Rabbits, or bunnies, are great companions for humans. With their cute face and undying energy, rabbits can brighten any situation with their mere presence. As the owner of pet rabbits, you have to take extreme care in their diet to maintain their energy and good health all through.
One of the common questions that you may have in your mind is, “Can rabbits eat turnips and turnip peels.” Keep reading to know the answer to this question, and other important information that may help you take care of your rabbits better than before.
Contrary to popular belief, carrots, turnips, and other foods with high sugar & starch content are not the staple foods of your bunny friends. Rabbits cannot handle too much sugar in their digestive tract. Therefore, turnips should be given as treats only, in very small quantities, after discussing with your veterinarian. After reading this article, you will get the answer to your question if you can give turnips to your bunny pets.
What are turnips?
Turnips are root vegetables that belong to the Brassica rapa family. They can come in purple or white colors. Their taproots are quite fleshy, and their tops are nothing but green leaves. There are two main types of turnips – the tender ones and the hard ones. The ones that we consume are tender, young, or softer turnips. The big and hard turnips are relished by cattle and other livestock.
Is it okay for rabbits to eat turnips?
When it comes to feeding turnips to rabbits, you need to follow the same rule that you follow while feeding them other root vegetables like carrots, swedes, and parsnips. Turnips should be given only in the form of treats to rabbits. This means you should feed them turnips occasionally, and follow strict quantity restrictions while doing so. According to experts, you can feed one teaspoon of turnip for every two pounds of the rabbit’s weight, per day. The age and weight of the rabbit are two of the most important factors that you have to keep in mind when you feed them turnips.
Why should turnips be treated as treats only for rabbits?
Yes, turnips have some nutritional value, but they are not as healthy as hay for rabbits. They have a decent amount of vitamin C and carbohydrates; however, you can find only limited amounts of fiber, folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous and other nutrients in turnips. The main thing that you have to note here is that turnips have very low fiber content.
When rabbits don’t get enough fiber every day, it can impact their digestive system terribly. Lack of fiber causes gastrointestinal issues in rabbits. This is why low-fiber foods like turnips should be considered as treats and given occasionally to rabbits. Even when you feed them turnips occasionally, you should be mindful of the rabbit’s weight and measure the treats accordingly.
This rule applies to turnips, turnip peels, and turnip greens. When rabbits weigh about 2 pounds, you can introduce vegetables into their diet. During that time, you can mix chopped turnip greens with other vegetables, and give them as treats occasionally.
When are turnip treats recommended for rabbits?
Though turnips don’t have enough fiber content in them, they have a reasonable amount of calcium. If your bunny is suffering from a calcium deficiency, the veterinarian may recommend calcium-rich turnip treats occasionally for rabbits. This helps in strengthening the rabbits’ teeth and bones.
However, please allow the doctor to carefully check your bunnies’ teeth and bones before making this recommendation. Kindly don’t include or increase the dosage of turnip treats yourself without consulting an expert, as these treats can cause gastrointestinal issues in rabbits.
Feeding turnips to rabbits
Like all new foods, you should be very careful while introducing turnips to your rabbit’s diet. Though experts may suggest certain teaspoons based on your pet’s weight, you should initially introduce a very small quantity of turnip (whether roots or tops) to your rabbit. Please wait and observe if your rabbit is accepting this treat well.
If it doesn’t show any discomfort, you can increase the quantity of the turnip treats slowly, till you reach the recommended levels that are permissible according to the rabbit’s weight. Before giving turnips to your bunnies, ensure that you wash and clean them well to remove all unwanted bacteria that make the treats toxic for the pets.
The next question you may have in your mind is whether to give raw turnips or cooked turnips to rabbits. The simple way to analyze this problem is to think about the eating style of rabbits in their natural habitats. In the wild, bunnies are always used to eating raw turnips only. So, it is best to feed raw turnips to domesticated bunnies as well. The roots should be cut into small bite-sized pieces, while the greens should be chopped nicely before giving them to rabbits. Cooked turnips may contain additional flavors and ingredients like spices, salt, oil, and more. All of these can prove to be toxic for bunnies.
Which is healthier – Turnip Greens or Roots?
Now that you have understood that you should give turnips as treats only for your rabbits, it is good to know which one is the healthier part of this root vegetable – its greens or its roots? Well, according to experts, the scales tilt in favor of the greens, for this question. You can give more turnip greens to rabbits, as they are a rich source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and folate. The roots are not loaded with these nutrients in large quantities.
As you can see, turnips are tasty root vegetables that should be given to rabbits as treats. You can feed them these treats occasionally after taking into account your bunnies’ age and weight. Overconsumption of turnips can lead to lethargy and stomach upsets in rabbits, especially if they are young and underweight. So, it is very important to follow the restrictions properly, when feeding turnip treats to rabbits.