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What Not to Feed Rabbits

What Not to Feed Rabbits
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Rabbits are herbivores, but does that mean that all plants are safe and healthy for them to eat?  The surprising answer is no! There are plenty of things that you should not be feeding your rabbit that might seem perfectly healthy.

The most important part of a rabbit’s diet is fiber.  They absolutely need cellulose (plant cell walls and vegetable fibers) in order to survive.  Fiber is such an integral part of their diet that they have a special organ called the cecum, whose sole purpose is to help process all that fiber. In the cecum, the fiber is exposed to healthy bacteria & yeasts which helps break down & ferment the materials.

The fermented materials are then excreted in cecotropes, which the rabbit eats to absorb all the vitamins & fats from the fiber.   It’s a delicate system that can easily be disrupted by excess sugars & starches causing bloating, constipation, or out of whack gastrointestinal bacterial growth.  Click here to read more about preventing rabbit GI Stasis

Following is not an all-inclusive list of things you shouldn’t feed your rabbit, but just some of the major foods to avoid.  If you are unsure if a food is safe for your bunny, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.  Remember fresh hay should make up the largest part of your rabbit’s diet, followed by quality rabbit pellets (about 1/2 cup per rabbit per day), with fresh veggies as “treats” or supplemental.

What Not to Feed Rabbits


Bread, crackers, cereal, rice…..none of these are healthy for your rabbit friend.  Anything high in carbohydrates should be avoided.

“Junk Food”

Chips, cookies, candy….these aren’t healthy for humans and they are extra unhealthy for rabbits.  Foods that are high in sugar or artificial ingredients can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in their gut, throwing their whole digestive system out of whack.  It could even cause the digestive system to shut down entirely which will result in death.  Especially do not allow your rabbit to eat chocolate.  While we might find this a tasty treat, it is poisonous to rabbits.

Meat & Eggs

It may seem obvious as your rabbit is a herbivore, but it bears mentioning.  Please don’t feed meat to your bunny, they are not equipped to digest it!  The same goes for eggs and any other animal products.


Milk & dairy products like yogurt, butter, & ice cream can lead to a deadly case of enterotoxemia (a toxic overgrowth of harmful intestinal bacteria).  They are also really high in natural sugars that could cause teeth or digestive problems.  Click here to learn more about caring for rabbit teeth

Nuts & Nut Products

While rabbits can digest nuts and small amounts are not fatal, they are very high in fat which could give your bunny an upset tummy.  They also offer no nutritional value for rabbits so it’s best to just avoid them.

Iceberg Lettuce

This one might be shocking, but light-colored lettuces like Iceberg contain high levels of lactucarium which can cause runny stools.  Iceberg lettuce is also mostly water and has very little nutritional content.  Stick to darker leafy greens like romaine lettuce or kale.


Another shocker as rabbits & carrots seem to go hand in hand.  Carrots aren’t poisonous, but they are really high in calcium & natural sugars which is bad for gut health & teeth.  Carrots should be given as only a rare treat.  The leafy carrot tops are great for rabbits though, can be eaten daily, and they love them!

Nightshade Plants

For most animals, eating plants from the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant to name a few) can be toxic and rabbits are no exception.  They should not eat the leaves or stems of the plants.  You should also avoid feeding them raw potatoes or peels.  Cooked potatoes are not toxic but are high in carbs & starch so don’t make a healthy treat.  Tomatoes and peppers themselves are fine to feed in small amounts.


Rhubarb leaves contain dangerously high levels of oxalic acid which can cause serious kidney damage leading to death.  All parts of rhubarb & rhubarb plants should be avoided.


All parts of the avocado are poisonous to rabbits. The skin, leaves, and seeds are the most toxic parts, but the actual “meat” of the avocado is also toxic.


Not toxic, but high in sugar & phosphorus, they are not a great treat for bunny friends. Pea shoots are healthy for them though – and they love them!


Again, not toxic, but cauliflower can give your bunnies gas and make them bloated and uncomfortable.


Rabbits can’t digest the corn hull (the part that surrounds the kernel), and they could become lodged in the GI tract.

Apple seeds

Apples themselves make a good occasional treat, but make sure the seeds have been removed as they can contain toxic levels of arsenic for a tiny bunny body.

So what can you feed your rabbit?

While hay & rabbit pellets should make up a large portion of your rabbit’s diet, fresh veggies should also be offered on a daily basis (about 1 cup per rabbit per day).  Click here to read more about feeding wool rabbits.  Some great everyday options include:

  • romaine or dark leaf lettuce
  • carrot tops
  • collard greens
  • celery & celery leaves
  • asparagus
  • squash
  • cucumbers
  • broccoli leaves
  • bok choy
  • clover or dandelion leaves & flowers
  • mustard greens
  • herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley, or watercress

For special occasional treats, you can offer fruit like apples, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pears, mango, papaya, peaches, pineapple, or grapes.

What not to feed rabbits

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Rabbit Lord

Thursday 17th of June 2021

Uhhhh... Is Timothy hay good for rabbits??? I think so, and it's what im gonna be feeding my rabbit when I get it. If not, please tell me


Thursday 17th of June 2021

yes - it is very good for them! Timothy hay should make up the majority of their diet, it should be offered free choice at all times. You should plan on your rabbit eating a handful of hay approximately the size of his body each day

Rabbit Lord

Thursday 17th of June 2021

I've actaully learned more from the comments then fron the stuff itself. Getting a rabbit soon! Im so exited. Im gonna name it cotton/cotn


Thursday 17th of June 2021

Excellent - good luck!

Tiffany Little

Sunday 13th of June 2021

Right now our roses are blooming and my flemish giant loves roses as a treat. She would prefer a nice rose bloom over any other type of treat I offer her, unless I have a grape or a slice of banana. She's a spoiled one and will turn her nose up at her hay, but when she sees me she runs across the room for the rose or marigold she knows I'm bringing her. Then after finishing that she climbs on my lap and nibbles on my fingers.


Tuesday 15th of June 2021

Adorable!! She sounds like a sweetheart :)


Sunday 6th of June 2021

i have a few question i found baby bunnys unsure of what kind they are younger then a week old there eyes are closed what do i do i put them in a tub with some shirt two on the bottom and one on the top there was no mama to feed them for 3 days and what do i feed them and place them without doing something wrong?


Sunday 6th of June 2021

I am sure these are wild rabbits correct? Are you sure the momma left them for 3 days? Typically mother rabbits only visit the den overnight so as not to attract predators, so it's very common to find unattended babies during the day. They are very very young if their eyes are closed and all they should be eating is milk from their mother. I would suggest you find a local wildlife rescue who can take them in, or direct you on how to care for them. They will need replacement milk bottle fed to them for about the first month of life

Jen Meek

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

Great advice here. We have a “Resident” rabbit. Eats lots of grass. Can I put out a pan of water for it. Glad I read about the iceberg lettuce.


Wednesday 19th of May 2021

I am sure they would appreciate some water! Put it in a shady spot near or under a bush so they don't have to come out in the open to get it and risk being seen by a hawk

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