Can Rabbits Eat Beet Leaves?

Since their digestive systems are meant to accommodate a herbivore diet, rabbits can enjoy many veggies. So, rabbits can eat beet (or beetroot) leaves. Since vegetables are not as important as hay, they need to be taken in small, limited amounts. The servings should be done at intervals of several hours.

When giving the rabbit beet leaves, it is recommended that you feed it with only a small portion. Then, you need to wait for at least a day. This is enough time to observe if there are any side effects. If the rabbit looks unaffected, it means that the beet leaves got accommodated well by the bunny’s digestive system.

This article will give you more information about beetroot leaves and whatever impact they can have on rabbits. Another question would be this one: are beetroot leaves even safe for your bunny, or can they cause harm? This article will crisscross on that particular subject with ease. In the end, you will get all the answers to all your inquiries. Read on.

Rabbits And Beetroot –The Whole Enchilada

Beetroot, as a vegetable, is a famous food that has vitamins, minerals, and fiber. If you are a rabbit owner who is looking at boosting their pet’s diet, you may have already given beetroot thought, you know, whether it will benefit your rabbit or not. For the most part, beetroots and their leaves are harmful. However, and unfortunately, these root vegetables can sometimes expose rabbits to some form of harm.

While it is agreeable that rabbits can eat the leaves of beetroots, the intake should be limited to small portions. One reason is that beetroots have high sugar levels. Increased uptake of sugar means that the rabbit will get an unnecessary energy boost. Apart from the sugar, beetroots have excess potassium and calcium, which can negatively impact the rabbit’s gut. It is essential to know that wild rabbits do not fancy eating beetroot. So, it is correct to assume that the intestines of their domesticated counterparts are not designed to process it.

If your rabbit reacts oddly to the beetroot servings, you can use some water and hay to reverse the process. One of the symptoms that the beetroot has been rejected by the gut is a runny stool from the rabbit.

Rabbits Eating Beetroot – Is It Even Safe?

We have already okayed eating beetroot. The more reason for giving it the green light is that beetroot does not have chemicals or toxic elements. As noted in the last part, the main caveat is the high sugar levels that make it difficult for the rabbit’s system to break down. A study done by the Technical University of Madrid advises that beetroot should only be given to rabbits as energy concentrates to maintain the animal’s activeness.

Another vital thing to note is the presence of oxalic acid in beetroot. This acid can be toxic to rabbits, especially when it is in excess. This is a good reason to limit the supply of the vegetable to the rabbits.

Rabbits And Eating Parts Of The Beetroot Vegetable

If you have seen a beetroot plant, you know that it offers a clearly distinct look. Every part of the vegetable in question has its nutritional advantage and unique flavors.

The answer is yes – rabbits can eat any part of the beetroot. What you should note, however, is that some particular parts should be eaten more sparingly than others. Let us now pay attention to each one of them.

Rabbits And Eating Beetroot Tops

You may already know that the bulbs or tops form the most part of the beetroot. The bulb, like many other bulbs, has a rounded shape. The bulb’s color is a blend of purple and pink. Many times, the stalk, which juts from the bottom, is thick.

The beetroot tops have two elements in excess – oxalic acid and sugar. While sugar is completely unhealthy and unbreakable for rabbits, oxalic acid could expose the rabbit to fatal toxicity. Those lines shouldn’t scare you; the part is not entirely off-limits for bunnies. What you can do is cut or dice the bulb into small bits. Then, you can serve the bulb bits in moderation. The take-home item from this section is that the beetroot bulb should be fed moderately. Here, less is more.

You need to be aware of the immediate after-effects of the rabbit eating the beets. The urine of the rabbit will turn into a pinkish kind of color. This should neither alarm you nor send you into shock. The color change is usually an effect of beetroot working through the rabbit’s gut.

Rabbits And Eating Beetroot Leaves

Beetroot leaves are green and are attached to purple stems. While they can be eaten by bunnies, like bulbs, they should be served sparingly. This is because oxalic acid is written all over the leaves. But the acid there is lower than the one in the bulbs.

Forget about the natural acidity of the leaves. They are a brilliant source of vitamins and proteins. As a matter of fact, beetroot leaves contain between 17% and 18% protein. This is according to the journal titled ‘The Rabbit: Husbandry, Health, and Production.’

The only problem with the beetroot leaves is the high potassium levels. If a rabbit takes in too much beet leaves, they are likely to develop digestive issues.

Rabbits And Eating Beetroot Stalks

Beetroot stalks have a bright fuchsia color and are long. Sadly and just like the leaves and the bulbs, the stalks should only be taken in small amounts. The stalks have the highest sugar degree but have the least oxalic acid amounts. As compared to the other two parts, they are the safest portion to give a rabbit. But that shouldn’t excite you into stuffing the rabbit with beetroot stalks. Always ensure that the beet stalks are rationed to avoid overwhelming the rabbit with sugar.

The following table captures the nutritional details of beetroots. The numbers will help you understand the discussion better.

Item Of Nutrition (Vitamin, Mineral)Quantity (Per 100g)
Dietary Fiber2.6g

So, Is Beetroot A Good Thing For Rabbits?

We might have already answered this question, but there’s no harm in digging deeper. Outside the technicalities of nutrition, beetroot can help your bunny’s daily living. When taken in moderation, here are some of the benefits that the rabbit may get:

1. Beetroot Gives Rabbits A Good Energy Boost

The entire beetroot plant has fiber, pectins, and richness of sugar. Sugar isn’t that bad because it can inject the rabbit with the energy it needs. Likewise, the fiber and pectins help the rabbit to process the energy injections from the rabbit.

If your rabbit seems fatigued or lethargic, a small portion of beetroot stalks will liven him up. While you may want your rabbit to feel invigorated, remember that the servings should be limited. At any one moment of apportioning, stick to one teaspoon of beetroot. Sugar isn’t that bad, but it is still bad.

2. Beetroot Gives Rabbits Proteins 

The beetroot vegetable can be a good source of proteins. If your rabbit is a kit, the protein will help them to grow. Also, it will get the body and mind of the animal to function well. This is apart from boosting the energy levels of the rabbit.

What you should know is that not all rabbits have the same protein needs. This is dependent on the bunny’s activity levels. If your rabbit is an outside animal, it will need more proteins to compensate for its activeness. On the other hand, indoor rabbits are more sedentary, and therefore, they will not need a lot of proteins.

So, Is Beetroot A Bad Thing For Rabbits?

We have looked at the advantages, and it is only fair that we look at the other side of the coin. All the beetroot disadvantages are based on the content elements of the plants, and they are as follows:

1. The Oxalic Acid

Low amounts of oxalic acid are not a problem – things become worse if the acid builds up in the rabbit’s body. The immediate effect of this spike is some behavioral changes. The rabbit’s stool may become soft and runny, and diarrhea may kick in.

2. Sugar

The gut flora of the intestines of the rabbit can get changes through too much sugar intake. In turn, this affects the digestion and breaking up of food. A lot of sugar may cause lethargy, weight gain, stomach upsets, and diarrhea.

3. Potassium

One of the minerals that beetroot leaves are rich in is potassium. When it is in excess, this mineral brings about digestion issues. For rabbits, too much potassium will cause the following: muscle weakness, lethargy, and scarier, death.

4. Low Content Of Fiber

The Journal of Animal Science notes that rabbits need a high-fiber diet. At least 20% to 25% of fiber is needed for an adult rabbit per meal. Fiber is crucial in ensuring that food is easily and quickly digested.

Once your rabbit develops stool or stomach issues, it could be that they are not getting the needed amount of fiber. To remedy this issue, you can give the rabbit high-fiber pellets, hay, or veggies rich in fiber. Beetroot leaves do not have as much fiber as rabbits need to ensure proper running of the gastrointestinal system.

5. A lot Of Calcium

Don’t get this wrongly – calcium is a useful mineral. From science class, you know that calcium promotes bone health and overall body growth. Unlike other animals, rabbits do not need vitamin D to be present for calcium absorption to take place.

When rabbits overeat calcium, it will exit through the urine, meaning that the mineral has to go through the kidneys. The kidneys do the separation before excretion occurs. Through the beetroot plant, the rabbit will be forced to expel a lot of calcium, resulting in kidney damage.

How Do I Know When My Rabbit Eats A Lot Of Beetroot?

When you’re introducing any part of the beetroot to your bunny’s diet, you will need to find balance, which is quite tricky. If you think you have fed your rabbit too much beetroot or they have eaten it themselves, look out for the following:

1. The rabbit’s Behavior

Since the rabbit’s digestive system will go into an imbalance, the rabbit will show some overt reaction. It may show aggression in the form of hitting or lethargy. Your rabbit may attempt to isolate itself. Also, it will stop playing since it will have lacked the energy to do it. This could be an indication of underlying health issues. If the reaction comes after you have fed the rabbit with beetroot, you have your culprit.

The other aggression-driven behaviors include intimidating other rabbits, nipping at you, and setting their bodies in defensive positions. The aggression is a rabbit’s usual way of protecting itself when it has a  troubled health situation.

2. Digestion

The digestive systems of rabbits are unique. They allow the animals to do nutrition processing from food over and over again. When the system is kept in balance, it works efficiently, powerfully, and effectively. Any change – such as the injection of a beetroot diet – may trigger changes to the system. As captured elsewhere in this article, the beetroot plant may trigger full-on diarrhea or a runny stool.

The rabbit poop type known as cecotropes will lack in consistency. Also, they may produce an offensive smell. This is an indication that some bacterial imbalance has occurred.

To correct the situation, you need to introduce more grass or hay. While the sick rabbit goes back to eating the blades, the effects will be reversed, and balance will then be restored.

If the problem persists beyond 48 hours, speak to your vet. If he or she asks you to go to the clinic, carry a sample of the beetroot you fed the rabbit. This will help the expert to know what treatment plan he or she is going to take up.

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