Fennel, botanically known as Foeniculum vulgare, belongs to the family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae (carrot, celery, or parsley family) that also has coriander, cumin, dill, parsnip, anise, and caraway, among others. This culinary herb is one of the very aromatic and flavorful herbs that has a liquorice or aniseed-like flavor it gets from anethole aromatic compound.
The fennel bulb, greens, or foliage (leaves and stems), and fruits are used in culinary. For instance, its crisp bulb serves as an aromatic vegetable that you can eat raw or stew, sauté, braise, or grill them.
Also, you can eat its tender leaves as salads, garnishes, or for flavoring for various foods while you can cook fennel fruits, mostly while still green. Besides culinary, this herb has uses in natural toothpaste, and it is a primary ingredient in absinthe spirit.
Can bunnies eat fennel?
Yes, rabbits can eat fennel greens or tops (stalk, leave, and flowers) as well as the bulb-like, swollen stem base that the Florence fennel variety has in moderation. Kindly give them a small amount of the greens or a small slice base as a treat once in a few days. They are safe for these pets.
However, your rabbits shouldn’t eat fennel seeds since they present a choking risk and are high in fats, about 14.5g per 100g, yet a rabbit’s diet should have 1-3% fats and oils. They will predispose your bunny to hepatic lipidosis, obesity (lipids are high in calories), or hurt their GI.
Also, the seeds are high in carbohydrates 52g per 100g and low in fiber. High carbs, low fiber foods may throw your bunny’s hindgut microflora out of balance, causing enteritis, diarrhea, and stomach upsets. Also, your pet may end up being obese.
It is recommended not to give your rabbits any seeds, grains, or nuts for the above reasons, and fennel seeds are no exception.
Finally, being very aromatic, some bunnies may not like its strong scent, and in the wild, fennel is not one of the plants that bunnies prefer. They will rarely damage this herb together with others such as dill, chives, mint, leeks, lavender, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon, tomatoes, and so on.
If your bunny happens to like fennel, it is very nutritious. For instance, the bulbs have vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Also, this herb has volatile compounds such as rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and apigenin (polyphenol antioxidants) with anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial to health.
One organic compound, anethole that fennel has may have antimicrobial, anticancer, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
In rabbits, some sources suggest that fennel may help in managing “bloating, gas while increasing milk flow if your doe is nursing. (1) Your furry friends stand a big chance to benefit from all these if you make it part of their occasional treat.
More on Fennel
Fennel has yellow flowers glaucous green feathery leaves is native to is native to the Mediterranean but has been naturalized in various parts of the world, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Asia, and so on. However, some parts of the US and Australia consider it an invasive weed.
One of its variety, Florence fennel or finocchio in Italian, has a bulb-like edible base, which is more aromatic and sweeter, eaten as a vegetable.
Finally, some of the benefits this herb has to humans, including its teas to humans include minimizing period pains, helping with colic, blood sugar regulation, relieving pain, reduce water retention, among others.
Plants that resemble fennel
Many plants in the family Apiaceae closely resemble fennel, some of which may be toxic to your rabbits. These plants include:
Dill (Anethum graveolens), coriander (Coriandrum sativum, cilantro or dhania), and caraway (Carum carvi, meridian fennel, or Persian cumin) are all safe to your bunnies as a healthy snack or treat.
Poison hemlock (Conium) highly poisonous to people and animals, with symptoms showing within 20 minutes to 3 hours once ingested. Avoid them at all costs.
Cicely (Myrrhis odorata, sweet cicely, myrrh, sweet chervil, or garden myrrh), a safe herb you can eat raw or cook it and has an anise-like taste. Its seeds, roots are also edible.
Giant Fennel (Ferula communis) is a tall herbaceous perennial flowering plant native to East African Woodland or shrublands or in the Mediterranean. It is toxic to sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and by extension, your rabbit.
While it has many benefits, don’t give your bunny a lot of fennel or any other greens as they are lower in fiber and may cause stomach upsets, diarrhea, gas, or bloating. Instead, stick to the right rabbit diets.
Also, begin with a small amount of fennel as you watch how their delicate stomachs will react to it. Even if they don’t cause any issues, keep the amount low, just as you do to other snacks.