We all know that rabbits love their veggies, but you’ve probably heard that some are not as good for them as others. In this article we take a look at whether cabbage belongs in a healthy rabbit’s diet. Can rabbits eat cabbage? Let’s find out!
Rabbits and cabbage
Cabbage is grown for food all over the world. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations estimates a staggering 70 million tons of the stuff was grown in 2012.
And it’s frequently recommended as a part of the fresh vegetable component in a rabbit’s diet.
Which is fine by us, because cabbages are typically sold in stores all year round, they’re cheap, and they last several days in the fridge.
But is cabbage always a good thing for your bunny? Does it matter which kind of cabbage you give them? And can rabbits have cabbage too often?
We’ll answer all those questions right now, so that you can answer that important question – can rabbits eat cabbage!
Cabbage for rabbits
The UK animal welfare charity the RSPCA recommend feeding rabbits an adult-sized handful of mixed leafy green vegetables and wild plants twice a day, amounting to about 15% of their overall diet.
Leafy green vegetables contain vital nutrients for your bunny, and the action of eating them helps wear down their ever-growing teeth.
Can rabbits eat cabbage leaves?
Some types of cabbage are a perfect example of the leafy green vegetables the RSPCA have in mind.
And some pet rabbits love eating cabbage leaves.
It’s not always a case of all bunnies love all cabbages though.
Why should I give my bunny cabbage?
Dark green varieties of cabbage like savoy cabbage contain lots of vitamins and minerals.
These cabbages are a rich source of vitamin B6, which helps your rabbit break down the proteins it eats and build new proteins, and is crucial to normal muscle function.
Cabbage also contains calcium, which is fantastic for a rabbit who needs to constantly regenerate their teeth, and loads of potassium, which plays a vital role in the nervous system.
It is also a potent source of vitamin K. Most pet rabbits don’t need extra vitamin K in their diet under normal conditions, but it is important for a healthy pregnancy, so supplemental sources of vitamin K are sometimes recommended for breeding sows.
Cabbage also contains smaller quantities of magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamin E, all of which form part of healthy rabbit nutrition.
Can I feed my rabbit cabbage?
Can rabbits eat cabbage? Yes, they can!
Giving your rabbit cabbage as part of a healthy, balanced diet is a great idea.
But some rabbits don’t get on well with it, so if your rabbit hasn’t tried cabbage before, introduce just a little on the first occasion.
Rabbits rely on bacteria in their guts to digest their food, and whenever a new food is introduced that bacterial population has to adapt.
Which is why sudden significant dietary changes often cause stomach upsets in rabbits.
By the same token, making sure your rabbit has cabbage regularly once it has been introduced will mean their gut remains able to digest it.
When cabbage and rabbits don’t mix
Some rabbits try cabbage and end up with diarrhea or loose stools.
This is due to the cabbage causing gas and bloating in the rabbit’s digestive system.
It can be the result of feeding too much ccabbage too soon, or your rabbit might simply not get on with it.
If your rabbit suffers from diarrhea following eating cabbage, eliminate it from their diet again until the symptoms disappear.
Then you can try reintroducing it again, starting with a smaller quantity, or move onto something else instead.
Can bunnies eat cabbage too much?
Rabbits should get the bulk of their nutrition from rabbit hay.
Fresh vegetables and wild plants are a valuable source of nutrients, but they are not dense enough in calories or fibre to sustain a rabbit on their own.
Avoid letting your rabbit fill up on more than a handful of cabbage at the expense of eating enough hay.
Are all cabbages created equal?
Not as far as your rabbit is concerned.
It’s best to give your rabbit dark green, leafier varieties of cabbage, such as spring greens, savoy cabbage or cavolo nero.
These have the highest vitamin content for your bunny, and anecdotally appear less likely to cause gas or bloating.
Can rabbits eat white cabbage?
White cabbage doesn’t pack the nutrient punch of dark green leafy varieties, and is more often linked by rabbit owners to gas and bloating.
However, if your rabbit enjoys it, there’s no harm in giving it as part of a varied offering of fresh vegetables.
Can rabbits eat red cabbage?
Again, there’s no harm in giving your rabbit red cabbage sparingly, but nutritionally it doesn’t provide them with very much.
Red cabbage is great for us humans because it’s a rich source of vitamin C and vitamin K, but rabbits don’t need supplemental vitamin C, and only breeding sows need extra vitamin K.
Both red and white cabbage, if nothing else, give your rabbit something else to wear their teeth down with.
Be forewarned that some rabbit owners report the pigment in red cabbage turning their bunnies’ urine green! (This is normal and nothing to be alarmed about.)
Do rabbits eat cabbage?
Rabbits have their own tastes and idiosynchrosies just like the rest of us, and they’re often quite resistant to change.
Some rabbits will happily wolf down cabbage, and others simply don’t like it (or refuse to even try it and find out).
Don’t worry if your rabbit can’t stomach cabbage or doesn’t like it, there a plenty of other vegetables he can have instead.
Can pet rabbits eat cabbage?
I think we’ve answered the question – can rabbits eat cabbage – with a resounding yes!
Leafy green vegetables should be a daily part of your rabbit’s diet, and cabbage is an easy inclusion.
Try to give your rabbit dark green loose-leafed varieties like savoy or cavolo nero, but a little red cabbage or white cabbage is fine if that’s what you’ve got.
Remember to introduce cabbage in small quantities at first if your rabbit hasn’t tried it before.
Cabbage is best for your rabbit when it is included as part of a varied diet. So offer it to them alongside other fresh vegetables and avoid relying on it as their only source of fresh vegetables.
If you notice your rabbit experiencing any bloating or diarrhea after trying cabbage withdraw it immediately. Don’t try to offer it again until your rabbit is fully recovered.
Do your rabbits enjoy cabbage?
What do they think of this veggie treat?
Do your rabbits eat cabbage? Do they have a favorite type? Let us know in the comments sections below.