Christmas over-indulgence often leads to leftovers, and you may be tempted to share this festive fare with your rabbits. But the contents of our plates are rarely suitable for them and you need to be aware of the potential dangers. Instead, while you’re preparing your Christmas dinner, keep a few rabbit-friendly tasty morsels to one side and feed them over the festive season in moderation.
Plate 1: a human Christmas dinner
It may be a Christmas Day staple, but rabbits are herbivores – meaning that they only eat plants. Therefore, any meat is a definite no-no.
Cooked broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
You may already give your rabbits these as occasional treats, but make sure you keep some aside before cooking. Cooked vegetables are too rich for rabbits and too soft to be of any use for wearing down their teeth.
While they’re a good source of protein for us, peas are best avoided for rabbits because they can cause digestive problems.
Honey-glazed carrots and parsnips
Cooked vegetables aren’t suitable for rabbits anyway and, if they’ve been glazed with honey or other sweet sauces, could lead to life-threatening colic. Processed sugar can create a fatal build-up of gas in rabbits’ stomachs.
This is high in soluble sugars, so could be fatal if eaten by rabbits. However, if you make your own cranberry sauce, you could keep a couple of fresh cranberries to one side to share with your pet as a treat.
Breadcrumbs shouldn’t be fed to rabbits, due to being too high in carbohydrates. Plus, it’s unlikely that they would enjoy the added seasonings.
Even if they’re not roasted, potatoes aren’t recommended for rabbits. While they’re not necessarily harmful when raw, they’re too rich in starch and sugar for their delicate digestive system.
Who doesn’t love to top off their roast dinner with a good slug of gravy? It’s full of salt and meat juices though, so keep it well away from your rabbits.
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Plate 2: rabbit-friendly fare
A healthy diet for a rabbit should consist of 85% unlimited grass and hay, 10% vegetables and herbs, and 5% pelleted feed. You need to bear this in mind if you decide to give your rabbits a treat at Christmas, because sudden changes to the amount or type of food they eat can lead to digestive problems.
If you want to make your rabbits’ festive treats look more exciting, why not cut then into different shapes, like carrot stars or cabbage Christmas trees?
Cartoon rabbits are always seen chomping on carrots but, because they’re high in sugar, should only be given occasionally – a perfect Christmas present.
Rabbits find broccoli irresistible and it’s fine to feed it to them regularly.
Dark green varieties, red cabbage and bok choi are all safe for a rabbit’s digestive system.
Love them or hate them, sprouts are safe for rabbits to eat – but only in very small amounts. They can cause gas to form in the stomach if too many are consumed.
Rabbits especially like cauliflower leaves, so keep these to one side when you’re prepping your dinner.
It’s not something that you’re likely to have in your kitchen on Christmas Day, but this sweet-smelling hay would make a special treat for your rabbits. Alfalfa hay is higher in protein than grass hay, which makes it too fattening to feed as the main diet of an average adult rabbit – but a small amount would be a delicious treat over the festive period.
What did you feed your bunnies for Christmas dinner? Post a picture of their festive bowls on Instagram or Twitter, tagging @Petplan_UK with the hashtag #PethoodStories.