Beetroot is one of the most popular root vegetables often classified as “superfood” by fitness enthusiasts. It is packed with vital vitamins, minerals and fiber. Although it is a great food choice for humans, is it safe for pets? Can rabbits eat beetroot? What are the pros and cons of feeding beets to your bunnies? If you want to know the answers, then continue reading below!
If you’re a rabbit owner, then you should know that rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems. They can’t eat just any food that comes to them. In fact, poor digestion is one of the main reasons behind the common illnesses in bunnies. For this reason, you should take special care of your bunny’s diet. They should eat plenty of hay, fresh vegetables, greens and high-quality rabbit pellets to stay fit and active. Fruits and other vegetables that are high in sugar and starch should be only given as occasional treats. What about beetroots? Are they safe for bunnies? Let’s find out!
Can Rabbits Eat Beetroot?
The simple and straightforward answer is, Yes. Rabbits can safely eat beetroot. In fact, they really enjoy the taste of this deep red vegetable. However, this doesn’t mean you should allow your bunny to eat beetroot as much as they like or replace their daily diet with beetroots. Beetroot and other root vegetables like carrots and radish are very high in sugar and starch and hence should be given in limited amounts.
Further, beetroot is also packed with proteins, fats, phosphorus and calcium with very little fiber. This amount is too rich for a bunny and hence should not be given in excess.
The sugar and starch level of beetroot and other root vegetables like carrots may not be sugary for humans but this sugar level is too high for bunnies. Further, no matter how cartoons, books or stories depict rabbits as carrot-eating creatures, they’re actually not!
You’ll be surprised to know that wild rabbits don’t always run behind beets and carrots. They do enjoy eating these veggies due to their sweet taste and crunch, but not on a regular basis.
Can Rabbits Eat The Skin And Leaves?
Well, yes. Rabbits can safely eat beet greens and skin. In fact, they are more healthy than the beetroot itself. While feeding beet greens to your bunnies, you don’t have to worry about the sugar and starch content. Further, rabbits enjoy eating greens more than anything. But again, beetroot greens are high in calcium and oxalic acid which can be fatal if fed in higher amounts. Higher levels of oxalic acid can cause gas, diarrhea and other abdominal discomfort. Further, excessive calcium can cause kidney-related issues to rabbits. So, limit the amount of beet greens you’re giving your rabbits. Moreover, if your bunny is prone to kidney issues, then completely avoid giving beet greens or any other type of greens that are rich in calcium and oxalic acid.
If you’re introducing these non-leafy greens to your rabbit for the first time, then start with very little amount at first. Then, watch your bunny’s bowel movements for the next 24 hours to see any signs of diarrhea, constipation or other issues. If they persist, then it’s best to avoid feeding such items.
What Is The Best Way To Feed Beetroot To Rabbits?
Just like any other fruit or vegetable, wash the beets thoroughly to remove any dirt and soil particles. If you’re feeding greens, wash them too to remove any traces of fertilizers. After that chop the beets into smaller pieces to make it easier for bunnies to eat them. No need to peel them, bunnies can safely eat the skin as well.
You can give the beet greens as they are, no need to chop them. They are fibrous and crunchy, so bunnies will love chewing on them.
Another problem with beets is, their dark pigment can stain the beautiful white fur of your bunny. So, if you want to avoid this, feed your rabbit with your hands or offer them in a bowl.
Last and the most important thing, beetroot can cause the pee of your bunny to turn pinkish. So, don’t panic if you notice this colorful change. It’s totally normal and there is nothing to worry about.
Is Beetroot Bad For Rabbits?
Excess of everything is bad. Beetroot surely offers a number of health benefits to humans, but if fed in excess to bunnies, it can cause a number of problems.
Here is why you should avoid giving a lot of beetroot to your rabbit (s) :
- Oxalic Acid
Oxalic acid when exceeds a certain level becomes harmful for bunnies. It mainly results in behavioural changes like stress and anxiety. Further, it may cause irregular bowel movements and abnormal poops. They may even suffer from diarrhea which can be very harmful for a rabbit.
- High Sugar
Rabbits can’t tolerate a lot of sugar. The sugar in some fruits or vegetables may go unnoticed by humans, but it can be very high for the rabbits. Excessive sugar can slow down their digestion, so your bunny may find it hard to digest even the simplest food. Further, sugar can cause obesity and lethargy making the bunny inactive and lazy – which is bad for its overall health.
Beetroot is very rich in potassium which is again bad for their digestive systems. In fact, higher levels of potassium can cause other serious problems like muscle weakness, joint pains and lethargy. The worst part is, it can impose a life-threatening situation if left untreated for long.
- Low Fiber
A rabbit’s diet is mostly made of fiber which they get from hay, grass and leafy vegetables. They need about 25 to 30 percent of fiber every day in order to stay fit and healthy. The deal with beets is, they have very little fiber content and high starch and sugar. For this reason, overfeeding beets can result in loose stools and stomach cramps.
- High Calcium
Rabbits need a little amount of calcium to maintain their bone health. But their bodies absorb calcium in a different manner as compared to other animals. Unlike others, they don’t require Vitamin D to absorb the needed calcium.
Excess of calcium can be very problematic to a little bunny. It can badly impact their kidneys and urinary tracts. Problems like bladder sludge, kidney stones become very likely when the calcium levels increase in the body of a rabbit.
How Much Beetroot Should Rabbits Eat?
There is no fixed amount or exact number that shows how much beet rabbits can eat. It basically varies from rabbits to rabbits. They should be given small amounts depending on age, weight, breed and other health factors.
The simple logic is, larger rabbits can eat a little more beetroot than the smaller ones. Also, some bunnies don’t like eating beets at all, so avoid forcing them to eat them.
Here is a basic idea about how much beetroot should be given to a bunny :
To stay on a safer side, start by feeding only 1 tablespoon of beetroot to your rabbit and wait for at least 24 hours.
During this one day, look for any signs of diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal discomfort and other behavioural changes. If you notice these symptoms then understand that feeding beetroot to your bunny is not a great idea. Moreover, if there are no negative signs, you can continue feeding 1to 2 tablespoons of beetroot, 2 to 3 times per week.
Even if your bunny seems to enjoy the taste of beet and don’t show any negative symptoms, avoid exceeding the suggested amount. Keep it a minimum so that your rabbit gets all the possible benefits of this wonderful vegetable without worrying about the negative health impacts.
Can You Feed Cooked Or Canned Beetroots?
NO. Canned or cooked beetroot is a strict no-no for a bunny. Beetroots are already high in sugar which is not good for rabbits. On top of it, canned beetroots are loaded with salt, sugar as well as other preservatives which are extremely unhealthy for a rabbit. So, never allow your bunny to eat any canned fruit or vegetable.
Further, cooking the beetroot increases its starch content which is again bad for bunnies. So, always prefer giving them fresh beetroots or other vegetables.
If you’re making beet juice for yourself, it’s a good idea to offer a spoon of the leftover pulp to your rabbit. Other than that, you can offer this deep red root veggie as an occasional treat. This is because it is full of sugar and starch which is not good for rabbits.
You can also give beet greens to your bunny as they have more fiber and very less starch and sugar. However, they shouldn’t be given on a daily basis as they are high in oxalic acid and calcium. High levels of calcium and oxalic acid can result in problems like bladder sludge, gas, diarrhea, urinary tract issues, kidney damage etc.
Keep in mind that too much of anything is bad. As soon as you feed beets in small amounts as an occasional treat, they are healthy.