Fresh vegetables are a great addition to any rabbit’s diet. Bunnies gain most of their nutrition from hay and pellets, but fresh food is a treat. Peppers are among the most flavorsome vegetables around. This means that any lucky bunny will enjoy eating them.
Of course, bell peppers are not enough to sustain a rabbit alone. They need to be fed in very small and concentrated measurements. You’ll also need to remove the core and seeds from the pepper. We will look at the health benefits, and safety precautions, surrounding rabbits and peppers.
Can Rabbits Eat Bell Peppers?
Bell peppers are suitable for rabbits. These vegetables are an excellent addition to a rabbit’s diet.
Your pet will enjoy a range of health benefits. Rabbits bodies do not get general vitamins organically, so bell peppers help to make up for this shortfall.
However, bell peppers should not make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet. An overload of certain vitamins is just as bad as a deficiency.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should never exceed 15% of a rabbit’s food intake. There should also be some variety within this allocation.
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers for Rabbits
Bell peppers are made up of 92% water. This means that they’ll help keep your rabbit hydrated in hot weather. They also contain traces of fiber, which encourages a healthy digestive tract.
Beyond these basic health boosts, bell peppers are also packed with goodness. Some of the vitamins and minerals found within a bell pepper include:
- Vitamin A. This improves your rabbit’s vision and encourages healthy teeth and bones.
- Vitamin C. Rabbits do not need Vitamin C. It does encourage healing if your rabbit damages their skin, though.
- Vitamin B6. This is key to your rabbit’s metabolism. It helps them maintain a healthy weight and digest food.
- Vitamin E. Rabbits rely on strong muscles to move, especially in their legs. Vitamin E plays a significant role in keeping their muscles supple.
- Vitamin K1. A rabbit that lacks Vitamin K1 can become anemic. This is dangerous as rabbits are already small and delicate.
- Potassium. This is pivotal to a rabbit’s nervous system and muscles. They need this mineral more than any other.
- Manganese. This mineral helps a rabbit grow and maintain strong, sturdy bones.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids. These fatty acids are good for a rabbit’s brain, and they also keep their joints supple.
Bell peppers are packed with antioxidants, reducing the risk of cancer and arthritis in older rabbits.
Every bell pepper has different strengths, and focuses on particular nutrients. With this in mind, it’s best to mix up the colors. It ensures that your rabbit enjoys a wide range of benefits.
Can Rabbits Eat Green and Red Peppers?
All bell peppers are healthy for rabbits. This includes red and green peppers. These vegetables have a tangier flavor than their yellow or orange equivalents.
The House Rabbit Society places these peppers on their approved list of rabbit vegetables. This ensures that you can supply them confidently. Just do so in moderation.
Also, remember that portion size is critical. A rabbit that weighs 4 lbs. should only eat two tablespoons of fresh food a day. That should include a variety of fruit and veg, not just bell peppers.
Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Peppers?
Yellow and orange peppers are safe for bunnies. Despite their sweeter taste, these peppers do not contain sugar or excess calories.
You may find that your rabbit shows a real taste for sweet peppers. This is because a rabbit’s palate detects, and enjoys, sweetness.
This means that you may need to be careful of sweet peppers around rabbits. Bunnies are comparable to dogs when it comes to begging for food. If they know that a sweet pepper is in the offing, they’ll plead mercilessly.
Don’t give into to this badgering. You need to be strict with a bunny’s fresh food intake. Too much will lead to an upset stomach.
Can Rabbits Eat Pepper Seeds and Cores?
When feeding peppers to your rabbits, the seeds and core and best removed first. These elements are not toxic, but they also provide no benefit to a bunny. All the goodness is found in the flesh.
A rabbit will enjoy gnawing and chewing on the core of a pepper. It will make some time to work though, and file down their teeth.
They may also swallow parts of the core, though. This is not edible. Your rabbit’s digestive tract will not break it down, which may cause a blockage. These are often fatal in rabbits.
Also, your rabbit may swallow seeds. These are not toxic, and are small enough to be passed as feces. There is an ever-present risk of your rabbit choking or breaking a tooth, though.
There is no reward to balance the risk of feeding your bunny pepper seeds or core. As a result, you should always stick with the flesh of bell pepper.
Can Rabbits Eat Pepper Leaves?
Peppers are part of the nightshade family of vegetables. Most animals find the leaves of these plants to be toxic.
Never feed pepper leaves to your rabbit. If you grow peppers in your yard, fence the area off. Some rabbits will be fine and find the leaves to be tasteless. It’s more likely is that they’ll become sick.
The term nightshade refers to fruits and vegetables that grow and flourish in darker conditions. Peppers are not related to the infamous weed Atropa Belladonna, aka Deadly Nightshade.
Can Rabbits Eat Jalapeno Peppers?
Hot and fiery foods cause gastric upset for rabbits. Also, rabbits are physically incapable of vomiting. The jalapeno is harmful to their intestines until it passes, causing pain and discomfort.
Nobody is quite sure whether rabbits can taste spicy food. In many respects, it doesn’t matter. The smell of jalapeno pepper, or anything similar, should keep a rabbit away.
The smell that deters your bunny is capsaicin. This is a compound found in all chili peppers. Farmers sprinkle cayenne pepper, and similar foodstuffs that contain capsaicin, to keep rabbits off their land.
If a rabbit can overcome their disdain for the smell, they may chew on a jalapeno pepper. They’ll enjoy the challenge of munching through the thick, waxy flesh.
Should I Feed My Rabbit Cooked Peppers?
As Action for Rabbits explains, bunnies should only eat their vegetables raw and fresh.
There is always the risk that your rabbit will burn their mouth on cooked food. Wild bunnies only eat raw food. Rabbits don’t understand the concept of blowing on food, or waiting for it to cool.
Cooking peppers also remove many of the nutrients. As they are a bunny superfood, cooking them is pointless. You will deny your pet the many and varied health benefits they provide.
Cooked foods are considerably softer than fresh equivalents. Again, your rabbit will not understand this. They will bite into a pepper expecting it to be tough and crunchy.
As rabbits have strong teeth and jaw muscles, they could hurt themselves doing this. If they bite too hard, they’ll go right through the pepper. This may result in them biting their bottom lip.
A bitten lip is an open wound for a rabbit. At best, this will be painful and put them off eating. At worst, it will become infected and require treatment.
Can Rabbits Eat Expired Peppers?
While clearing out your refrigerator, you may encounter bell peppers that have passed their expiration date. You may think that feeding them to your rabbit will prevent waste.
This can be dangerous. Rotten fruits and vegetables often contain mold, and it could be invisible to the naked eye. Mold can kill rabbits.
If the expiration date is just 24 hours out, the peppers are likely safe. Never feed your bunny something you would not eat yourself.
You must also regularly check your rabbit’s home for uneaten peppers, or other fresh food. If your bunny doesn’t eat their pepper same day, toss it away.
Introducing Your Rabbit to Peppers
Whenever you add a new food to a rabbit’s diet, it needs to be done steadily. You’ll have to check that your bunny does not react poorly.
Cut the core and seeds out of green bell pepper. Slice off a small piece of pepper, and offer it to your bunny as a treat. Let them eat it and wait 48 hours.
This is enough time to learn if they process it appropriately. If your rabbit has a stomach upset, peppers do not agree with them. If not, they’re fine.
Rabbits cannot live on peppers alone. Never leave an entire bell pepper into their cage. Your rabbit will happily eat the whole thing, but will suffer for it afterward. Too many vegetables in one sitting will upset a bunny’s stomach.
What are Alternatives to Peppers for Rabbits?
If you are unwilling or unable to provide your rabbit with bell peppers, consider an alternative. Recommended vegetables for bunnies include:
- Cauliflower (both leaves and stalks)
You may consider carrots to be notable by their absence on this list. While the stereotypes are true and bunnies do enjoy carrots, they must be fed sparingly.
Carrots are very high in sugar. They offer the same satisfying crunch as bell peppers, but are not a healthy alternative.
When fed in moderation, bell peppers are a great addition to a rabbit’s diet. The long list of nutrients speaks for itself. A rabbit that enjoys peppers will enjoy excellent health.
Just ensure that the peppers and ripe, and suitably robust. Remove any seeds, just in case your rabbit chokes on them. Chop them into small pieces, and mix up the colors. This will create an interesting and enjoyable feast for your bunny.
Of all fresh vegetables available to rabbits, bell peppers are arguably the best option. Lettuce and carrots may be dubbed ‘rabbit food,’ but peppers deserve this moniker more.