Are carrots actually good for rabbits?
Yes, and no.
Bugs Bunny once said, “Carrots are divine – you get a dozen for a dime. It’s maaagic!” Rabbits in real life probably don’t care whether a carrot costs ten cents or ten dollars, but they are just as addicted to these long orange vegetables as Bugs Bunny is. Rabbits have a very sweet tooth, so they will always pick sweeter food like carrots and apples, over “yucky” vegetables. To us humans, carrots are healthy (at least compared to Twinkies), but in the bunny world, carrots are the equivalent of a chocolate bar. Rabbits can eat carrots in small amounts (because the orange vegetable contains Vitamin A), but if he gets diarrhea, it’s time to stop feeding him carrots and other fruits and vegetables high in sugar.
Even though some fruits and vegetables are good for rabbits, there are lots of foods they SHOULDN’T ingest. We’ll skip the obvious stuff like chocolate, donuts, and cheeseburgers and go straight to the stealthy killers – common foods that appear to be healthy and wholesome for rabbits, but can actually endanger their health.
Even though society has portrayed lettuce as a staple food for rabbits, the leafy vegetable can cause a lot of health problems for rabbits. Because lettuce contains lactucarium and has high water content, a lettuce-addicted rabbit can get life-threatening diarrhea. Romaine lettuce has the lowest amount of lactucarium, so some people feed their rabbits romaine lettuce in moderation. However, to be on the safe side, it is always better to avoid lettuce altogether. Other problematic foods in this category include cabbage, parsnips, swedes, potato tops, and tomato leaves.
Unlike us humans, rabbits have no means to expel gas. Rabbits ingesting clover and certain flowers like foxglove, honeysuckle, iris, hemlock, poppies, nightshade, buttercups, bluebells, arum lilies, ivy, primulas, jasmine, primrose, dahlia, larkspurs, and tulips can result in bloating or even death. Thankfully, rabbits do not watch T.V., or they’d want to try out the delicious-looking but dangerous purple clover flowers Thumper the bunny keeps eating in Bambi.
Nuts and grains
Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts, contain oxalates that can cause bladder sludge, kidney stones, gallbladder stones, and urinary tract infections. Because rabbits have very delicate digestive systems that require a high-fiber and low-carbohydrate diet, wild rabbits naturally gravitate towards leafy green vegetables and hay while avoiding nuts and grains altogether. Rabbit pellets are generally high in grain, so it’s a better idea to steer clear of processed rabbit feed and put your bunny on a fresh vegetable and hay diet.
Fruit seeds, cores, and stems
When feeding your rabbit fruit, be sure to remove all seeds, cores, and stems before giving him his treat. The inedible parts of fruit may be poisonous if accidentally ingested.
What can rabbits eat, then?
Hay, hay, and hay. It is high in fiber, and agrees with rabbits’ sensitive digestive systems. Hay of the best quality also helps stop teeth overgrowth, and it should be available to your pet rabbit at all times. Vegetables such as celery (cut in small pieces), alfalfa, broccoli, and spinach are also beneficial to your rabbit’s health. You can feed him some fruits and vegetables, but always do research before giving him anything. Also, when in doubt, don’t put it in your rabbit’s food bowl.