Rabbits love to eat most of the time.
But it’s vital to know what they’re munching on for safety reasons.
You might ask:
“Can I feed them something healthy like lettuce?”
Luckily, I compiled some important lettuce facts in this article just for you.
So, read on to learn:
- 7 shocking benefits of lettuce in your rabbits.
- 7 potential dangers of bunnies eating lettuce.
- When baby rabbits should start eating lettuce.
- And so much more…
Can rabbits eat lettuce?
Rabbits can eat lettuce. It contains lots of vitamins and minerals for optimum health. However, beware of the iceberg variety. They contain a poisonous substance called lactucarium. If eaten, your rabbits may suffer digestive pain or death in severe cases.
Rabbit eating lettuce – 7 benefits
#1: Rich in vitamin A
Vitamin A keeps your bunny’s eyes healthy.
Plus, their diet should contain 5,000-75,000 IU of vitamin A per 35.27 oz (1 kg) of body weight.
Interestingly, lettuce contains a whopping 8,710 IU even in a 3.5 oz (100 g) serving.
Not just that.
The same amount of serving also helps your bunnies get the following antioxidants:
- Lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin block excess light energies from penetrating your bunny’s eyes.
While beta-carotene helps boost your rabbit’s vision.
#2: Helps prevent vitamin deficiency
Vitamin deficiencies in rabbits often impair their blood flow.
But a proper diet and doses of folate can help prevent it.
And your bunnies can get folate from eating lettuce.
Folate helps the body to function properly.
This also helps prevent artery damage and blood clot formation.
#3: Strengthens your bunny’s bones
Your rabbits are more agile than you think.
They can jump as high as 47 in (1.2 m).
Some rabbit species can hop at speeds ranging from 35-45 mi (56-72 km) per hour.
But with strong hind legs comes a greater need for calcium.
Luckily, feeding your bunnies with lettuce helps keep their bones healthy.
A 3.5 oz (100 g) of lettuce gives your fluffballs the following nutrients:
These minerals strengthen your bunny’s teeth, too.
#4: Improves their nerves
You may have noticed your bunny’s curious moves.
Or sharp and quick movements.
They run fast, too.
These instincts are life-saving for them as prey animals.
Help keep them alert by feeding them some lettuce leaves.
Lettuce contains 0.0005 oz (14 mg) of magnesium per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving.
This mineral helps improve your bunny’s nerve cells.
Especially when neurons in their body send signals to the brain.
This allows your rabbit to act and respond quickly.
#5: Contains iron
The iron content in lettuce leaves helps your bunny’s well-being.
Especially in oxygen transport and energy metabolism.
Moreover, iron is also vital in pregnant rabbits and their offspring.
Enough amounts of iron in their diet help baby bunnies survive until weaning.
Or the stage when the mother rabbit separates from their babies.
#6: Helps keep muscles strong
Lettuce contains potassium.
“What benefits can my rabbits get from potassium?”
This mineral helps prevent your furry ones from developing weak muscles.
Plus, a study confirms that rabbit diets with less than 0.3% of potassium result in death.
Potassium also helps your rabbits from paralysis or inability to move.
Watch this video about common symptoms and treatments of rabbit paralysis:
#7: Keeps your bunny’s coat healthy
Rabbits can produce natural oils to keep their fur shiny and fluffy.
But you can give them lettuce leaves, too.
It’s because lettuce contains zinc and copper.
These minerals help your fluffy one’s fur growth and development.
“Can I give them a body bath instead?”
You may, but it may cause trauma in your rabbits.
Sometimes, they die from stress.
Moreover, shampoo products make their fur dry.
And remove those natural oils in their coat.
Note: You can give them a bum bath to clean dirt or poop residues.
Rabbit eating lettuce – 7 dangers
#1: Causes bloating
High concentrations of carbohydrates in your bunny’s diet trigger digestive pain.
Such as bloating or gas.
Unfortunately, a 3.5 oz (100 g) of lettuce contains 0.17 oz (3.29 g) of carbohydrates.
So, be cautious when giving your rabbits lettuce slices.
Especially when you’re also feeding them pellets and other treats.
These commercial rabbit foods contain lots of carbohydrates, too.
#2: Low in fiber
Containing only 0.07 oz (2.1 g) of fiber, 3.5 oz (100 g) of lettuce isn’t enough for your bunny.
Rabbits need at least 0.88 oz (25 g) per 35 oz (1 kg) of their body weight.
However, feeding many portions of lettuce isn’t the best idea.
It’s because lettuce contains nutrients that may be excessive for your bunnies.
As vets recommend, grass hay is the one to go for in terms of fiber content.
#3: High in sugar
Lettuce may look like the healthiest green.
But it contains 0.04 oz (1.19 g) of sugar per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving.
High amounts of sugar in your bunny’s food may be appetizing for them.
However, it poses a health threat in the long run such as:
- Dental problems.
- Parasite development in their intestines.
- Changes in the pH level of their digestive tract.
#4: Causes kidney stones
Rabbits may suffer from kidney failure.
This is due to the excess amount of vitamin C in their system.
Interestingly, rabbits already produce this vitamin in their body.
And feeding them lettuce might contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
Unfortunately, this affects your bunny’s urination.
They may experience pain while urinating.
Or have blood in their urine in severe cases.
#5: Contains little to no vitamin E
Lettuce only contains 0.000004 oz (0.13 mg) of vitamin E per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving.
While rabbits need at least 0.0017 oz (50 mg) per 35.27 oz (kg) of their body weight.
Vitamin E is vital in your bunnies to help them prevent cell and DNA damage.
Especially during oxidation or chemical reactions in the cells.
Moreover, sufficient amounts of vitamin E prevent your bunnies from the following:
- Destruction of the muscles.
- Infertility or inability to reproduce.
- Damage in cell fats and proteins in the liver.
- Fetal resorption or the absorption of the dead fetus in the uterus.
#6: Lacks vitamin D
Another nutrient that lettuces lack is vitamin D.
This vitamin helps boost calcium and phosphorus in your rabbits.
Moreover, rabbits need 600-1,000 IU of vitamin E per 35.27 oz (kg) of body weight.
Insufficient amounts of this vitamin pose health threats to your rabbits.
Such as the following:
- Weak heart functions.
- Weak immune system.
- Poor bone and teeth quality.
#7: Contains high pesticide residue
According to EWG, lettuce contains traces of pesticides.
Taking the 17th spot on the Dirty Dozens list, lettuce contains 54% of neonics.
This is a chemical that is used to kill bees from invading crops.
Especially during the growing season of fruits and vegetables.
Unfortunately, high amounts of neonics are found in children’s (3-5 years old) urine in the US.
This means that these are not only found in lettuces…
But in most fruits and vegetables sold in the market.
So, be cautious when feeding lettuce or any crop to your bunnies.
Can rabbits eat lettuce everyday?
Rabbits shouldn’t eat lettuce every day. They must be fed with fibrous foods such as hay to avoid any digestive disorders. You can feed your bunnies some lettuce 1-2 times a week or as quick treats.
Can baby rabbits eat lettuce?
Baby rabbits can’t eat lettuce yet until they reach 12 weeks older. They must rely on their mother’s milk as their primary source of food. Feeding baby rabbits lettuce will only cause them more harm than good.
Can wild rabbits eat lettuce?
Wild rabbits can eat lettuce. As foraging animals, hunting for food in the field is part of their daily routine. Lettuce can be appetizing to them. But nothing beats a great amount of hay in their main diet.