Feeding rabbits is not simple. Well, actually it is, when you know what you must NOT feed them.
As illustrated elsewhere on this site, the main part of a rabbit's diet must be hay, and high fibre supplements.
You should note however that it is best to avoid alfalfa hay since it is high in calories and may make your rabbit fat. Timothy hay or good quality meadow hay are best.
A rabbit eating lettuce? A good example of what they should NOT eat
It is not suitable to feed any vegetable, fruit or plant until you have checked on them and know they are safe. Not to do so, can cause your rabbit to have serious problems that may become fatal.
A lot of information available is clearly contradictory and, as with any doubt, it is not worth the risk of feeding foods you are not sure about.
Quite simply, in the rabbit's natural habitat they have adapted and developed their whole digestive system, from the teeth to the end of the gastrointestinal tract, to eat and graze grasses.
Simply by applying commonsense to this, you will realize what is and what is not sensible. The lists of what not to feed a rabbit are exhaustless, but below is a guide for the more commonly known vegetables, plants, weeds and fruit.
With vegetables, DO NOT ever feed your rabbit lettuce. Lettuce contains lactucarium which causes diarrhoea in a rabbit. Lettuce has been known to cause GI Stasis, a fatal condition.
Other common vegetables to avoid are Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, kale, Parsnips, Potato or Potato peelings, Rhubarb, Spinach, Swedes and Tomato leaves.
Vegetables, with which there is some dispute, are Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Mustard greens, Peas pods and Radish tops. Therefore,' if in doubt, leave it out' should apply with these vegetables.
If your rabbit has free use of the garden or part of the garden, then you must avoid Anemones, Arrow Grass, Bluebells, Broken Fern, Burdock, Buttercups, Clover ,Daffodils, Dahlia, Deadly Nightshade, Delphiniums, Fireweed, Foxglove, Hemlock, Horehound, Honeysuckle, Iris, Ivy, Jimson Weed, Lilies, Laurel, Lupine, Milkweed, Poison Hemlock, Poppies, Primrose, Snowdrops, Sweet Clover, Tarweed, Tulips, Water Hemlock.
As you can see, a long list of weed types and this is only the more commonly know varieties. Rabbits cannot expel gas and plants such as Clover causes gas. Feeding on foods that produce gas can result in bloating, pain and if not careful can be fatal.
It is best to confine the rabbit's grazing or eating part of the garden to a grassy area.
Foods that are safe to feed a rabbit in small amounts are Basil, Beet Greens, Carrot and Carrot tops, Celery leaves, Dandelion leaves and flower, Dill, Mint, Parsley, Watercress, Wheatgrass.
From the above list, it can be seen, some common herbs are fine to feed.
Fruit is very sugary so only feed occasionally in small amounts, Apple, Bananas, also Blueberries, Cranberries, Pears, Raspberries and Strawberries.
But again, take care and only give a very small amount as a treat.
If feeding a rabbit apples or pears, be sure that you do not feed the pips of these fruits since, they contain minute amounts of cyanide, which although harmless to humans ,can be harmful to rabbits
Finally, do not feed foods high in carbohydrates.
Do not feed Beans, Breakfast cereals, Bread, Cookies, Corn, or nuts which may contribute to enterotoxaemia, a condition in which the blood contains toxin from the intestines.
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