Coriandrum sativum, cilantro, coriander, dhania, or Chinese parsley is a popular herb (leaves or stalk) and spice (roots and seeds) with a tart, lemony taste native to southern Europe, all the way to North Africa and Southwestern Asia.
It belongs to the family Apiaceae that has other aromatic flowering plants such as celery, dill, fennel, caraway, cumin, parsley, or carrots. The popular varieties are the Leisure, Long Standing, Jantar, Santo, Cruiser, Calypso, Marino, and Santo monogerm. Some are better leaves while others for seeds.
Can my rabbits eat cilantro?
Yes. Rabbits can eat cilantro or coriander leaves and stems (stalks) in moderation. They are not toxic (have no poisonous compounds), are not high in calcium, and are low in oxalic acid. However, like other rabbit safe herbs such as oregano, mint, lemon balm, basil, dill, rosemary, thyme, and sage, they have a strong taste or spicy flavor.
While some rabbits will enjoy nibbling cilantro, others may have some reservations. When offering this herb to your bunnies, sprinkle a small amount of chopped fresh cilantro leaves or stalks on their green mixture. Dried cilantro leaves are also safe. However, most rabbits tend to ignore them.
Besides leaves and stems, coriander roots are also safe to rabbits. Unfortunately, their flavor is much more robust, and most rabbits will not like them.
However, like any other seeds, nuts, or grains, don’t feed cilantro seeds to your rabbits as they present a choking hazard and are unhealthy, i.e., they are high in carbohydrates (55g/100g) and fats (17.8g/100g).
High carbs diets will overload your rabbit’s cecum microflora, something that may result in enteritis, stomach troubles, diarrhea, or cause obesity being highly calorific.
On the other hand, bunnies need at most 2-5% fats or oils, and excessive amounts can result in obesity, hepatic lipidosis, aorta atherosclerosis, and so on.
Is cilantro good for rabbits?
Safety alone isn’t a sufficient reason to feed any food to your bunnies. You deserve to know if coriander is good or not. If this is your concern, the answer is simple. Yes. Cilantro is right for your bunnies since it is nutrient-rich, i.e., fresh cilantro leaves are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K.
Also, it has a considerable amount of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin E, as well as minerals like iron, manganese, and potassium. Bunnies require all these nutrients.
Besides being nutritious, it will add variety, introduce a new taste and texture to their diet. Please don’t stick to the same foods every day as they will get bored.
Furthermore, coriander also has antimicrobial properties that aid in fighting some infections and foodborne diseases. It also has antioxidants like quercetin, terpinene, and tocopherols that will fight free radicals, some cancers and boost immunity.
In humans, it will help in aiding digestion, boosting appetite (coriander extract), lower heart disease risks. Additionally, it will support brain health by countering diseases associated with inflammation like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.
Finally, it is beneficial to our skin, and its seeds and oil extract may help lower blood sugar, among many other benefits.
Feeding coriander to your bunny
As already mentioned, only give your bunnies a small measure of cilantro leaves or stalks. Even humans don’t use a lot of any herb or spice. Go for fresh ones and mix or sprinkle them with other leafy greens. Avoid wilted or those with molds.
Secondly, thoroughly wash them under running water to get rid of any remnant farm chemicals. Going for organic coriander is a wise choice as they are free of pesticides or herbicides that may harm your furry friend.
Thirdly, begin with a small amount and see how their tummies react after a day. Discontinue and revert to usual diets if they cause stomach upsets, gas, or diarrhea (loose stool). Otherwise, you can gradually increase the amount.
While they may like it, don’t be tempted to feed these pets an excessive amount of coriander or replace it with their regular diet as it is low in fiber, something that may cause stomach upsets, diarrhea, and GI stasis. Fiber plays a vital role in ensuring a healthy gut and motility.
Finally, don’t forget to provide the right rabbit diet, which should have unlimited grassy hays like timothy, 10-15% fresh foods with a majority being leafy greens, and about 5% pellets. Keep treats (commercial bunny treats, safe fruits, or non-leafy veggies) at no more than 5% of their total food intake.
More on coriander
While they may look similar, don’t confuse coriander with culantro (Eryngium foetidum), Papaloquelite (Porophyllum ruderale subsp. macrocephalum), or Vietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata). They are not the same plant
Secondly, the leaves are known as fresh coriander, Chinese parsley, dhania or cilantro and are used in various cuisines including garnishing fish, meat, and soups as well as in salads, guacamole, salsa, chutneys, and so on.
In culinary, the term coriander exclusively refers to the seeds (whole or ground) which have a citrus lime or lemony flavor. Roasting or heating these seeds on a pan makes their flavor, zest, or aroma stronger.
Finally, coriander roots have a more robust flavor and are prevalent in Thai dishes, especially curry pastes and soups.