Rabbits are insatiable grazers!
Owing to their distinctive biology, these fascinating little herbivores need an almost uninterrupted stream of fiber to ensure their specialized guts function optimally.
But don’t be misled by their herbivorous nature; not all greens, vegetables, and fruits are suitable for them.
Many treats relished by humans—and even some branded for bunnies—aren’t fitting for their diet and can pose grave health risks.
Below is a compilation of foods you should strictly keep away from your rabbit – and never be tempted to feed.
And crucially, if your bunny accidentally nibbles on any of the foods mentioned, seek veterinary advice without delay.
What Foods Can Rabbits Not Eat?
Rabbits should never eat the following foods:
- Fruit seeds/pits
- Raw onions, leeks, garlic
- Meat, eggs, dairy
- Broad beans and kidney beans
- Iceberg lettuce
- House plants
- Processed foods (bread, rice, pasta, peanut butter, cookies, crackers, chips, etc.)
- Raw potatoes
Avocados, both the fruit and the pit, contain persin, a fungicidal toxin. While it’s relatively harmless to humans, it’s quite toxic to animals like rabbits.
When consumed by rabbits, even in small amounts, persin can lead to respiratory distress, myocardial damage, and even sudden death.
It’s imperative that rabbit owners prevent their pets from ingesting any part of this fruit.
Broad beans and kidney beans
Beans in their raw form are dangerous for rabbits.
Broad beans and kidney beans contain lectins, which can interfere with nutrient absorption and lead to severe gastrointestinal disturbances in rabbits.
Cooking can break down some of these compounds, but it’s best to completely avoid feeding any type of bean to rabbits to ensure their safety.
Chocolate is a well-known toxin for many pets, including rabbits. It contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can stimulate the nervous system.
In rabbits, ingestion can lead to rapid heart rate, seizures, and even death. Dark chocolate, with its higher theobromine content, is especially dangerous.
It’s vital to keep all forms of chocolate out of reach.
Many fruits, such as apples, cherries, and apricots, have seeds or pits that contain cyanogenic glycosides.
When ingested, these compounds can release cyanide, a potent poison.
While the fruit’s flesh is often safe in moderation, it’s essential to remove seeds or pits before offering any fruit to a rabbit.
Many common houseplants, like philodendrons or poinsettias, can be toxic if consumed by rabbits.
Symptoms of ingestion vary, from mild gastrointestinal upset to severe respiratory or cardiac distress, depending on the plant.
It’s crucial to be aware of the plants you have in your home and ensure they’re out of your rabbit’s reach.
Iceberg lettuce, while not directly toxic, can be problematic for rabbits. Its high water content and lack of nutritional value can lead to diarrhea.
Moreover, excessive watery foods can dilute the rabbit’s cecotropes (nutrient-rich droppings), which they usually reingest for nutritional benefits.
It’s better to offer darker, leafy greens like kale or romaine instead.
Meat, eggs, dairy
Rabbits are strict herbivores. Their digestive systems have evolved to extract nutrients from plant-based foods, not from animal products.
Offering them meat, eggs, or dairy can lead to significant digestive problems, nutrient imbalances, and health complications.
Mushrooms can be highly toxic to rabbits, especially wild varieties.
Some mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, while others can result in neurological issues or organ failure.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to avoid feeding any mushroom to a rabbit.
Processed foods are not natural in a rabbit’s diet. They often contain high levels of sugar, salt, and artificial additives, none of which are suitable for rabbits.
Such foods can easily lead to obesity, dental issues, and digestive problems, disrupting the rabbit’s overall well-being.
Processed foods to avoid include:
Raw onions, leeks, garlic
Allium vegetables, like onions, leeks, and garlic, are harmful to rabbits. They contain compounds that can break down red blood cells and lead to anemia.
In addition, these veggies can cause gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, and more severe health problems if consumed in larger quantities.
Raw potatoes and particularly their green parts contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid.
Consuming even small amounts can cause a rabbit to experience symptoms like confusion, drowsiness, or digestive upset.
Always keep potatoes, especially green or sprouting ones, away from rabbits.
Rhubarb, especially the leaves, is toxic for rabbits due to its high oxalic acid content.
Oxalic acid can interfere with calcium absorption, leading to kidney problems or even acute poisoning. While the stalk might be less toxic, it’s safest to keep all parts of rhubarb away from rabbits.
Cat food is specifically formulated for the nutritional needs of cats, which are obligate carnivores.
This means that the primary ingredients are meats and animal-based proteins, which are not suitable for herbivorous animals like rabbits.
Giving cat food to rabbits can lead to digestive problems and other health issues due to the high protein and fat content.
Chicken feed is designed for birds and often contains grains, seeds, and sometimes added calcium for egg production.
This composition doesn’t align with the dietary needs of rabbits.
Moreover, some forms of chicken feed may also include meat or bone meal, which is inappropriate and potentially harmful for herbivorous animals like rabbits.
Chinchillas and rabbits have different dietary needs, even though both are herbivores.
Chinchilla food often contains a different balance of nutrients, and might include ingredients that aren’t ideal for rabbits.
While occasional overlap in feed might not be immediately harmful, it’s best to keep rabbits on a diet specifically tailored to them.
Dog food, whether dry or wet, is formulated for the omnivorous diet of dogs. It contains meat, fats, and grains that are not suitable for a rabbit’s digestive system.
Feeding dog food to rabbits can cause serious health complications due to its inappropriate nutritional profile.
Gerbil food primarily consists of seeds, grains, and nuts, which are energy-dense and can be too high in fat for rabbits.
While a small amount might not cause immediate harm, long-term consumption can lead to obesity and related health problems in rabbits.
It’s best to stick to rabbit-specific feeds and hay.
While guinea pigs and rabbits are both herbivores and there might seem to be some similarities in their diets, their nutritional needs are different.
Guinea pig food contains added vitamin C, which guinea pigs cannot produce on their own.
Rabbits, on the other hand, can produce their own vitamin C. Over-relying on guinea pig food can lead to nutritional imbalances in rabbits.
Hamster food is a mix of seeds, grains, nuts, and sometimes dried fruits. This mixture, especially the high seed content, can be too rich and fatty for rabbits.
Prolonged consumption can cause digestive upset and lead to obesity in rabbits. It’s essential to give rabbits food that’s specifically designed for their nutritional needs.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.