When you have a pet rabbit, their special diet is an adjustment that many people aren’t prepared for in the beginning. Every morning, in addition to their unlimited supply of timothy hay, I give my rabbits their fresh bunny breakfasts. This normally consists of romaine lettuce, sweet baby lettuces, a piece of apple or carrot, and a handful of fresh herbs.
Not long after I got them, I began wondering what herbs can rabbits eat safely? I mean we all have seen the images of rabbits robbing the garden, but honestly, what herbs make the best food for rabbits, and which ones would they choose if they were wild? The list is quite extensive, and not every rabbit will like each herb. What is very interesting about herbs and animals, is the fact that many animals appear to know, to some extent, how to self-medicate using herbs, when they are ill. Today we are going to focus on four herbs that are easy to grow in your own garden, and their apparent uses to treat different issues your rabbits may encounter: lemon balm, parsley, thyme, and chamomile.
Digestive Facts and Issues
Here are a few rabbit facts that you may not know. Rabbits have a delicate and unique digestive system, and they are prone to issues such as Gastro-Intestinal Stasis, as well as severe gas and bloating if a delicate balance isn’t maintained. The first time one of my rabbits suffered from this condition, the vet told me to feed them as much fresh food as I could. She said the fresh foods would increase the water content they were intaking, as well as adding fiber. I asked about what herbs can rabbits eat and giving them herbs from my garden. She said that would be perfect. I now understand that while Gastro-Intestinal Stasis is a condition that can affect any rabbits, breeds with long fur are much more prone to getting it. A good diet of hay and fresh foods, along with frequent grooming, will help prevent these conditions.
Lemon Balm, Thyme, Parsley, Chamomile
So, to naturally combat this in the future, I discovered what herbs rabbits can eat that will help prevent conditions like this. In my experience, lemon balm has been an amazing discovery. As lemon balm is digested, it breaks down into a chemical that relaxes muscles, spasms, and can help with gas and bloating. Bloating can affect any rabbit, at any time, but is especially common when introducing new foods that aren’t agreeing with your rabbit.
Thyme is a great treatment for all digestive issues as well but is very good at treating diarrhea. It is also known to help expel worms. If you are planting thyme, try to harvest it continually, before it flowers. This way you can have soft leaves and stems to feed your rabbits. After they flower, the stems become woody.
Parsley is often used to treat constipation and blockages, as well as treating kidney issues. This herb is a favorite of rabbits, and you can usually get any rabbit to eat it without any issues.
Chamomile is perhaps my favorite herb to use with my rabbits. It is antibacterial and antiseptic. It can be used to treat everything from nervousness, anxiety and stomach issues. It can also be used externally as a tea to treat weepy eyes and sore hocks. I keep a bag of dried chamomile on hand at all times.
Next, people will always ask how much to give. I try to give my rabbits a handful of fresh herbs every day. I also leave a small dish of dried chamomile in their feeding area so they can get it whenever they want/need it. Rabbits seem to do a good job of knowing which herbs they need at any given time.
Feeding Fruit to Rabbits
Finally, what fruits can rabbits eat to combat digestive issues? When they are sick, I will try giving them apple, pineapple, and papaya because of the high water count. Fresh pineapple and juice has bromelain enzymes that are thought to help break down a wool block in the intestines. However, on a daily basis, I use dried papaya or pineapple as their favorite treat. I do feel better about giving these treats because it isn’t just empty sugar calories they are getting. However, rabbits usually have a sweet tooth, and the occasional carrot, apple slice, banana slice, pear slice or strawberry will add a variety to their diet, and they will greatly appreciate it.
Emergencies, Herbs, and Veterinarians
Now that we have covered several issues that can arise, let me be the first to say that if you notice your rabbit acting like he is in pain, lethargic, or not eating and drinking, or notice a change in his fecal pellets, head to the vet. There is no substitution for this. It is better to be safe. A great diet and herbs will help prevent future attacks, but don’t bet the life of your rabbit on them working in an emergency situation. A good vet will prescribe mobility medications to help get their intestines working again. But if you are noticing symptoms do not wait. Rabbits deteriorate very fast once this condition starts and this is the reason that the healthy diet is so important.
Have you ever wondered what herbs can rabbits eat? Let us know how you use herbs to enhance the health and happiness of your rabbits.