Corn, sometimes referred to as maize, is one of the most popular vegetables in the U.S. Sometimes, it gets a bad rep due to its high sugar content and carbs. But it provides amazing nutrients to humans, including fiber, many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as vitamin C.
Rabbits enjoy their vegetable treats so much. However, some vegetables are safe to eat while others can harm their health because of their sensitive digestive system.
So, what about corn? Can rabbits eat corn?
This question is quite popular among inexperienced/new rabbit owners. This article has everything you need to know about rabbits and corn.
So let’s get into it.
Corn’s nutritional value
According to Healthline, one cup (164 grams) of sweet yellow corn contains a lot of nutrients, some of which are listed below:
- Calories: 177
- Protein: 5.4 grams
- Fat: 2.1 grams
- Carbs: 41 grams
- Fiber: 4.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 17% of Daily Value
Corn contains several vitamins, including pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, niacin (vitamin B3), and potassium.
Corn provides the body with the following minerals: manganese, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Corn contains high amounts of antioxidants, including ferulic acid, anthocyanins, zeaxanthin, lutein, and phytic acid. All these antioxidants are good for maintaining eye health.
Sugar and starches
High levels of sugar and starches can lead to weight gain or obesity. So you should keep this in mind if you have an overweight rabbit.
Can rabbits eat corn?
If you offer your rabbit some corn kernels, it’ll most likely eat them because corn is sweet, and rabbits have a sweet tooth. So, rabbits can eat corn if offered.
But should they eat corn?
Corn is neither the best nor the safest vegetable for your rabbit. They can eat it but shouldn’t because it can harm them.
Like humans, rabbits need certain nutrients (specific minerals and vitamins) to keep their bodies strong and healthy. Their diet must contain high levels of fiber to keep their digestive system working properly. Therefore, hay should make up the majority of their diet. In addition, they should eat limited amounts of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, and pellets for a balanced diet.
You should avoid offering foods with high amounts of sugar, calcium, or starch because they are not healthy. Unfortunately, despite containing many vitamins and minerals, corn is packed with sugar and starch.
So, in a nutshell, rabbits should not eat corn in any form. This includes dried corn, canned corn, and cooked corn.
Can rabbits eat corn cobs?
The corn cob is the middle part of corn where corn kernels form and grow. Some rabbits can eat dry corn cobs if offered, but that doesn’t mean they should eat them.
Here are some reasons why rabbits shouldn’t eat corn cobs:
- Cobs have no nutritional value, which can benefit rabbits.
- They are too big and bulky to digest.
- They pose choking hazards to many animals, including rabbits.
Some people believe that corn cobs can act as chewing toys for rabbits. However, rabbits can swallow some pieces, either on purpose or by accident. As a result, this can lead to digestive problems or impaction very quickly.
Can rabbits eat corn husks?
Corn husks refer to the outer green leaves covering the corn. Can rabbits eat them? Yes, they can.
These husks contain high fiber, and rabbits can enjoy chewing on them. However, before offering them to your rabbit, ensure you’ve removed the corn and all the thread-like strands. If ingested, these long strands, also known as corn silk, can get stuck in its mouth and are choking hazards.
Along with that, wash the husks with fresh water to eliminate any traces of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Can rabbits eat corn stalks and leaves?
Rabbits can eat corn stalks and leaves. Stalks are a good source of protein and can be given as an occasional treat. Leaves, on the other hand, can be mixed with other safe leafy greens for your rabbit to enjoy.
Select fresh and green leaves and stalks because those from mature or old plants can be hard for rabbits to chew through. However, you must watch out for possible pesticides, insecticides, and other chemicals that these plants might contain unless you get them from organic sources.
Can rabbits eat popcorn?
Popcorn offers a healthy snack solution for us humans. However, rabbits shouldn’t eat them because they contain high starch and sugar content. They contain additives such as salt and fat that are unsuitable for rabbits.
Popcorn can cause digestive issues and obesity due to its high carbohydrate and sugar content.
Risks of feeding corn to rabbits
Corn may be risky for your rabbit’s health, even in small amounts. Here are the risks associated with feeding corn to your rabbits.
Due to the high sugar content in corn, rabbits can gain weight, which could eventually lead to obesity. Obesity is most common due to the excessive feeding of sugary treats. It can put your rabbit at risk of other health concerns such as heart disease and arthritis.
If a rabbit is already obese, eating corn could lead to diabetes.
Rabbits can’t digest the hulls of corn kernels because these hulls are made of a complex polysaccharide. And, a rabbit’s digestive system has no enzymes to digest this compound. Therefore, difficulty digesting corn may lead to intestinal blockage or impaction. Their systems can digest foods with cellulose and pectin, which most plants have.
In addition, high sugar and carb levels present in corn can cause other digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, and GI stasis.
Cecal dysbiosis refers to the disruption of microorganisms in the cecum, which is a part of the digestive tract. The cecum contains yeasts and bacteria that help in the digestion and fermentation of food. A high sugar and carbohydrate diet encourages yeast overgrowth, resulting in an imbalance of yeast and bacteria in the rabbit’s gut, subsequently causing cecal dysbiosis.
Decreased digestive motility
When rabbits eat corn, it can cause a slowdown in food movement through their digestive system, also known as cecal hypomotility. This can make the rabbit very sick or cause death if left untreated.
Corn is susceptible to fungus or mold that produces toxins (especially aflatoxin and feminism), referred to as mycotoxins. These mycotoxins can cause serious diseases in rabbits.
Other reasons why you should avoid feeding corn to your rabbit are:
- Corn could contain parasites that may harm rabbits.
- Corn could be sprayed with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals.
- Much of the corn available in the U.S. is genetically modified.
Rabbits are as delicate as they are adorable. While corn is categorized as a vegetable, you should not feed corn in any kind or form to your rabbit. It has way too many disadvantages and health concerns to be worth it. As far as it is concerned, it’s safe to say that corn and corn-related products are not safe for rabbits’ consumption.
If your rabbit has accidentally eaten corn, watch out for signs of indigestion, including constipation, bloating, gas, and loss of appetite. If you notice any of these signs, visit a vet immediately.
Generally, the ideal diet of rabbits should mainly consist of hay and a constant supply of fresh water. You can supplement it with leafy greens, small amounts of pellets, and vegetables, and occasionally give safe fruits.