There are a lot of members in the cabbage family. Cabbage can be white, green, or red (even purple), with smooth or crinkled leaves.
Cabbage is an antioxidant, nutrient-rich, and can make a great addition to your home garden.
Before introducing a new food item to your rabbit’s menu, you must research its health benefits and safety because rabbits have a sensitive digestive system. So, can rabbits eat cabbage?
This article will provide you with answers about whether rabbits can eat cabbage safely, an in-depth look at its health and nutritional benefits, and the potential risks of rabbits consuming this vegetable.
Can rabbits eat cabbage?
Yes, rabbits can eat cabbage. It can be part of a healthy and balanced diet if fed appropriately.
Additionally, it’s easily accessible in a lot of stores, is inexpensive, and can last several days in the fridge.
With all these advantages, though, cabbage shouldn’t be the main constituent of a rabbit’s diet. Generally, the diet should look like this: 85% hay, 10% fresh vegetables, and 10% rabbit pellets.
Even though no parts of the cabbage are toxic, you’ve probably heard some rabbit owners claim that their rabbits produce gas after eating cabbage. So, is cabbage safe? Rabbits can eat cabbage safely. But if you’re just introducing it to your rabbit, start slowly and surely because sudden changes in their diet can cause belly pains.
Also, large quantities of cabbage can cause gastrointestinal disruptions that can turn out to be harmful or fatal.
What types of cabbage can a rabbit eat?
There are many varieties of cabbage grown all over the world. However, out of all these varieties, the four most popular ones are green cabbage, red (purple) cabbage, savoy cabbage, and napa cabbage.
- Green cabbage: This is what comes to mind when you think of cabbage. It’s the most popular and easily accessible cabbage. Its outer leaves can be dark or pale green, while the inside is pale green or white.
- Red or purple cabbage: This type is similar to the green cabbage, only that it’s prettier. It has red or purple leaves.
- Savoy cabbage: It is sometimes referred to as curly cabbage. It has deep green crinkly leaves that make it visually striking.
- Napa cabbage: It is sometimes known as Chinese cabbage. It has long, green-yellow leaves that grow on white stalks.
Rabbits can eat all varieties of cabbage. However, they can all cause gas and bloating. The best types of cabbage are the ones that have dark green leaves. They contain the highest amounts of antioxidants and fiber and are less likely to cause gas.
Since rabbits cannot fart, the gas build-up can be very uncomfortable. So, it’s essential to feed only a limited amount of cabbage.
What parts of cabbage can a rabbit eat?
Now that we know that cabbage is safe for rabbits to eat, what other parts of the cabbage are edible?
- Leaves: You can offer your rabbit fresh and clean cabbage leaves. They are healthy and packed with essential nutrients for the growth of rabbits.
- Stalk: Rabbits can eat cabbage stalks. They’re thicker than the leaves, so make sure you cut them into smaller pieces.
- Core: The core of cabbage is much tougher to chew, and your rabbits might not enjoy eating it. However, the core is safe to eat.
Health benefits of cabbages
Cabbage contains essential nutrients that can help promote the health of your rabbit.
Cabbage contains dietary fiber, which can improve your rabbit’s gut system.
Cabbage contains vitamin K, which can promote healthy bones. Vitamin K is also necessary for pregnant and breastfeeding rabbits. It also has vitamins A, C, and B.
Cabbage is a rich source of antioxidants, including polyphenols. Antioxidants help reduce cell damage and prevent diseases and illnesses.
Cabbage contains minerals such as calcium, manganese, iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium, all essential for a rabbit’s body to perform optimally.
Cabbage has a high moisture level, which may benefit your rabbit’s digestive health and keep them hydrated.
Risks of feeding cabbages to rabbits
Cabbage is not poisonous or toxic to rabbits. However, there are circumstances where cabbage might be bad. Frequently giving large amounts of cabbage can make them sick and cause the following issues:
- Bloating: Bloating can lead to gas, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and pain.
- Goiter: Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family. If fed exclusively to rabbits, these vegetables affect their thyroids and reproductive organs.
Also, cabbages with high water content can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal issues.
Should you give raw or cooked cabbages to rabbits?
Rabbits rely on raw foods to get nutrients. Another important benefit of raw foods is that chewing on them helps wear down their teeth. So, you should avoid giving cooked cabbage or any other cooked vegetable. Cooking makes the food lose some nutrients.
Actually, rabbits depend on crunchy food, and cabbage is a good choice.
How much cabbage should a rabbit eat?
Fresh vegetables should make up about 10% of a rabbit’s diet. If taken in excess, cabbage can cause stomach issues that can be fatal.
As a general rule, you should feed them half a cup of leafy greens per pound of body weight. We don’t recommend feeding cabbage every day; 3-4 times a week is more than enough to reduce the chance of bloating and gas.
You can also mix them with other vegetables such as carrots to enhance their flavor and nutritional value.
Should baby bunnies eat cabbage?
Feeding cabbage to baby bunnies under 12 weeks of age is not advisable. Experts recommend that newborn rabbits feed on their mother’s milk for the first 6-8 weeks of life.
Rabbits should start eating small amounts of alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets between 3-4 weeks, together with their mother’s milk, to maximize their growth and nutrition.
How do you feed cabbage to your rabbit?
First, if you’ve not introduced cabbage to your rabbit, start with a small amount- like one leaf. Keep monitoring for 24 hours for adverse reactions such as diarrhea, constipation, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
If your rabbit experiences any of these reactions, contact your vet immediately. If nothing happens, increase the quantity slightly.
Here are some tips and recommendations on preparing and feeding cabbage.
- Only buy high-quality cabbage for your rabbit. If possible, get an organic one.
- Next, you will need to wash the cabbage thoroughly to eliminate any traces of dirt, parasites, pesticides, or other harmful chemicals.
- Cut the cabbage into bite-sized pieces depending on your rabbit’s size.
- You can mix the cabbage with other vegetables to eliminate picky eating.
- Always provide fresh water in a clean bowl.
- Clean up any leftovers since cabbage rots quickly.
As you can see, rabbits can eat cabbage. It offers a lot of nutritional benefits: it is a source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water content. It also has a great flavor that rabbits enjoy.
If your rabbit doesn’t react negatively to cabbage, feel free to feed it a few times a week. Moderation is key here.
Also, avoid feeding cabbage as the only source of vegetables. So, it’s important to alternate different types of vegetables.