Can Rabbits Have Beetroot Leaves?
The average Kindergartener would tell you that rabbits lived on carrots, but those of us who actually have to look after rabbits know the truth: bunnies eat strange, mostly unappealing diets. Cartoon rabbits gorge themselves on carrots and other salad fixings, but healthy pet rabbits eat large amounts of plant foods that we would consider to be utterly inedible. Many rabbit parents have learned that produce scraps often make healthier rabbit snacks than the ‘edible’ parts of our favorite fruits and vegetables.
That is perhaps one of the biggest perks of sharing your home with a rabbit: all of the uneaten bits and pieces of produce, such as strawberry and carrot tops, can finally feed someone instead of ending up in the trash can. So, how about the leafy green tops on beets? Can you give your rabbit beetroot leaves?
The answer is yes, rabbits can eat beet greens in moderation—and, in fact, the leafy green hat on a beetroot may be even healthier for your bun than the beetroot itself. Beetroot leaves do not seem to be poisonous to bunnies, so it is unlikely that your furry friend will suffer any serious negative effects from scarfing down a bunch of these leaves in one go. Beet greens are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can support overall health; they make an excellent addition to a balanced bunny diet.
There are, however, many reasons why rabbit parents would be wise to give beet greens to their buns in moderation. It is important to remember that feeding your rabbit nothing but produce scraps will not satisfy all of their dietary needs. Your rabbit’s diet should consist predominantly of fresh, high quality hay. Beet greens, just like other leafy greens, should serve as supplementary side dishes instead of dietary staples. A good rule of thumb is to treat your bunny to around one cup of veggies (including leafy greens) per 4 pounds of body weight every day.
As dark leafy green vegetables, beet greens are some of the most micronutrient-rich veggies you or your rabbit could eat. They are loaded with healthy carotenoids, including lutein and beta-carotene, which protect eye health and fight against cancer. The antioxidants in leafy greens can keep your bun healthy by neutralizing dangerous free radicals.
In doing so, they may protect against cancers, inflammatory illnesses, and even the negative effects of aging. Some have theorized that free radicals are solely responsible for the unpleasant side effects of growing older. Even if that were the case, it is important to remember that no amount of high-antioxidant food will grant your rabbit immortality. Beet greens are healthy, but they are not a cure for all that ails our pets.
Beetroot leaves also contain high concentrations of magnesium and calcium, which are both important for overall health. Calcium in particular is thought to maintain strong, healthy teeth and bones. Calcium deficiencies may increase your rabbit’s risk of developing dental problems (which can be life-threatening if they interfere with your bun’s ability to eat), and leafy greens such as beetroot leaves are thought to be among the most rabbit-friendly sources of calcium.
Things to Consider
Their high calcium concentration also means that they may be harmful for rabbits who have too much calcium in their body. There has not been any research to prove that dietary calcium is the cause of bladder or urinary problems—even if your rabbit has too much calcium in their urine. Still, many veterinarians recommend low-calcium diets for rabbits who have high amounts of calcium in their urine.
If this is the case, your furry friend may want to avoid beet greens. Green veggies that are lower in calcium include celery leaves, broccoli stems, cabbage, and watercress. If you suspect that your rabbit has any problems related to calcium (too much or too little), consult a veterinarian before you alter their diet in any way. Your veterinarian will be able to properly diagnose your rabbit’s problem. Bunnies have very fragile digestive systems, so drastically altering their diets can result in serious problems. Even if you believe your rabbit’s symptoms are the result of a nutritional problem, always ask a vet. This will ensure that you rule out any underlying conditions—and that you can make the correct tweaks to your furry friend’s diet.
In the end, beetroot leaves are a great side dish for healthy rabbits, but they shouldn’t become a large part of your bun’s diet (especially if the bun in question has urinary problems). Feeding too many beet greens to your bun can also cause gas and gastrointestinal motility problems. While your rabbit can and should consume leafy greens, they should mostly eat fresh, high-quality hay with plenty of water. That is the food that will keep them and their fragile stomachs happy and healthy in the long run.