Can I Give My Rabbit Bell Peppers?
Can rabbits have bell peppers?
The answer is yes, rabbits can and should eat bell peppers in moderation. There are no substances in this food that are poisonous to rabbits, so, even if your rabbit eats a little too much in one sitting, it should not result in a medical emergency. This brightly colored, vitamin-rich vegetable makes an excellent addition to your bunny’s diet. It is a great way to keep your rabbit excited with new flavors and textures, as well as to maximize their antioxidant intake. No rabbit should live on bell peppers (or any other salad ingredient!), but most rabbits can benefit from eating bell peppers of all colors as side dishes.
What’s so great about bell peppers? And, if they’re so healthy, why can’t we feed them to our rabbits in large amounts?
We tend to lump all herbivores into the same category, but, in reality, not all herbivores can eat the same sort of diet—because not all plants are created equally! Some herbivores, like fruit bats, live almost exclusively on fruit. Others thrive on nuts and seeds. Rabbits, on the other hand, have very unique (and very fragile!) digestive systems that have adapted to pulling energy and nutrition out of foods that are very high in fiber and relatively low in calories. This is why many of our favorite foods, even if they are plants, can only be given to rabbits in small amounts.
Your rabbit’s body is set up to get the bulk of its calories by eating fibrous, low-calorie food like hay. To maintain health, the bulk of your rabbit’s diet should be hay, pellets, and green leafy vegetables. Feeding them large amounts of other types of foods, especially foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber, can result in nutritional imbalances and moderate to severe digestive problems. Vegetables that are not leafy greens should only make up 15% of your rabbit’s diet—maximum. This comes out to roughly one tablespoon of veggies per two pounds of body weight every day.
Fortunately, bell peppers have a moderate amount of fiber, so they are a good choice. Keeping your rabbit’s fiber intake fairly high is one of the most important aspects of a healthy diet. Most animals may have some mild to moderate digestive problems if their fiber intake is inadequate, but rabbit digestion relies heavily on fibrous foods to function properly. Rabbits who fail to take in enough dietary fiber may suffer from an unpleasant, potentially life-threatening condition known as gastrointestinal stasis.
If fiber intake is low, your rabbit’s gastrointestinal tract fails to move food through the body like it should. This can result in a steady buildup of matter inside your rabbit’s body, which often causes the rabbit to refuse food and water. As dehydration sets in, the matter sitting inside their digestive system dries out and hardens. This hardened mass of partially digested food can ‘plug up’ the gastrointestinal tract, which will eventually lead to death.
This means that picking high fiber treats for your rabbit is vital.
Things to Consider
Overall, bell peppers are an excellent vegetable to add to your rabbit’s diet in moderation. They are nontoxic, fairly high in fiber, and loaded with antioxidants that may reduce your rabbit’s risk of many of the diseases associated with aging. Just remember that hay and leafy greens should make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet—a healthy bunny should not live on veggie tray favorites like carrots and bell peppers!