Can rabbits eat asparagus? How about bunnies eating asparagus stalks particularly?
Can rabbits eat raw asparagus, or do you need to cook it first?
If so, are there particular cooking instructions you should follow?
We know that, sometimes, figuring out what to feed your precious bunny can be difficult. There are just so many fruits and vegetables!
It can be very tough figuring out which ones are okay for your rabbit to eat and which ones aren’t!
That’s exactly why we wrote this quick guide! We’ll explore what asparagus actually contains and what the proper diet of a rabbit is.
Using this information, then, we’ll discover whether asparagus is a good choice to give to your rabbit, or whether it is better to pass.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what asparagus is and what it contains.
What Is Asparagus?
Actually, for a large portion of history, no one could agree on WHAT, exactly, asparagus was.
For a time, it was thought to be a relative of the lily. However, this didn’t exactly make people want to eat it. So it then got reclassified to the onion family, where it has since stayed.
Things were then made a little simpler, and asparagus was officially put in the genus “asparagus.”
This confusion probably stems from the fact that there are actually LOTS of different kinds of asparagus. The plant that most of us are used to eating, though, is specifically called “garden asparagus.” Because, well, it’s commonly grown in gardens.
Today, asparagus is grown largely by China. However, the United States is actually the largest consumer of asparagus.
What Does Asparagus Contain?
Now that we’re all clear on which asparagus we’re talking about, let’s look at the particulars behind what this veggie contains.
Asparagus, actually, contains about 93% water. In other words, a large portion of this vegetable is actually just water! Because of this, it is generally low in sodium and calories.
The rest of the plant is made up of vitamins like: vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, zinc, magnesium, folic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, chromium, and beta-carotene. Furthermore, this veggie also contains a decent amount of fiber.
It is also important to note that asparagus is decently low in calcium. Rabbits actually absorb calcium at a much higher rate than other mammals.
This can make the calcium content in their blood spike, which can lead to kidney stones and urolithiasis. Because of this, it is never a good idea to feed your rabbit foods that are high in calcium.
Now that we know what asparagus contains, let us look at what a rabbit needs in its diet.
What Should Rabbits Eat?
First and foremost, a rabbit’s main food source should be hay. Hay is an excellent source of fiber and prevents unhealthy bacteria from forming in the intestines.
This bacteria has been known to lead to severe diarrhea and even death. This is why it is so important to provide your bunny with lots of hay!
Of course, rabbits can’t live on just hay alone. They also need lots of healthy, well-chosen veggies to munch on too!
Which veggies to give your bunny, however, can be confusing.
As we discussed earlier, the less calcium you give to your bunny, the better. You also shouldn’t give your bunny any veggie that might be hard for them to digest, such as beans and corn. These foods can cause blockages.
Veggies like onions and cabbage should also be avoided. They have a tendency to cause gassiness and bloating.
Water content is also a problem for rabbits. Too much water can cause diarrhea, which has the chance to become serious if prolonged.
Can Rabbits Have Asparagus?
But what about asparagus particularly?
Asparagus is okay to give to your bunny as part of a varied diet. You shouldn’t, of course, give ONLY asparagus to your rabbit.
You should always provide a wide range of veggies to your bunny.
However, asparagus is completely okay to feed to your bunny as a snack or health treat.
The high water content can provide some issues for your bunny. Though, this can be offset by providing your rabbit with other veggies that have a low water content.
The key is not to only give veggies that contain lots of water. You should balance the high-water containing veggies with drier ones. Variation and balance really is key here.
Can Rabbits Eat Asparagus Stalks?
Most rabbits should have no issue eating the whole asparagus plant, including the stalk. However, there are some cases that it is better to withhold the stalk from your rabbit.
If your rabbit is still young, you should not offer her an asparagus stalk.
The stalk will be difficult for them to chew, firstly. And they might also have a difficult time digesting it depending on their particular age.
If you notice a softening of a rabbit’s stool, as well, you should no longer provide them with asparagus.
Some rabbits are very sensitive to the high water content this plant contains. Therefore, it is always best not to give it to them if they show signs of diarrhea after eating it.
Can Rabbits Eat Raw Asparagus?
It really doesn’t matter whether you cook the asparagus before giving it to your rabbit or not.
Cooking the asparagus before offering it to your rabbit will make it easier to chew and digest. But this really isn’t necessary, since the difference is so very small.
If you’re whipping up some asparagus for yourself, you might want to consider making some extra for your precious bunny. However, if all you have is a raw bunch in the fridge, that’s okay too.
It really doesn’t matter that much when it comes to cooked vs. raw.
But, Doesn’t Asparagus Cause Cancer?
Truthfully, we don’t know.
One study that found that Asparagine, which is in asparagus, might be linked to increased aggressiveness in breast cancer. However, that was just one study and it has yet to be repeated and reviewed.
Furthermore, the study wasn’t done on rabbits. So we really have no idea if bunnies react in the same way to this chemical or not.
There simply is too much of a difference between the yeast cells on which the study was performed and rabbits. It is very hard to make any overreaching conclusion based on just this study.
In other words, we really don’t have enough information to answer decisively one way or another.
However, until further research is performed, don’t worry about it. Asparagus is a very healthy veggie for bunnies and there is no reason to avoid feeding it to them.
Can Bunnies Eat Asparagus?
In short, yes. Bunnies can eat asparagus. However, just like with everything, moderation is key.
You don’t want to ONLY feed your rabbit asparagus, because it might cause diarrhea due to the high water content. It is, though, very low in calcium.
This makes it an ideal veggie to provide to your bunny.
There have been some studies coming out recently that might point towards asparagus not being as healthy as we think. However, until further studies are done, it may not be possible to draw large conclusions based off of just one study.
Remember, moderation and variation are key to a rabbit’s diet. You should offer a variety of veggies to your bunny, including asparagus.
Does your bunny eat asparagus? What does he or she think about it? Let us know in the comment section below!
References and Further Reading
U.S. National Plant Germplasm System, Taxon: Asparagus officinalis L.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Asparagus.
United States Department of Agriculture, Full Report (All Nutrients): 11011, Asparagus, raw.
Redrobe, S. (2002). Calcium metabolism in rabbits. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, 11.
Smith, M. et al (2009). Rabbit Nutrition: What You Need to Know. University of California.
Knott, S. V. M. et al (2018). Asparagine bioavailability governs metastasis in a model of breast cancer. Nature, 554.