Two rabbits nibble on some greens in this file photo.

Can Rabbits Eat Cabbage – Is It Safe To Feed A Bunny?

The domestication of animals, such as rabbits, is perhaps one of the essential steps in human evolution, significantly contributing to humanity’s survival.  Breeding them, whether as livestock or as pets, requires love and knowledge.  The proper rabbit diet includes hay and a considerable amount of vegetables, but are all of them safe? Is it safe, for example, to feed rabbits cabbage? Can rabbits eat cabbage with issues?

Feeding cabbage your bunny is safe and healthy. Cabbage, like most vegetables, contains essential nutrients for your pet.  However, due to its specific nutritional characteristics, You should give it within reasonable bounds. 

Some specialists do not recommend feeding rabbits vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale.  Others recommend reducing them to a minimum or giving them occasionally, like treats. However, the prevailing opinion in the scientific community is that cabbage is not dangerous for bunnies.  On the contrary, it is healthy and nutritious.  Just like many other foods, cabbage can have harmful effects only in the case of overfeeding.

Can Rabbits Eat Cabbage? Food For Rabbits Info

Many scholars advise complex diets and long lists of foods for best rabbits’ health and growth.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, no animal is more adaptable to nutrition changes than a rabbit.  They refer to the breeding of domestic rabbits as livestock.  However, no difference in opinions exists concerning green foods.  Livestock rabbits or pets, both categories need vegetables as an essential complement to their daily diet.  (1)

Like most specialists, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends an unlimited amount of hay as a primary dish for rabbits.  The following essential compliments for their diet are grains, preferably oats, cornmeal, or pellets, given in various sequences.  Greens, along with plenty of freshwater complete a healthy and nutritious rabbit diet.  Vegetables provide nutrients less available in the natural rabbit food.  Specialists advise hay, vegetables, and pellets to be given in a proportion of about 80 – 15 – 5 %.  (1) 

Leafy Greens

Rabbits are herbivores, and they adore any kind of greens.  They can safely eat roots, grasses, leaves, tree branches, and bark.  Some of their most preferred foods are leafy vegetables.  Provided fresh, they satisfy bunnies’ taste and their need to wear down their teeth.  Veggies such as romaine lettuce, cauliflower, celery, and cabbage are among their favorites.  

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rabbits need different dietary approaches during the winter and summer.  Vegetables such as cabbage, kale, and spinach are highly recommended in wintertime.  Breeders prefer cabbages because they keep well, are nutritious, and economically viable.  Additionally, cabbages are usually available all the time of the year.  In the summertime, however, rabbits’ green diet should be more diverse.  (1)

Cabbage

Origin And Characteristics

Brassica oleracea or cabbage has been domesticated in Europe from wild cabbage in antiquity, about 1000 BC. It is a leafy green vegetable with dense-leafed heads. Cabbage’s life cycle, from seeding to death, lasts two years.  The leafy plant belongs to brassicas and is closely relevant to Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.  Common cultivars are the White (Green), Red, and Savoy cabbages, but there are other sorts, such as Chinese cabbage and kale. (2)

Cabbage takes a significant portion of human nutrition.  The world production of cabbage and its subspecies for 2018, for example, was 69 million tonnes!  (2)  It can be cooked in many various ways and combinations or served fresh as a salad.  For bunnies, however, the recommended serving is in raw condition to preserve its nutritional features. Washing the cabbage leaves before serving is mandatory to eliminate an eventual pesticide treatment. So, make sure that before you feed your rabbit cabbage that it has been grown and watered for at least 2 weeks with zero pesticides and lots of water. Then, make sure it’s washed properly before consumption.

Can rabbits eat cabbage? Yes, rabbits don't mind munching on a bit of cabbage.
Rabbits don’t mind munching on a bit of cabbage.

Nutrition Facts

The number of nutrients and phytochemicals per 100 gram (3,5 oz) reference varies according to cabbage type.  Differences are not so significant, so the most typical White cabbage’s nutritional values are representative.  The raw cabbage consists of 92% water, 6% carbohydrates, 1% proteins, and some minimum fats per 3,5 oz. It also contains a minor quantity of fluoride to complete the nutrition picture of the leafy plant.  Table 1 below represents the nutritional values of the raw cabbage.  

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy103 kJ (25 kcal)
Carbohydrates5.8 g
          Sugars3,2 g
          Dietary fiber2.5 g
Fat0.1g
Protein1.28g
VitaminsQuantity
          Thiamine (B1)0.061 mg
          Riboflavin (B2)0.040 mg
          Niacin (B3)0.234 mg
       Pantothenic acid (B5)0.212 mg
          Vitamin B60.124 mg
          Folate (B9)43 μg
          Vitamin C36.6 mg
          Vitamin K76 μg
  MineralsQuantity
          Calcium40 mg
          Iron0,47 mg
        Magnesium12 mg
        Manganese0,16 mg
        Phosphorus26 mg
        Potassium170 mg
        Sodium18 mg
        Zink0.18 mg
  Other constituentsQuantity
        Water92 g
        Fluoride1 mg
Source Note (2)
  • The nutrients with the higher value presented in the cabbage are vitamin K  and vitamin C.  However, Savoy cabbage, for example, contains less vitamin C.  The values of vitamins B6  and B9 are also considerable, although relatively moderate. Cabbage is high in dietary fiber and medium in proteins and sugar. It also contains medium values of calcium, iron, and potassium.

Health And Safety

This rabbit sure seems to enjoy cabbage, doesn't it?
This rabbit sure seems to enjoy cabbage, doesn’t it?

Let us go back to the main question, whether feeding rabbits cabbage is safe or not.  Just like many other vegetables, cabbage is safe food, as long as you do not give your bunny too much.  For example, green types, such as Savoy cabbage, are very healthy and rich in vitamins and minerals.  Cabbage provides vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), which aids the bunny’s digestive system.  Besides, Pyridoxine is critical for the functionality of the rabbit muscle system.  

Cabbage also provides significant amounts of vitamins K and C. Normally, rabbits do not need extra vitamin C, nor do they need vitamin K.  However, specialists often recommend supplemental quantities of vitamin K, especially for pregnancy.  Cabbage also contains moderate quantities of calcium, which is especially helpful for the regeneration of bunnies’ teeth.  Potassium, on the other hand, is an essential supplement for the nervous system.

In general, cabbage may not be the best vegetable for rabbits, with the highest nutritional values, but definitely, it is safe food.  The vitamins and minerals that it contains are good for bunnies’ health and necessary for their balanced diet.  Specialists advise feeding rabbits cabbage within reasonable quantities.  The reasons behind such controlled feeding are the side effects of cabbage on rabbit’s digestive systems.  Although not lethal, these effects can be harmful or cause discomfort.  (3)

Health Concerns

Many breeders refrain from feeding their rabbits cabbage.  The reasons behind this are the gastrointestinal disorders that cabbage can inflict.  It can cause bloating and gases, which bring discomfort for your bunny.  Some theories point to a non-digestive carbohydrate contained in the vegetable as the causative agent of bloating.  However, the experience proves that in most cases, the inability of the bunny’s digestive system to digest an excessive amount of swallowed cabbage leads to bloating.

Although relatively easy digestible, an excessive portion of cabbage is slower digested by the bunny than a moderate amount of this vegetable.  Therefore, bloating and gases are consequent body reactions.  On the other hand, due to the specifics of rabbits’ gastrointestinal tract, gases do not have a natural way out of their guts.  The creation of gases leads to diarrhea and discomfort.  Both bloating and gas formation can be harmful to the rabbits.

Another health concern is that cabbage is among the goitrogenic vegetables for bunnies.  That means that the leafy plant can cause goiter.  However, scientists point out that in order to develop a goiter, a bunny needs to be fed exclusively with cabbage for at least a month.  Such a nutritional approach is in contrast with any appropriate rabbit diet and is extremely unlikely to occur.  Other specialists see in the relatively high values of calcium in the cabbage potential kidney problems for bunnies.

Cabbage And Rabbit FAQ

Can Bunnies Eat Cabbage Of Any Type And Color? How Much Cabbage Is Safe For Bunnies?

The key to feeding bunnies cabbage is its slow introduction.  Just like every new vegetable, the best approach is to start with probably a piece of leaf per day.  The more the bunny gets used to the cabbage, the higher quantity of the vegetable you can give it.  However, every rabbit may react differently to cabbage.  That is why specialists recommend not more than five pieces of leaves per serving in the best-case scenario. 

Can Rabbits Eat Cabbage Every Day?

Generally, cabbage is a vegetable with a decent amount of nutrients.  Rabbits can eat it every day in moderation. However, a healthy balanced diet requires various fresh greens every day, so keep it varied.  Different combinations of vegetables with different nutritional values that complement the daily volume of hay are the best for rabbit’s health.  Therefore, bunnies should not eat cabbage every day but rather exchange greens.

Can Bunnies Eat Cabbage Of Any Type And Color?

All colors and types of cabbage are safe for rabbits.  Most of them have similar structure and nutrient characteristics.  However, specialists recommend dark leaf green cabbage as a better choice regarding its nutritional profile.  Red cabbage, for example, decreases levels of cholesterol, LDL-c, and triacylglycerol in bunnies’ blood.  (4)  On the other hand, Savoy cabbage contains less vitamin C, perfect for bunnies’ diet since their body produces its own vitamin C.

Final Thought

Overall, cabbage is not one of the critical vegetables for a bunnies’ healthy diet. You can always replace it with other more nutrient greens.  Some breeders do not feed their rabbits cabbage to avoid bloating and gas problems.  However, cabbage is a widely available and relatively cheap option for supply with fresh vegetables.  Above all, with a bit of caution, it is safe for your bunny.


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