Bunnies are famous herbivores, but can rabbits eat green beans with their veggies?
Rabbits can eat one green bean or two as an occasional snack.
But, they are not suitable as a significant source of nutrition for bunnies.
Rabbits ought to consume a diet of mostly hay, with a handful of fresh veggies and a small portion of pellet food every day.
Are Green Beans Safe for Rabbits?
Green beans are actually immature seed pods.
There are a wide variety of edible green beans, including
- Common green beans, a.k.a. snap beans, French beans or string beans
- Runner beans
- Yardlong beans
- Hyacinth beans, a.k.a. lablab beans
Growers have also refined dozens of different cultivars of each of those types.
Some are better for tolerating drought, some are more disease resistant for commercial growing, and some yield especially big harvests, for example.
They all belong to a broader category of plants called legumes. And they are safe for bunnies to eat in small amounts, but too many may cause indigestion and stomach upset.
Let’s look at green beans for rabbits in more detail.
Rabbits and Green Beans
A pet rabbit needs:
- An unrestricted supply of clean Timothy hay. Timothy hay should comprise the majority of their diet.
- A handful of fresh produce once per day.
- And a small portion of high fiber rabbit pellets each day (around one quarter of a cup per pound of body weight).
It’s a very high-fiber, low-fat diet, and their digestive system is specially adapted to break that down and extract the energy and nutrients from it.
How can green beans fit in?
100g of green beans contains roughly
- 3.5g of fiber
- 3.5g sugar
- 2g of protein
- traces of vitamins and minerals including calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and magnesium
- and a lot of water.
Some of this is great for rabbits. For example the fiber, and the vitamins.
But other things aren’t so great.
A bunny’s natural diet is very low in sugars.
But green beans are quite sweet, for a vegetable.
The sugars in green beans can contribute to tooth decay and obesity in rabbits.
It can also upset the balance of bacteria working to break down all that fiber in their gut, causing indigestion and gas.
And green beans are also richer in protein and calcium than a rabbit’s usual diet. So eating too many too often can result in the formation of bladder stones.
Why do Rabbits Like Green Beans?
Despite the risks, lots of bunnies enjoy green beans and will happily tuck into large portions, given half a chance.
This is because they are selective grazers.
That means they will always eat the most energy- and nutrient-rich food first, and then the next most energy- and nutrient-rich food, and so forth.
It’s a valuable strategy in the wild. Wild bunnies eat grass and vegetation with a very low nutritional value. They make it work by consuming them in large quantities, selectively grazing the best bits, and digesting it all twice.
So rabbits like beans because they recognise a good source of calories and nutrients when they find one!
Are Green Beans Bad For Rabbits?
How can energy and nutrients be bad for rabbits then?
The answer lies in their digestive system. Rabbits are highly evolved to make the most out of a low nutrient diet.
To break down tough fibrous vegetation that have huge colonies of cellulose-digesting bacteria living in their gut.
And then to make sure they get all the goodness from it, they eat and poop each meal out twice. Which is called cecotrophy.
Putting too much energy- and nutrient-rich food into this system can upset it, causing indigestion, stomach upsets, and gas.
Are Green Beans Good For Rabbits?
Served in moderation, green beans have some fiber and vitamins which are good for rabbits.
Since legumes are relatively high in protein, they are also beneficial to juvenile rabbits under a year old.
Young rabbits use extra dietary protein as fuel for growing.
In fact, in some countries researchers have successfully used lablab – or hyacinth bean – plants as a substitute for the protein rich alfalfa hay usually given to young rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Green Beans?
Rabbits don’t need any of the vegetables they eat to be cooked.
Cooking breaks down the cellulose in plants. Rabbits’ digestive systems are already designed to do this, and jumping the gun by doing it for them can cause tummy troubles.
Rabbits also rely on nibbling fibrous foods to keep their teeth short and healthy.
So, raw is always the best way to serve beans to your bunny!
Can Rabbits Eat Green Bean Stalks and Leaves?
Yes they can!
If you have a vegetable garden, it’s likely that green beans, yardlong beans or runner beans are a staple summer crop.
Rabbits can eat the whole plant (which, if you have wild rabbits in your area you might already have learned the hard way).
They can even eat the flowers!
So, if you’re thinning out seedlings, removing broken or damaged stems, or digging up old plants to replace with new, then you can serve them to your rabbit as a snack.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Green Beans?
Newborn baby rabbits need only milk from their mom for about the first week of life.
Once their eyes open (at around 7 days old) you can start gradually introducing hay, pellets, and fresh produce.
Baby rabbits need more protein than adult rabbits, which most people provide by including some protein-rich alfalfa hay with their timothy hay until they are about 5 months old.
But small quantities of green bean stalks, leaves and pods are also a good source.
Can Rabbits Eat Green Beans Every Day?
Since green beans aren’t a very good fit for the nutritional requirements of rabbits, they should only enjoy them occasionally as a treat.
Just feed a thumb-length piece of bean the first few times, to let their tummy adapt.
Then you can feed them one or two green beans once or twice a week.
For larger beans like yardlong beans and runner beans, cut them down to size accordingly.
If your rabbit loves them, use them as rewards for things like responding to their name, or doing simple tricks like climbing onto a box on cue!
Alternatives to Green Beans for Animals
Green beans are an okay veggie dish for bunnies. But these are some of the produce which should regularly appear in their food bowl:
You can also look at other occasional treats like pumpkin!
Can Rabbits Eat Green Beans Summary
Green beans are a safe occasional snack for rabbits.
But too many too often may cause stomach upset.
Does your rabbit like green beans?
Introduce us to them and tell us what other snacks they love in the comments box down below!
References and Further Reading
Bradley. Rabbit care and husbandry. Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice. 2004.
Iyeghe-Erakpotobor. Performance of growing rabbits fed groundnut and lablab forage meal diet. Journal of Animal Production Research. 2011.
Oyewoye et al. Studies in the nutrition of rabbits. 1. Chemical evaluation of some tropical legumes as replacements for alfalfa in rabbit diets. Journal of Applied Rabbit Research. 1990.