Yes. Rabbits can eat fresh basil leaves and stems. All varieties including sweet (Genovese), lemon, cinnamon, dark opal, anise (Licorice or Persian), Rubin, purple, African blue, spicy, and lettuce leaf basil are safe to your rabbits.
While the safety (not toxic or poisonous) of fresh or dried basils to rabbits is not in doubt, it is not one of the favored plants. This is the same case to other herbs like rosemary, cilantro (coriander), caraway, lavender, peppermint, or oregano are not. Why? You may ask. The answer is simple. They have a pungent smell and an intense flavor that bunnies don’t like.
Therefore, if you offer fresh basil leaves, some bunnies will nibble it, while others will ignore it. Furthermore, if you have this culinary herb in your garden, these animals may eat a bit. However, they are likely to eat more of the roses and other flowers, beans, peas, blackberry, grapes, strawberry, and lesser this culinary herb.
Giving basil to your bunny
Basil is rich in vitamin K and a good source of vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamins B6 and C, folate, manganese, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties with its essential oil having antifungal abilities. All these benefits make basil good for rabbits.
When feeding it to your bunnies, include it as one of the leafy greens that your furry friends eat. Usually, you need to prepare a mix of 5-6 different types, which should account for 10-15% of your rabbit’s diet or about two cupfuls of the chopped mixture per 4-pound rabbit. It should be safe and free of any herbicides or pesticides. Avoid wilted or spoiled ones.
If you are giving them for the first time, being by tiny amounts while you monitor how their tummies will react and gradually increase the quantity if it doesn’t cause any issues. If it doesn’t, discontinue its use and revert to regular diets.
Finally, since it is lower in fiber, letting your bunny overeat of this herb will cause diarrhea, gas, and other gastrointestinal upsets. Rabbits are hindgut fermenters, and fiber plays many vital roles, including supporting healthy digestion, gut motility, wearing their teeth, and so on. These benefits are the reason why grassy hay like timothy must account for at least 80% of their diet.
More on basil
Basil, botanically known as Ocimum basilicum, is a popular culinary herb native to central Africa to Asia. Besides being its role in flavoring foods, it has traditional herbal medicine, cultural and religious significance. Also, some people soak basil seeds to form a jelly they use as a drink or dessert.
It belongs to the family Lamiaceae or mints family and has many varieties or cultivars. However, African or camphor (O. kilimandscharicum), Clove basil (Ocimum gratissimum), or holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) as closely related but in different species.
Note that different varieties or cultivars of this herb may have a different flavor. Some maybe lemony, anise-like or clove-like. However, sweet basil varieties are the most commonly cultivated, with a few hybrids also grown.
Besides antifungal, anti-inflammatory (prevents swelling and inflammation) and antioxidant properties, this culinary herb has many benefits to humans.
Common ones include supporting immunity, fighting some cancer forms as well as boosting immunity and mental health. Also, it may help manage stress, anxiety, or depression. We hope you have a reason why you need to add it to the list of your culinary herbs.