Do Rabbits Eat Begonias?

do rabbits eat begonias

Do rabbits eat begonias? I can’t wait for those summer months when the begonias in my garden will start to bloom. But, as pretty as these flowers are, they can be a cause for concern, since they are not safe for bunnies. Unfortunately, if your rabbit is anything like mine, they’ll enjoy chomping on the plants in your yard. So, you can imagine my stress when my bunnies first tried to eat my begonias. In this guide, I’ll take a closer look at what you should do if your rabbit manages to consume this plant, and the concerns you might need to have about wild rabbits.


Do Rabbits Eat Begonias?

Both wild rabbits and domestic pet rabbits are herbivores. This means they only need plant matter to survive. And, both enjoy eating a wide variety of fresh forage, including many flowering plants.

Begonias are vibrant plants with flowers that come in a wide range of colors. They’re a popular choice for gardens thanks to the splash of color they can add. Whether or not your bunny will chew on these leaves of flowers depends on the individual rabbit. Some might naturally give them a wide berth, but others might make a meal of this flower. Not only is this frustrating as a gardener, but it’s also a bad thing for your rabbit.

Why Are Begonias So Bad for Rabbits?

These flowers should never be on your bunny’s menu. They contain calcium oxalates, which are toxic substances that can cause harm to the kidneys. Begonias produce an initial bitter taste in the mouth meant to warn the nibbler from continuing further. But younger, inexperienced rabbits are less likely to realize the significance of the warning.

If your rabbit is bored, lonely, hungry or lacks sufficient safe chewing stimulation, begonias may look like a good outlet. It is important to be aware this risk exists. If you’ve seen your rabbit eating your begonias, I’d recommend scrolling to the end of this article, where I explain how to recognise the symptoms of poisoning and how to treat them.

do rabbits eat begonias

Why Do Rabbits Eat Begonias?

All bunnies need to chew constantly to keep their continually growing teeth properly filed. Chewing is also comforting and rewarding for rabbits and gives your bun a healthy hobby to fill the hours. However, since the instinct to chew is so strong in rabbits, anything reachable is potentially fair game to get chewed – including common house and garden plants.

Some rabbit owners, like me, have seen their pets seek out begonias – whether because of curiosity, novelty, genuine hunger, or for some other reason. Plants that some rabbits won’t touch, others seem to enjoy, which is why rabbit-proofing your home and garden is a must.

The important lesson here is to never assume your rabbit won’t eat begonias just because you offer lots of other chewables and an enriching habitat. These animals are curious and when opportunity knocks you never know what your bun might do.

Do Rabbits Eat Bedding Begonias?

Many an enthusiastic home gardener has wandered outside one morning to discover their prize flower beds have been eaten. After all, the local wildlife doesn’t have any understanding of a home garden – they just see a tasty buffet!

Rabbits are not the only wild species that have been known to dine on bedding begonias. Hungry wild deer may also eat begonias, especially in times when other types of browse are hard to find.

Experienced gardeners know that some begonia varietals are less appetizing to local wildlife than are others. The varietals that have leaves with a hairy or waxy feel are less likely to appeal to deer, wild rabbits or your pet bunny.

Are There Flowers that Rabbits Won’t Eat?

There are definitely some flowers and flowering plants that rabbits find less enticing. For general purposes, garden plants that have a strong odor, sharp leaves or spikes, waxy or hairy surfaces, bitter taste, milky sap or secretions, leathery or tough exteriors are less preferred.

However, even if a rabbit doesn’t choose to eat the flowers, your bunny may still decide to chew on the plant itself or even to grasp it and pull it out of the ground. This is particularly problematic in the case of begonias since the most toxic part of the plant is the root.

If you do want to allow your bunny to forage naturally in your home garden, you may wish to create a special “rabbit safe” garden patch away from the rest of your landscaping for this purpose. You can fill this area with rabbit safe flowers your bunny can enjoy safely.

What Happens if Rabbits Eat Begonias?

As I mentioned earlier, the most problematic agent in begonias is soluble calcium oxalates. These are calcium salts that can build up inside the body to cause urine crystals, kidney stones and, in time, renal failure.

Out of the three main categories of plant toxins, begonias are categorized as a Class 2. This means they are more likely to cause low grade symptoms that may vary based on the rabbit’s age, health and life stage as well as the quantity of begonias consumed. The most common visible warning signs to watch for include:

  • Salivating
  • Irritation in oral tissues
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal sensitivity
  • Breathing irregularities
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Trembling
  • Seizures
  • Or visible indications of pain.

How to Treat Begonia Poisoning in Rabbits

If you’ve seen your bunny eating these plants, or suspect it, your immediate next step should always be to contact your veterinarian. Rabbits cannot throw up naturally, so your bunny can’t just vomit up the begonias. Without vomiting, the next best way to treat systemic toxicity from begonias is rehydration to move the toxins out naturally.

If time permits, try to bring in the actual begonia your rabbit was chewing on. This will help your veterinarian assess how much might have been eaten as well as what parts (flowers, leaves, roots). Your veterinarian may need to put your rabbit on an IV fluid drip to start moving the soluble calcium oxalates out of the body and safely rehydrate your rabbit.

Do Rabbits Eat Begonia Plants? The Bottom Line

Rabbits can and do eat begonia plants. But there are different varietals of begonias and not all are equally toxic to our bunnies. No matter what types are present in your garden, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep your pet and wild rabbits safe without sacrificing the appearance of your flower beds! Has your pet rabbit ever had an encounter with begonias or other toxic garden plants?


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