Of the many things to pay attention to while rearing rabbits, their diet is particularly important. The stomach of a rabbit is sensitive; give rabbits the wrong type of food, and they can become ill. While they can eat carrots, broccoli, apples, and spinach, the same cannot be said about corn.
Can rabbits eat corn on the cob?
Rabbits cannot eat corn on the cob or corn in other preparations. The hull of corn is made up of a certain type of polysaccharide that rabbits cannot digest. Since they are unable to vomit, any corn kernel they eat will remain in their stomach largely unchanged. When this happens, they will experience digestive problems that could be fatal.
Rabbits are as delicate as they are cute. When it comes to taking care of them, you have to be attentive, careful, and detailed. Being sure of exactly what you can and can’t feed them will help ensure that they stay healthy for the long term.
Dangers in Feeding Your Rabbits Corn
You should not feed your rabbits corn or any corn kernel product in any form. This includes:
- Fresh Corn on the Cob
- Dried Corn
- Canned Corn
- Cooked Corn
- Rolled Corn
- Corn Grain
Corn kernels contain a complex non-cellulose polysaccharide. This makes them undigestible to rabbits.
Giving corn kernels to your rabbits can cause bloating, intestinal blockage, GI stasis, and other digestive issues.
Additionally, corn offers no nutritional benefit to rabbits. Corn contains sugar and starch at levels higher than what a rabbit needs.
Does this mean your rabbits cannot get anything good from a corn plant? Actually, there is one part of a corn plant rabbits can eat: the husk.
Corn husk is the outer green leafy part of a corn cob. Corn husks are chewy, and rabbits often enjoy chewing them as a toy. Since they are fibrous, corn husks also serve as a good source of fiber for your rabbits.
Although corn husks are stringy, you don’t need to worry about whether your rabbits can chew through them. Their incisors are sharp enough to cut through the husks while the molars and premolars are primed for grinding.
In some cases, corn husks contain pesticides or fertilizers. If you give your rabbits treated corn husks, they can become sick. Be sure to only give your rabbits organic and untreated corn husks that have had all corn, kernels, and cobs removed.
7 Safe Treats for Your Rabbit
With corn being a dangerous snack for your rabbits, you’ll need to make sure you give them foods that are right for their diet. Here are 7 safe treats you can give your rabbits as an alternative to corn and its byproducts.
Hay has a high fiber content and is a great fit for a rabbit’s diet which requires a large amount of fiber. In fact, it is recommended that you give your rabbits hay every day.
The fiber rabbits get from hay is essential for the optimal function of their gut. Fiber improves intestinal muscle tone and promotes gut movement. It also reduces the chances of intestinal blockage that may happen when rabbits eat indigestible items that could otherwise sicken them.
Young rabbits can eat almost any type of grass hay. But for adult rabbits, avoid alfalfa hay and clover hay because they contain high levels of calcium and protein. Instead, you can offer them orchard, timothy, or brome hay.
You can also give your rabbits carrots, even including the tops. While popular culture implies that rabbits mainly eat carrots, you’ll find that this is inaccurate.
Rabbits should only eat carrots sparingly. In other words, you should only give them carrots in limited quantities and once in a while.
Carrots have a high carbohydrate content that can trigger GI disturbances. If you are giving your rabbits carrots for the first time, give them small bits and keep an eye out for symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Processed pellets are also available as safe rabbit treats. Pellets contain essential vitamins and minerals that may not be available in hay and other food the rabbits might eat.
While pellets are significantly nutritious, they are best fed in small amounts, especially to adult rabbits. Some vets recommend that a 5 pound rabbit should get no more than 1/8 cup of pellets per day.
In excess quantity, pellets may suppress your rabbits’ appetite for hay which they need for proper gut function.
However, if you give your rabbits too much hay, they can become overweight, especially if they are neutered. Giving pellets as a treat to balance their diet is a great option for rabbits.
When it comes to pellets, quality matters. High-quality pellets will contain no seeds, no nuts, and no dried fruits. But they should contain at least 14% protein, 22% fiber, 1% calcium, and 1% fat.
If you have baby rabbits, you may give them more pellets than you give the adults. Since they are still growing, the younger animals can benefit from the extra calcium and protein in the pellets.
Another vegetable you can offer your rabbits is broccoli. Rabbits will eat broccoli whether raw or cooked. However, if you intend to cook broccoli, do not add any flavoring since they might harm the rabbits.
Broccoli is a great source of fiber for rabbits and is okay in moderate amounts.
One thing you should keep in mind is that broccoli can cause gas. Introduce it in small quantities and monitor your rabbits for bloating or any GI discomfort.
Rabbits younger than 6 months old should not be given broccoli as a treat. Experts recommend that you do not give baby rabbits fresh vegetables.
If you are considering fruits as treats for your rabbits, bananas are a good candidate.
Bananas can be safely eaten and digested by rabbits, and they are nutritious too. But, as with other treats, banana should only be given sparingly. Give them too much, and they can become prone to obesity.
Apples are generally safe snacks for rabbits as long as you feed apples to them in moderation.
Before feeding apples to your rabbits, ensure you remove the seeds and stem. These parts of an apple contain toxic cyanogenic substances that can make rabbits sick or result in death.
Rabbits can eat peaches in moderation, but you must remove the pit before you feed them. A peach’s pit contains toxins similar to what is contained in the apple seeds.
You should also peel off the peach skin before offering it to your rabbits. The skin can contain preservatives, pesticides, and herbicides which can cause illness if consumed by animals.
Do not give rabbits anything containing corn kernels. Rabbits cannot digest corn, and it can make them very sick. While rabbits can safely eat corn husks and other snacks, keep the number of treats moderate. Excessive amounts of treats can promote obesity and lead to other diseases.