Generally, rabbits are easy to keep as pets because they are not very choosy about what they eat. Rabbits generally need hay, grass, fresh vegetables and fruits, rabbit pellets and clean drinking water. However, you can give them some fruits and vegetables as well. This may make you wonder: can rabbits eat cabbage?
Can rabbits eat cabbage?
Yes, rabbits can eat cabbage occasionally and in small amounts. Large amounts of cabbage can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Cabbage as rabbit food
The green leafy vegetable cabbage is highly recommended by veterinarians and pet nutritionists as good food for pet rabbits. Some pet owners have reservations about feeding their rabbits cabbage as they feel that this causes bloating. However, you should not be alarmed even if your rabbit appears to be bloated after eating cabbage as it is very easy to digest.
There is a wide variety of the vegetables available in the market and all these are safe for rabbits’ digestive system. These include red cabbage, savoy cabbage, bok choy and green cabbage.
If you’ve never given your pet rabbit cabbage, then it is advisable to be careful while introducing it to them. The key is to introducing the new food gradually. Give one small leaf of cabbage the first time and then observe your pet for the next 24 hours. If your rabbit’s droppings becomes soft, then you must discontinue immediately. On the other hand, if everything seems to be fine, give it two small leaves the next day and gradually increase the quantity each day.
It is not a certainty that your rabbit will like eating cabbage the first time you offer it. Sometimes, rabbits take a while to become used to a new food. It may be a few days before your rabbit appears to love eating cabbage.
Disadvantages of cabbage
Despite the fact that cabbage has been declared as good food for rabbits, there is a possibility that it may not be good for your rabbit due to the possible negative effects it may have. This is because cabbage may cause gas in the rabbit’s digestive system. This can cause two issues, diarrhea and bloating. It does not happen usually and may occur if your rabbit does not digest the cabbage properly or if you give it too much cabbage.
Rabbits have the tendency to eat all of what is on their plate, especially if it is something they really like. They eat continually and keep eating until all of the food available to them is finished. You can avoid problems caused by cabbage by limiting the quantity that offer to your pet. The maximum amount of cabbage for an adult rabbit is five average sized leaves.
Cabbage as a treat
If your rabbit enjoys eating cabbage, you can use it as a treat, only to be offered occasionally. Additionally, you can add other green and leafy vegetables, fruits and herbs. Some fruits that can be offered to rabbits as treats include bananas, apples, melons, plums, cherries, mangoes, pears, pineapples, tomatoes and oranges.
A balanced rabbit diet
It is also important to remember that your pet rabbit should eat a balanced diet comprising 95% hay, 5% pellets and 5% vegetables. Fresh foods including grass, fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients, a variety in taste and texture, and additional moisture that is good for the bladder and kidney function of your rabbit. Nearly 75% of the fresh foods should be leafy greens.
The importance of hay
Rabbits eat a diverse variety of plants, including fresh and dry grasses, tree bark, soft twigs, seeds and fruits, and others. Because the large proportion of the rabbit’s diet should comprise hay, it is important to limit the amount of other foods it may eat. Hay is a rich source of protein, calcium, Vitamins A and D, and several other essential nutrients. Hay is also important because it ensures the health of the rabbit’s teeth and the digestive tract. You can provide a variety of hay types and mix them up, such as oat hay, orchard hay, timothy hay and brome. Alfalfa hay is not advisable to be used as the primary type of hay because it a high protein and calorie content, much more than that required by the usual pet rabbit as it is a legume, not grass.
Other green leafy foods
Apart from cabbage, there are several other green leafy vegetables that your rabbit would enjoy. These include lettuce (Romaine), arugula, dill, mint, broccoli, beet greens, asparagus, and cilantro. Pet rabbits also enjoy eating herbs but you must be careful as their strong taste and scent may cause your rabbit to react. While some pet rabbits enjoy eating herbs, others are completely put off by their unusual taste or scent.
To return to the initial question, can rabbits eat cabbage? Yes, cabbage is one of the green leafy vegetables that can be offered to your rabbit. Rabbits love cabbage and it is good for their health. Just remember to offer it occasionally and as treats. Keep the portion sizes small to prevent bloating, gas , and diarrhea.
Moreover, introduce any new foods gradually, including cabbage. Start with tiny amounts and then monitor your pet. If you don’t see any adverse effects, you can continue feeding cabbage to your pet.