Can Rabbits Eat Broccoli? - Suggestions for a Healthy Diet for Your Furry Friend

Rabbits are one of the most popular domesticated pets for young children because they are docile and easy to care for; however, there is much speculation on the proper diet of a domesticated rabbit—can rabbits eat broccoli? The short answer is “yes.” Rabbits can eat root and flowering vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower though they should be limited.

Only 15% of a rabbit's daily diet should come from non-leafy green food sources. In the wild, rabbits all over the world eat a wide variety of plant matter. However, the largest part of a wild rabbit's diet should consist of fresh and dry grasses and leafy plants. Sometimes rabbits will also consume tree bark, twigs, sprouts, seeds, fruits, clover, and small amounts of other nutrient-rich foods.

A rabbit's natural diet should be considered when we choose a healthy diet for domesticated rabbits; however, the diet of a domesticated rabbit and the diet of a wild rabbit are quite different.

Can Rabbits Eat Broccoli? - Suggestions for a Healthy Diet for Your Furry Friend

What Do I Feed My New Rabbit?
The best diet for your new rabbit should consist of quality pellets, fresh hay, water, and fresh vegetables. However, you should be careful when feeding your rabbit certain vegetable because some of them will make your rabbit gassy. And that’s not fun for either of you.

Is Broccoli a Natural Part of a Rabbits Diet?
We have all heard the stories of the pesky rabbits that sneak into the farmer's garden plot and begin chowing down on the winter supply of vegetables. While this notion might conjure comical imagery of an over-all wearing man chasing several rabbits from his yard with a pitchfork, it truly isn't far from a reality.

Rabbits in the wild are exposed to an endless salad buffet of different types of plant matter. Wild rabbits are natural scavengers of everything from wild clover to fresh, leafy garden vegetables. Rabbits are drawn to garden vegetables because they offer a variety of textures and tastes which are nutritionally enriching.

Fresh vegetables and fruits are an important part of a rabbit's diet. Leafy greens and clover should make up about 75% of their daily food intake. This can, and often does, include broccoli.

Despite clover and leafy vegetables, the majority of a rabbit's diet should consists of a variety of grass hay which is rich in Vitamin A and D, calcium, protein, and other nutrients. When rabbits eat hay it promotes healthy gastrointestinal tract function and strengthens their teeth.

Grass hay should always be made available to domesticated rabbits. There are many types of grass hay that are beneficial to rabbits and add variety to their diet. Mixing hays can be a great way to feed your rabbit by mimicking what they would be exposed to in the wild.

Some hays that can be used include timothy, orchard, brome, and oat hay. However, alfalfa hay should be avoided as the primary source of grass hay for rabbits because it is very high in protein and calories and contains more nutrients than a domesticated rabbit would need. This is because alfalfa is actually not a grass at all; alfalfa is a legume, such as beans and peas.

Because alfalfa is a legume, it should absolutely not be a standard in a domesticated or wild rabbit's diet. Domesticated rabbits often have less free movement because they are confined to cages. Over exposure to alfalfa as a primary food source can cause the rabbit to rapidly gain weight, which may lead to health complications and a shortened life.

A Basic Diet
Pellets are most important element in your rabbit’s diet because they have the right nutrients and will ensure proper weight gain. The best pellets should contain at least 18 percent fiber and be nutritionally balanced. However, as your rabbit gets older, you should decrease the number of pellets you feed him because too many pellets can make older rabbits fat.

Rabbits should have fresh hay available 24 hours a day. Alfalfa is recommended for rabbits less than seven months, but older rabbits should have timothy or oat hay. Hay provides crucial roughage, which helps reduce the danger of hairballs.

Rabbits need fresh water every day, all day. The water in a rabbit’s cage should be changed every single day. And whether it’s a dish or a bottle, your rabbit’s water source needs to be cleaned with a mild dish detergent every week.

Vegetables are also a great source of roughage, as well as essential vitamins. Introduce new vegetables one at a time. This way, if your rabbit experiences any negative effects, like gas or diarrhea, you’ll know which food caused the problem.

Can I feed my new rabbit broccoli?
Yes. Rabbits love broccoli and it’s very good for them. The broccoli leaves are especially good for your rabbit. Ant dark green leafy vegetable is an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients. You should, however, limit the amount of broccoli buds you feed your rabbit.

Too much may make him gassy. When you first introduce broccoli to his diet, be sure to add small amounts and monitor his intake. If he seems to get gassy or his stool

How Much and What Kinds of Food Do Rabbits Need to Eat?
Rabbits need approximately one cup of greens per 2 pounds of body weight a day. This can be divided into multiple feedings a day. It is important to limit a rabbit's consumption of alkaloids. Alkaloids, such as oxalic acid, are naturally occurring chemicals that can be toxic in high doses to both humans and animals.

Oxalic acid, found in parsley, mustard greens, and spinach, can be quite harmful to rabbits if consumed in high doses depending upon the soil composition the plant was grown in, the time of year the plant was harvested, and the age of the plant.

Most of the foods that we feed domesticated rabbits have no, or very low, amounts of oxalic acid, and the toxicity of the acid is associated with feeding large quantities of the foods over an extended period of time. Symptoms of oxalic acid contamination include tingling of the skin and mouth and kidney damage. Nonetheless, these foods offer great nutritional benefits, so it is not necessary to completely eliminate them from your rabbit's diet, though they should be limited.

It is recommended that your rabbit eat at least three different types of leafy greens a day, with only one of them containing a high amount of oxalic acid. Each week it is recommended that you rotate the types of greens you feed your rabbit.

For example, if you feed your rabbit broccoli greens, wild clover, and parsley one week, you should feed them salad bowl lettuce, mustard greens, and fresh grasses the next week. By rotating the types of fresh vegetables that they consume, you will ensure that your rabbit is exposed to a variety of texture, taste, and nutrition like they would be out in the wild.

Leafy greens that contain low levels of oxalic acid include, but are not limited to, arugula, carrot tops, kale, dandelion greens, spring greens, cilantro, dill leaves, fennel, and romaine lettuce.

These types of greens should make up 75% of your rabbit's daily diet. A rabbit will also benefit from eating the leaves and stems of broccoli, carrots, celery, cabbage, zucchini, and bell peppers, though these types of foods should only count for 15% of their daily food intake. The remaining 10% can consist of apple slices without the stem or seeds, pears, plums, berries, or melons.

What Are the Risks Associated with Rabbits Eating Broccoli and Other Foods?
Many domesticated rabbit owners are concerned about feeding their fluffy friends foods, such as broccoli, that can cause gastrointestinal gas in humans. However, a rabbit's gastrointestinal tract is very different from a human's and many of the foods that cause gas for humans do not affect rabbits at all. Therefore, there is no risk associated with rabbits eating a normal amount of broccoli as part of their daily diets.

The most common types of food that cause issues with rabbit's gastrointestinal systems are high in starch and sugars because they alter the pH of the cecum and can cause permanent damage to the rabbit's system.

Foods that should be avoided in high or regular servings include grains and legumes. Starchy root vegetables and fruits can also lead to raised blood sugar and should be fed only as a very small part of a rabbit's daily diet. Foods in the onion family, such as leeks and chives, should also be avoided because consumption of them can cause blood abnormalities.

While broccoli is safe a safe food to feed your rabbit, it is not considered a leafy green vegetable and should not make up a significant portion of your pet's daily diet. Broccoli contains higher sugar and starch levels and should be fed in lesser daily amounts. A good serving suggestion for broccoli and other non-leafy greens would be about 1 tablespoon for every two pounds of bodyweight a day.

Can Weed Help You Get Well? 
Types of Domesticated Rabbit Food Percentage of Daily Diet
Grass Hay Variety 75% of daily diet, or 1 cup per 2lbs
Green Leafy Vegetables 75% of daily diet, or 1 cup per 2lbs
Non-Leafy Vegetables 15% of daily diet, or 1 tablespoon per 2lbs
Fresh fruits 10% of daily diet, or 1 teaspoon per 2lbs