Welcome to our complete guide to bunnies and celery! Answering that important question – Can Rabbits Eat Celery?
Rabbits conjure up some pretty unique images in the mind. The most common undoubtedly features a cute fuzzy bunny snacking on a juicy carrot.
It may come as a shock to learn that rabbits do not actually eat carrots in the wild. In fact, they do not eat any root vegetables at all!
The carrot munching rabbit image you imagine can be traced back to those old Bugs Bunny cartoons and a reference to Clark Gable. Of course, the idea of rabbits eating, and loving, carrots stuck in our minds.
This fact about carrots may leave your wondering if you are feeding your rabbit correctly, or if you just think you are?
Celery may come to mind as a healthy option for your rabbit, and it is the natural companion to carrots.
If you want to know if celery is a good snack, then keep reading.
Do Wild Rabbits Eat Celery?
Before we go any further, you should understand that pet rabbits absolutely can eat celery in small quantities, properly prepared.
However, just like carrots, bunnies do not eat celery in the wild.
There are several reasons for this. And they have nothing to do with whether or not celery is healthy or even favored by rabbits.
First of all, wild rabbits can be found on every continent across the planet.
There are about 30 different rabbit species and each species is adapted to its environment. For example, the desert cottontail needs very little water to survive, and the pygmy rabbit is small enough to evade predators in the southwestern part of the United States.
There are two types of rabbits, the swamp rabbit and marsh rabbit, that live in wetland areas.
These rabbits are adapted to life in the wetlands and frequently munch on marsh plants.
What does this have to do with answering the question of can rabbits eat celery?
Well, wild celery, or garden angelica, grows in marsh and wetland areas. Russia, Sweden, Finland, and France, are a few of the countries where celery grows wild.
Rabbits that live in marshy areas reside in the United States though, so bunnies are unlikely to come into contact with celery plants.
Some rabbits may find their way into a crop field filled with celery. Since celery needs so much water to grow though, bunnies may not choose to spend mealtime in a muddy celery field.
In other words, celery is likely off the menu for most of the wild rabbits.
Is Celery Safe For Rabbits?
So, can rabbits eat celery safely? Yes!
As previously mentioned, celery is absolutely safe for rabbits.
The only potential problem with a celery stalk comes from the strings found inside of them.
According to the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity & Ecological Restoration, the strings, or ribs, are made from thick collenchyma tissue.
This tissue helps to keep the celery stalks growing upright.
It goes without saying, the strands of tough tissue get stuck in the teeth. If you have ever had that little string get caught in the back of your throat, then you know that they can cause some potential choking problems, or at least a bit of discomfort.
This can be problematic for your fuzzy bunny.
How Can Rabbits Eat Celery?
To keep choking problems at bay, make sure to feed your rabbit small pieces of celery.
Cut the stalk down the middle first and use your knife to cut one-quarter to one-half inch chunks off each halved stalk.
Feed your rabbit the small pieces.
While the much smaller ribs or strings are unlikely to cause a problem, you should still watch out for signs that your animal is in distress.
Choking is an issue that can be devastating for your pet rabbit, especially since bunnies cannot vomit.
Vomiting can sometimes help dislodge a large piece of food that has obstructed both the esophagus and wind pipe.
Rabbit Choking Signs
Since vomiting is not going to be helpful, look for the following choking signs:
- Rabbit lifting nose high to breathe in oxygen
- Gurgling, whining, or hissing sounds coming from the mouth
- Heavy breathing followed by gasps or pants
- Strong chewing motions or mouth pawing
- A blue tint developing across the gum tissues.
If you notice these signs, then rush your rabbit to the nearest animal hospital.
If this is not possible or if your nearest emergency animal clinic is far away, then your can perform the rabbit Heimlich maneuver, which is outlined in a video by House Rabbit Society.
The maneuver involves abdominal thrusts underneath the ribs. Just like the human Heimlich maneuver, it is dangerous when completed incorrectly.
Ask your veterinarian to show you how to complete it properly so you are more than prepared if an emergency situation develops.
Can Rabbits Eat Celery Stalks?
Rabbits can eat celery stalks, and the part of the plant that we munch on is called the petiole or stem.
The stem thickens towards the end where the petiole meets the root structure of the plant. This part of the plant stalk is called the root base, and it is safe as well.
The root base is not as tasty as the thinner part of the petiole though. You may know this already if you cut it off and throw it in the trash when cooking.
However, the root base has fewer of the ribs or strings that can cause choking issues, so it is the safest part of the vegetable for you bunny, outside the leaves.
Cut off a small piece of the root base when feeding your rabbit to see if he likes the part of the stalk. You never know, it might actually be his favorite part of the vegetable.
Can Rabbits Eat Celery Leaves?
The leaves of the celery plant are also safe for your rabbit to eat. In fact, they pose no choking risk, so they are a great vegetable option for your bunny.
The leaves are also a lot like the other foods that rabbits eat in the wild. These foods include weeds, grasses, flowers, buds, bark, and clover.
You can see how celery leaves fit right into your rabbit’s natural diet. Greens and other plant matter make up the bulk of a rabbit’s diet, and the indigestible fiber is essential in keeping the waste moving in the intestinal tract.
Research tells us this and it also helps us to understand the very complicated and unique aspects of the rabbit digestive system. This includes the less than pleasant habit of eating “wet wastes”.
Is Celery Good For Rabbits?
Now that you have the all clear when it comes to celery, you may want to know if it is good for your rabbit.
Leaves are a great addition and so is the celery stalk, as long as you follow a varied diet and mix up your fruit and vegetable selections as often as you can get out to the grocery store.
Celery, in particular, is packed with a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B2
See, and you thought celery was just filled with a bunch of water.
The inclusion of phosphorous is especially important for rabbits. Phosphorous deficiencies, along with low levels of calcium and vitamin D, can lead to a condition called rickets.
Rickets can lead to weak bones, especially when it comes to the backbone. If the backbone is not strong enough, then it can fracture.
The right combination of phosphorous, vitamin D, and calcium is required to prevent rickets.
Do not panic just yet though, because studies show few cases of rickets in tame rabbits, especially when a good diet plan is followed.
Feed your bunny celery for the phosphorous, add in some sunlight for vitamin D, and include a dash of calcium rich broccoli and you should be all set to prevent all types of bone diseases.
Do Rabbits Like Celery?
The final question you should be asking right about now is, do rabbits like celery?
There is an easy answer to this.
Yes, the vast majority of bunnies love celery.
Celery is savory, rich, and a refreshing treat. It also fulfills your rabbit’s need to munch on crunchy foods to minimize tooth growth.
While your bunny may adore celery as a part of the diet, you should start with just a small bit. This is best whenever you provide your pet with a new food. Celery is unlikely to cause any problems, but some pets do develop a a bit of diarrhea when a new food is included in the diet.
If you notice runny diarrhea that lasts for a day or more, then stop giving your rabbit the celery. While it is quite rare, your poor rabbit may actually be allergic to the vegetable.
If stool appears a bit more wet than usual, then you are probably OK to continue with the celery feedings. Continue experimenting with a small bit of celery once a week. Watch for signs of discomfort, like the production of gas or the continued production of loose stool. If you notice that the digestive issue has passed, which is likely, then add a bit more of the celery to the diet over the next few weeks.
Can Rabbits Eat Celery? – A Summary
Nothing is more satisfying than munching on a fresh, crisp piece of celery. Celery is a healthy food for both you and your rabbit, and the vegetable is very likely to become one of your bunnies’ favorite snacks.
With a bit of cutting and a careful eye, celery can be a staple in your rabbit’s varied and nutritious diet.
If you are having doubts or if you are a bit worried about potential choking issues, then make sure to speak to your veterinarian about feeding your bunny celery. This is always wise, whether you decide on a new type of commercial food or want to start adding more greens to the diet plan.
Do you love the crunching sound your rabbit makes when eating his celery? Have you just started adding celery to your rabbit’s diet? What kind of veggies are loved by your bunny? Let us know in the comments.
A. M. Safwat, L. Sarmiento-Franco, R. H. Santos-Ricalde, D. Nieves, and C. A. Sandoval-Castro, Estimating Apparent Nutrient Digestibility of Diets Containing Leucaena leucocephala or Moringa oleifera Leaf Meals for Growing Rabbits by Two Methods, Asian-Australas J Anim Sci. 2015 Aug; 28(8): 1155–1162
W. King Wilson, Incidence of Rickets in Rabbits, Nature 136, 434-434 (14 September 1935) | doi:10.1038/136434a0