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Every Rabbit Eats Lettuce, Right?

Image of rabbit eating lettuce.

Be Careful about Feeding Your Rabbits Lettuce. Image by Berit Watkin.

Every Rabbit Eats Lettuce, Right?  

From the beginning of time we have seen pictures of rabbits munching on lettuce, even found in gardens munching away in the lettuce patch.  Many make the assumption that all lettuce leaves are made equal and should be safe for these little vegetarians. 

WRONG!  Know the Dangers

Did you know that some lettuces are not only NOT good in a rabbit’s diet, they can actually make them very sick? 

Don’t misunderstand, green and leafy vegetables in a rabbit’s diet are essential and shouldn’t be removed completely.  There are many things to consider before starting them on vegetables.  For example, too many vegetables and especially iceberg lettuce are extremely dangerous and can even have fatal results.  It is important that you have a feeding guide or consult a veterinarian on the best diet for your pet.  Below we have provided some basic things you can keep in mind when planning their diet:

  1. Most veterinarians recommend not starting young rabbits on raw vegetables until at least 6 months of age.
  2. Organic vegetables are ideal.
  3. Always wash any vegetables before feeding them. The chemicals and pesticides from commercial farms can be very harmful.
  4. The ideal combination is at least three different vegetables each day in a well formed diet.
  5. Introduce new vegetables slowly and watch for adverse symptoms.
  6. The size of your rabbit will determine the portions. Best rule of thumb is to include one to two cups of veggies per five pounds of body weight each day.

Always be aware of the consistency of your rabbit’s pellets of poop, especially after introducing a new diet.  The softness of the poop can tell us if the rabbit is at risk for dehydration due to diarrhea.  Dehydration in rabbits can be fatal if not caught quickly.

Here are some vegetable dos and don’ts for a quick reference:

DON’T FEED

  • Iceberg lettuce – it is not poisonous, but it causes diarrhea due to the high water content.
  • Corn – too high in starch
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Mint – IT IS TOXIC!

GOOD CHOICES

  • Butter
  • Bib
  • Green or Red Boston
  • Red Leaf
  • Romaine
  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Bok Choy
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Watercress
  • Swiss Chard
  • Radicchio
  • Radish Tops
  • Collards
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot tops
  • Bell Peppers

SAFE FRUITS

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries (without the pits)
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears

LIMIT THESE

  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Spinach

A good diet should include quality pellets, fresh hay (timothy and or oat) and fresh vegetables.   Although, water is the most important part.  It is used to control their body temperature, aids in digestion and helps move the nutrients around from their soluble foods.  So always keep a fresh water source full every day.  For example one rabbit in one will consume 10-20 ounces of water.  As the temperatures rise, they can consume up to four times that amount to regulate their temperature.

Further Reading on What to Feed Your Meat Rabbits

If you are raising rabbits for breeding, check out our more extensive guide on how to feed breeding rabbits.

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