What Fruits & Vegetables Can Rabbits Eat?
Commercial rabbit chow and fresh timothy hay should form the bulk of your rabbit's diet, but your long-eared pet will certainly enjoy occasional fruit and vegetable treats. Many fruits and vegetables are suitable, including leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, pears, peaches and berries. Balancing a rabbit's diet can be tricky, so consult with your veterinarian to ensure you provide a well-rounded, nutritionally appropriate diet to your pet.
A Broad Palate but Refined Taste
In the wild, rabbits are herbivores who consume a variety of plants that vary with location and season. Despite their relatively broad menu, rabbits are selective about the parts of plants that they eat. Most often, they prefer to dine on the youngest leaves and buds from plants, which are full of nutrients, rather than to consume mature leaves. Be sure all the vegetables and fruits you provide your rabbit are pesticide-free. Wash them thoroughly before feeding.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are often full of dietary fiber, and fiber is important for a rabbit's digestive health. But care is warranted -- rabbits have rather precise dietary fiber needs. According to the "Merck Veterinary Manual," rabbits whose diets are composed of approximately 15 percent dietary fiber experience reduced incidence of intestinal disease and proper motility. By contrast, rabbits who do not consume this much fiber or who consume too much fiber may become impacted or may suffer from the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.
Eats Roots, Leaves and Stems
Fresh vegetables provide a bounty of vitamins and minerals for a rabbit. The House Rabbit Society website recommends providing your rabbit with about 1 cup of leafy greens -- such as collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, arugula and basil -- for every 2 pounds your rabbit weighs, each day. Additionally, you can offer your rabbit root vegetables such as carrots and stem vegetables such as asparagus. Flowers including hibiscus, cauliflower, roses and broccoli are safe to offer rabbits.
Easy on the Fruits
Rabbits usually love fruit; they will stuff themselves full of the sugary foods if allowed to do so. However, the high sugar content of fruits can cause health problems for rabbits, so limit your pet to no more than 2 tablespoons of fruit per day.
A few good fruits to offer your rabbit include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, bell peppers, summer squash, banana, pumpkin, grapes and kiwi. Apples are acceptable, but do not allow your rabbit to eat the core or the seeds. Similarly, cherries are a nice treat, but take care that your rabbit does not consume pits or cherry leaves, as they are toxic.
A Weekly Trial and a Watchful Eye
When you decide to introduce new foods to your rabbit's diet, do so carefully and under your vet's guidance. Begin by offering your rabbit one type of fruit or vegetable, and then monitoring his droppings for the next day or two. If your rabbit experiences loose stools or other digestive problems, stop offering the new food. On the other hand, if your rabbit processes the new food well, you can begin offering it to him occasionally. Wait five to eight days before introducing a second food item. As before, monitor his droppings to ensure he is handling the new food adequately.