Do you want to know can rabbits eat bamboo? Well, you’re in the right place! Bamboo has become one of the most frequently grown plants in the world in the last few years. But, can it be a regular part of a rabbits’ diet?
A tasty treat or a posing threat? Bamboo versatility is not to be doubted. Besides its vibrant green color and nice looks, bamboo leaves have been a source of nutrition to many animals close to rabbits.
Knowing that rabbits enjoy greens such as cabbage, carrots and salads, it’s natural to ask yourselves whether rabbits can eat bamboo. Bamboo and its leaves are a perfectly safe option for your rabbit, as long as you follow some directions. But, be careful, not all sorts of bamboo are safe for your little furballs.
If you want to know how to tell the safe kinds from the toxic ones, keep scrolling down!
What Do Rabbits Usually Eat?
Rabbits are known for their love towards lettuce and carrots. We’ve all seen the cartoons where they only eat carrots, but that’s not all true. Can rabbits eat bamboo like they eat carrots in those cartoons?
Owners should always tend to give their rabbits a diverse diet of vegetables and rabbit pellets found in pet stores. By doing this, you take care of the digestive tract of the rabbits making them happier and helping them live longer.
Contrary to the cartoons we all know and love, carrots should not be frequently used in a rabbits diet. Its high sugar levels can lead to some vascular problems, making the rabbits slow and lazy, and we certainly don’t want that!
Vets all over the world suggest carrots are given only as an occasional treat to your rabbits, and not as an everyday food. Hay, green and iceberg salads are completely opposite and can be fed to your rabbit as much as you’d like. They contain a healthy source of vitamin A and C and calcium.
Majority of these nutritional values can be found in bamboo leaves, thus making it an extremely cheap and affordable alternative to things such as cabbage, green salad or iceberg. So can you use bamboo instead of these highly nutritious foods? Of course!
Contrary to the things we’ve already talked about, there are some foods, besides specific kinds of bamboo, that should be avoided at all costs.
Spinach and kale are some of the most harmful foods for your rabbit, and can cause health problems due to the high dose of goitrogens and oxalates.
Some fruits, such as bananas, that contain a lot of sugar can also be a bad choice when you’re deciding what food to give to your rabbit. On the other hand, some fruits that are low in calories and sugars, like apples, are a healthy occasional snack, and should not be concerned about.
Read Also: Can Rabbits Eat Banana Chips?
How To Use Bamboo And Its Leaves?
As I said earlier, bamboo has been in use for many things for a very long time. Its long stem, although hollow, is sturdy and very solid, making it a perfect material for building.
As a building material for rabbit houses, bamboo gained its popularity a long time ago, as a cheap and durable way to give your rabbit a nice home.
Some kinds of bamboo are also used for decorative purposes and make an excellent detail in your garden. If you chose to use it like a garden decoration you should trim it regularly as it can get out of hand pretty quickly.
Bamboo leaves, on the other hand, are a healthy source of proteins, potassium, calcium, and even iron! It’s an excellent antioxidant as well. So do these nutrients make bamboo a good treat?
Rabbits crave these ingredients in their day-to-day diet. They need lots of protein and sugar because they are usually very active animals burning a lot of calories throughout their day.
Owners who feed their rabbits bamboo leaves regularly notice much less energy crashes and a much more regulated stool.
I should mention that depending on the size of your rabbit, you should pay close attention to the size of the branches you feed them if you chose this extremely nutritious snack for your pets. Leaves are meaty in texture, so they will be an easy job for the rabbit’s sharp teeth.
Bamboo stems are hard but hollow, and the younger the bamboo, the softer the stem. So, if you decide to use bamboo for naturally grinding your rabbits teeth down, you should consider giving them a bamboo stem from time to time.
It should also be noted that large quantities of bamboo leaves and branches can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and occasional vomiting in some extreme cases. Some may ask themselves, can rabbits chew on bamboo regardless of these side effects?
Some people have trouble telling real bamboo apart from some bamboo lookalikes that are really poisonous and toxic to rabbits. Heavenly or lucky bamboo are some of the most toxic ones and should be avoided at all costs!
Don’t worry! It’s easy to distinguish real bamboo from the toxic ones. Heavenly and lucky bamboos are bush-like and do not have a thick stem that we’re all used to seeing when looking at bamboos. If you see a bush like bamboo look alike you should avoid feeding your rabbits with it.
Bamboo And How It’s Grown
Most bamboo species, historically speaking, have been native to a tropical and warm environment. Although the majority of people think of Asian of Pacific region when bamboo is mentioned, it can also be found in Central America and all throughout the southeastern US.
This proves that different species of bamboo can be grown in different parts of the world that are influenced by different climates and conditions.
This versatile plant can have a very fast growing speed, making it a good renewable source. Some species of bamboo can grow 9,1 centimeters a day!
Bamboo is not only renewable, but it’s easy to plant and maintain. As long as it’s in the right climate and irrigated relatively frequently, it’s going to grow!
Bamboos that are suitable for animal diet are all naturally grown in the wild. Even the bamboo lemurs eat it, and they have a very similar diet to rabbits!
What Rabbit Owners Think About Bamboo?
Can rabbits have bamboo or can they just live surrounded by it? Although some owners prefer their rabbits only living in bamboo, some chose to feed it to their rabbits.
Owners who got bamboo houses for their rabbits have noticed that their pets have slowly started to nibble on their houses! This was due to small branches with leaves that have ended up in rabbits houses. They started exploring it and found out that it’s very tasty!
People that implemented bamboo in their rabbits diets have noticed a change in their rabbits digestion. The bamboo actually regulated rabbit’s stools and made them even healthier. This is because of a small amount of zinc found in bamboo leaves which positively influences the digestive tract.
Toxic Attributes Of Bamboo
As I’ve mentioned before, there are certain kinds of bamboo that are toxic to rabbits no matter what. They should be kept as a decoration, and out of reach of your pets.
Besides those kinds, it’s well known that bamboo contains a small amount of cyanide or 25 mg kg⁻¹ to be exact. This substance is harmful not only to rabbits, but to anyone and everyone who takes it. Cyanide in bamboo is always found in bamboo shoots, which is intended for human consumption only, and should never be fed to rabbits.
Another thing to keep an eye out, specifically if you buy bamboo and not grow it yourself, is to check if it was sprayed or covered with insecticides or pesticides in any way. This is relatively common, as it is the best way to preserve bamboo and save it from insects.
These chemicals can be potentially dangerous for rabbits, so if you buy your bamboo make sure to wash it thoroughly.
Can Rabbits Eat Bamboo? – Conclusion
So, in conclusion – can rabbits eat bamboo? And if they can, how often should they eat it?
I think it’s quite obvious! As long as you make sure that you’re not buying one of the decorative bamboo that’s toxic to rabbits you should be fine. Also, it’s highly recommended in case you grow your own bamboo that you do some research on different kinds of bamboo, making sure that the one you’re growing isn’t harmful for rabbits.
So, if I were you, I’d buy some bamboo, give it to my rabbits and watch them jump around in excitement caused by discovering their new favorite snack!