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Can Rabbits Eat Swede? [Should You Offer This Root Vegetable?]

Are you looking to feed your rabbit Swede but not sure whether to? Is it a suitable food in their diet, or is there anything you need to be aware of? Let’s find out!

So, can rabbits eat swede? Rabbits can eat swede but should only do so infrequently and in moderation, 1-2x per week. At the same time, Swede should be introduced to the diet slowly. Swede is naturally high in carbohydrates which can cause digestive upset if overconsumed. Hay should always take priority in the diet. 

As a rabbit owner, getting the diet right is absolutely essential.

These small mammals have a very complex and intricate digestive system.

And as such, they have very specific needs.

But where can Swede fit into all of this?

Let’s find out.

Is Swede Safe For Rabbits?

Swede is safe for rabbits if it is fed appropriately – which is largely dependent on serving size and frequency. At the same time, swede should only be fed to rabbits of sufficient age (12 weeks+ is recommended) and only to rabbits in good health. 

Issues regarding the safety of swede or other carbohydrate-rich vegetables in the diet are caused by excess – either in the same sitting or consistently over time.

But they are also considered a somewhat risky choice for any rabbits without either a fully functioning digestive system or those suffering from digestive ailments.

Here is what VCA Animal Hospitals (a reputable Veterinarians & Emergency Vets practice) have to say on the matter:

“If you introduce new foods too quickly, or feed inappropriate food choices, the rabbit’s normal digestive flora (normal bacteria) will be disturbed, gas- and toxin-producing bacteria can overgrow, and the rabbit may become very sick and possibly die.”

The main issue is with carbohydrate-rich vegetables, which swede is one of and we shall now see:

Nutritional Content Of Swede

NameAmount
Water44.7 g
Energy19 Calories
Protein0.54 g
Carbohydrates4.31 g
of which sugars2.23 g
Fiber1.15 g
Fat0.08 g
Calcium43 mg
Phosphorous 26.5 mg
Magnesium10 mg
Potassium150 mg
Vitamin C12.5 mg
Per 50g Swede, Raw. Source: USDA

Note: Swede also goes by the name of Rutabagas.

Consider that the average Swede is around 350g.

So the serving referenced above is not a lot here.

Nonetheless, can you see that carbohydrate content – that’s high for a rabbit.

So although there are many nutrients on offer, swede should never be a dietary staple.

Instead, hay should be the priority first and foremost.

Then a smaller amount of fresh vegetables, primarily leafy greens, and then a limited number of pellets.

Nonetheless, if you do want to offer swede occasionally, thankfully, all parts of swede are edible by rabbits – this includes the peel and the leaves.

There is nothing inherently toxic in swede – it’s just not an ideal food for digestive reasons.

But with variety being important for rabbits, swede is something that you can try.

How to do so appropriately will now follow.

How Much Swede Should A Rabbit Eat

Rabbits should only be given swede rarely and in small serving sizes. To begin with, this vegetable should be introduced slowly where the focus of the diet remains on fresh hay.

When it comes to exact serving sizes, you’ll be surprised at how little you should look to provide.

And to begin with, you’re only going to want to offer around half a tablespoon of swede to an adult rabbit (around 5 grams).

Following this, you should inspect your rabbit and monitor for any soft feces, diarrhea, or signs of gas pain.

See how they respond and look for any upset.

If your rabbit appears to do well with swede, then you can look to offer it again.

Perhaps increase the serving size to 1 teaspoon at a time (7-10g), but do not look to exceed this.

And just remember – swede is best offered as a treat.

So, a small serving 1-2x per week is advised.

Then be sure to offer other vegetables with a focus on the likes of romaine lettuce, beet greens, mustard greens, green peppers, broccoli greens, bok choy, carrot tops, and cilantro.

They are generally much better choices.

How To Feed Your Rabbit Swede

Rabbits are grazers; they eat continuously throughout the day, every day. Nevertheless, the majority of their eating should be on hay and other fibrous grasses. Swede, on the other hand, should only be fed at certain times.

Hay should be provided liberally, and your rabbit should have access at all times; the same can be said for water.

Swede, on the other hand, as it should be limited in the diet, can be fed at select times.

You can feed swede to your rabbit by hand.

In fact, this is a recommended approach.

That way, you get the benefit of bonding with your rabbit while also teaching that you are gentle and mean no harm.

So, once or twice per week, take a small amount (5-10g) of freshly cut up swede, sit beside your rabbit, gently stroke and talk to them and offer it to them.

Let them learn to recognize you and gain your rabbit’s trust.

Of course, you may be yet to do have achieved this.

You may need to place the swede on the ground and walk away.

Nevertheless, offering swede as a treat, which is really how this food should be viewed, is the best way.

Do be sure to prepare it in advance – washing it if necessary and cutting it up into small, manageable cubes.

Finally

Rabbits are herbivores first and foremost.

They need hay, and they need a lot of it.

From there, dark leafy greens should come next.

The occasional vegetable can have its place in your rabbit’s diet, and this is where swede comes in.

An occasional treat from time to time.

But do be sure to introduce this food slowly and monitor your rabbit and how they respond.

Besides, they may not even like it.

And if you really want to take it one step further, do reach out to your vet to see what other potential treats you can offer and in what quantities.

The diet must align with the breed, age, lifestyle, and general health of the rabbit.

In essence, a rabbit’s diet needs to be carefully controlled and managed.

They can become overweight, malnourished, or suffer from all sorts of health issues if foods are not appropriate.

Just remember.

Hay, hay, and more hay.

That has to be the dietary staple.