Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Potatoes?
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Sweet potatoes are delicious, and they are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. These bright orange tubers are an outstanding source of essential nutrients including vitamin A and magnesium.
No wonder you’re curious about whether it’s okay to share them with your bunny!
Can rabbits eat sweet potatoes? If so, how much can they have, and how often?
Here’s a quick answer in case you’re in a hurry: Sweet potatoes really aren’t suitable for rabbits.
The subject of sweet potatoes for rabbits is a fairly controversial one so stick with us. We are about to make a strong case for choosing other treats instead.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts
Even though sweet potatoes aren’t very good for rabbits, they make an excellent addition to your diet. If you enjoy sweet potatoes, consider eating them often – not just during the holidays!
A generous 1 cup serving of mashed or baked sweet potatoes gives you approximately:
- 180 calories
- .3 g fat
- 4 g protein
- 41.4 g carbohydrates
- 6.6 g fiber
Sweet Potato Nutrients
A single serving of sweet potatoes gives you a very impressive 769% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A. That’s just one reason to enjoy this delicious vegetable often!
In that same one cup serving of mashed or baked sweet potato, you’ll get approximately:
- 38433 IU vitamin A
- 39.2 mg vitamin C
- 1.4 mg vitamin E
- 4.6 mcg vitamin K
- 3.0 mg niacin
- 0.6 mg vitamin B6
- 12.0 mcg folate
- 26.2 mcg choline
- 76 mg calcium
- 54 mg magnesium
- 1.4 mg iron
- 108 mg phosphorus
- 950 mg potassium
- 0.6 mg zinc
- 1 mg manganese
- .3 mg copper
Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Potato?
Yes and no. Plenty of sources state that sweet potato is safe for rabbits to eat.
While this tuber isn’t toxic to bunnies, it’s very starchy and it contains quite a bit of sugar.
It’s true that some fruits contain more sugar than sweet potatoes and are perfectly fine for rabbits to eat, but it’s the combination of starch and sugar in sweet potatoes that makes them a very poor choice for your pet rabbit.
Rabbits are physically capable of eating sweet potatoes and some rabbit owners are comfortable giving yams and sweet potatoes to their bunnies.
As we’ll discuss shortly, there’s one big reason why we are firmly against sweet potatoes for rabbits.
Hint: It all has to do with the way your rabbit’s digestive system functions!
Are Sweet Potatoes Good For Rabbits?
Not really! Sweet potatoes are very nutritious but rabbits and starchy foods just don’t mix.
Rabbits have a digestive organ called a cecum, which ferments the fibers from the grasses that make up the majority of their natural diet.
Starchy foods and excess sugar upset the delicate balance of the bacteria inside the rabbit’s cecum. This can cause serious problems including gas, which rabbits aren’t able to expel.
It can also lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called G.I. stasis, in which the rabbit’s digestive tract stops functioning.
Do Rabbits Like Sweet Potatoes?
Yes – rabbits enjoy sweet foods in general. Even so, this is a snack that’s best left off your bunny’s menu!
How Much Sweet Potato Can A Rabbit Eat?
You might be tempted to offer your bunny a nibble of sweet potato, but we really don’t recommend it.
Here’s how much sweet potato to give a rabbit:
In case you’re here after the fact and your rabbit has already eaten some sweet potato, monitor them closely for signs of digestive distress.
If your bunny appears to be a lethargic, bloated, or in pain, it’s possible that they may be having an adverse reaction to sweet potato.
If your rabbit isn’t eating, drinking, or pooping normally, or if they have diarrhea it’s possible that they are having a health crisis. Call your vet right away if you think your rabbit is suffering from digestive issues. If the problem is serious, prompt medical attention might be required.
How Often Can A Rabbit Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Since this is a question we hear often, we’re going to address it: Rabbits should never eat sweet potatoes.
If you have been giving your rabbit sweet potatoes, it’s best to stop offering this potentially dangerous treat. You don’t want to put your bunny’s health at risk.
The Correct Diet Is Important
Since rabbits shouldn’t eat sweet potatoes, you might be wondering about alternatives. We’ll take a look at some bunny-safe options shortly but first, let’s go over the optimal rabbit diet.
Believe it or not, your rabbit’s diet should be similar to the diet wild rabbits eat. If you’ve ever seen wild rabbits grazing, then you know they enjoy nibbling on a variety of grasses and other plants that grow close to the ground.
This doesn’t mean you’ll have to go out foraging for your bunny – unless you’re interested in providing natural treats like dandelions and wild raspberry leaves, that is!
It simply means that your rabbit should enjoy a high-fiber diet designed to keep their digestive system running smoothly while nourishing their body properly.
Here are our recommendations for feeding your rabbit the right way:
- Offer an unlimited amount of fresh hay. Select a variety that’s meant for rabbits such as Timothy, Oat, or Orchard.
- Give your rabbit a daily serving of good-quality rabbit food. Check the label to see how much food your rabbit should be eating.
- If your rabbit’s food doesn’t already contain large seeds such as pepitas, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds, you can give them about a tablespoon per day.
- Give your bunny a fresh salad every day. This should consist of about 1 cup of greens and a few chopped veggies per 2 pounds of your rabbit’s body weight.
- Natural treats are good for bunnies and even though they shouldn’t eat too much sugar, a little bit of fruit is fine. You can offer your rabbit about 1 teaspoon of fruit per 2 pounds of body weight. Double check each fruit for the correct serving size since some come with different recommendations.
Last but not least, be sure to rinse and refill your rabbit’s drinking bottle at least once a day. Fresh, clean water is essential.
There’s one more thing your rabbit really needs for good health.
Rabbits’ teeth are always growing. In the wild, rabbits keep their teeth at the correct length by chewing tough, fibrous plants. Since your bunny lives in a hutch and can’t seek these items out for themselves, it’s up to you to provide them with safe, chewable items such as untreated softwood sticks, unbleached loofah, and hay cubes.
Not only do rabbit toys like these help keep your bunny’s teeth at the correct length, they prevent boredom and promote better mental health for your pet.
What Are Other Healthy Alternatives To Sweet Potatoes In A Rabbit’s Diet?
You – and your bunny – will be delighted to discover that there are plenty of delicious fruits, veggies, and herbs that are perfectly safe for rabbits to eat.
Here’s a quick list of some favorites to consider:
- carrot tops
- Bibb lettuce
- summer squash
- Winter squash
- bell pepper
These are just a few favorites that we’re pretty sure your bunny will enjoy when it’s time for a treat!
If you were surprised to discover that it isn’t safe to give a rabbit sweet potatoes, you might also be surprised to learn that some foods that seem perfectly safe for bunnies are toxic to rabbits or just not that great for them.
Spending a few moments checking into each new food you consider for your rabbit is the best way to prevent digestive problems and keep your pet healthy!
For now, how about a little slice of cucumber or a fresh berry? These are bunny-approved favorites that are likely to get your rabbit’s seal of approval!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Sweet Potatoes Safe For Rabbits?
No – the combination of starch and sugar in sweet potatoes makes them very difficult for bunnies to digest. It isn't safe to give a rabbit sweet potatoes.
Can Sweet Potatoes Make My Rabbit Sick?
Yes, sweet potatoes can make your rabbit very sick. The worst case scenario is GI stasis, which is potentially fatal. Even if this doesn't happen, your pet could wind up with a very painful case of gas. Digestive upset of any kind is dangerous to your rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Potato Vines and Leaves?
Yes! If you have access to fresh sweet potato vines and leaves, it's OK to offer a small handful to your bunny.
Don't mistake these for regular potato vines and leaves that emerge as potato varieties such as Russet and Yukon Gold emerge. While sweet potato leaves and vines are safe for your bunny, standard potato vines are toxic to rabbits.