Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming in March, it got me thinking about GREENs. Our Beach Bunny group even has a Green Salad Party every year for the bunnies at the beach. So I decided to write this article about salad greens and your bunny. Most green leafy vegetables are OK for rabbits, with very few exceptions, but that does not mean that you can buy him just anything at the supermarket. For a complete list of greens and vegetables that are OK for your rabbit, visit the House Rabbit Society list online.
Some bunnies do not tolerate certain vegetables very well and others cannot handle almost any at all. You must be careful about what greens you feed your pet rabbit, just like you must do with all of their other food. You should not suddenly introduce a strange new green into his salad, without watching to see how it will affect him.
It is best to only try one new green veggie at a time with your bun. Give just a small amount (a couple of 3″ squares) and then wait a day to see what happens. You will need to know what the signs for stomach distress are in rabbits.
If your rabbit is suddenly not active when he normally would be or if he is sitting in an unusual place for a long period. That should be a red flag. If he is constantly trying to get comfortable by stretching out and moving from one side to the other. This can be a sign of intestinal discomfort or gas. Being lethargic or lacking energy or appetite can be another sign.
Any of these signals, should cause you to take notice. It does not mean it is time to panic, but you should now be aware that your bunny might have something wrong with him. You will want to start paying very close attention to him, at this point. If he is clicking his teeth loudly and sitting hunched over, that is a sign of extreme pain which needs immediate attention.
If I notice my bunny exhibiting any of these symptoms, I like to offer a healthy treat that I know my rabbit always likes, to see if he takes it. A rabbit who is sick will not eat.This is pretty universal among rabbits. It is always a bad sign when your rabbit refuses his favorite treat.
When you have given your rabbit an unusual (new) green vegetable in the last 24 hours, then you probably know the cause of this problem. This is why you only want to introduce one new green at a time, otherwise you will not know which green it was that upset your bunny’s tummy. You certainly don’t want to give it to him again, just to see which one it was.
If your rabbit is not acting normal and you feel that something is off, then almost always you are correct. Rabbits try and hide the fact that they are sick from their humans and when they break any of their routines, you should immediately be on the lookout for other symptoms that they are not feeling well.
Now that you know something could be wrong, you will want to check your rabbit’s litter box. Has he pooped in there, since you last cleaned it (hopefully you clean it everyday, otherwise this inspection is useless)? My bunny’s litter boxes are cleaned each morning, so if there is nothing in there in the afternoon, this is a sign of a possible problem. You should make a habit of checking your bunny’s box at least once a day. It is an important part of having a pet rabbit.
You should be extra vigilant if you think your rabbit is showing any signs of something being not right. Especially, if you gave him some kind of new food, green or treat in the last 24 hours. Stress is another factor that can cause these issues.
If you think your bunny is not feeling right, the signs will be subtle. You must be in very in tune with pet bunnies so that you know when it is time to take them to the vet. Waiting for something dramatic to happen, before deciding it is time for that car ride to the animal hospital is usually the difference between life and death. Enough said on that subject.
Even though more than 80 percent of your rabbit’s diet should be grass hays, one of the highlights of a bunny’s day is their salad time. With a little careful experimentation, you can find your rabbit’s favorite healthy green veggies to serve him. Just like other creatures, rabbits like variety. Sure they will gobble up some romaine lettuce every day, if you give it to them, but I have found they get much more excited over the little treats in their salad. Things like a sprig of dill or basil or a few squares of crinkly kale, along with their regular fare.
Be aware that rabbits can be fickle about their veggies. What may taste good to them one month, may not taste the same the next. Do not be surprised if your bunny’s favorite green does not change regularly.
Sometimes my bunnies are grabbing their green carrot tops first and other times it is the dandelion leaves or kale pieces that they are seeking first. I am sure that it is due to the variations of being grown on different farms with different seeds in different seasons or locations, etc.
This means that just because your rabbit turns down some kale or chard one time, does not mean he will never eat it. Just the other day someone offered some homegrown chard to my bunnies. They never liked it before, but readily ate this fresh stuff. It obviously had a different flavor than what I had been buying at the store.
Some people even go out and pick wild greens for their rabbits. I have a friend who goes out to large public parks, just to pick the dandelion leaves for her bunny. Just be careful not to pick anything that has been sprayed with any type of herbicide or pesticides.
If you have any question about whether something is safe or not for your rabbit, do not let them eat it until you have checked to see if it is on the “safe bunny foods” list. If you do not know what a plant is, do not give it to your bunny. Many wild plants are toxic for rabbits and domestic rabbits do not have the ability to distinguish safe from harmful plant species, like wild bunnies can. If you do not know for sure what a plant is and that it is safe, never give it to your rabbit.
Erin Go Bragh!