Can rabbits eat cabbage? Yes, they can! Giving your rabbit cabbage as part of a healthy, balanced diet is a great idea. But not every bunny loves cabbage the same. So, especially if it’s the first time, introduce just a little at a time.
But you may wonder, is cabbage always a good thing for your bunny? Does it matter which kind of cabbage you give them? And can bunnies eat cabbage too often?
Let’s now answer all your burning questions about the topic.
Is Cabbage Safe for Rabbits
We all know that rabbits love their veggies. But if you’re a rabbit owner, you’ve probably heard that some are not as good for them as others. As mentioned earlier, however, cabbage is good for rabbits! So if you were wondering, yes, you can feed your rabbits cabbage.
But before you start stuffing your bunny with cabbage, go slow. Why? Rabbits rely on bacteria in their guts to digest their food. So whenever a new food is introduced, that bacterial population has to adapt.
As a result, sudden significant dietary changes often cause stomach upsets in rabbits.
In the same vein, making sure your rabbit has cabbage regularly once it has been introduced will mean their gut remains able to digest it.
Let’s now look at cabbage for rabbits in more detail.
Rabbits and Cabbage
Rabbits are natural herbivores. This means they eat plants. The rabbit’s diet consists of grasses, leaves, tree barks, and even roots. They’re known to eat veggies like lettuce and cabbage, as well as grains, seeds, and nuts.
People the world over grow cabbage for food. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations estimates that people grew a staggering 70 million tons of the stuff in 2012. The vegetable is rich in many vital nutrients for rabbits, as we’ll see later.
This is perfectly fine by us as cabbages are typically sold in stores all year round. They’re also cheap and last several days in the fridge.
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. This amounts to about 15% of their overall diet.
Leafy green vegetables contain vital nutrients for your bunny. Plus, the action of eating them helps wear down their ever-growing teeth. Moreover, cabbage is frequently recommended as a part of the fresh vegetable component in a rabbit’s diet.
Cabbage isn’t a perfect veggie for rabbits though. Research has shown that overshooting the 15% mark for multiple weeks on end could cause thyroid issues for rabbits. But, this would be difficult to accomplish. It would literally mean feeding your rabbit only cabbage for a few months.
Do Rabbits Like Cabbage?
Rabbits are honestly not the pickiest of eaters. They’ll eat nearly anything you place in front of them. While they thrive on hay, most rabbits will enjoy eating cabbage. You may find that you need to regulate how much they eat by offering them a small quantity.
Is Cabbage Bad for Rabbits?
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 happen due to feeding too much cabbage too soon. Or it may be that your rabbit simply does not get along with cabbage.
If your rabbit has diarrhea after eating cabbage, eliminate it from their diet until the symptoms disappear.
Then you can try reintroducing it again, starting with a smaller quantity. In some cases, however, it may be best to move on to something else instead.
Another well known issue is that cabbage is known to be a goitrogenic veggies for rabbits. However, as stated on the House Rabbit website, “One study done on rabbits indicated that it would take several weeks of exclusively feeding huge quantities of these foods to see any abnormalities in the blood. This is so far removed from normal feeding instructions for rabbits that there is no cause for concern in feeding these nutritious foods.”
In other words, you need not worry about your rabbits developing a goiter from cabbage.
Is Cabbage Good for Rabbits?
Cabbage is super healthy for rabbits! Can rabbits eat savoy cabbage? Yes! 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 for normal muscle function.
Health Benefits of Cabbage For Rabbits
Cabbage also contains calcium — fantastic for rabbits who must constantly regenerate their teeth. Additionally, it contains 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. However, it is important for a healthy pregnancy, so vets often recommend supplemental sources of vitamin K for breeding sows.
Cabbage also contains smaller quantities of magnesium, fiber, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamin E, all of which form part of healthy rabbit nutrition.
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. These include 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. Moreover rabbit owners have often linked it to gas and bloating.
However, if your rabbit enjoys it, there’s no harm in giving it. Just make sure it is part of a varied offering of fresh vegetables.
Can Rabbits Eat Red Cabbage?
You may wonder: 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 vitamins C and K, but rabbits don’t need supplemental vitamin C. And as mentioned, only breeding sows need extra vitamin K.
So, 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.)
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Cabbage?
Although some people feed their rabbits cooked veggies, it is generally preferred to go raw.
This is because rabbits’ teeth benefit from chewing tough or crunchy veggies. High-fiber food will wear down and naturally “trim” your rabbit’s teeth. This prevents many potential dental issues.
Cooking also results in the loss of some important nutrients in certain vegetables — cabbage included.
Besides, why waste time cooking, when your bunny is eager to eat some raw cabbage?
Can Rabbits Eat Unwashed Cabbage?
It is best to wash your vegetables thoroughly before feeding them to your rabbit. With more farmers using pesticides, rinsing veggies is crucial, even for pets. So, keep your bunny safe by rinsing their veggies (as you would yours) before feeding them.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Cabbage?
No, it isn’t advisable for baby rabbits to eat cabbage or any vegetables right away.
Experts recommend that baby rabbits stick mostly to their mothers’ milk for the first seven weeks. After that time, they may begin to eat alfalfa hays and pellets. By six months, they may begin to eat grass hays. At this point, they’ll also ease up on the pellets.
So, cabbage for rabbits should only be introduced by the end of their first year.
Can Bunnies Eat Cabbage Every Day?
So, cabbage for rabbits is mostly safe. But can bunnies eat cabbage every day? Should they? No. 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 fiber to sustain a rabbit on their own. Therefore, avoid letting your rabbit fill up on more than a handful of cabbage at the expense of eating enough hay.
An adult rabbit should eat an unlimited amount of grass hays and only a small portion of pellets. Regarding veggies like cabbage, feed two to four cups of at least three different veggies for every 6 lbs of weight.
It may also be best to feed cabbage in particular a maximum of four days per week, and not every day. This reduces the chance of gas or bloating for your bunny.
Rabbit Cabbage Treats
While your rabbit will probably eat any kind of cabbage you place in front of him, you can make things a bit more exciting. Here are a few ways to jazz up some cabbage for your rabbit.
- Dried cabbage treats: Mix dried cabbage with some other dry herbs or hays for a fiber-full combo.
- Complete rabbit food with added cabbage: Add cabbage as a side for your rabbit’s meal.
- Fresh chunks of Cabbage: Offered as a snack for your bunny.
Alternatives to Cabbage for Rabbits
Rabbits have their own tastes and idiosyncrasies just like the rest of us, and they’re often quite resistant to change.
Some rabbits will happily wolf down cabbage. Meanwhile, 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 Rabbits Eat Cabbage: Summary
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. However, 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 you include it 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 has fully recovered. While cabbage does have goitrogenic properties, it is only harmful in very high quantities.
Have you given cabbage to your Rabbit? You can let us know about your experiences with rabbits and cabbage in the comments below.
References and Further Reading
- PetMD. Hess, L., DVM. Rabbit Dental Care 101
- Abdul-Aziz, A. et. al. Efficacy of the Cruciferous Vegetable on the Thyroid and Gonads of Rabbits
- House Rabbit Society. Brown, S., A., DVM. Suggested Vegetables and Fruits for a Rabbit Diet
- RSPCA Victoria. (n.d.). Rabbit care
- Meredith, A., The Importance of Diet in Rabbits, 2007
Can Rabbits Eat Cabbage has been extensively revised for 2019