A rabbit’s diet should include a wide assortment of plant-based foods, such as herbs and vegetables. This is how rabbits get the vitamins and minerals that their bodies need. Most rabbits love the taste of celery, and it contains several important nutrients that keep them healthy.
Celery is one of the healthiest vegetables for rabbits to eat. It’s packed with nutrients such as vitamins C, A, B6, iron, and fiber. But it shouldn’t be eaten in excess, so only offer your rabbit a small piece per day. Celery should be cut up into small pieces, as long celery strings can cause digestive problems.
Let’s discuss the health benefits and potential health risks of celery for rabbits. We’ll explore which parts of the celery plant are safe for rabbits, and how much they can safely eat. Finally, we’ll explain how to introduce celery to your rabbit, and prepare it properly.
Can You Feed Rabbits Celery?
Celery is a flowering plant in the same family as carrots and parsnips. It’s native to damp, marshy environments in the Middle East.
You can grow celery in your garden, or purchase it at any greengrocer in the salad section.
The part of the celery plant which we harvest and eat is called the petiole. Petioles are stalks that connect a plant’s leaves to its stem. They are usually thin, but on the celery plant, they are long, thick and fibrous.
Celery petioles are usually known as “celery stalks,” “celery sticks” or “celery stems” (though they’re not technically stems).
The crunchy, mild taste of celery, along with its low-calorie content, makes it a favorite food for humans. But should rabbits eat celery, and is it good for them?
Many plants are poisonous to rabbits, but celery is not one of them. Rabbits can enjoy celery as part of their fresh vegetable intake. This should make up around 15% of a rabbit’s diet.
Because celery is not a leafy green, it should be fed sparingly. However, as an occasional treat, it is perfectly safe for rabbits. Most rabbits enjoy the taste of both the outer, pale stalks, and the brighter green inner ones.
Why Do Rabbits Like Celery?
Rabbits like the taste of almost every vegetable and fruit you could name. Wild rabbits forage for any plants, which is why they’re the sworn enemy of vegetable farmers. Most fruits and vegetables that appeal to us are also tasty to rabbits.
For celery, in particular, it’s the fiber and nutrient content which rabbits find appealing. Celery also contains a small amount of sugar. It’s not enough for us to notice, but rabbits certainly do.
Not all rabbits like celery, however. All rabbits are individuals, and as some turn their nose up at it. If your rabbit doesn’t like celery, it doesn’t matter, as long as they’re eating a variety of other vegetables.
Health Benefits of Celery for Rabbits
As well as being tasty, celery boasts many nutritional benefits for rabbits.
Like hay, the fiber content of celery helps to push food through rabbits’ digestive systems. It also helps to wear rabbit’s teeth down when they chew on it. A piece of celery is an excellent alternative to a rabbit chew toy (though it won’t last as long).
Because celery is low in calories, this means that it’s safe for overweight rabbits. It won’t cause your rabbit to gain unnecessary weight, as “treat foods” such as banana might.
But just because it’s low in calories doesn’t mean that it’s low in nutrients. On the contrary, celery contains vital vitamins and minerals that are important for rabbits. These include the following:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
- B-Vitamins including Vitamin B6
- Folic acid
Celery contains all of the above, as well as many other essential nutrients. All of these vital vitamins and minerals help rabbits’ bodies to function correctly. And celery is easily digestible by a rabbit’s herbivorous digestive system.
Celery is also high in water. If your rabbit doesn’t drink much, feeding your rabbit celery will help get water into their diet. Refrigerated celery helps rabbits to cool down on hot summer days, too.
Health Risks of Celery for Rabbits
Celery is one of the healthiest vegetables that you can offer your rabbit. However, that isn’t to say that there are no risks. There are potential dangers of celery that you should be aware of.
- Celery strings. These are the tough, stringy pieces of flesh that run vertically down a celery stalk. They can get caught in rabbits’ teeth, and also cause blockages in the digestive tract.
- Sugar content. Celery might not taste sweet to us. But compared to other vegetables, it is high in sugar – about one gram per stick. Too much sugar can cause health problems for rabbits.
- Water content. Celery contains a lot of water, like other veggies such as cucumber. If rabbits’ diets are too high in water, this can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.
- Oxalates. Also known as oxalic acid, oxalates are harmless in small amounts. However, if high-oxalates are eaten in excess, they build up in a rabbit’s body and cause kidney damage.
To avoid celery strings hurting your rabbit, chop the celery into small pieces. Each slice should be no more than half an inch in length. If the strings are short enough, they won’t cause any problems.
The high sugar, water and oxalate content can be avoided by feeding celery sparingly. It should be served as a small part of your rabbit’s diet, along with other veggies and greens.
If fed only once in a while, celery poses no risk whatsoever. Almost all rabbits enjoy celery with no issues as part of a healthy diet.
Are Celery Leaves Safe for Rabbits?
Celery leaves are flat, green and resemble parsley leaves, though they have a milder taste. They grow outwards from the tops of the stalky petioles that we use in cooking.
If you’ve ever bought a celery heart from the greengrocer’s, it probably came with some leaves attached. Most of us throw the leaves away when we prepare celery for our consumption. But you may be wondering: how safe are celery leaves for rabbits?
Celery leaves are harmless, and are a perfect leafy green to include in your rabbit’s diet. They’re more nutritious for rabbits than the stalks themselves. They contain less sugar and have lower water content, making them perfect for rabbits.
Like herbs and other leafy greens, celery leaves are high in fiber, and essential nutrients such as vitamins E and C. Most rabbits love the taste of celery leaves and will happily take them off your hands.
You can include celery leaves as a regular part of your rabbit’s diet. Wash them thoroughly first, to remove any trace of soil or pesticides.
Don’t give your rabbit celery leaves every day, as they contain oxalic acid. Regularly rotate them with other leafy greens, and your rabbit won’t come to harm.
Can Rabbits Eat Celery Flowers?
Celery flowers are tiny and white, growing in clusters called umbels. Celery plants go into flower after the stalks have turned tough and woody.
If you buy celery from a store, it won’t come with any flowers. Store-bought celery consists only of the tender stalks that make up the heart of the plant. Sometimes, it is sold with leaves still attached.
However, if you grow your celery, you may be wondering whether the flowers are safe for rabbits.
While celery leaves are edible for rabbits, there has been little research into whether celery flowers are. They may not be poisonous, but at any rate, they aren’t classified as edible.
To be safe, avoid feeding your rabbit celery flowers and stick to leaves and stalks. If you’re ever concerned that your rabbit might have eaten something they shouldn’t, take them to a vet.
Can Rabbits Eat Celery Seeds?
If you leave celery flowers on the plant, they will eventually turn to seed, providing they’re pollinated.
Celery seeds are edible for humans and used as a spice for soups and stews. They are often ground and mixed with salt to create a seasoning called celery salt.
Though we can eat them, celery seeds are not appropriate food for your rabbit. You should never feed your rabbit any nut or seed.
Seeds are too high in protein and fat to be healthy for rabbits. Not to mention, many kinds of seed – such as apple seeds – are actively poisonous.
There are some exceptions to this rule, such as cucumber seeds, which are harmless. However, celery seeds should be avoided at all costs.
Can Rabbits Eat Celery Root?
Celery root is the common name for the hypocotyl (below-ground stem) of the celery plant. It looks like a large, solid, lumpy ball with brown skin.
Classified as a root vegetable, celery root is also sometimes known as celeriac, particularly in Europe. The celery root sold at the store is a different subspecies to the celery that is grown for the stalks.
Though it may not look appetizing from the outside, celery root is entirely edible. It is safe for both rabbits and humans to eat. It contains no toxins or substances that would harm a rabbit.
That being said, you should limit the amount of celery root that you offer your rabbit. Root vegetables are higher in starch and sugar than leafy greens. Excessive starch and sugar can upset a rabbit’s digestive system.
A rabbit’s diet should be primarily focused around fibrous plants, instead of starchy ones. Celery root should not make up a significant portion of your rabbit’s diet. However, feel free to offer your bunny a small piece every once in a while.
To prepare celery root for your rabbit, peel it first, then chop the inner flesh into bite-sized pieces.
If you do notice any ill-effects after feeding your rabbit celery root, remove it from their diet immediately. Stick to feeding your rabbit the nutritious leaves and petioles.
How Much Celery Can Rabbits Eat?
Now that we know rabbits can safely eat celery, let’s consider how much celery to give a rabbit.
Different vegetables a crucial part of a rabbit’s diet. However, their diets should not be primarily made up of veggies.
Only 15% of your bunny’s food should be vegetable-based. The vast majority of your rabbit’s diet should be grass hay.
Timothy, orchard and meadow varieties are all suitable. Your rabbit should get through a bundle of hay around the same size as their body per day.
For the vegetable portion of your rabbit’s diet, 85% should be leafy greens, including herbs. Celery leaves count as leafy greens. The remainder can be made up of various non-leafy vegetables. Along with celery stalks, these may include:
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
Once your rabbit is used to eating celery, you can include it daily as part of their salad. A rabbit can tolerate up to 2 inches worth of celery each day – less than half a stick.
However, for optimum health, your rabbit’s diet should include a wide variety of the different veggies listed above. This helps them to absorb as many different nutrients as possible. Just as you wouldn’t want to eat the same thing every day, neither would your rabbit.
Are Baby Rabbits Allowed Celery?
Baby rabbits have highly sensitive digestive systems. It takes months for them to develop the gut bacteria required to digest vegetables and fruits. They rely on eating their mother’s cecotropes (partially digested fecal matter) to help this bacteria grow.
Until they’re three months old, baby rabbits can develop digestive issues if they eat the wrong foods. Their digestive systems can only handle a narrow variety of substances.
Newborn rabbits, up to two weeks old, should only consume their mother’s milk (or a suitable replacement formula). From two weeks onwards, they can also digest hay and hay-based pellets.
Along with water, these foods provide the nutrients a baby rabbit needs until twelve weeks of age. If you introduce anything else before this point – including something harmless, like celery – it could have devastating consequences.
Baby rabbits are prone to severe diarrhea. This occurs when their gut cannot properly digest the food they’ve consumed. Diarrhea can cause death in young rabbits, and is a medical emergency.
For this reason, never feed a baby rabbit celery, even if they seem interested in it. Wait until they are at least three months old. Then, introduce it slowly, watching for any adverse reaction.
How To Prepare Celery for Rabbits
Celery can make up a healthy part of a rabbit’s diet, as long as they don’t overeat it.
Though most of your rabbit’s diet should consist of hay and leafy greens, vegetables are important too. Celery is a great choice, containing many of the nutrients your rabbit needs to thrive.
Try to source organic celery that has not been treated by pesticides. According to the Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies, pesticides such as permethrins can be dangerous to rabbits. When ingested, they can cause severe neurological problems.
Whatever kind of celery you buy, wash it thoroughly with clean water before giving it to your rabbit. Then, cut it into small chunks, around ½ inch long. This will ensure that the celery strings won’t pose a problem for your rabbit.
If your rabbit has never eaten celery before, introduce it slowly, as you would any other new food. Start by offering one small piece of celery. Then, if your rabbit seems to digest it with no problem, you can offer some more a few days later.
After introducing a new foodstuff into your rabbit’s diet, monitor them closely for any unusual response. If you notice diarrhea, constipation or abnormal behaviors, stop offering celery. You may also wish to take your rabbit to a veterinarian to be on the safe side.