Pet rabbits are lovely companions and taking care of them doesn’t usually require much effort other than following a few basic rules. Their diet, however, is definitely something we must pay attention to in order to make sure our furry friends are happy and healthy. Thankfully, diet requirements are pretty much the same for most breeds, which is good news if you have to take care of different bunnies at once or in case you are thinking of welcoming a new friend to the house.
In comparison to other pets, namely dogs and cats, who can usually eat a large variety of foods, rabbits only have a handful of limited options, and many things will be straight-up toxic for them. Read until the end for a brief list of food to avoid and more information about the right diet. Now let’s get to the question!
So… can they eat it?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering if it’s ok for you to feed your bunny cooked rice, or maybe it accidentally had some and you want to make sure it’s not going to be a problem. The short answer is: no, you should not feed your rabbit rice! However, if it happens once by accident and in small quantities, your bunny will likely suffer a stomach ache but will ultimately be fine. There is no need to worry too much as long as you make sure it won’t happen again and commit to paying more attention in the future. But why is that?
Rice, as well as other grains, cannot be digested properly by rabbits. They are not necessarily poisonous, but they can cause severe stomach aches and bloating. This is not always the case, as your rabbit could potentially eat a small quantity of uncooked rice without any noticeable consequence. However, this is where the main problem arises: the consumption of rice can cause gastrointestinal problems over time.
Health issues will not be detected immediately but will affect the bunny in the long run. It could take months or even years for an actual disease to show up, and you might find out about it when it’s too late. In fact, the main risks are gastrointestinal stasis and enteritis, both of which can be lethal over time. Therefore, if you or someone you know has been feeding cooked rice to a rabbit thinking their pet is doing just fine, they might not be aware of the fact that they are slowly making the rabbit sick.
Last but not least, neglecting your rabbit’s diet can cause issues to their teeth as well: cooked rice or even cooked vegetables are not meant to be eaten by rabbits, and can lead to dental malocclusion.
Other diet restrictions
What else should be avoided? All grains, seeds, nuts, and carbs in general, are to be avoided completely. Rabbits can sometimes enjoy fruit, but not all of it, not every day, and only in very small portions with no seeds.
The best way to keep a rabbit healthy is by feeding them fresh good quality hay, grass, and some fresh, raw vegetables. Hay and grass, as well as water, are essential for rabbits’ digestive system to properly function and need to be eaten on a daily basis. It is extremely important for them to have clean, drinkable water available at all times.
Also, not all hay is equally good for our pets. Even if we take good care of them by making sure they get enough playtime, pet rabbits don’t consume as many calories as wild ones. For this reason, we want to make sure we don’t feed the most caloric kind of hay: Meadow Hay and Timothy Hay are some of the most recommended ones.
It’s also important to avoid sudden changes in our bunnies’ diet: a sudden influx of full portions of vegetables can be traumatic for the digestive function, which needs time to adapt. As for what vegetables can be eaten every day without issues, the best ones are fennel, celery, and carrots, leaves included! Broccoli and cauliflowers are good too but the quantity needs to be monitored. Contrary to what we tend to think, rabbits shouldn’t eat iceberg lettuce, but can freely enjoy the dark leaves kinds of lettuce. Avocados can be extremely dangerous, and so can garlic, onions, and shallots. Bunnies will naturally avoid the strong smell of the latter but will love nuts if made available to them, although they shouldn’t! As we mentioned, pet rabbits should avoid high-calorie food. Nuts are not an exception and can only be fed rarely as a treat.
Let’s sum up
A rabbit’s diet should consist of fresh, good-quality hay, grass, some raw vegetables, and plenty of clean water daily. Fruit can be given in small portions, around twice a week, with no seeds. Here’s a list of what to avoid completely if we don’t want to jeopardize our bunnies’ health:
- raw or cooked grains, rice included;
- seeds of any kind;
- avocados, legumes, potatoes, garlic, onions, and shallots;
- bread, cookies, and any kind of carbs;
- any sweets, especially chocolate;
- all animal products, from meat to dairies.
Lastly, food is not the only thing that can be dangerous for pet rabbits. Some house plants can cause severe reactions if they get in contact with them! Rabbits are attracted to plants and can mistake them for food, so if they have physical access to them they will likely try to chew on them. This is why it is important to make sure they don’t have access to any potentially harmful plants. That includes but is not limited to ivy, foxglove, and rhubarb – but the list is very long! The best solution is to keep all your houseplants out of reach to start with.
Rabbits’ diet requires more attention compared to other pets, and cannot eat the same things we eat. You cannot, in any case, feed them whatever you have at home, but should always plan ahead to make sure your bunny has all the necessary nutrients and none of the dangerous stuff.