Rabbits like to munch on anything they can get their teeth on. This means garden plants and potted house plants can often fall prey to a curious rabbit. Despite these leaf-eating behaviors, not all plants are completely safe for rabbits to eat. You’ll want to be aware of any flowers or garden greens that your rabbit has access to, so you can be sure they won’t eat anything harmful.
If you’re trying to grow these safe garden plants or potted flowers, you may want to keep them away from your rabbit anyway. Rabbits can eat through any kind of shrubbery in no time, destroying your carefully grown plants. But if one of these unfortunate events does occur, you can at least know that your rabbit’s health is not at risk.
How worried should you be about poisonous plants?
While there is some cause for concern about plants that are potentially poisonous to pet rabbits, it’s usually not quite as dangerous as we are led to believe. While there are some exceptions, most plants that are toxic for rabbits are only mildly poisonous. If your rabbit only eats a small amount of those plants, they likely won’t suffer from significant negative side effects.
Most of the time when rabbits have enough safe plants to munch on, they’ll ignore other unsafe plants because these don’t taste as good. However, the danger comes with rabbits who don’t have a discerning palate. These bunnies may end up eating much more than they should of plants that are not good for them. Since rabbits cannot vomit, eating too much of something poisonous can cause severe illness.
Indoor potted plants can be a particular danger to rabbits. When rabbits only have limited access to plants, their natural curiosity can take over causing the rabbit to nibble on whatever is available. If that happens to be a poisonous plant, they may end up eating a lot before you even notice. It’s best to make sure any indoor potted plants are safe for rabbits, or to keep them completely away from your rabbit’s reach.
Plants that are safe for rabbits
Just because a plant is safe for rabbits to eat doesn’t mean they should be given unlimited access. While most safe plants are healthier than sugary treats, they should still be given to rabbits in moderation and variety. We still want to make sure hay is the largest part of a rabbit’s diet, and it’s best to give our bunnies a mix of leafy greens every day. Safe flowers can be given in moderation, but shouldn’t make up a large portion of a rabbit’s diet.
It’s also very important to pay attention to any fertilizers or pesticides that are used with the plants your rabbit is eating. Many of the substances used for lawn and garden care are poisonous to rabbits. They can be much more toxic than poison plants, so be sure to pay attention to any chemicals you use to keep your garden and plants looking nice.
Rose bushes are safe for rabbits to chew on. This includes the leaves, twigs, branches and flowers. Rose petals can actually be a very yummy treat for many rabbits. You can offer them fresh or even dried.
There are some herbal loose leaf tea mixes that include rose hips or rose petals that can actually be very yummy to use as foraging treats for rabbits (check all the ingredients in the mix before giving it to your rabbit). Simply spread the mixture in with your rabbit’s hay to give them some yummy pieces to find. It can also encourage your rabbit to eat more of that healthy hay.
While not incredibly nutritious, daisies can be a yummy treat for your rabbit. The whole plant is completely safe and nontoxic for rabbits. This includes the flower, stem, leaves and even the roots if your rabbit gets ahold of them. The leaves can even provide some extra protein for your rabbit.
Daisies can have a tendency to pop up all over a lawn. They spread easily and are difficult to get rid of, but luckily there is no need to go weeding daisies out of your yard. If your bunny has access to an outdoor run, you can feel safe knowing that this fast growing plant won’t harm your rabbit.
Dandelions are actually nutritious for rabbits. The leaves, in particular, contain a high amount of vitamin A, which makes them a very healthy part of a rabbit’s diet. The other parts of a dandelion plant, including the flower and stem are also completely safe for rabbits. They can be a very yummy treat that rabbits will happily gobble up.
If your lawn erupts with dandelions every year, go ahead and pick some to give to your rabbit (as long as your lawn uses safe fertilizers!). If your rabbit has an outdoor run or time outside on a leash, you don’t have to worry about them foraging around and munching on these yummy plants.
Sunflowers are another type of flower that is safe for bunnies to eat. These flowers are so yummy to rabbits, that many homeowners struggle to find ways of keeping wild rabbits away from them.
The whole plant is safe for rabbits, including the flower, leaves, stem, and even the seeds. Just be sure to practice moderation, especially with sunflower seeds. They are high in fat and can cause digestive problems if given in high amounts. So it’s best to only give the seeds to your rabbit as if they were treats, and not as a common source of food.
Mints are all safe for rabbits to eat. This also includes spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint, and more. Of course, this doesn’t include mint flavored candies or gum, but the plants are all safe for rabbits to eat. The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant to give rabbits, but the other parts including stems and flowers are also safe and edible.
The mints that we’re talking about here are all in the genus Mentha. There is another species of plants called perilla mint (also called beefsteak mint or Japanese basil) that is toxic for rabbits. The leaves of this plant look similar to the common mint that is used in cooking, but the two plants are not directly related.
6. Bell flowers
Bell flowers, also called campanula are safe for rabbits to eat. Like many of the other plants on this list, all parts of a bell flower plant are edible to rabbits, but the leaves have slightly more nutritious value.
Whether you keep them potted inside or grow them in a garden, you may not want your rabbit to get ahold of these flowers because of how beautiful they are. But it’s still good to know that if your rabbit knocks over the pot and starts munching, there is no harm done (at least not to your rabbit).
The wood from willow trees is commonly used in toys for rabbits. This type of wood is completely safe, and can often be a lot of fun for rabbits to dig their teeth into. But did you know that the other parts of willow trees are also perfectly safe for rabbits to munch on. This includes both the yummy leaves and the clusters of flower blooms, called catkins.
What’s even better is that clippings from willow trees don’t need to be dried like many other types of wood. Fallen branches and twigs can be a fresh and yummy treat for bunnies. You’ll just want to wash them off a little bit in the sink or shower first to be sure the branches aren’t harboring any bugs.
True jasmine plants are known to be non-toxic for rabbits. The flowers, leaves, and stems are all safe for rabbits and completely edible. While you may want to keep your rabbit away so they don’t eat up your lovely potted jasmine plant, you can at least know it won’t do any harm to your rabbit.
Just be careful that you don’t have a false jasmine plant. These plants, called carolina jasmine or yellow jasmine, are toxic to rabbits. These plants look like true jasmine, but they are characterized by yellow flowers and are actually unrelated.
Nasturtiums are tasty flowers for rabbits to snack on. These are really beautiful flowers, coming in vibrant warm colors. The whole plant is safe for rabbit consumption, including flowers, leaves, stems and even seeds. These flowers are tasty enough that even humans might like them!
Nasturtiums usually grow in a bush, but they can also grow vine-like along a fence or wire. In fact, that can be ideal because your rabbit can have access to some of the tasty flowers along the bottom of the vine, without completely filling up on them.
Hollyhocks are lovely flowers that are completely safe for rabbits to eat. Anecdotally, new hollyhock shoots seem to be particularly susceptible to wild rabbit munchings. They can eat through a whole plant in no time flat. This is unfortunate for any flowers that you are trying to grow, but it means your domestic rabbits are not in danger of poisoning themselves by eating these delicious plants.
I included cotton on this list to give you some peace of mind about those rabbits that like to chew on clothing. If you have any cotton plants or trees, they are safe for your rabbit to chew on and eat. But more likely the cotton that you have in your house is made up of blankets and clothing. If you’re worried about your rabbit chewing on materials in your home, then try to make sure they are made of natural fibers, like cotton.
12. Pot marigolds
Pot marigolds are also safe for rabbits to eat. Also called english marigolds, these big, bright orange or yellow flowers don’t have to be grown in a pot. They can also take up space in an outdoor garden. Whether you allow your rabbit to eat some or not, you can rest easy knowing that these plants won’t harm your rabbit.
There are two other types of marigold, however, that are toxic for rabbits. Marsh marigolds and french marigolds (also called african marigolds) are mildly toxic and should not be given to rabbits. The french marigolds are slightly less toxic and are likely to only cause some skin irritation, but it’s best to be on the safe side and keep them away from rabbits.
Lavender is among the plants that are completely safe for rabbits to eat. You can give lavender to your rabbit fresh or even dried, allowing your rabbit to forage for the yummy pieces of lavender. Some evidence suggests that lavender can even act as a relaxing agent for rabbits, helping them to calm down and chill out.
Though lavender is safe and good for rabbits, many bunnies actually don’t like it too much. This plant often left alone in a garden, even when rabbits have access to it. This is likely due to lavender’s strong scent and prickly texture. But every once in a while, you’ll come across a rabbit who’s not picky and is happy to eat anything, including lavender.
Stinging nettle and dead nettle are both safe for rabbits to eat. This includes the flowers, leaves, and stems. You may not want to go out and collect stinging nettle for your rabbit though, since it can actually cause a rash on humans. It’s perfectly safe for rabbits though, and does not appear to cause any kind of skin irritation.
Horse nettle (also called bull nettle) is a different kind of plant and is not safe for rabbits to eat. This unrelated type of nettle has high amounts of a chemical called solanine. It can potentially cause digestive issues with rabbits, especially if eaten in large amounts. All parts of horse nettle are potentially toxic for rabbits, but be especially wary of the berries and the leaves.
Chamomile is a completely safe herb for rabbits to eat. It may even have some medicinal properties that can help calm a rabbit down. Rabbits can eat chamomile both fresh and dried, and it is often a very yummy treat for rabbits.
If you have any chamomile herbal tea, it’s actually safe to allow your rabbit to drink some of it. Allow the tea to cool so you don’t risk your rabbit burning their mouth. Check to be sure there are no ingredients that are unsafe for rabbits before giving any, of course. Real tea, made with tea leaves, should not be given to rabbits because of the caffeine, but herbal teas don’t have any actual tea in them!
Clover is a wonderful treat for rabbits. They can eat the stems, leaves, flowers, and even the sprouts. If any clover pops up in your rabbit run, they are sure to munch it up. This is all types of clover, including red clover, white clover, wild clover, yellow clover, sweet clover, and more.
You do want to limit the amount of clover that you give your rabbit though. Like alfalfa hay, clover is a legume plant. It has a high amount of protein and can cause digestive upset or weight gain in high amounts. So it’s better to only give your rabbit clover as the occasional yummy treat.
It’s perfectly safe to allow your rabbit to eat as much grass from out on your lawn as they want. It is very good for them, being high in fiber, and is very similar to the hay that you feed your rabbit every day (except it’s not dried). Just remember to avoid using any poisonous fertilizers or pesticides out on your lawn.
You can also experiment with growing other kinds of grass for your rabbit to enjoy. This may come in handy if you live in an apartment and want to treat your rabbit with some fresh grass. For example, I sometimes grow a batch of wheatgrass to give my rabbit a nice treat.
Violet leaves, flowers and stems are safe for rabbits to eat. Some rabbits will really love these flowers and gobble them up, while other rabbits will completely ignore them. Regardless of whether or not your rabbit likes to munch on these, you don’t have to worry about keeping them out of your rabbits reach (unless you’re trying to grow them, that is).
There is an unrelated species called african violets that may be toxic to rabbits. This is a plant that is usually only found as an indoor potted plant and has fuzzy leaves. There is no clear evidence that these other violets are actually toxic, but it’s possible that they are mildly poisonous and should be kept away from rabbits.
Pansies are cute, unique flowers that make nice potted plants or garden plants. This plant can also grow as wildflowers, so there’s no need to be worried if your rabbit happens to come across them on your lawn. The whole plant is safe for rabbits, including the flower, leaves and stem.
Pansies are so tasty that even some people (who have fewer taste buds than rabbits) sometimes add it to a salad. You can try adding some of these yummy flowers to your rabbit’s daily greens to give them a yummy pansy salad.
This is another plant that is perfectly safe for rabbits to eat in moderation. The flowers, leaves and stems are all edible and are not poisonous to rabbits. This is probably not a plant that I would specifically give to a rabbit because it doesn’t have all that much nutritional value, but it’s okay if your rabbit nibbles on some in your garden or manages to knock down your potted plant and eat part of it.
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- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed