Sweet potatoes are such a staple food in many homes around the world. They are an excellent source of carbohydrates, just like the humble potato, but they also possess some super beneficial properties such as starch, beta carotene, and vitamin A, making them something of a superfood.
Any rabbit owner will know that rabbits are greedy little things. You could feed them the best rabbit diet in the world, but yet they will still want to eat your food too. Now, whilst some human foods are perfectly fine for your rabbit, there are equally so many foods that should not be fed to these furry little friends.
One of the human food products we often get asked about is sweet potato. It is a delicious, natural source of many ideal dietary requirements for rabbits, so, in one sense, it makes total sense why you may think sweet potato is perfect for your rabbit.
However, is that really the case? We explore just how good sweet potato is for rabbits and whether they should eat it in this article.
Can rabbits eat sweet potatoes?
Yes, technically sweet potatoes can safely be fed to your rabbit. However, the answer is not actually that straightforward (is anything ever that straightforward?). Sweet potatoes, whilst they are not toxic for your rabbit are not particularly good for them either.
Sweet potatoes should only be fed to your rabbit in very small amounts, or even better, totally avoided. The reason for this is because whilst there are some really good nutrients in there that can be super helpful for rabbits, the majority of sweet potato contains elements that can cause illness, weight gain, and other issues in your furry friend.
We will explore a little more about these side effects from eating sweet potato in a little while, but for now, suffice to say, sweet potato is not toxic to rabbits, but should not really be fed to them, especially on a regular basis.
How much sweet potato can be given to a rabbit?
In terms of the amount of sweet potato that can be fed to your rabbit, we want to tell you that actually, none is the best! As we mentioned, whilst it is not toxic (this means it is not likely to cause them to become seriously unwell or die from just a small amount), it is still not beneficial for them and can actually do more harm than good.
Of course, if your rabbit accidentally eats a small amount of sweet potato, it is not likely going to be anything to worry about. Just ensure they have plenty of water available to them and some better suited food. Keep an eye on their behavior and their toilet habits for a day or so, to monitor any changes, and they will very likely be fine.
If they eat large amounts of sweet potato, you should keep an eye out for any signs of digestional issues like diarrhea, and gastrointestinal stasis. If you are at all worried about your rabbit when they have eaten sweet potato in any amount, you should get them checked out by a vet just to be safe.
What about young rabbits? Can bunnies eat sweet potatoes?
No! Young rabbits and bunnies should definitely not be given sweet potatoes. Again, whilst it is not toxic, they have very sensitive stomachs (even more so than adult rabbits), and so even a small amount of sweet potatoes can make them very unwell.
They are more prone to digestion related illnesses anyway, and as such, they should only be fed high fiber foods such as timothy hay and alfalfa. Sweet potatoes are far too high in starch and can cause issues such as diarrhea, uneaten caecotrophs, and soft caecotrophs.
Likewise, pregnant and lactating female rabbits are also particularly vulnerable and will have more sensitive bellies than male rabbits. As such, you should avoid feeding them sweet potatoes or anything that has too much starch.
Any rabbit that has had sensitive stomach issues in the past should also avoid sweet potatoes, whatever their age, and even in small amounts. It is just not worth the risk of making your sweet little bunny sick!
What are the risks of overfeeding sweet potatoes to your rabbit?
As we have mentioned a number of times already in this article, the consumption of sweet potatoes by rabbits can cause a number of issues, mostly related to their gastrointestinal systems. Rabbits have particularly sensitive stomachs (especially young bunnies and pregnant rabbits).
Rabbits typically have round, hard stools (also known as caecotrophs), and so anything that prevents this should not be fed to them.
Starchy foods that lack fiber are one of the main culprits for giving them soft or runny stools. Sweet potatoes are, of course, one of the main culprits for being full of starch and lacking in the fiber department.
The thing is, when humans get diarrhea, we usually get better within a few days. However, when rabbits get diarrhea, it can be very serious! Not only can the illness cause long term damage, but it can even be a contributor to premature death!
The reason for this is because of gastrointestinal stasis. This can prove fatal to your rabbits and as such, you should do everything in your power to stop it, such as feeding them a good diet.
As well as this, obesity is a real risk when feeding them too much sweet potato because of their high sugar content! Along with obesity comes all the obesity related illnesses!
What are the best alternatives to sweet potatoes for your rabbit?
So, after all this, you have vowed never to feed your rabbit sweet potatoes again! However, you may well be wondering about some great alternatives to feed your rabbit as a diet booster or little treat. Below is our it of yummy rabbit safe snacks:
- Green peppers
- Beet greens
- Dandelion greens
- Carrot and carrot tops
- Peppermint leaves