A fairly common perennial garden herb, there’s a good chance that you’ve got some mint growing in your yard or around your home somewhere. You’ve probably been picking at it to kick your mojitos up a notch or to garnish some fancy desserts, but did you know you could be sharing it with your rabbit too?
The mint, I mean…not the mojito or your fancy desserts (just so we’re clear).
That’s right, my fellow bunny guardians, for the most part, rabbits absolutely love a nibble on those spiky green leaves, but it was wise of you to check here first, as there are numerous herbs that our fluffy companions cannot stomach.
A Rogue Variant – Beware This Type of Mint
Okay, so I know I just gave you the go-ahead to treat your fluffy child to some breath freshening, minty treats, but it’s not as cut and dry as that.
Did you know that there are over 600 types of mint? Well, there are, so there’s bound to be at least one troublemaker among them, and it’s known as pennyroyal mint.
It should come as no surprise that this form of mint is toxic to rabbits, as it can be incredibly harmful to humans as well, especially in oil form. Even a single tablespoon of the stuff could be fatal, so it goes without saying that we need to keep it away from our cherished rabbit friends.
The toxic element is called pulegone. It’s a nasty piece of work and a known abortifacient. It tends to attack the liver, where it’s metabolized to form an even more poisonous substance known as menthofuran.
Despite smelling and tasting like the real deal, pennyroyal looks nothing like the quintessential peppermint leaf that pops into mind when we think about mint, so there’s a good chance you won’t even approach it, let alone feed it to your fluffy family member.
Still, it’s good to be able to identify it, just in case it pops up in your garden at some point. You’ll know to keep your bunnies away until it can be removed.
Pennyroyal mint has small, lilac blooms and much smaller leaves than peppermint. They’re more oval than pointy, and they don’t have a spiky perimeter.
How Much Mint Can I Feed My Rabbit?
With that unpleasant business out of the way, let’s move on to how much good mint your rabbit should be eating.
A single sprig per day is perfectly fine for such small creatures. If you’re not exactly sure how much mint a sprig consists of, it’s roughly a two to four-inch piece of the herb.
You don’t have to reduce their diet in other ways. Simply garnish their usual dinner with the sprig, and let them chow down. It makes for a super healthy addition to their daily diet.
However, do bear in mind that too much mint can cause pretty severe gastrointestinal distress, so as is the case with most treats, moderation is key.
And one more thing before we move on…whether you harvest your mint from the wild or buy it from a store, it’s always a good idea to give it a thorough wash before serving it up for your rabbit. You never know what sort of wildlife has brushed up against it, and store-bought mint may have been treated with lots of nasty pesticides.
What Parts of a Mint Plant Can I Feed to My Rabbit?
Rabbits have a strict zero-waste policy when it comes to mint. They don’t care which part you give them. The leaves, the stalks, the flowers, the roots…it’s all good.
One thing I will say, though, is that the roots have little to no nutritional value, so they’re probably best left in the ground.
If you want to treat your rabbit to the most flavorful part of the mint plant, it’s 100% the leaves, as they store most of the oils that give mint its signature scent and aromatic flavor. They’re at their juiciest just before the plant starts flowering.
What Are the Health Benefits of Feeding My Rabbit Mint?
Made up of equal parts proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, fresh mint is an incredibly well-balanced herb, nutritionally speaking.
It’s chock-full of vitamin A, which is great for eyesight, reproductive health, the immune system, and pretty much all major organs.
The potassium content is also notable, as rabbits need plenty of it to balance out internal and external cell fluids and send nerve signals throughout the body.
Furthermore, mint contains a whole bunch of iron, which, like us, rabbits use to create blood, and the high level of antioxidants improve general health and stave off illness.
Those little green leaves are brimming with fiber, too, so they can help soften stools and enhance your bunny’s digestive health – hurray.
If you can’t find mint growing in the wild, or your local grocery store doesn’t stock it, why not just buy some other bunny treats like these super-nutritious carrot slims.
Are There Times When You Shouldn’t Feed a Rabbit Mint?
Despite all those wonderful health benefits we just discussed, there is indeed one instance where you’ll need to take the mint out of your rabbit’s diet for a spell.
Mint is known to speed up the drying of a mother rabbit’s milk, so you mustn’t feed a rabbit mint if it’s in the process of nursing young. That said, when the nursing period is coming to an end, adding mint to her diet can help with the weaning process and reduce the chance of mastitis — it’s all about timing.
There you have it, folks, as long as it’s not pennyroyal, rabbits can absolutely eat mint. It makes for an incredibly nutritious snack, so I highly recommend working it into your rabbit’s diet.
A single sprig per day is plenty for their fluffy tums, and you’ll need to give it a good scrub before dishing it up to make sure there are no harmful bacteria lingering.
The only time you’ll need to remove mint from their diet is if they’ve recently given birth to a litter, as the mint could dry their milk up prematurely.