Rabbits can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, but you may be wondering what else they can eat. After all, humans can eat many different kinds of foods, not just plants. Are rabbits the same way?
What can rabbits eat? Because they are strict herbivores, rabbits can only eat fruits and vegetables as well as hay or grass. There are very few exceptions to this rule and those should always be fed sparingly.
Bread is popular among humans because of its versatility. If you think of bread, you may think of sliced bread, bagels, English muffins, rolls, or even pastries like croissants and donuts.
- Bread is made up primarily of carbohydrates, especially starches
- The starches in bread come from grains, usually wheat
- While grains are a plant, they aren’t technically a vegetable
Of course, in addition to the grain there are a number of ingredients in bread such as sugar, water, and butter. Unfortunately, almost all of these are on the rabbit “do not eat” list. Grains especially can cause serious digestive issues, including a condition called GI stasis, in which a rabbit’s digestive system slows down to the point where it’s no longer working. If your rabbit has eaten bread and shows signs of lethargy, begins to hide from you, or does not have regular bowel movements after eating, take it to the vet immediately. Bread is a very dangerous food for a rabbit to eat.
Can Rabbits Eat Meat?
Rabbits are herbivores, but could a little meat really hurt them? Humans can eat both plants and meat without any problems.
- Meat is actually 75% water
- The rest of it is made up of protein and fat
- While muscles are made of fibers, these aren’t the same as plant fibers
- The cells in meat are filled with proteins called actin and myosin
As you might have guessed, meat is a no-go for rabbits. Because they are herbivores, they can only eat plant-based foods. They don’t have the enzymes in their stomach to digest the meat, so it just sits in their stomach. The same thing happens to humans when they stop eating meat; their stomach stops producing the enzymes to digest it, so if they eat any meat they become very sick. Rabbits don’t have the ability to vomit or pass gas, so they’ll usually have severe diarrhea if they eat something like meat. Diarrhea can cause dehydration and eventually death, so it’s best not to feed your rabbit any kind of meat.
Can Rabbits Eat Popcorn?
Popcorn is a great treat for humans, as well as a fun treat for dogs. It’s light and airy and low in calories, but is it okay for rabbits?
- Popcorn is, you guessed it, made of corn
- Corn is a grain just like wheat
- Corn kernels are made mostly of starches surrounded by a hard shell
- Heating them up causes the starch to expand and explode the shell, causing the pop
Just like any other grain, corn isn’t very good for rabbits. It’s not technically toxic to your rabbit, but the starches and sugars in the popcorn aren’t good for your rabbit’s digestive system. Rabbits aren’t equipped to digest carbohydrates, and they need to eat a lot of fiber to help move the undigested food out of their system. Popcorn also has almost no nutritional value for a rabbit, so feeding your rabbit popcorn would just be feeding it empty calories. There’s no good reason to feed your rabbit popcorn, even if a small amount won’t hurt.
Can Rabbits Eat Honey?
Honey is often part of human and animal treats alike, as the sweet flavor and smooth texture makes it popular among both.
- Honey is only 17% water
- It’s almost entirely sugar, at 82%
- Honey is not a source of any vitamins or minerals
- Honey is also not a significant source of fat or protein
Honey really is just liquid sugar, as some people say. Because of this high sugar content, honey is a bad treat for rabbits. When a rabbit eats sugar, the sugar sits in its stomach and ferments, causing bad bacteria to grow and upset its stomach. Feeding a rabbit honey or any store-bought treats with honey in them is a bad idea. If you want to feed your rabbit something sweet, go with low-sugar fruits like blackberries or raspberries, which rabbits have evolved to eat out in the wild. Even though your rabbit might like honey due to its sweet flavor, don’t feed it to your rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Peanuts?
Peanuts are another food that many humans and animals enjoy as a snack. They’re the usual filler for every bag of mixed nuts, but they’re actually not a nut!
- Peanuts are a type of food called a legume, along with certain beans
- Peanuts are also sometimes considered to be a grain
- Peanuts grow on the ground rather than in a tree
- Peanuts are rich in vitamins and minerals
So if peanuts are so rich in good nutrients, should rabbits eat them? The answer is no. Peanuts are very high in fats and starches, which rabbits don’t have the means to digest. Fats especially are not a part of a rabbit’s diet and can cause sickness and upset stomach if eaten. Rabbits may try to eat any peanuts that they find due to the crunchy texture, so make sure to keep them out of your rabbit’s reach. You should read the ingredients on any pellets you buy for your rabbit and make sure they don’t contain peanuts or other nuts as filler. These may look good and nutritious to a human, but they’ll be very bad for your rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Cheese?
Cheese can be a very controversial food for some people, as many humans are lactose intolerant and may get upset stomachs if they eat it. What about rabbits?
- Cheese is almost entirely fat and some protein
- It’s made by mixing acid with milk to form curds
- Cheese is high in a chemical called lactose, which some people can’t digest
Cheese is another food that rabbits just can’t digest. The high fat and protein content may be good for a humans or other animals, but rabbits will become sick and could possibly die from eating them. Rabbits can’t digest any kind of milk or milk product because of the lactose and the high fat content. You shouldn’t give your rabbit milk to drink or cheese to eat under any circumstances. If a rabbit eats a small amount of cheese by accident, it may be okay, but if it shows any signs of distress or sickness, you should take it to the doctor immediately.
Can Rabbits Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are a very nutrient-dense food that can be eaten plain or with a variety of flavors. Some people like them with the shell on, while others like them with the shell off.
- Sunflower seeds are 51% fat and 21% protein
- They’re 20% carbs but only 2.5% sugar
- Sunflower seeds are high in antioxidants like vitamin E
- They may help control conditions such as heart disease and diabetes
Sunflower seeds sound like a pretty sweet deal, and rabbits think so too. Rabbits will eat the seed, shell and all, and they’ll eat as much as you’ll give them. Sunflower seeds are actually good for your rabbit due to all those vitamins and minerals, and the shell has a good amount of fiber to bolster your rabbit’s diet. However, there is a catch – sunflower seeds are high in fat and calories, and can cause your rabbit to gain weight fairly quickly. This may be a good thing if your rabbit is underweight, and adding sunflower seeds to its diet is a good way to get it back up to a healthy weight. However, normal sized rabbits should only eat sunflower seeds sparingly. You should also be wary of pellet mixes that contain sunflower seeds, as these are usually lower quality.
Can Rabbits Eat Chocolate?
Many humans love chocolate, but it’s well known for being bad for many animals. The chemicals in cocoa are harmful to cats and dogs, for example, but are they bad for rabbits?
- Milk chocolate is 30% fat and 52% sugar
- Milk chocolate contains 10% or less of the cocoa liquor that gives it flavor
- Cocoa liquor is not alcohol but simply a liquid form of cocoa
- Cocoa liquor contains about 53% cocoa butter
The chemical you hear so much about that is harmful to pets is theobromine, and it’s just as toxic for rabbits as it is for cats and dogs. Humans have an enzyme that can break down this toxin, while most pets do not. Because rabbits are so small, even a small amount of this chemical can hurt or kill them. Eating theobromine can cause an elevated heart rate and even seizures in rabbits, so it’s important to keep all chocolate out of reach. If your rabbit eats even a small amount, contact a vet immediately.
Can Rabbits Eat Nuts?
Nuts as a food group encompasses a large number of different types of foods, from tree nuts to certain legumes. Especially if you have nut mixes around the house, it’s important to know which of these, if any, your rabbit can eat.
- There are 11 commonly eaten types of nuts, including peanuts which are a legume
- Nuts are usually high in fats and carbs
- Nuts are high in the omega-type of fatty acids that are good for you
- Nuts are also usually high in calories
Nuts generally all have the same composition, so in this case it’s safe to talk about them as a group. While some seeds are okay for rabbits, nuts are not. Nuts as a whole are high in fats that your rabbit can’t digest and that will cause issues if your rabbit eats them. They’re not a suitable treat even though they have plenty of vitamins and minerals because your rabbit won’t be able to get those nutrients out of the nut. If your rabbit eats a nut of some kind accidentally, monitor it carefully for any changes in behavior and take it to the vet immediately if anything comes up.
Can Rabbits Eat Oats?
Oats may seem like a good food to feed your rabbit, as they’re high in many vitamins and minerals and they come from a plant. But is this true?
- Oats are a cereal grain, which means the plant is grown just for the grain seed
- Oats were cultivated in the Fertile Crescent and then moved to other areas
- Oats are 10% fiber and 17% protein
- Raw oats have almost no sugar content
Oats are not going to harm your rabbit, but they should only be fed in an emergency when you have nothing else to feed it or as a rare treat, as most vegetables and grasses are better for your rabbit. In fact, as an alternative to the oats themselves, you can feed your rabbit oat grass, which is very nutritious and high in fiber. Oats themselves are best served to your rabbit raw to preserve the fiber, but too much can make your rabbit bloated and cause runny stool. If your rabbit enjoys oats, feed them every once in a while as a treat but no more often.
Can Rabbits Eat Poison Ivy?
Poison ivy is dangerous to almost everyone, including humans and pets, and you can be contaminated by touching it or by breathing in the smoke from it being burned.
- The oil that causes poison ivy rash is called urushiol
- All parts of the plant can cause the rash
- Burning poison ivy evaporates the smoke, which can irritate the respiratory system
- Poison ivy can be found throughout North America
Poison ivy is just as dangerous for rabbits as it is for humans. This goes for every part of the plant, whether your rabbit touches it or eats it, but the leaves and berries are especially bad. If your rabbit eats poison ivy, take it to a vet immediately. Your rabbit may be lethargic or begin to have diarrhea and stop eating. If you notice any of these signs, you should also take your rabbit to the vet. Rabbits may survive more minor encounters with poison ivy, but in severe cases death is a likely outcome.
Can Rabbits Eat Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter, while made from peanuts, has a lot of added ingredients to give it a different and sweeter taste.
- Peanut butter is 50% fat and 10% saturated fat
- Peanut butter is 25% protein
- Peanut butter often has added sugars and is 9-10% sugar
- Peanut butter is high in good fats like omega-3
Peanut butter poses all the same risks as regular peanuts but with added sugars. While peanut butter is good in moderate amounts for humans, there’s nothing good about it for rabbits. Not only can it make your rabbit sick, the sticky texture can cause problems. The high amounts of fat and sugar will cause digestive upset in your rabbit, including runny stool or constipation. You should keep peanut butter away from your rabbit to avoid these issues.
Can Rabbits Eat Yogurt Drops?
Yogurt drops are a common treat for most pets, and most pets enjoy them due to their sweet flavor. They’re especially common for small pets like rabbits and other rodents.
- Yogurt treats are high in sugar as well as dairy and fat
- Yogurt contains antibiotics that are good for humans and dogs
- However, yogurt treats are mostly sugar
You may think that due to their probiotic properties, yogurt treats must be good for rabbits. However, the treats sold in stores contain lots of sugar and dairy, which isn’t good for rabbits. While some rabbits may not have problems with yogurt drops, others may become very sick. If you are looking for a probiotic option for your rabbit, try powdered probiotics instead and add them to a healthier diet. Don’t rely on yogurt treats to get them any nutrients they need, as the cons outweigh the pros.
Can Rabbits Eat Pasta?
Pasta is a grain-based food that contains mostly carbohydrates and some protein.
- Pasta is made from durum wheat flour
- Pasta is 25% carbs, almost all starches
- Pasta doesn’t contain any significant amounts of vitamins or minerals
Pasta is another grain-based food that can cause problems for rabbits. Because rabbits are only used to eating plant fiber, the starchy grain can cause stomach upset and runny stools. If a rabbit eats a small amount of pasta, just monitor it for any changes in behavior. If the stool passes and your rabbit returns to normal, they are probably okay. If not, take your rabbit to the vet. Pasta is not a good treat for a rabbit and especially shouldn’t be fed hot as this can cause burns on your rabbit’s mouth.
Can Rabbits Eat Chips?
Chips are a junk food even for humans, and aren’t particularly good for you even in their “healthier” varieties.
- Chips come in varieties made from all kinds of grains and vegetables
- Potato chips are made by deep frying and contain 35% fat
- Potato chips are 53% carbs, with only 5% fiber
- Other chips may be baked to reduce the amount of fat
The first problem with most chips is that they are made from potatoes or grains, which are both high in starches that rabbits can’t digest. Most potato chips are also high in fat, which can further make your rabbit’s stomach upset. But what about the speciality chips made from vegetables? These are usually also made from root vegetables, which are high in starches and can’t be digested by a rabbit. They’re also usually heavily salted, which can be bad for your rabbit and cause dehydration. Even if a chip says it’s made from a vegetable, it’s better to avoid feeding it to your rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Coffee Beans?
Coffee beans are most well known for their caffeine content, though usually people won’t eat them unless they’re covered in chocolate, and instead will grind them up and brew them.
- Coffee beans contain less than 1% caffeine by weight
- Coffee beans are 30% fat and 43% sugar
- The coffee fruit also contains caffeine and can be eaten
- Coffee beans have more caffeine than brewed coffee
Brewed coffee in very small amounts won’t hurt your rabbit, as there aren’t any chemicals that are toxic, but too much caffeine can cause problems. Because the beans have such a high caffeine content compared to coffee, even a small amount can cause caffeine overload. If your rabbit eats any coffee bean or drinks coffee, make sure it has enough water and hay to move the coffee quickly through its system. Fortunately, rabbits are unlikely to go after coffee beans due to the smell and appearance. However, chocolate covered beans may attract them and should be kept out of reach.
Can Rabbits Eat Bird Seed?
If you own a bird, you know that they have a tendency to throw their food on the ground. If you also own a rabbit, it’s inevitable that your rabbit will happen across that spilled seed at some point.
- Bird seed is usually made up of mostly milo and millet
- It also contains sunflower seeds and grain seeds
- Wild bird seed mixes and pet bird seed mixes are often different
- There are also bird seed mixes for specific species that contain different seeds
While some seeds are not helpful to your rabbit and should be avoided, sunflower seeds are actually good for your rabbit in moderation. When it comes to the rest of the seeds in bird seed, although your rabbit may enjoy nibbling on them, they’re not the best option. In small amounts, they may not hurt your rabbit, but in larger amounts or in the case of rabbits with sensitive stomachs, they can cause the digestive system to become inflamed. Better to avoid seeds other than sunflower seeds and not take the risk, even if that means separating your rabbit and your bird cage completely.
Can Rabbits Eat Dog Food?
While dog food is made only for dogs, other pets may try to eat it because they’re intrigued by the smell or taste. However, each type of pet food is formulated specifically for that breed of pet.
- Most dog foods include a mixture of protein sources
- Grain is used as filler, though some brands will exclude grains from their recipe
- Vegetables are sometimes included for flavor and nutrients
- Dog food takes longer to digest than raw meat, so they shouldn’t be fed together
As you can see, dog food is primarily made from processed meat with some grains and vegetables to supplement. This means that it’s not a good formula for rabbits, who should only be eating plants and vegetables. If your rabbit eats dog food, make sure they get enough hay and water to flush it out of their system. You can purchase rabbit pellets at any pet store, so if you need a formula food for your rabbit, that’s a better option. If you are out of food for your rabbit and can’t get more, you can use grass clippings cut with scissors as a better alternative to dog food.
Can Rabbits Eat Fish?
Fish is often high in healthy fatty acids as well as in protein, making it a great food for humans and many meat-eating animals.
- There are about 20 types of commonly eaten fish
- Many types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Most fish are 15-20% protein
Just like with the meat from land animals, fish is not a good option for rabbits. They can’t digest the protein or fats in the fish and will just end up getting sick. Fortunately, rabbits will typically stay away from fish and other types of meat because they don’t enjoy them or have any desire to eat them. Still, you should keep fish out of reach of your rabbit to make sure that they don’t lick up any juices that could also cause health issues. You shouldn’t put fish in your rabbit’s enclosure as it will most likely get ignored and become rotten, causing other health issues.
Can rabbits eat poop? Yes; in fact, eating their own poop is a healthy rabbit behavior. They do so to reabsorb nutrients from the feces, and will typically do this every day. However, rabbits shouldn’t eat the poop of any other animal.
What if my rabbit chews on plastic or rubber? Even very small pieces of plastic can block your rabbit’s digestive tract, so if you find chew marks or notice your rabbit is having pain or constipation, contact a vet immediately.
What do I do if my rabbit eats something it shouldn’t? Depending on what and how much, you can usually monitor your rabbit for the next 24 hours to see how they react. If ill effects like runny stool or lethargy don’t pass within a day, call a vet to get treatment.