Every animal has a unique diet, and even among animals that have a highly varied diet of foods, there are always going to be some that are bad. This is definitely the case with rabbits.
Rabbits are strict herbivores, and eat a diet consisting mostly of hay and greenery, including various fruits and vegetables.
But despite being very wholesome, not all fruits, veggies and other things that grow are safe for your rabbit. In fact, some of them can be quite toxic!
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you about the foods that you should never feed to your rabbit…
Cauliflower is so plain, so bland, and so wholesome it seems impossible that it could be harmful for any animal, least of all rabbits. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.
Cauliflower is highly nutritious to us and most other animals, but cauliflower contains compounds that are notorious for causing rabbits to become bloated, sometimes dangerously so.
At best, this is going to cause your poor rabbit a lot of discomfort but at worst it can tie up their digestive tract and leave them in agony.
A few tiny bites of cauliflower are nothing to worry about, but don’t make a habit of giving it to your rabbit regularly.
Tomatoes are nominally safe for rabbits, but they are so juicy and so acidic that they just are not worth the trouble.
I would never give a rabbit any part of a tomato out of an abundance of caution, and the leaves, vines and other green parts of the plant contain toxic solanine which can kill them.
I say leave tomatoes off of your rabbit’s menu entirely, and always be cautious that they can never get any of the greenery.
This, I hope, won’t be a surprise to anyone reading this list. That’s because rabbits are herbivores and strictly herbivores, meaning they eat only plant matter.
Bunnies cannot properly digest meat of any kind and in any form, raw or cooked, so you should never tempt them with it or serve it to them deliberately, or give them any foods that contain meat. If they do eat it, they can quickly become seriously ill.
Various kinds of chard (Swiss, silverbeet, rainbow, etc.) are renowned for being highly nutritious and enjoyed in all sorts of cuisine in the world over, but unfortunately, these are not leafy vegetables that your rabbits should eat.
Any variety of chard can give you rabbits serious gas and colic, two things which are going to make them miserable and can even kill them.
Many varieties are also high in oxalates which can prevent bunnies from properly digesting and it taking in certain nutrients.
Most animal owners are already aware of the hazards of avocados. Every part of the avocado, including the fruit and the rest of the planet, contains a toxin called persin.
Although the edible flesh contains the least, it still has trace amounts and the skin, seed, and leaves of the tree contain lots of the stuff.
Ingesting it can easily cause heart failure and other organ damage in rabbits. Never give you a rabbit fresh avocado or guacamole for this reason!
6. Iceberg lettuce
And what’s sure to be another highly surprising inclusion on our list, iceberg lettuce is a no-go for rabbits specifically.
Yes, rabbits can eat all kinds of other lettuce and cabbages, but iceberg and other pale green types of lettuce contain chemical compounds that can disrupt the delicate gut flora of rabbits.
Additionally, iceberg lettuce has very little in the way of nutrition and lots of moisture, meaning it is prone to causing diarrhea in rabbits.
Onions, including the greens, can cause anemia if rabbits eat them, specifically hemolytic anemia which is the loss of red blood cells.
As your animals ingest onions, they will get weak, be unable to stand, and eventually collapse and die if not promptly treated at a vet.
Also, some rabbits show a genetic susceptibility to anaphylactic shock from onions and other related vegetables. Never take the chance with your rabbits and keep all onions, of any kind, away from them.
Garlic is an allium veggie just like onions, and should be treated as onions as far as our rabbits are concerned.
Don‘t give your rabbits anything containing garlic, or give them garlic shoots, garlic cloves or anything with garlic powder on it. Anemia and a possible allergic reaction are potential consequences.
Same thing as the above two entries: chives are allium-type vegetables that can potentially cause anemia and other problems in rabbits.
Pasta, whatever kind of grain it’s made from and however wholesome, is simply too high in carbohydrates for any rabbits to eat, cooked or raw.
Although it’s not overtly toxic to your animals (or rather not poisonous) it’s highly likely to result in enterotoxemia and a general disruption of the digestive tract in rabbits.
But this is no mere upset stomach: rabbits can get gravely sick or even die if their digestive tract gets out of whack, so take this seriously.
Walnuts are one of the healthiest nuts around for people, but you can’t say the same for them concerning rabbits.
Walnuts are very high in fat which will easily result in indigestion for your bunnies. As we have heard several times already on this list, indigestion is a major problem for our little furry friends.
Even something as simple as diarrhea can result in rapid dehydration that can have life threatening consequences, so walnuts are right out.
12. Other Seeds
Similar to walnuts, rabbits shouldn’t get any other tree nuts for the same reasons. They are surprisingly susceptible to allergic reactions from various tree nuts.
Beyond this, the seeds are all high in fat and oils that can easily disrupt gut flora and cause other digestive problems as described.
I know this seems like something that rabbits should definitely be able to eat, but it’s just not true.
Bread is a treat that many animals love, but that few animals can eat in any quantity healthily. Rabbits are at just about the bottom of that list, and extremely sensitive to the sugars and carbs in bread.
Like other carb dense food, the big threat here is enterotoxemia, that bloom of bacteria in the cecum which will subsequently release a toxin that will prove fatal.
Bread is especially bad for very young, old, or sick rabbits.
This one should seem obvious. You basically have extremely sugary, baked bread, no matter what the actual ingredients or toppings are.
This is seriously bad news for your rabbit, highly likely to trigger enterotoxemia and also immediately cause substantial digestive upset, a double whammy that’s highly likely to kill or hospitalize your rabbit at best.
I don’t care how good the recipe is and how cute you think it’d be to share with your rabbit: never, ever give them cookies.
Rabbits are somewhat infamous for having sweet tooth, and given it sweet, delectable foods that they will start to prefer them above all others.
Fortunately, dried fruits and raisins most of all are a bad idea for rabbits.
This is because they’re basically concentrated sugar, and even though that sugar is natural, it will be very difficult for your animals to digest and can easily cause a bloom of toxin producing bacteria in their digestive tract, a condition known as enterotoxemia.
Don’t give your rabbits raisins at all!
Eggplants are related to tomatoes, both being members of the nightshade family, and accordingly both pose the same hazards for rabbits.
Don’t give your rabbits any part of an eggplant, and be especially careful that they aren’t fed any of the leaves or other green parts, either deliberately or allowed access to them outside.
Eggplant leaves and roots in particular contain high amounts of that same, dangerous solanine poison.
Potatoes, believe it or not, are also members of the nightshade family and it’s similarly dangerous for rabbits when it comes to the vines and leaves.
However, the tuber part of the potato is a reasonably safe but only in extremely limited quantities. You probably already guessed that it is so starchy and so packed with carbs it is a bad call for your rabbit and you’d be right.
A few bites of cooked potato is unlikely to harm a rabbit, so you don’t need to overreact, but you’re making a terrible mistake if you feed it to them on a regular basis.
Crackers of all kinds are just another type of bread, and accordingly very bad for your rabbits. But most kinds of crackers are also heavily salted.
This much salt will prove very hard on your animals’ kidneys, and at best will dehydrate them rapidly.
Rabbits are very sensitive to dehydration and a lack of water generally, so crackers are one of the worst things you can give them!
At first glance, oatmeal seems like something that rabbits should eat, and certainly something that they would enjoy.
Most other mammals, and certainly most kinds of livestock can eat oatmeal, and rabbits can too, but the problem with oatmeal is that it just does not have the nutrition that rabbits need.
Worst, because of its sweeter, pleasant taste, rabbits will come to prefer it over other foods. That, and its tendency to bulk up stools and slow down digestion means that it can set the stage for serious problems if rabbits get too much of it.
Accordingly, you are better off keeping this from your animals entirely.
Rabbits don’t need any dairy once they’re out of adolescence and stop drinking their mother’s milk or milk replacer.
And milk is bad enough once they are adults, but yogurt is even worse, with the cultures and bacteria that make yogurt, well, yogurt playing hell with the gut flora of rabbits.
You already know where this is going: enterotoxemia is a likely outcome. If your rabbits needed calcium or any other vitamins or minerals, they can get them from other supplements. Don’t give them yogurt!
21. People Food
Your rabbits can eat a lot of things that you eat, concerning whole foods like certain fruits and vegetables. But they cannot eat processed people food.
Sad but true, as most of the things that people eat have tons of added ingredients, weird chemical additives, salt, sugar, oils, flavorings, and a bunch of junk that will certainly make a rabbit extremely sick or potentially even kill them.
In even the best cases, sharing your food with your rabbit is likely to give it diarrhea.
Candy is a 100% no-go for rabbits. No matter the form, no matter the ingredients, no matter the flavor, it is nothing but processed sugar. Pure carbs.
Giving your rabbit candy, of which they have a special liking because of their sweet tooth, is going to make them sick and complications can result in their deaths. If you love your rabbit, keep your candy to yourself.
More than any other sweet treat, chocolate is perhaps the very worst thing you can give a rabbit. Rabbits and most other animals for that matter!
Chocolate, or rather the cocoa that’s so essential to chocolate has a toxic compound called theobromine and also some caffeine.
Theobromine poisoning will result in severe diarrhea, abdominal cramping, trembling, fever and eventually seizures followed by death.
The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, so even a nibble could prove fatal to your rabbit. Remember that lots of products, including baked goods, have chocolate or cocoa also.
24. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is made from legumes, not actual nuts, but that doesn’t mean it is safe for your rabbits. It’s extremely dense with calories, protein and fat, three things which rabbits cannot handle in abundance.
Eating peanut butter is certain to cause major digestive upset, and could even send your rabbit into shock.
25. Dog Food
Most folks don’t think it’s any big deal when animals get a nibble of some other animals’ food, and some of the time that’s true.
But it’s definitely not true concerning our rabbits and definitely not true concerning dog food. Dog food is for dogs, not rabbits, and invariably contains animal proteins which rabbits cannot digest.
Never deliberately give your rabbit dog food, and if you suspect that your rabbit has had anything more than a bite or two, you should probably take it to the vet.
26. Other Animal Pellets
Other small mammal pelleted feeds, of the type for ferrets, gerbils, hamsters and the like might seem like convenient or even acceptable options for rabbits, but they aren’t.
If you haven’t learned by now, rabbits have highly specific and unique nutritional requirements, and none of these other animals’ feeds are nutritionally formulated for their health and well-being.
Rhubarb is another surprising and possibly contentious inclusion on this list.
Rhubarb is a leafy green veggie that rabbits could certainly access in the wild, and some people even report that their rabbits eat it with no ill effects.
However, rhubarb has high concentrations of the same oxalates that can interfere with calcium absorption and also cause internal and external irritation.
Even among rabbits that do eat it, death is rare, but determining how much a given plant contains is impossible, so you don’t want to get in the habit of giving your rabbits rhubarb or letting them eat it.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.