Rabbits are one of the most adorable pets one can have. These little fluff balls give great cuddles and can live anywhere between eight to fourteen years. However, if you want your rabbit to live a long and fulfilled life, you have to ensure that they get a proper diet. Just as with any pet, a responsible owner needs to know what makes up your pet’s staple diet and what foods have to be avoided at all costs.
Now that’s easier said than done when it comes to rabbits. Rabbits enjoy eating quite a lot, and this is because they have a unique digestion system that works on processing the fiber and nutrients at a faster rate, which probably explains why they can eat up to thirty times in one day!
Rabbits are strictly herbivores, which means that their diet consists only of greens, be it fruits or vegetables. However, a lot of rabbit owners swear that their furball seems super interested in getting a bite of the meat on their plates, especially ham. But the question is: is ham safe to be given to our rabbits?
Some foods are perfectly safe for us humans to eat, ham being a perfect example, but does that also extend to our pets? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but certain foods and seasonings may be safe for us to consume but can prove to be toxic and unsafe for our pets. That’s because we’re wired differently. Our digestive systems vary a great deal and thus cannot be treated the same.
However, there is a distinction that needs to be made clear in terms of food for rabbits. The self-explanatory terms safe and healthy don’t require discussion. These foods unusually include their staple food and the occasional snack. Unhealthy foods are those that do not fall into a rabbit’s natural diet, the kind of food that they wouldn’t come in contact with while in the wild. These foods won’t kill your rabbit but won’t do them any favors either, health-wise. Instead, they will cause problems such as vomiting or loose stool. So, to avoid unnecessary and easily avoidable health problems, they should be kept away from your rabbit. Then come toxic foods. These foods are unhealthy to give to your rabbit but also have the potential to be fatal. These are the kinds of food that if your rabbit accidentally ends up eating, it will require immediate medical help.
Just because unhealthy foods aren’t fatal doesn’t mean they should be given to your pet. They can and do cause a series of health concerns that accumulate and can end up being fatal. Thus both unhealthy and toxic foods need to be kept out of your rabbit’s diet.
So, where does ham fit into this equation? Read on to find out.
The short and simple answer:
The answer to whether your rabbit can eat ham is a big fat no. There is no reason why ham, or any meat for that matter, should be included in your rabbit’s meals, nor can it be given as a snack. It doesn’t matter if your rabbit seems greedy for a taste of the ham on your plate or if they snuck a piece and seemed to enjoy it. Ham should not be given to your rabbits.
Why meat, in general, isn’t supposed to be given to rabbits:
Rabbits are pure herbivores and are designed to derive all the necessary nutrients they need to live a long and healthy life from a plant source, such as fruits and vegetables.
A rabbit’s digestive system has been designed to use fiber as a means to get the necessary nutrients they need. Meat doesn’t cut. Where it lacks in fiber content, it makes up in protein and fat, both of which are not required by our bunnies. Thus, meat is a food that your rabbit will not be able to digest.
Rabbits and Ham:
Ham comes from pigs. Through the process of either curing or smoking/salting, it is pork that has been preserved. Traditionally ham is made from the hind legs of a pig, and when referred to, it refers to this specific cut.
Beyond the fact that ham is meat and meat is bad for rabbits, there are a few more reasons why rabbits shouldn’t be eating this delicious meat.
To start with, the ham we get usually has been salted and/or smoked. Although you might find salt listed in the commercially available food you feed them, you’ll notice that it is listed right at the bottom. That is because salt is very scarcely used, only about 0.25 to 0.75%. Your ham, however, has plenty of salt, and the amount in your ham can prove to pave the way to health issues such as dehydration in your bunny. Depending on the way you cook your ham, you will also use different seasonings and spices. None of these will be healthy for your rabbit and will most likely upset their digestive system leaving them with a loose tummy and nausea.
Ham is also high in fat content. This especially is unhealthy for your bunny. Too much fat in their diets can cause rabbits to become obese. While you might be thinking that a chunky rabbit sounds like the most adorable thing on the planet, you should know that obesity in rabbits is the start of a long list of health issues that will drastically cut short the years in your rabbit’s life. To start with, obesity can lead to cardiovascular health concerns in your rabbit. Similarly, it can also cause arthritis in elder bunnies. Obesity can also make it difficult for your rabbit to groom themselves. They might end up with a “mucky bottom,” and in warm weather, their inability to clean themselves can attract flies to lay eggs on their unclean fur, which will hatch and turn into maggots that will literally eat away your rabbit.
Ham, just like other meat products, is also high in protein. Rabbits don’t need that much protein in their diet. Too much protein will cause excessive weight gain as well as digestive problems such as diarrhea and an upset stomach for your rabbit. This, in turn, will cause them distress and traumatic trips to the vet.
What do I do if my rabbit ate ham?
Since meats like ham aren’t a natural part of your rabbit’s diet, they won’t be inclined to eat a lot of it. At most, purely out of curiosity, they might take a nibble and will then discard the piece altogether. The small nibble shouldn’t be a cause of concern. It falls under the unhealthy category of food.
However, if you routinely offer your rabbit meat, those small nibbles can accumulate and turn into health problems such as upset stomachs, loose stool, and vomiting. To avoid this from happening, refrain from offering even the smallest of pieces to your rabbit.
In any case, it is always a good idea to keep an eye out on your rabbit after they have eaten something they shouldn’t have. If symptoms such as lethargy and loose stool persist, show your rabbit to the vet.
What can rabbits eat?
Like we’ve mentioned, rabbits love greens and so they have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that they can eat and enjoy.
A major part of your rabbit’s diet is hay. Since rabbits are constantly on the lookout for something to eat, hay is a perfect solution. Rich in fiber and incredibly filling, it makes for a perfect snack.
Vegetables that your rabbit can eat include:
- Carrot tops
- Artichoke leaves
- Green beans
- Romaine lettuce
Fruits that rabbits can eat include:
- Kiwi fruit
Commercially available pellets that have been designed specifically for rabbits are also an important food source. They contain all the necessary nutrients that your rabbit requires to live a healthy life.
Foods to avoid offering your rabbit:
There aren’t a lot of restrictions when it comes to feeding your rabbit. Meat is one food that is unhealthy for your rabbit. There are a few toxic foods that need to be kept as far away from your rabbit as possible. These include:
- The seeds of fruits such as apple (they contain extremely dangerous cyanide)
- Iceberg lettuce
When it comes to feeding rabbits, we have a long list of options that are healthy and safe. They have all the required nutrients that will ensure that your rabbit is healthy and will live a long and healthy life Ham ( and meat in general), however, does not make the cut. Rabbits are herbivores, and so giving them meat goes against the grain. Besides, feeding your rabbit meats such as ham will not benefit them in any way. Instead, all it will do is add empty calories to their diet and will increase the risk of health issues.