Dark, leafy greens are an essential part of every rabbit’s diet – right alongside abundant amounts of fresh timothy hay and clean, filtered water.
However, it’s important to know that not all greens are created equally! In fact, while some of them can be excellent for your rabbit’s health, others are almost completely devoid of nutrients, or can cause health problems for rabbits.
In today’s article we’ll be examining the question of whether or not it’s safe for your rabbit to eat kale. This dark, leafy green in the brassica family is a favorite among health-conscious people, but rabbit and human digestive systems differ in a few key ways – including an inability for rabbits to pass gas that, when unattended to, can even prove deadly.
Read on to get a definite answer for whether kale is safe for rabbits to eat. After that, we’ll be covering all the potential dangers and benefits of the plant, as well as guidelines if your rabbit is eating it. By the end of this guide, you’ll be fully prepared to decide whether kale is right for your rabbit’s diet.
Yes! Rabbits Can Eat Kale
As with almost every dark, leafy green, rabbits can eat kale – and you’re likely to see them do so in the wild. The folks at Medirabbit, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rabbit health information, agree on this point, saying that kale is “okay in limited amounts, but may cause gas in some rabbits.”
Did you know flatulence can be harmful or even deadly for rabbits? Because they don’t have any way to pass gas, an extreme buildup can prevent them from normal digestive functions. GI (gastrointestinal) stasis is a serious matter for rabbits, and should always be discussed with a vet if you notice your rabbit eating or pooping less or not at all.
Nutrition Facts for Kale
Kale is a very rich and nutritious green, according to Nutritionvalue.org. Some of its best attributes include:
With a calorie composition of 45% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 35% fat, kale’s nutrient profile is an excellent match for rabbit nutrition. However, its high calcium content means it’s not suitable for everyday feeding.
Health Benefits and Dangers of Kale for Rabbits
All members of the brassica genus (including kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) are quite dense in nutrients, but also contain large amounts of sulfurous compounds – which is why they all have a similarly pungent smell while cooking. Kale in particular has very abundant vitamins and minerals – but its high calcium content is not great for rabbit health.
Fed in moderation to your rabbit, kale can protect your rabbit’s immune system and organ health because of its Vitamin A – but be sure to rotate through different vegetables and greens so as not to harm your rabbit’s health.
How to Feed Kale to Your Rabbits
Raw, organic kale should be washed to remove any dirt or sediment that might upset your rabbit’s stomach. After that, your rabbit will happily chew away on the whole leaves without needing any further preparation!
Not cooking kale both preserves its vitamins and minerals, and makes it appetizing to rabbits; once cooked, just about every bunny will turn their nose up at it. Keep it organic to avoid any harmful pesticides or waxes that could damage your rabbit’s sensitive digestive system.
How Much Kale Should I Feed My Rabbit?
Generally, you shouldn’t feed the somewhat aggravating foods of the brassica genus to your rabbit on consecutive days. This will give their digestive system the time to properly process everything and prevent any unwanted gas buildup.
For rabbits of all sizes, introduce kale into their diets slowly – with as little as one leaf on the first day for larger rabbits, and half of a leaf for smaller ones. Monitor them for signs of GI distress, such as not eating, not pooping, or having runny poops… And discontinue feeding kale immediately if these signs appear.
Types of Kale to Feed Your Rabbit
Of the many varieties of kale available in grocery store produce sections, no one stands out as best to feed your rabbit. Since each of the varieties (like curly, Lacinato, or “dino” kale) has very similar nutrient profiles, which kale you choose to feed your rabbit is more a matter of your bunny’s personal preference. Feel free to try any variety of kale but be sure to introduce it to your rabbit’s diet slowly.
Final Thoughts on Feeding Kale to Your Rabbit
While kale is a nutritional boon for human diets, its abundant calcium and sulfur contents make it less suitable to daily feedings for rabbits. If you’re keen on the nutrition it provides, introduce kale into your rabbit’s diet slowly, and limit your servings of it to every other day.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you learned everything you need to know about feeding kale to your rabbit and feel well-prepared to introduce it to their diet or seek out other food options.
Featured Image: Barry Hall, Flickr CC 2.0