Pet Consider

Can Rabbits Eat Grass?

Can Rabbits Have Grass?

If you have ever gone out to a steakhouse and ordered a salad for lunch, you’ve probably had your burger-munching cousin point, laugh, and refer to your meal as ‘rabbit food’ or ‘lawn clippings,’ possibly both. This begs the question: are rabbit food and lawn clippings, in fact, the same thing? Rabbits are total vegetarians who spend most of their days eating hay. If anything, your fresh green lawn clippings seem like they would be more appetizing than dry yellow hay. What’s the big difference between hay and the green grass growing in your front yard? Are lawn clippings cheap rabbit food? 
 
Can you give your rabbit grass?

The answer is yes, rabbits can eat grass—but they probably should not eat your lawn clippings. When we first adopt our precious pet bunnies, we often scour pet stores in search of the highest quality foods; we purchase fortified rabbit pellets, fancy types of hay, and brightly colored treats in an effort to make their diet as healthy and interesting as possible. When we do this, we often forget that our buns would not eat carrot-shaped treats in the wild. One of the freshest, healthiest, cheapest foods we can offer our buns is the grass growing in our yards. Avoid giving your rabbit the contents of your lawn mower, but feel free to offer them some freshly-plucked grass from your lawn.

Health Benefits of Feeding Your Rabbit Grass

GrassGrass and hay probably do not seem like food to us—after all, even human vegetarians don’t chow down on your front lawn—but rabbits are unique types of herbivores who have specialized digestive systems. Unlike humans and some other plant-eaters, rabbits are grazing animals who have evolved to subsist almost entirely on extremely fibrous, low-sugar foods such as hay. Vegetarian humans do well on diets that include high-energy foods like nuts, grains, and starches. Our herbivorous bunnies, on the other hand, are much better suited to the plant foods that are indigestible for us: grasses and hays.

Rabbits actually have an organ that has the sole function of processing large amounts of fiber. This organ, called the cecum, is the biggest part of their digestive system; it serves as a space where fiber can sit and ferment. After the fiber has hung out for a while inside the cecum, it passes through the intestines, where it is then eaten a second time—this second trip through the digestive system is where rabbits get most of their nutrition from. Without large amounts of high fiber foods, rabbits can suffer from potentially fatal nutritional and gastrointestinal problems.
Many rabbits spend their days eating hay purchased from the pet store, but fresh grass can be an excellent way to add some variety to their diet. Rabbits need to eat a certain amount of leafy green vegetables to maintain optimal health (and to enjoy their diets!), so fresh grass is an excellent thing to add to their food pyramid.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to feed your rabbit the grass growing in your front yard. First, do not let your bun eat any grass that has been sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, or weed killers. Your rabbit is quite tiny and has a sensitive stomach to begin with. Pesticides and weed killers are highly toxic substances (after all, they kill bugs!), and they can cause serious health problems for rabbits. Small amounts of these poisons may result in diarrhea, loss of appetite, and other digestive problems, but they are just as likely to cause more severe problems. Unlike humans, cats, and dogs, rabbits are unable to vomit. This means that they have an extremely difficult time purging poisons from their body, and they are likely to absorb much of whatever is given to them.

Things to Consider

It is also important to avoid relying on grass as a cheap alternative to timothy hay. While fresh grass is a very healthy side dish for most rabbits, much of their diet should consist of fresh, high-quality hay. Hay contains all of the fiber and nutrition that your rabbit needs to keep their digestion functioning properly. Hay is much more fibrous than fresh grass, and this fiber also plays an important role in keeping your rabbit’s teeth maintained. Chewing timothy hay prevents your bun’s teeth from becoming painful and overgrown.

Avoid giving the contents of your lawn mower to your rabbit. Lawn clippings may have been altered or contaminated by the heat of the engine and the friction involved in cutting, which might upset your rabbit’s stomach.

Final Thoughts

Overall, fresh grass is an excellent addition to your rabbit’s diet. It contains a lot of fiber and fluid, it has many key vitamins and minerals, and most buns find it delicious. Just make sure that the grass is fresh and clean, and remember that most of your rabbit’s diet should consist of hay.

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