What is the most unsafe food for rabbits? What foods can kill rabbits?
Rabbits are herbivores with a very specialized digestive system that requires us to be extra mindful when it comes to feeding them. Even the most innocent-looking treat could lead to complications. The best way to go about your bunny’s diet is to know what not to give them.
In this article, we’re discussing what food kills rabbits, what human food is poisonous, and what plants are bad for them. Plus, we’ll consider some of the signs that your bunny ate something wrong.
Foods That Are Toxic To Rabbits
If you want to give your bunny a treat, the following foods should never be an option. Make sure you are providing healthy treats for rabbits in your care.
Unlike us humans, rabbits don’t have the digestive capability to digest grains.
If you give grains to an adult bunny, it can suffer from indigestion, bloating, gastrointestinal stasis, choking, or clogging of the digestive tract. This can cause a toxic overgrowth of harmful bacteria residing in the gut (a condition called enterotoxemia), which could lead to death.
Foods that contain grains are any baked flour items including bread, muffins, pastries, tortillas, and so on. Stick to foods like Oxbow instead of bread products that have been produced for human consumption.
2. Iceberg Lettuce
Given how many times we’ve been told that iceberg lettuce is healthy, this one might be shocking. But, you should never give your bunny iceberg lettuce.
Iceberg lettuce is one of the vegetables that’s mostly made up of water. It has very little, if any, nutritional value.
If a bunny munches on it, they can easily fill up due to their small size but they won’t be getting any dietary benefits. This could also cause digestive problems and diarrhea in rabbits.
Moreover, iceberg lettuce contains lactucarium – a chemical compound that has sedative effects and can be highly dangerous to rabbits. This harmful compound is present in other light-colored lettuces, so just stick to dark leafy veggies.
Bunnies don’t have enough lactase enzymes in their digestive systems to process dairy products properly.
- Ice cream
You should avoid these foods at all costs since they can cause severe gastric distress, life-threatening bloating, and deadly enterotoxemia. Even yogurt drops and yogurt-covered fruits should be off the menu.
Healthy for humans but deadly to rabbits, avocado is one fruit that you should never give to your bunny. All parts of the avocado are poisonous to our fluffy friends.
The skin, seeds, leaves, and flesh contain persin toxins that can be extremely dangerous to rabbits. They can cause cardiac arrhythmia and death.
Avocados are poisonous for many animals and can be fatal to many pet parrot species as well, so it’s best to be very careful with them and pets in your home.
Foods That Are Poisonous To Rabbits
Many human-specific foods that you won’t think twice about consuming can be a death sentence for rabbits. Pay extra attention to keeping the following foods away from your bunny.
Any form of coffee, whether beans or brewed, is very toxic to rabbits.
Coffee contains caffeine and methylxanthines, which are chemicals that can cause a lot of gastric problems, but the real danger is death by seizures or heart arrhythmia.
Your rabbit would suffer from extreme thirst, diarrhea, tremors, and confusion before death. A terrible way to go.
Additionally, coffee drinks are often loaded with sugars and dairy, which are also deadly to bunnies. It would be unusual for someone to purposely consider giving a rabbit coffee, but if you had a house rabbit it could potentially drink from a cup left around.
As with dogs, chocolate should be absolutely banned from your bunny’s diet. This sweet treat is poisonous to rabbits. The digestive system of a rabbit is equipped to only process foods rich in cellulose such as hay, leaves, and vegetables.
Rabbits don’t have the stomachs to digest the ingredients of chocolate:
- Large amounts of sugar
- Artificial preservatives
Like coffee, chocolate also contains methylxanthines which are not good for rabbits. Owing to this combination of harmful compounds, giving your bunny chocolate can kill them.
Yep, cereal can be poisonous to your bunny, even if it does fit nicely into your automatic rabbit feeder! For starters, most cereals are made of grains that we talked about above. These can cause serious digestive issues leading straight to death.
Additionally, cereals often contain a ton of sugar as well as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Your rabbit can’t process these ingredients, which is a recipe for disaster.
Although it can be tempting, don’t give your bunny crackers. This treat is often made using flour or other grains and packed with sugars, salts, as well as fats. Not a single ingredient in commercial crackers is any good for rabbits.
Unsafe Plants For Rabbits
As herbivores, all plants should be safe for your bunnies to eat, right?
The answer, surprisingly to many people, is no. There are plenty of plants that are toxic or just plain bad for rabbits. Here are the most common ones.
Onion bulbs, all onion varieties, chives, and garlic are extremely dangerous to rabbits.
These plants contain high levels of starch that are known to have immunosuppressive effects, causing blood abnormalities that can lead to an anaphylactic reaction and, consequently, death.
The same goes for other members of the onion family such as garlic, spring only, leak, and scallions. All are unsafe for rabbits to eat. Keep your pet rabbits out of the onion patch.
Tomato leaves and plants are toxic to rabbits.
Even tomato fruit contains a lot of sugar that can be harmful to your bunny if they are having a lot of sugary fruits. However, a small amount of tomato should be fine as a treat. Just leave the leaves and remove the stalk.
Potatoes, as a whole, are bad for rabbits.
The skin contains toxins that can cause serious digestive issues. The potato itself is high in starch and sugar content which can result in appetite loss, diarrhea, and weakness. There’s no reason to risk it with this food.
There are some herbs that your rabbit should not eat, but many of them are also perfectly fine. People disagree on which herbs are good and bad so if in doubt it’s best to leave it. You can read all sorts of opinions online.
For example, some experts say never to give mint to a rabbit, while others say a little is fine. Alternatively, you can just give very small amounts to your rabbit.
The breeder that we bought our rabbits off said she would only feed parsley to rabbits that she’s trying to breed, but otherwise, you should avoid it. Sweet basil, garlic chives, oregano, parsley, dill, cilantro/coriander, caraway, rosemary, sage, tarragon, lavender, peppermint, thyme, lemon balm, and marjoram are fine for rabbits.
If you want to have a combined rabbit and cat herb garden, both cats and rabbits can enjoy a variety of herbs including parsley, mint, thyme, chamomile, dill, rosemary, oregano, basil, wheatgrass, and cilantro.
These herbs can offer benefits such as aiding in digestion, providing vitamins and minerals, and having soothing or antiseptic properties. However, individual sensitivities or allergies may vary, so it is wise to introduce any new herbs gradually.
Signs Your Rabbit Ate Something Poisonous
What food kills rabbits?
Unfortunately, the curious nature of rabbits often puts them at risk of ingesting harmful or deadly food.
If you’re suspecting your bunny has consumed something bad, look for the following signs:
- Lethargy – if your rabbit doesn’t respond to your calls, stops eating or drinking, or becomes lethargic and floppy, go to the vet right away
- Diarrhea and Constipation – any abnormality in your bunny’s stool can be a sign of a problem
- Wet Chin – rabbits can drool when they’ve eaten something bad as a sign of poisoning
- Difficulty in Breathing – if your bunny isn’t breathing properly, there’s a good chance they’ve consumed something toxic
- Loss of Balance – most rabbits lose their balance or tilt their heads after ingesting poisonous or harmful food
Knowing what food kills rabbits, hurts them, or causes them distress can help ensure your bunny leads a long, happy, and healthy life. Make sure you have safe rabbit bedding material as well – especially in a nesting box.
Some products may contain harmful foods for rabbits, depending on what has been growing in the field that has been harvested for hay.