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Can Rabbits Eat Rocket?

Can Rabbits Have Rocket?

Leafy greens have never been quite as popular as they are today. While our parents have been begging us to eat cooked spinach with our dinner for decades, it is only fairly recently that we have begun adding green vegetables into every single meal with gusto. When we were kids, we had to be blackmailed, bribed, or threatened into eating three bites of spinach. As adults, we shove a variety of leafy greens into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert. Even though many of us eat leafy greens multiple times a day, our choices can be rather limited—the most popular options include spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce. True salad enthusiasts, however, recognize arugula, which often shows up in packaged salad mixes and various dinner dishes.

We’re pretty familiar with spinach and kale, but arugula is a bit more foreign to us. So, when we are trying to put together healthy, varied diets for our pets, we may find ourselves looking at the arugula in our crispers as we scratch our heads. Also known as rocket, this tasty green seems like a suitable treat, but is it safe for our bunnies to eat? 
 
Can you give your rabbit rocket?

The answer is yes, rocket is a suitable vegetable for rabbits to eat in moderation. This deep green herb, which has a vaguely peppery flavor, is both nontoxic and nutritious, which makes it a great green to add to your bun’s diet. Rocket is just as safe for your rabbit to eat as kale, spinach, parsley, and basil, so feel free to use it to add a peppery pop to your bun’s side salad. When it comes to rabbits and rocket, the important thing to remember is that it should only be fed as a supplementary food—rabbits who eat too many leafy greens and not enough hay may suffer from digestive problems and nutritional deficiencies. On average, an adult rabbit really only needs up to two cups of fresh leafy greens per day.

Health Benefits?

Arugula often shows up in salad mixes, but we also eat it in sandwiches and atop pizzas. In some parts of the world, rocket is also eaten in omelets, with fresh fish, or served as a raw side dish. This green vegetable offers many of the same health benefits of other leafy greens. It is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K, which is required for the blood clotting process. Vitamin K also plays an important role in rabbit reproductive health. Vitamin A supports eye health, which can keep your bun’s vision sharp as they age.

The Vitamin C found in rocket can protect full-body health in several ways. This vitamin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in building and repairing structures all over the body. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C also has the unique ability to protect against dangerous free radical activity.

Free radicals, which come about as a result of stress, environmental factors, and normal metabolic processes, are particles that carry a high charge. This charge makes them highly reactive—they like to steal electrons from other particles. Inside your bun’s body, this can be very dangerous, because most of the particles that the free radicals steal electrons from are the particles that make up body parts! Many of these interactions are harmless in the grand scheme of things, but some of them can cause cell damage and genetic mutations that can lead to disease.

Things to Consider

Free radical activity is believed to be at least partially responsible for the development of several chronic or life-threatening conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and even cancer. Some experts have theorized that free radicals may even be the cause of the ‘falling apart’ that we associate with normal aging, though much more research is needed before this theory is accepted. Feeding your rabbit foods rich in antioxidants certainly will not reverse the aging process, but it can protect against disease.

Rocket is rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories, but it still should not make up a large part of your rabbit’s daily meals. Bunnies have very unique, finicky digestive systems that rely on large quantities of indigestible fiber to function properly. Arugula and other leafy greens are fibrous by human standards, but they do not have enough fiber for our rabbits. If your rabbit eats too much salad and not enough hay, their stomach will not be able to empty in a timely manner, resulting in gastrointestinal motility problems. In the short term, this can make your bun feel sluggish and bloated. In the long term, GI motility problems can become life-threatening.

Final Thoughts

Overall, rocket is a safe food to give your rabbit in moderation. It is low in calories and fat, yet high in key vitamins and antioxidants that may improve overall health. The important thing is to practice moderation—bunnies who eat too much rocket may develop digestive problems in the long term.

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