Do rabbits love carrots? This is a pretty funny question! Are you so sure? Shedding light on the real appetite of rabbits for carrots.
The basis of the rabbit diet
Rabbit is herbivore. In the wild, it naturally feeds on grasses, plants, buds, and leaves.
In captivity, the diet is inspired by nature. The digestive system of rabbits domesticated by humans has not changed: it has remained that of herbivores. His diet is different simply because we want our rabbits to live long lives, longer than they can live in the wild. That’s why it’s an improved version of the natural diet, a little more balanced.
The domestic rabbit is fed first hay, served as desired, and dried or fresh herbs, provided they are not contaminated. Hay must be of good quality, i.e. very green, dry without excess, with long thin fibers and consisting of various plants. This base is supplemented with fresh vegetables at the rate of 50 to 100 g of vegetables per kilogram of weight.
What to Avoid When Feeding Rabbits
in calcium is a mineral to be feared: if there is too much of it in the diet, the rabbit is more likely to form urinary stones. For this reason, alfalfa hay should be avoided as it contains too much calcium for adult rabbits.
If you follow this logic, you should be wary of some vegetables that are known to be rich in calcium:
- spinach cooked in water contains 240 mg of calcium per 100 g,
- raw watercress contains 101 mg of calcium per 100 g,
- cabbage 72 mg calcium / 100 g,
- and boiled Chinese cabbage, 62.5 mg of calcium per 100 g.
What’s with the carrots? As for calcium, its contribution is modest: in its raw form, it contains only 26 mg of calcium per 100 g.
Similarly, don’t give too much hard water to your rabbits. If there is tap water, it is better to filter it.
in sugar This is another element that should be limited in the diet of rabbits as it promotes weight gain and cavities. This applies, of course, to glucose, but also to fruit, which must therefore be given in very small amounts. It is from this point of view that we should be wary of carrots: this is a really sweet vegetable, the presence of which in the rabbit’s diet should be limited.
However, the answer to our question about the rabbit’s appetite for carrots is not completely resolved: does he like it, yes or no?
The myth of the rabbit and the carrot
Rabbits are known to be picky eaters. It is quite difficult to predict the taste of a rabbit in advance. Everyone has their own character and taste, which is why they prefer one product to another.
They are also very funny to watch when they discover new food: they sniff it for a long time before deciding to take a bite from a very small piece. If they like it, they will pounce on the food. Otherwise, they may spit it out, move on, and even resent you, looking at you with what we can only interpret as contempt. That’s not all! Their taste may change, and they may completely change their mind about food they didn’t like at first.
Rabbits have a highly developed taste that allows them to identify tastes salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Various studies show that rabbits have a preference for sweet and bitter. So there’s a good chance your rabbit will appreciate carrots given the level of sugar they contain. The rabbit won’t be the first pet to be attracted to food that doesn’t suit him! The role of its owner is to ensure its nutritional balance.
Hypothesis explaining the origin of the myth of the rabbit’s appetite for carrots
Among humans, carrots are a vegetable known for their health benefits. This is largely due to the beta-carotene they contain. It’s really powerful antioxidant which limits the effects of aging. A good carrot eater has good skin healing. It is also a fiber-rich vegetable that contributes to the proper functioning of our digestive system. Eating carrots helps to quickly achieve a feeling of satiety, which is all the more beneficial because they are low in calories. However, there is something that we do not appreciate much in carrots: these are tops.
They are undoubtedly responsible for the myth of the rabbit’s appetite for carrots. When the rabbit wanders into the garden, he will not miss a single leaf without nibbling it. On the other hand, it will not dig up the root part that we consume. But gardeners only remember the haulm attack, probably because it makes harvesting difficult.
The tops are edible and you can cook them: there are some interesting recipes. But you can also consider giving them to your rabbits. They are rich in fiber, iron, vitamin C and B9. However, they have a big disadvantage for a rabbit : they are rich in calcium, containing 100 mg per 100 g. If you can freely give them to rabbits under the age of 6 months, then they should be exclusively a treat for adult rabbits.