your rabbit stay healthy.
With the added fiber intake of the dense fibrous tissue of vegetables, rabbits enjoy the benefit of healthy gut maintenance.
The water content of vegetables also helps ensure healthy digestive action by lubricating and expanding the gut bolus.
What veggies can bunnies eat every day?
Feed your rabbit the following vegetables every day: bok choy, bell peppers, carrot tops, cucumber, endive, fennel, spinach, and Swiss chard.
These vegetables will boost your rabbit’s diet, ensure they get enough fiber and water, and help them stay healthy.
What is the favorite food of rabbits?
Surprisingly, rabbits prefer a little-known “vegetable”—hay. Yip, while hay is actually a kind of grass, it has many of the same properties as vegetables.
Hay is rich in nutrients, contains vitamins and minerals, and has a great protein content too. The average hay has between 8-11% protein content.
Included in the spectrum of “hay,” we find legumes, which have a higher protein content and also offer much more calcium too.
Legumes such as alfalfa are ideal for young bunnies for healthy bone growth.
When designing your rabbit’s meal plan, you should work on their body weight.
In general, always structure their diet around as much hay as they want to eat (usually 80%), then add in leafy green vegetables and herbs at 10% followed by non-leafy, high carb vegetables and fruit at 0-5%, and pellets at 5%.
The shop lady was really excited to get started in improving her rabbits’ diets, and when I visited her the next week, I was greeted by bushy-tailed rabbits doing binkies in their cages with fresh greens in their food bowls.
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