Rabbits are herbivores that live on a purely plant-based diet. They eat various herbs, grasses, vegetables, and fruits. However, potatoes are not suitable for rabbits. While humans can easily digest potatoes, rabbits cannot.
Rabbits should not eat potatoes. While they like the taste of potatoes, they are very high in calories, offer no nutritional value, and can cause problems. They contain a lot of starch, which the rabbit’s digestive system cannot process. This can lead to diarrhea, constipation, or gastrointestinal disorders. The stems and leaves of the potato plant are even poisonous.
Below, you will find out why you should not give your rabbits potatoes. We will also tell you what problems can occur if you do.
We also discuss whether rabbits can and should eat boiled potatoes, potato peelings, or sweet potatoes.
Can Rabbits Eat Potatoes?
Rabbits enjoy many types of vegetables. If you give your rabbit a potato piece, it will gladly accept it. However, this does not mean that potatoes are nutritious or even healthy for rabbits.
Rabbits do best on a herbaceous diet. A rabbit’s diet should, therefore, consist mainly of fiber that helps move the food through the digestive system.
They should only be given a small amount of protein and fat, which are vital for cell growth.
Rabbits obtain almost all the nutrients they need from hay and grass. This high-fiber food should make up about 85% of their diet.
The rest of the diet should consist of different types of leafy vegetables and herbs such as cilantro.
In theory, rabbits can eat potatoes. But it’s really not a good idea to give them to your rabbits, even in small quantities.
Wild rabbits generally do not eat such starchy foods, so domestic rabbits should not eat potatoes either. Neither white nor red potatoes are nutritionally beneficial for a rabbit.
Why Do Rabbits Like Potatoes?
Most rabbits would eat potatoes even though they are unhealthy for them. However, as potatoes offer them no nutritional value, it seems strange that they like them.
But rabbits like potatoes because they have a high-calorie content. Rabbits have evolved to prefer high-calorie food.
This is a good thing for wild rabbits. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that helps prevent them from losing weight or even starving.
Choosing high-calorie food means that the rabbit can survive longer without a meal. So it’s a kind of survival instinct.
Unfortunately, this is a bad thing for domesticated rabbits. Domestic rabbits don’t get as much exercise as wild rabbits, and they overeat if they have even the slightest opportunity to do so.
Rabbits don’t know that potatoes are bad for them. Unfortunately, domestic rabbits have very little instinct when it comes to avoiding unhealthy foods.
So it’s your job as the owner to provide your rabbits with a healthy diet and avoid harmful foods.
Why Are Potatoes Bad for Rabbits?
Potatoes are not technically poisonous. This distinguishes potatoes from other foods unsuitable for rabbits, such as rhubarb or onions.
If your rabbits eat a tiny amount, they will not be seriously harmed as the potatoes themselves are not poisonous.
However, if your rabbits overeat potatoes, they will become ill. Potatoes are as harmful to rabbits as junk food is to humans. They contain too many calories and are challenging to digest.
Rabbits’ bodies are not designed to process the amount of starch in potatoes. Eating a lot of starch can cause problems for a rabbit’s sensitive digestive system.
When a rabbit eats potatoes, the following problems can occur:
- Weight gain
Constipation can lead to gastrointestinal stasis, a condition in which the entire digestive system grinds to a halt.
Potatoes provide no nutritional benefit to the rabbit. They are low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Wild rabbits, therefore, tend to feed on grass and any greens they can find.
Sprouted potatoes are even toxic. The eyes that appear on old potatoes are the beginnings of the potato stalks. They are highly poisonous to rabbits and could quickly lead to death.
If you grow potatoes in your garden, keep your rabbits away from them. And keep the potatoes out of their reach if they can roam freely.
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Potatoes?
Rabbits’ digestive systems are not designed to process cooked potatoes. Although cooking removes much of the resistant starch, much regular starch remains.
Rabbits have difficulty digesting many forms of carbohydrates, except for fiber.
Eating cooked potatoes can cause your pets to develop the same digestive problems as raw potatoes.
Diarrhea, constipation, and gastrointestinal stasis can also occur with cooked potatoes.
Can Rabbits Eat Potato Peelings?
Potato skins, whether white or red, contain much more fiber compared to the white flesh inside.
Around half of all fiber in a potato is in the skin. The potato’s skin also contains nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium.
Rabbits require a high-fiber diet for their health. Their digestive system relies on soluble and insoluble fiber to keep them going.
Therefore, it is natural to ask whether rabbits can safely eat potato peelings as part of a balanced diet.
However, potato peelings still contain a high proportion of starch. Their high starch concentration outweighs their fiber content, which makes it difficult for rabbits to digest them.
Potato skins are just as harmful to the rabbit’s gut as the flesh inside.
Rabbits need to spend most of their time eating hay, which is almost entirely fiber. They get all their valuable fiber from hay and the occasional salad of herbaceous leaves.
Are Rabbits Allowed to Eat Potato Leaves?
The flowers, stems, and leaves of the potato plant are poisonous to rabbits. The same applies to all other nightshade plants, such as tomatoes or eggplants.
Rabbits roaming through gardens and allotments may come across potato leaves and stems.
However, they learn from the older members of their group which plants they should eat and which they should avoid. You will probably never see wild rabbits nibbling on potato plants.
Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Although they have the word potato in their name, sweet potatoes are not close relatives of regular potatoes. They belong to different plant families and do not have much genetic similarity.
Sweet potatoes belong to the bindweed family (Convolvulaceae), including wild roses, water spinach, and bindweed. Potatoes, on the other hand, are nightshade plants.
Nevertheless, sweet potatoes are not healthy for rabbits. They contain much more sugar than regular potatoes and have a higher fat content. Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are, therefore, both bad.
However, rabbits can safely eat the leaves and tendrils of the sweet potato plant.
Can Rabbits Eat Potato Potato Chips?
Potato potato chips are slices of potato deep-fried in oil. They are seasoned with powdered flavorings.
As if potatoes weren’t bad enough, potato chips are even worse for your pets.
Not only do they contain all the starch that rabbits can’t digest, but they also contain a lot of fat. Depending on the brand, potato potato chips can contain up to 50% fat.
A rabbit’s diet should have less than 3% fat. Rabbits obtain the fat they require from hay, pellets, and healthy vegetables.
A rabbit’s digestive system cannot tolerate fatty foods like potato chips or French fries.
Conclusion: Can Rabbits Eat Potatoes?
Potatoes in any form are not suitable for rabbits. The potatoes themselves contain too much starch and can damage your rabbit’s digestive system.
And the skins of the potatoes are not healthy for rabbits either. These also contain enough starch to make them difficult or impossible for rabbits to digest.
The other parts of the potato plant are even poisonous. So, never give your rabbits potato leaves, stems, or any other part of the potato plant.
Processed potato products are just as unsuitable for rabbits. They are usually even more unhealthy for rabbits due to the additives they contain, such as oil or salt.
You should, therefore, never feed your rabbits snacks such as potato chips, French fries, or similar.
And even though sweet potatoes are not directly related to potatoes, they are also unsuitable for rabbits due to their high sugar content.
You can basically say that anything with the word potato in its name is not intended for rabbits.
It is, therefore, better to choose a healthier vegetable for your rabbits. And vary the types of vegetables you offer your rabbits to provide them with different nutrients.