The issue of rabbits and carrots is riddled with a lot of misconceptions and controversies whose root maybe Bugs Bunny. This animated cartoon has carrot chewing scenes followed by the famous catchphrase, “What’s up, Doc?”
Are carrots good for rabbits? Do bunnies like them, and can they eat them every day or regularly? We know you have more questions. We will attempt to answer some of them in this discussion.
What are they?
Carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) are a popular root vegetable in the family Apiaceae (umbellifers or the celery, carrot, or parsley family), which has many herbs. Notable members of the family include parsley, fennel, dill, caraway, anise, parsnips, cumin, coriander, celery, and chervil, among others.
This root vegetable is native to Southwestern Asia and Europe, and while most carrots are orange in color, there are purple, red, white, yellow, and black cultivars. The various cultivars are grouped into western and eastern varieties with Nantes, Imperator, Danvers, and Chantenay the common western cultivars.
Yes to carrots as an occasion treats
Yes. Rabbits can eat a raw carrot in moderation as an occasional treat. Give them 2-3 small carrot slices or dices like once or twice a week and not daily. Remember, you will need to keep varying the treats your bunny eats.
Alternatively, keep the amount at about a teaspoon per two pounds of body weight and ensure the total treats they eat daily doesn’t exceed 5% of their calorific intake.
Are carrots good for rabbits or bad?
Yes. Carrots are good for rabbits, and they are not toxic or poisonous. However, feed carrots to your rabbits as a treat and not a replacement for their usual meals.
Nutritionally, they are high in vitamin A, especially beta-Carotene. They also have vitamin B6 and vitamin K as well as smaller amounts of vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin E, as well as manganese, potassium, and sodium.
They also have carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants that will reduce risks of some diseases like heart disease, some cancers as well as some degenerative illnesses.
While beta-carotene (supports for eye health) is the main carotenoids, they also have:
- Lutein – common in yellow and orange carrots, good for eyesight
- Lycopene – contained in the purple and yellow variety, and it helps reduce heart disease and some cancer risks.
- Polyacetylenes – may protect against leukemia as well as other types of cancers
- Anthocyanins – Potent antioxidant in any dark-colored varieties
While they may seem so healthy from their nutritional profile and antioxidants they have, here are some reasons why an excessive amount of carrots may be bad for your rabbits:
High in carbs and sugars
They are high in carbohydrates (9.6g per 100g), especially sugars (4.7g per 100g). Giving them an excessive amount and daily may cause carbohydrate overload that will result in enteritis, which will cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other stomach problems.
Secondly, the high amount of starch may fatten your rabbit or make them obese. Bunnies are herbivores whose typical food is high in fiber and lower in carbohydrates.
Low in fiber
Any vital food for rabbits like grassy hay must be high in fiber since it helps wear their teeth down, promotes food movement in their digestive tract, and ensures their gut remains healthy.
Since they are low in fiber, too many will not provide these benefits. On the contrary, your bunny may end up with GI stasis, as food may not flow smoothly.
Bad for their teeth
Excessive amounts given frequently have been linked to tooth decay, and RSPCA notes that 11% of the tooth decay is related to carrots. You don’t want your bunny to end up with dental problems.
Yes to carrot tops
Rabbits can eat carrot tops or greens (leaves, stems, and stalks), as a part of the leafy green mix you give them once or twice a week. They are better since they have a considerable amount of fiber.
Also, carrot greens have vitamin A, B6, C and K, potassium, manganese, folate, calcium, and niacin, as well as phytonutrients like lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin.
However, since they are high in calcium (243mg per 100g), don’t include any other vegetable that is high in calcium like Yu choy, dandelion greens, spring greens, turnip greens, spinach, beet green, mustard greens, kale, or collard greens.
Doing so will increase the risk of urinary calcium stones as well as urinary calcium sludge, and it happens these animals try to eliminate the excess calcium and keep it at normal levels.
We hope you also know that in your vegetable mix, there shouldn’t be more than one vegetable high in oxalic acid like mustard greens, radish tops, spinach, Swiss chard, parsley, or beet greens, among others.
Finally, ensure you go for organically grown ones and make them a part of 5-6 leafy greens or vegetable mix you give to your bunny. A packed cup is sufficient for a two-pound rabbit.
Do rabbits like carrots?
Yes. Rabbits like carrots and would go crazy if you offered some. They will enjoy their crunchy texture and sweet taste. Therefore, ensure you limit the amount you give them since they may overeat which is not good.
Did you know wild rabbits also like carrot tops and they are among the plants they will damage a lot together with your lettuce, beans, peas, roses, pansies, blackberries, and broccoli, especially tender shoots among others?
If you are planting them, ensure you have a fence or use effective rabbit repellents to keep your rabbits or any other from your garden. Otherwise, expect a lot of damage.
Can baby rabbits eat carrots?
It depends on their age. Baby bunnies below the 12 weeks should not eat carrots or any other fresh foods, including veggies and fruits. However, once they are at least 12 weeks, you can begin introducing one vegetable at a time, including carrot as a treat.
Besides giving your bunny this root vegetable, some of the reasonable options which these pets will enjoy eating include the following:
- Celery stalks
- Bell pepper
Also, fruits, herbs, and some flowers make wonderful treats, if you are not keen on buying some of the available rabbit treats.
Always give your rabbit raw carrots or any other food. These animals shouldn’t eat any cooked food as the cooking degrades nutrients and ruins texture and taste. Never make them part of your bunny’s everyday diet and don’t give them a lot even if they really like them.