Maybe carrots are the first veggie that comes to mind for feeding rabbits, but bunnies are fond of many different vegetables and even some fruits. You may be inclined to feed your rabbit any type of vegetable you have on hand, but just because you found a food in the produce section doesn't mean that it is good for your long-eared friend, especially in unlimited quantities.
Rabbits Love the Leafy Greens
Being herbivores, rabbits love vegetables in general and leafy greens in particular. That's a good thing, since veggies are a source of vitamins and fiber to keep your bunny healthy and happy. Your rabbit will enjoy nibbling on spinach as well as beet greens, cilantro, mint and clover sprouts and leaves.
Tasty spinach leaves provide roughage for your bunny and are a source of vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy rabbit growth. However, alongside those beneficial elements, spinach also contains oxalates. Those are organic acids that can build up in your rabbit's system and become toxic if he consistently eats a large amount of foods containing them.
The bad doesn't outweigh the good when it comes to feeding spinach to your rabbit. He will still benefit from the nutrients and fiber that spinach brings to his diet, but because of the possibility of toxins building up in his system, feed spinach to your rabbit in moderation. There are plenty of other foods you can feed your bunny on a daily basis, such as pellets formulated specifically for rabbits, along with alfalfa, celery, apples and strawberries. Feeding your rabbit spinach once a week, twice at the most, is enough to add variety to his diet and for him to benefit from the useful elements of it without risking his health.
The Fresher, The Better
Your bunny will appreciate fresh spinach or any other greens or vegetables and fresh will be healthier for him, too. If you pick spinach, dandelion greens or clover straight out of the garden for your rabbit, wash and dry it thoroughly before feeding it to him to completely remove pesticides or any other unhealthy residue. If you find it more convenient to lay in a supply of spinach or other greens for your bunny, make sure that they don't lie in a pile all together. Being stored in that manner promotes mold and fermentation, both of which are dangerous to your bunny's health. Your rabbit may not mind eating slightly wilted spinach or other greens, but make sure that they aren't moldy or yellowing.
- The Rabbit Handbook; Karen Gendron and Karen Parker, J.D.
- Nutrition of the Rabbit; Carlos De Blas and Julian Wiseman
- How to Raise Rabbits; Samantha Johnson and Daniel Johnson
- The VP Foundation: The Truth About Oxalate
- Nutrient Requirements of Rabbits; Committee on Animal Nutrition, National Research Council
- spinach image by Ramon Grosso from Fotolia.com