Potato refers to the starchy tuber or the plant (Solanum tuberosum) that bears the tubers native to the Americas. It is a member of the family, Solanaceae (the nightshade family) that also has tomato and eggplants and is the fourth most popular food crop, falling behind corn, wheat, and rice.
There are over 4000 varieties that include the rough brown skin (russet), white, yellow (Yukon), and purple potatoes. Although most have white flesh, some selectively bred types may have red, blue, and golden flesh.
No to potatoes – cooked, raw or potatoes peels
Rabbits shouldn’t eat raw or cooked potatoes, whether red, white, yellow, purple or any other color. Also, please don’t give your rabbit potato skin or peeling as they are unsafe and unhealthy for these animals Similarly, grilled, roasted, boiled, fried, or potatoes cooked in any way are not suitable for your furry friend.
While they do have essential nutrients like vitamin B6, C, potassium, folate as well as vital antioxidants like chlorogenic acid, catechin, lutein, and others, they are high in carbohydrates, mainly starch, and have toxin solanine, a glycoalkaloid poison. It also has chaconine.
Here are the main reasons why we don’t recommend these tubers:
Unhealthy – high in starch but low in fiber
The main reason why your rabbits shouldn’t eat potatoes is that it is high in starch but low in fiber. Bunnies don’t eat foods high starch as it may overload their cecum microflora, triggering enteritis, diarrhea, bloating, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Also, it inhibits motilin stimulation, which is vital in keeping things flowing in a rabbit’s gut and may cause obesity as they are highly calorific.
Finally, bunnies depend on high fiber diets like hay that help wear their teeth, promote gut motility, and a healthy gut, something that these tubers don’t have. However, a small amount will not harm your bunny. However, you can avoid it altogether as they are unnecessary, yet there are a lot of other healthier foods.
Contain a small amount of solanine
The second reason why you don’t have to give your bunnies potatoes is that it has some small amount of solanine, which is toxic to these pets in large amounts.
While peeled ones don’t have a high amount to cause toxicity, the potato skins and sprouts are exceptionally high in this glycoalkaloid poison.
No to Potato leaves, fruits, flowers, or stems
Again, rabbits shouldn’t eat potato leaves, stem, fruits, or flowers. Similarly, please don’t give them leaves of any other in the nightshade family plant-like eggplant or tomatoes since they are much higher high in solanine.
No potato chips, French fries, and other products
These tubers are used in numerous dishes where they may be cooked and mashed, baked, steamed, boiled, steamed, roasted, or deep-fried to make French-fried or chips.
Don’t feed your rabbit potato chips, French fries, or any other potato dish. Deep frying adds fats to them, yet they are already high in carbohydrates (starches), making them worse. Plus, they may have other ingredients like salt, seasonings, and so on.
Therefore, anything that has potatoes is a no to rabbits as it is starchy, making it unhealthy, and it includes potato flakes, skins, tatter tots, latkes, curly fries, among others.
Solanine toxicity symptoms
While it is rare and rabbits will have to eat a massive amount of potato leaves to suffer from toxicity, it does happen. Some of the symptoms of solanine toxicity symptoms include the following.
- Reduced appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Breathing problems
- Depression, confusion, and changes in behavior
- Coma and death
Rabbits wouldn’t naturally eat potato plants. However, if you suspect they have eaten it in large quantities and or have any of the above symptoms, talk to your vet for further diagnosis and treatment.
Do rabbits like potatoes in the wild?
An important question we should ask if rabbits do like potatoes or not. The answer is no. Rabbits don’t like raw potatoes or potato plants (leaves, flowers, stems, or fruits). They will hardly touch them or any other nightshade family plant like tomatoes and eggplants.
However, if offered, rabbits will eat cooked ones, including those you fry, mash, grill, roast, and so on. Therefore, please don’t fall into the temptation of offering them some thinking they will not eat.
What do rabbits eat?
Understanding the foods that rabbits eat is key to giving them the right diet. Rabbits don’t eat nuts, seeds, or any starchy foods. Instead, they feed on low calorie, high fiber plant material being herbivores.
In the wild, they will eat a lot of grass as well as some smaller amounts of leaves, herbs, shrubs, twigs, sprouts, fruits, and so on, depending on the season and food availability.
- Grassy hay and pellets: For your house rabbit, let them eat 80% or more grassy hay and about 5% high fiber pellets. Hay will give them the fiber and is better nutritionally balanced while pellets are fortified with minerals
- Fresh greens and treats: Fresh greens should be 10-15% while treats 0-5%, including commercial rabbit treats.
Are you looking for snacks?
If you need a treat for your furry friend, don’t give them potatoes. Instead, go for the following foods as they are perfect:
- Non-leafy veggies – Carrot, cucumber, tomato, zucchinis, pumpkin, okra, among others.
- Herbs – parsley, cilantro, lavender, sage, tarragon, chamomile, mustard, fennel, mint, rosemary, peppermint, among others.
- Flowers – They will enjoy pansies, roses, marigold, English daisy, clovers, hibiscus, nasturtium, and cauliflower, or broccolini flower heads, etcetera.
- Fruits – Cherries, apples (without stem or pips), grapes, mango, kiwi fruits, star-fruits, watermelons, papaya, pineapples, among others.
- Commercial treats: Kaytee Timothy Biscuits Baked Treat Apple, Vitakraft Slims Carrot Rabbit Treats, Kaytee Timothy Hay Blend Cubes, Oxbow Simple Rewards Veggie Treats, among others.