Rabbits can make amazing pets. They are cuddly, sweet, and good companions for children and adults. Feeding a rabbit the right amount of food is important so that they can live a long and healthy life.
Sweet Potato and Rabbits
Rabbits have the capability to eat sweet potato. Sweet potato is a source of many nutrients and vitamins. Vitamins A, C, and B are the three main vitamins found within sweet potatoes. They also hold lots of calcium and magnesium.
Sweet potatoes grow in the ground from slips. Essentially, these slips are little vines that sprout new potatoes. They are a hearty, starchy vegetable that tastes delicious.
Rabbits are able to eat sweet potatoes using their powerfully designed teeth. Their teeth allow them to chomp down on even the heaviest of vegetables. Similar to yams, sweet potatoes can be eaten with their skin on.
However, there are problems that a sweet potato could cause a rabbit. Rabbits should not eat sweet potato often, if at all. Although they are capable of eating the vegetable using their powerful teeth, it is not the healthiest of vegetables available for them.
It is left to the discretion of the pet owner whether or not they choose to let their rabbit snack on a sweet potato.
Are Sweet Potatoes Healthy for Rabbits?
Unfortunately, a sweet potato is not the healthiest vegetable your rabbit could eat. Although they are full of great vitamins, they contain a lot of sugar and starch.
Rabbits can eat sugary vegetables such as carrots. The problem comes from the heavy mixture of starch and sugar combined. Rabbits usually have a hard time digesting these elements and can have an upset stomach as a result.
The cecum is a key digestive organ in a rabbit’s digestive system. This organ allows the animal to properly digest and ferment fibers from grass, which makes up the majority of a rabbit’s diet. The cecum has a unique and delicate way of processing these fibers so that the rabbit stays healthy.
Starchy foods and excessively sugary foods, such as sweet potato, negatively combine with the cecum’s natural bacteria. This can cause dangerous problems that the rabbit cannot resolve on its own. Some of the minor health issues this can cause the rabbit would be an upset stomach and gas.
Gastrointestinal stasis is one of the more dangerous issues that starch and sugar could cause. It is a life-threatening condition. This condition stops the rabbit’s digestive tract from functioning completely.
Even if a rabbit is taken to a veterinarian, it is not likely that they would live a long life after experiencing this condition.
How Much Is Too Much Sweet Potato?
Because of the gastrointestinal issues that this vegetable could cause a rabbit, even the smallest amount could be too much for them to eat. It is not recommended that baby or adult rabbits eat sweet potatoes in general.
If too much sweet potato is eaten, the rabbit could suffer from minor gas or die from major gastrointestinal problems.
If a pet rabbit has already eaten sweet potato, then it is important for the owner to keep an eye out for any distressing signals. It is best to stop offering the vegetable to the pet to prevent any illness.
Even if it seemed as though they enjoyed the veggie, their health is what is most important in the long run.
If the rabbit seems to be lethargic, severely bloated, or in lots of pain, then they are most likely experiencing a negative reaction to the sweet potato. This would require immediate medical intervention.
If the rabbit is not drinking, eating, or going to the bathroom normally, then it is also likely that they are experiencing an aversion to sweet potato. Keep an eye out for unusual bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation. This health crisis warrants a checkup from a local veterinarian as soon as possible.
Digestive issues in a rabbit should be resolved as soon as possible. The digestive tract is made of highly complex bacteria that help maintain normality. Rabbits, on average, poop 200 to 300 times a day. The poop is small and round, comparable to a pea or garbanzo bean.
Because a rabbit’s digestive system is so sensitive, if they are experiencing constipation or diarrhea, it could be life-threatening.
How Much Should a Pet Rabbit Eat?
A good amount of food would be around one cup of green for every two pounds of rabbit body weight within a day-long period. Depending on what the rabbit needs, they could be given as smaller meals throughout the day or as a whole bunch.
Rabbits can also consume nutritional pellets. This is not a crucial part of their diet and should be used in moderation. An adult rabbit would only need one-quarter of a cup of pellets. These pellets must contain high fiber content — the higher the content, the better.
It is also important to note that pellets that have dried corn, nuts, or seeds should be avoided. This is because the dried ingredients could be dangerous for the rabbits. As always, it is best to consult a veterinarian to note what the pet should be eating and avoiding.
Foods That Are Healthy for Rabbits
There are many alternative veggies that a rabbit can eat. The optimal diet for a pet rabbit actually mirrors a wild rabbit’s diet. Looking at wild rabbits, even those that live in residential areas, they enjoy eating on lots of grasses and plants that grow from the ground.
Rabbits should be enjoying high-fiber diets. This diet allows their sensitive digestive system to run smoothly while also providing the adequate nourishment their bodies need.
The majority of a rabbit’s diet should consist of grass and hay. These are both rich in Vitamin A and D. They also contain calcium that promotes healthy teeth and gastrointestinal tracts. Foods such as these should be available to the pet at all times.
Pet owners can mimic a wild rabbit’s diet for their own pet by providing natural treats. These treats can be dandelions, wild raspberry leaves, and healthy green grass from the front yard.
But be mindful of what is foraged from the wild. Oftentimes, plants are sprayed with toxins or could be poisonous.
Natural foods for rabbits can be found at any local pet store. In addition, veterinarians and other animal specialists can provide the best diet that is suitable to a rabbit’s specific needs.
Offer the pet rabbit an unlimited amount of fresh hay. Choose varieties that are specific to a rabbit’s diet. This hay is filled with fiber that is essential to a healthy digestive system.
Large seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds (amazon) are also good for these animals. These seeds should not be fried but be as fresh as possible. A tablespoon a day is what an average rabbit needs.
Fresh salads every single day are very important to maintain health and longevity. The salads should consist of greens and a few chopped veggies. Be sure to watch for high sugar content and balance with leafy greens.
Pet stores and veterinary offices offer special treats for rabbits as well. These can be a good snack for pets and can offer good variety. These treats can even include small pieces of fruit. Fruit pieces should be limited because of the high sugar content. However, a little bit of variety is good for rabbits.
A lot of rabbit owners like this Wild Harvest Wild Berry and Nut Treat mix available on amazon.
Lastly, one of the most important parts of a rabbit’s diet is hydration. It is extremely important for the rabbit to have access to water at all times. Fresh, clean water is essential to a healthy and happy pet.
Specific Rabbit-Approved Vegetables and Fruits
Some specific vegetables that are healthy for rabbits include kale, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, arugula, and Bibb lettuce. They also can enjoy wild flowers as long as they are pesticide-free. These flowers can include chamomile, dandelions, marigolds, and pansies.
Rabbits may also enjoy a mixture of fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, and even blueberries. Fruits should be given only a few times a week.
This allows the rabbit to properly digest the fruits’ sugar and starch. Fruits that contain small seeds, such as apples and cherries, should be avoided. Large seeds that come from sunflowers and pumpkins can be eaten.
The slips of a sweet potato grow from vines and leaves and eventually produce the potato sprout itself. Although it is established that the sweet potato is not the healthiest option for a rabbit, the vines and leaves can be eaten. It is safe to offer a handful of these greens to a pet rabbit.
Do not confuse the vines and leaves of a sweet potato with other vines that come from the Yukon or russet potato. These are highly toxic and can kill the rabbit.
Owning a Healthy Pet Rabbit
Having a happy and healthy pet rabbit starts with the foods it is being fed. Even though rabbits should not be fed sweet potato, there are several other options that are just as nutritious and delicious for them to eat.
Encourage exercise and stimulation to keep the rabbit interested in the food choices given. Keeping track of a pet rabbit’s diet will allow them to be great companions for many years to come.