Rabbits are one of the most adorable pets one can have. They are the third most abundant animals in shelters and rabbits do make great pets. However, it is essential to do your homework before bringing a rabbit as a new family member to your home. These cute little mammals are very social like humans and need ample space to exercise and a lot of toys to remain busy and entertained. Rabbits can easily live for more than 10 years, so having a rabbit means the responsibility of a lifetime. There is a misconception that rabbits are less of a commitment than cats and dogs. In actual rabbits need more effort and attention than their feline or dog companions.
What can rabbits eat?
Rabbits are herbivores they chew grass or hay for six to eight hours a day. Vegetables, fruits, and herbs are also an essential part of their diet. Before talking about Broccoli as food for rabbits, it is better to clear some misunderstandings regarding their diet. Therefore, it must be known that:
- Carrots are not the primary source of food for rabbits. These can be fed in small amounts as an occasional treat. Still, naturally, they cannot eat high in sugar root vegetables or fruits.
- Fresh and dust-free hay is their primary source of food, and they need it available all time. The feed is just not bedding for rabbits, and it is a must to maintain their health. A lot of hay or grass helps rabbits keep their tummies healthy, wear down rabbits, and continuously growing teeth. Hay or grass-eating allows foraging and grazing as their natural and healthy behavior.
- Rabbits can also have commercial food such as muesli/pellets/nuggets occasionally. The use of nuggets/pellets every day in small measured amounts can fulfill their daily vitamins and minerals needs. Overeating commercial food could prevent rabbits from eating enough grass or hay, and it can also cause weight gain. In fact, muesli is not a healthy food for rabbits as it causes teeth and tummy problems.
- Lettuce is not for rabbits at all. They contain lactucarium that can be harmful to rabbits in large quantities. Actually, there is nothing good or bad about lettuce for rabbits; in fact, some lettuce is worse than others for rabbits. Only dark and more leafy varieties of lettuce such as Romanian lettuce should be fed occasionally and gradually to avoid digestive problems. These lettuces are more fibrous with actual nutrients. In contrast, the light-colored varieties of lettuce are high in the water with low nutrients. A large amount of lettuce for rabbits may cause digestive upsets.
Can Rabbits eat Broccoli?
Technically rabbits can eat broccoli flower, stem, and leaves in moderation. It is well known to be rich in dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins with having protective photochemical and antioxidants too. For rabbits, Broccoli cannot be the main source of nutrients. However, it must only be introduced 1 to 2 times a week to the rabbits.
To make it clearer, let’s understand what kind of vegetable Broccoli is?
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is a form of cabbage. It belongs to the mustard family (Brassicaceae), and its flower buds and stalk are edible. It is high in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including Vitamin A, B6, C, E, K, potassium (K), magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, and folic acid. This nutritious vegetable can be eaten fresh as well as cooked.
Why is Broccoli not recommended as the main source of food for rabbits?
For rabbits, vegetables should be taken as 10 to 15% of the daily diet, and only leafy green can be the majority part of their diet. Like other cruciferous vegetables, Broccoli is known to cause gas. The issue is that rabbits cannot pass gas, and excess buildup of gas gets trapped in their intestines. It may create toxicity and causes intestine discomfort. If a bunny has had some digestive issues in the past, it might behave even more sensitively than an average rabbit.
Although Broccoli is good for humans, it is not recommended as an essential part of a rabbit’s diet. Some rabbits really do not tolerate the flower portion of Broccoli. In contrast, others love it with no tummy troubles at all!
Don’t forget to stick to the right diet portions for your bunny that is:
- 80% of grass hay
- 10-15% fresh plant material (non-leafy greens, fruits, and flowers)
- 5% high fiber pellets
How much Broccoli can Rabbits have?
You need to know the individual response of your rabbit to any kind of food. It is always better to do some experiments first. Feed your rabbit with a minimal amount of Broccoli and then observe how he reacts. If he gets gas easily, then it is not your bunny’s cup of tea. It is an indication that not only Broccoli, avoid all kinds of crucifers including cabbage, kale, cress, cauliflower turnip green, etc. in your rabbit’s diet. If your bunny seems fine with Broccoli, there is no issue to feed him with it, but still rare in moderation. In general baby rabbits and Juvenile rabbits need no broccoli as part of their diet. For adult rabbits, one tablespoon of Broccoli per 2 pounds of body weight per day is enough. Never feed your bunny-cooked Broccoli as cooking makes it less crunchy. Cooking also affects its nutritional value and fiber composition. Try to feed always raw Broccoli to your rabbit.
In any case, you ever notice any signs of gas in the rabbit after eating Broccoli immediately give them first aid treatment. If you see no improvement within two to three hours, then it is advised to bring your rabbit to the veterinarian as it could lead to gastrointestinal stasis.
What is GI stasis?
Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis is a common health issue in pet rabbits. It is a potentially deadly condition that can slow down or completely stops digestive activities. Rabbits eventually stop eating and drinking with this medical condition. It also increases the chances of harmful bacteria build up in the intestine.
Signs of gas in rabbits:
If you see your rabbit is showing a lack of interest in playing or eating after eating Broccoli. Having swollen stomach, hard belly, loud stomach noises, and he is curling up into a crushed-up position, be attentive. These all are the signs of gas in your bunny.
What is first-aid treatment advised?
When the rabbit shows these signs of gas, give him a gentle belly massage as first aid. Firmly rubbing in circles can help to break up the gas bubbles and work to move the gas towards the anus. Try to make your rabbit move around for some exercise. It will also help in breaking gas bubbles. Try to make him drink lots of water also to avoid dehydration.
Best ways to give Rabbits broccoli treat:
For a burst of freshness to your rabbit’s diet, you can add a small amount of Broccoli to their pellet feed. Hiding small pieces of Broccoli with other vegetables, flowers, and fruits is also not a bad idea. If you feel Broccoli is not suitable for your bunny, you have other options for broccoli alternatives:
- Leaf lettuce
- Radish leaves
- Beet greens
So the question is can rabbits eat Broccoli? Well, Yes and No!
No doubt broccoli is a good source of lots of nutrients for your rabbit and eating the tougher florets and stalks promotes dental wear also. These cruciferous vegetables, including Broccoli, can add a crunchy tasty, and economical touch to the usual mealtime routine. Broccoli is not bad for rabbits, and it is ok to feed it to them occasionally. Feeding broccoli in the right amount is very important, and if your bunny doesn’t like it, it is completely fine, and no need to force him.