Can Rabbits Eat Meat?

Well, rabbits are not made, nor are they meant to eat meat. So, no – rabbits should not eat any kind of meat, even if they imply that they can or are interested in it. If your black, brown, grey, or white rabbit gets to a few pieces of meat, you have nothing to worry about. The only concern will be some stomach issues that won’t be too severe. However, letting your rabbit eat a lot of meat could trigger a series of GI issues that could prove fatal.

If you believe in evolution, let’s talk a little about the rabbit’s digestive system. Since rabbits only needed fiber to meet all their nutritional needs, their systems evolve. Protein and fat were left out of the process, and right now, they are utterly useless to rabbits.

So, even if you’re curious about it, do not try to feed your rabbit with any type of meat, whether raw or cooked. This is it – the rabbit could sleep forever, and that’s not something you want.

This article will answer some questions related to the rabbit’s nutritional needs. Let’s see what’s in store.

The Reasons Why

Rabbits Can’t Eat Meat Because They Are herbivores

Firstly, rabbits, like most of the members of the Lagomorpha order, are herbivores. I’m talking about jackrabbits and hares too. The wild rabbit breeds eat seeds, fruits, herbs, sprouts, twigs, and other plant-based food items. On the flip side, captive rabbits survive entirely on those types of foods, plus a little touch of human love.

Some pet care advisors mention that rabbits should eat only three types of foods: grass, pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This implies that the rabbit’s diet only handles plant-based material. So, again, it’s a no for the meat. This read should tell you all about feeding a rabbit.

The more scientific reason for not feeding rabbits with meat is that they are enzymatically deficient. Breaking down the amino acids forming poultry, fish, or beef meet needs enzymes like proteases. Rabbits do not have such vital enzymes, and so it would be exhausting if the body tried to do anything.

Meat Is high In proteins And Fats

The following table captures the nutritional analysis of three types of meat: chicken with skin (fryers or broiler), fish, and 70% lean raw meat. Take a look: 

Table 1: Nutrients In Meat (All Figures Are To The Nearest Whole Number)

Nutritional ComponentLean Raw MeatFishChicken With SkinUnits In…
Vitamin B12290micrograms
Total fats30512grams
Magnesium 215021milligrams

On top of that, some of the meat has small quantities of the following elements:

Vitamin KSodiumManganese
Vitamin ERiboflavinIron
Vitamin B6PotassiumFolate
Vitamin B5NiacinCopper

Those two tables should tell you that chicken, fish, and meat, have a lot of cholesterol, fat, proteins, and calories.

If you feed such meals to rabbits, the excess proteins will make gut motility drag down. Also, the rabbit’s urine production will increase as a result of liver and kidney strain. More urine means lowering and changing the pH and even an imbalance in the cecum microflora. If your rabbit eats a significant chunk of meat, expect stomach upsets, soft stool, enteritis, and diarrhea. If your rabbit doesn’t get sick, it will get fat.

But it doesn’t mean that rabbits don’t need fat – they need between 1 and 3% of it. Too much fat smells like GI issues and obesity combined, and I am sure of this: you don’t want to start dealing with vet expenses for obesity-related rabbit issues.

Meat Does Not Have Any Fiber

As emboldened in the introduction, fiber is the most vital nutrient that a rabbit needs. It is the center of a rabbit’s development as it helps in gut motility and teeth wearing. If you stick your rabbit to a meat-based diet, it won’t get the much-needed fiber. So, again, don’t do it.

Questions On Rabbit Dietary Needs

Wild Rabbit Diet

In the wild, the rabbits are obligatory herbivores. There is nothing else they live on except greens and the one thing they love the most – blades of grass. For the wild rabbit to survive, it needs a lot of grass. That is why you will always find them hiding in greenly dense areas. It’s the idea of staying close to the source of food.

If wild rabbits are stepping out its regular diet, they will only eat fresh veggies, fruits, and flowers. This becomes a problem to landowners and farmers who think that the rabbits are destructive, and yet, they’re only trying to survive.

When wintertime comes, wild rabbits change their dietary needs. Because of the extreme cold, most of the plants die. In this case, they choose to gnaw on tree branches and twigs. And from time to time, you will see them climbing trees.

Pet Rabbit Diet

A house rabbit eats the same as the wild one, except you have to give it hay in the place of grass. Since the captive bunnies are not opening to eating the wild variety, they need to eat food in three parts: pellets, hay, and fruits and veggies.

Hay is the most important since it provides the live-or-die nutrient, fiber. Pellets contribute minerals and vitamins, and fresh fruits and veggies give a touch of variety.

If My Rabbit Eats Meat, What Should I Do?

I get where the question is coming from. I mean, bunnies are always free-roaming, and their curiosity levels are way up high. So, the minute you engage your neck muscles and turn your back, your rabbit will just hop, jump, and steal the meat on your table. Probably, it may have been smelling the delicacy from far.

If the rabbit eats the meat, do not panic. Instead, start monitoring it frequently for any unusual behavior. If the amount was small, the rabbit should be okay. If symptoms like diarrhea start kicking in, you may need to talk to a vet.

If the rabbit’s behavior changes over the next two days, there is cause for alarm. In the future, you may need to be careful. Whenever you cook any type of meat, keep it away from the rabbit.

Final Words

A rabbit comes into this world to exercise, live, and eat plants – not meat. So, any meat-like or meat-based food should never get anywhere near the rabbit’s cage. Things could be messy.

And rabbits don’t choose to be plant-eating creatures – they need to eat green to survive. As a rabbit owner, you will need to provide a lot of fiber, some pellets, and little servings of fruits and veggies.

If your rabbits seem to have a knack for meat – raw or cooked – get them off the dangerous love. They will love the spiciness and the deliciousness, but they surely won’t love the GI issues. Keep the rabbit safe at all times because the meat is an enemy.

Anyway, see a rabbit humping a cat here.

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