Do you think rabbits eat grass? It is not enough to purchase a rabbit as a pet. There are various other things that you would need to do if your pet is to survive, live long, and be happy. One of these things is feeding the animal. Rabbits need to be given enough food in the right proportion so they can be healthy and happy. If you recently got a rabbit and wondered what sort of food rabbits eat, there are different types of them.
Rabbits can eat grass, along with other foods like vegetables and fruits like different berries. In fact, grass is one of the major foods of these animals, especially the wild rabbits. Although not all grasses can be consumed by rabbits without side effects or even death, many other types can be safely consumed by rabbits.
Grass is a very good source of fibre, whether it is in its fresh form or its dry form as hay. Fibre is an essential part of a rabbit’s diet. The high amount of fibre contained in it is good for the dental health of your pet as it helps the animal to build strong and healthy teeth. Apart from helping your pet to build strong and healthy teeth, grass is also good for your pet’s intestines.
As a rabbit owner, you would need to be familiar with the different kinds of grasses that rabbits can safely eat so that your pet does not get poisoned.
What Is The Nutritional Composition Of Grass?
Grass contains different nutrients and minerals , especially when it is still a young shoot that hasn’t flowered yet. Some of its constituents include:
- Carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose.
- Vitamins like vitamins B, C, A, E, K.
- Minerals including zinc, phosphorus, sodium, iron, calcium, chlorine, potassium and copper.
Depending on the plant, some grasses have other beneficial properties for rabbits. They may be anti-inflammatory or antihelminthic. Some seeds also contain fats and oils.
What Are Some Grasses That Are Dangerous To Rabbits?
As mentioned earlier, not every type of grass is safe for rabbits to consume. Some of them are toxic to rabbits and may cause problems like bloating, diarrhoea and other intestinal problems for your pet.
It is also possible that your rabbit may be tempted to eat regular plants, as it may confuse them for grass. Most plants are not good for consumption by rabbits and will be toxic to your pet, causing the animal to fall sick. Some types of grasses and plants that are poisonous or toxic to rabbits include:
- Deadly nightshade
- Swamp wing fly
If you grow plants in your yard, you should prevent your rabbit from getting to the plants by fencing them off. It is best to feed grass to your rabbit as hay (dried form). When getting grass for your rabbit, ensure that you avoid the ones that grow in places which are likely to have toxins such as factories.
Also, do not get ones that grow in places with a lot of dust like, those that are located close to busy roads. Toxins and dust will affect the health of your rabbit adversely.
It is easy enough to know grasses that will be poisonous to your rabbit. They mostly grow in moist places or places with shade. Therefore you should avoid feeding such grasses to your pet, especially if you are unfamiliar with the type of grasses that rabbits should eat.
What Are The Benefits Of Feeding Your Rabbit With Grass?
- It is readily available: Lots of areas have easily accessible grass, and so, you do not have to spend a lot or anything at all in collecting or harvesting the grass. If you collect more than enough fresh grass, you can dry the rest as hay and store it for your pet.
- It has nutrients that are beneficial to your rabbit: Grass contains amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and other constituents that help your rabbit to grow and increases its weight. Also, it contains fibre, which is a very important constituent of a rabbit’s diet.
- It is cost-effective: Feeding grass to your rabbit will save you from having to spend too much money on more expensive animal feed. Instead, you can reduce cost by supplementing rabbit feed with grass.
How Should You Feed Grass To Your Rabbit?
Rabbits enjoy grazing, and so, you can leave your pet to graze in your yard or garden if you have one. If you do not have a garden, you can get fresh grass for the rabbit from time to time. Once you get the grass, wash it thoroughly with water and then dry it for about three hours. While it is drying, turn it over from time to time so that it will dry evenly. Also, to make sure that the grass dries as fast as possible, spread it out in thin layers.
Be sure to avoid lawn clippings and grasses that have been treated with chemicals. Grasses that are cut with a lawnmower will easily ferment and will make your rabbit sick by upsetting its stomach.Instead, use scissors to cut grass from your lawn if you want to feed it to your pet.
There are many dangers associated with allowing your rabbit to eat from the lawnmower. First, some parts of the lawnmower may injure your pet’s delicate skin and increase the risk of infection. Also, it is possible, although not very likely that the lawnmower could startup while the rabbit is close to it.
Again, grass that is cut with a lawnmower easily ferment grass as it is crushed and heated up, hastening the fermentation process. This fermentation process can wreak havoc on your rabbit’s delicate and fragile digestive system. When feeding your rabbit with grass, ensure that you do not give it too much at a time, as doing this might cause problems for the animal.
This is particularly important if you just got the rabbit, and it is not yet used to eating grass. Instead, begin feeding the animal with a little grass at a time, and before long, the rabbit’s system will be used to the grass, and it will not cause it any problems.
Can I Grow Grass For My Rabbit?
In case you do not have a lawn or a yard, you can grow fresh grass for your rabbit to eat. The process of growing your own grass is quite easy, and you can do it in a tray or a small box. To grow grass, you will need to purchase some general-purpose compost in which you would grow the grass. You can get some at garden centers.
Put the general-purpose compost in the box or tray and put some grass seed on it. Ensure you water it anytime it gets dry, and before long, you would have fresh grass for your rabbit.
If you want to provide a variety of grasses, you should get weed mixes or Timothy grass seed. These will have different plants in it, and so your rabbit will be able to get different nutrients from them.
How To Recognise Signs Of Grass Poisoning In Your Rabbit.
Even though you may be as careful as possible with the grasses that you feed to your rabbit, the animal may get food poisoning sometimes. For instance, your pet may ingest pesticide without knowing that it is harmful as it cannot recognize it just by smelling it. At such times, you will need to know what to do so and signs of grass poisoning in rabbits so that you can save your pet from suffering.
Some Symptoms That Show That Your Rabbit May Have Ingested Pesticides Include:
- A lack of appetite and rejection of food.
- An unregulated body temperature which could be higher than normal or lower than normal
- General weakness and reduced activity.
- Depression and weakness.
What Should You Do If Your Rabbit Is Suffering From Food Poisoning From Consuming Grass?
The best thing to do when your rabbit eats grass and becomes poisoned is to seek professional help, especially if you have no expertise dealing with this sort of situation. Rabbits cannot expel toxins on their own by vomiting, and you should never try to help your rabbit to vomit.
A veterinarian is in the best position to flush out, get rid of or dilute the toxins in your rabbit’s system with the aid of intravenous fluids. If you are conversant with the type of treatment to give your rabbit when it is suffering from poisoning, then you may attempt to give the animal first aid.
Some Common First Aid For Poisoned Rabbits Include:
- Carlsbad salt.
- Activated carbon.
Apart from the treatments above, you can also use natural products to relieve your rabbit from the effects of grass poisoning. Some of them include:
- Chicken protein.
- Rice broth
To help your rabbit produce its discomfort, you may use a wet cloth to spray the animal’s skin with water to cool it down.
Rabbits can eat grass, either in fresh form or as hay. It is one of their major foods and has lots of benefits for them, plus it also tastes good to them. When getting some for your pet, ensure that you take the precautions above so that your rabbit does not encounter any problems.
- NSW Department Of Primary Industries [Link]