Beets are a common food found in different cuisines throughout the world. You may be familiar with this purple root vegetable used in a variety of dishes or as a food colorant. However, you may not be sure whether beets are on a rabbit’s list of acceptable foods.
Yes, rabbits can eat beets. However, it’s important to note that the beet plant is comprised of a root vegetable and leafy stalks. We’ll go over which part of the beet is good for rabbits to eat, which part is occasionally acceptable for your rabbit to eat, and why it’s important to only offer your rabbit beets in moderation.
The root vegetable of the beet plant, known as the beetroot, is acceptable to feed to your rabbit. However, we recommend feeding only limited portions on sporadic occasions to your rabbits. Beets are higher in starch and sugar, especially sugar beet, which may cause weight gain and stomach discomfort.
A Colorful Surprise
On a practical note, this round purple-colored root ball can stain your rabbit’s fur. Also, you may get an unpleasant surprise when you notice your rabbit’s urine has turned a reddish color. Don’t be alarmed at this color change. It’s not blood, but rather the beetroot’s saturated coloring passing through your rabbit’s system.
Beetroot contains many nutrients that are beneficial to your rabbit’s health. Beets contain protein, fiber, vitamin C and B6, folate, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and iron. They are also low in calories.
Can Rabbits Eat Canned Beets?
It’s best to avoid any canned or cooked beets. The processing of the beets increases the starch and sugar levels to an unsafe amount for your rabbit. Raw beetroots are your best option.
The Leafy Beet Stalks
When considering whether to give your rabbit beet leaf stalks, you need to know about oxalates and oxalic acid. Oxalates are naturally occurring chemicals known as alkaloids. This substance binds with certain essential minerals in your rabbit’s body, particularly iron and calcium. While some oxalates are safe, too much ingestion of this chemical can cause kidney damage in rabbits and could be toxic.
Safely Pair Your Beet Stalks
Oxalates and oxalic acid are found in the entire beet plant, from the root to the stalks. It’s most prevalent in the leafy greens of beets and other leafy greens such as swiss chard, spinach, parsley, mustard greens, radish tops, and sprouts. To limit its negative impacts, be sure to never pair beet leaves with other high oxalic greens. Instead, you’re safer with kale, arugula, bok choy, carrot tops, cucumber leaves, spring greens, fennel, turnip greens, or cilantro.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Beets?
It’s best to wait until after your bunny is 12 weeks old before introducing beetroot or beet stalks. As with many new foods, it’s important to only offer a small amount to avoid stomach issues. Be extra careful to limit the beet stalks in order to avoid harming your growing rabbit’s kidney development.
Beets are acceptable to give your rabbit in moderation. The beetroot in raw form provides your rabbit with the most nutrients, especially calcium. However, the beet plant contains high levels of troublesome oxalic acid, especially in the leafy stalks. You can occasionally mix beet stalks into your rabbit’s food, but take extra care of how you pair it with other leafy greens.
Featured Image: Ville Mononen from Pixabay