Rabbit breeding is increasingly being practised by many farmers across the globe. Some people keep them as pets. In order for breeders to ensure healthy animals, it is necessary to acquire knowledge on various types of feed suitable for animals. There are currently many misconceptions about what rabbits should and should not feed on. The best feed for rabbits includes commercially produced pellets that contain essential nutrients. Some farmers do not have the financially muscle to maintain commercially prepared diets and so opt for home-made feeds. While some natural feeds are recommended, rabbits should not feed on plants that contain toxics as their health can be compromised. Rabbits that consume such plants should be quickly taken to a veterinarian.
Tomatoes are a rich source of nutrients; they also contain trace elements that are crucial for human and animal health. For this reason, they are often fed to animals, including rabbis. An important factor to note is that while rabbits can eat tomatoes, they should only be provided as treats. The sugar content found in tomatoes is considered high for rabbit diets, hence the need to provide them in limited quantities. In addition, rabbits should not feed on tomato leaves. This is because the green part of tomatoes contains highly toxic substances. It contains the alkaloids, solanine and tomatine. Tomatine is a poisonous compound found in all parts of the tomato plant but is largely concentrated in the leaves and stems. Solanine is found in all species of the nightshade family and similarly leaves and stems have high concentrations. Symptoms of alkaloids poisoning include diarrhoea, bloat, and stomach pain. Farmers must therefore remove the stalks prior to providing tomatoes to rabbits. Note that this also applies to the leaves, flowers, stems and green fruit.
Avocados are among the most nutritious vegetables, hence constitute a significant amount of the human diet. However, they consist of a highly toxic substance known as persin which can cause changes in behaviour, breathing troubles, congestive heart failure and even death. The digestive system of rabbits is designed for high fibre, low carbs, sugars and fats. For this reason, the high fat content found in avocados is not ideal for rabbits. Note that rabbits should not feed on any form of avocado parts including leaves. In fact, the fruit, seeds, bark, and leaves of avocado trees are highly toxic and so rabbits should not eat any of them.
Rhubarb is a common garden plant, stalks are popularly used in cooking. Since rabbits are herbivores, it is usually assumed that this plant among others is safe for consumption. However, rhubarb is detrimental to the health of rabbits hence is highly unadvisable as feed. Rhubarb contains a toxic compound known as oxalic acid which can cause acute renal failure. Various agricultural research have established that rabbits should not eat rhubarb as they are more likely to experience poisoning. Symptoms of rhubarb poisoning include irritation of the mouth, appetite loss, lethargy, diarrhoea, abdominal tenderness and severe dehydration. Additional symptoms include vomiting and bloat, in severe cases rhubarb poisoning can be fatal. Keep in mind that a veterinary medical professional should be consulted timeously in cases of poisoning.
Rabbits are known to thrive on a plant based diet. None the less, this does not mean all plants are good for their health. This is true for potato dietary plans. Note that rabbits can eat potatoes, however, it is not recommended as excess feed can cause health problems. Rabbits should not eat potatoes as they do not have much nutritional benefits. Potatoes are high in starch that rabbits cannot digest efficiently. In fact, they offer no nutritional benefits whatsoever to a rabbit. They are low in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. As a result, rabbits that feed on potatoes often suffer from diarrhoea, constipation and gastrointestinal stasis. Rabbits that develop gastrointestinal stasis experience bloating, weight loss, kidney failure, and sudden death. Despite their dependence on plants, rabbits should not feed on potato leaves as they are poisonous. As a matter of fact, this is true for all members of the nightshade family. As rabbit farmers, it is of the essence to distinguish between various plants and their benefit to animal health.
Lettuce is a healthy plant that belongs to the asteraceae family. It is grown mainly for its leafy vegetable and in some cases its stem and seeds. Lettuce makes up a fairly significant amount of human and animal dietary plans. A popular assumption among farmers is that all types of lettuce are good for rabbits. This is however not the case. Rabbits should not eat iceberg lettuce as it can be harmful to their health. While all types of lettuce contain lactucarium, iceberg lettuce has higher quantities. Rabbits therefore experience diarrhoea which can be fatal. In addition, iceberg lettuce has water content with little nutritional value, hence it is among the least appropriate food for rabbits. Although other types of lettuce such as the roman and many others with ark green leaves can be provided as rabbit food, caution should be taken. Rabbits should not feed on excess lettuce is as it is generally bad for their health and can have the same effects as the iceberg lettuce.
The most important thing for rabbit farmers to know is that although rabbits are generally regarded as vegetarian, not all vegetables are suitable feed. Rabbits should not feed on mushrooms of any kind or in any quantity. While there is limited agricultural scientific research on the subject, mushrooms have been reported to cause adverse effects on the health of rabbits. Eight toxins have been identified as being involved in mushroom poisoning: amanitin, gyromitrin, orellanine, mescaline, ibotenic acid, muscimol, psilocybin, and coprine. Both raw and cooked mushrooms can be a cause of mushroom poisoning as their toxic compounds are not destroyed by heat. Rabbits cannot vomit. This means that they are unable to rid their bodies of toxins that are ingested, often resulting in death. Some varieties of mushrooms are not fatal, but most are toxic and therefore have the potential to cause long term health problems, including liver and nervous system damage. Due to lack of adequate research on the matter, most veterinary medical professionals completely dismiss all mushrooms as rabbit feed or treats. Note that this includes mushrooms that are commonly used as human food.