One of the most important components of a rabbit’s diet is roughage- basically leafy, green plant matter. It is what rabbits are designed to eat pretty much all the time, and their digestive system is specially equipped to extract maximum nutrition from it without any issues.
But even though this is the case, rabbits still need variety in their diet to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need to thrive. Plus changing up the diet every now and then helps keep them from getting bored!
Nonetheless, not all types of leafy vegetables are okay for rabbits or okay on an essentially unlimited basis like hay. How about cabbage? Can they eat cabbage safely?
Yes, rabbits can eat cabbage safely so long as it’s part of a well-rounded diet. Rabbits should not subsist entirely on it or get too much of because it has a tendency to cause gas bloating.
Not much of a surprise here. Rabbits love cabbage and it is a highly nutritious option for them, containing many minerals and vitamins that they need in order to thrive.
And, as it turns out, most rabbits love the taste and will happily munch away on it when you serve it to them.
Even so, you don’t want to give rabbits an unlimited serving of cabbage, so keep reading and I’ll tell you what you need to know…
Do Rabbits Like Cabbage?
Yes, they do. Cabbage is a natural food source for rabbits, as anyone who has tried to grow cabbage in their garden will attest! Cabbage is easy for them to eat and digest, and they will happily eat it alongside hay, grass and other mainstays.
Is Cabbage a Healthy Food for Rabbits?
Yes, it sure is! Cabbage is surprisingly nutritious, and contains a great cross-section of macro and micronutrients that rabbits need.
Taking a look at the carbohydrates, we see that cabbage is a fairly decent source though it is still low and overall calories, but it should be noted that most of those carbs come from sugars and not fibers. Cabbage has a little bit of protein in addition and hardly any fat.
The vitamin content of cabbage is also quite impressive, and varied: we see that it has a tremendous amount of vitamin K and vitamin C along with a wide assortment of B complex vitamins, including folate, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6. Definitely lots of good stuff so far.
The mineral content, while not quite as impressive as the vitamins, is still totally beneficial, with plenty of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc along with a little bit of naturally occurring sodium.
Together, these micronutrients can improve nearly every aspect of a rabbit’s health, from immune system performance to a stable metabolism, fur and skin health, growth, healing, and even nervous system function. Great, great benefits from one vegetable!
However, you still don’t want to give too much to your rabbits for reasons we’ll discuss in just a little bit. Keep that in mind for now…
Is Green Cabbage Okay for Rabbits?
Yes. Green cabbage, of all kinds, is completely safe for rabbits to eat.
Is Red Cabbage Okay?
Yes, red cabbage is also just fine for rabbits.
Is White Cabbage Okay?
It sure is. White cabbage, like all other colors of true cabbage, is completely safe for your bunnies.
Is Cole Slaw Safe for Rabbits?
Yes, assuming it is plain coleslaw mix with no sauces or any other added ingredients. Coleslaw mix is typically just a combination of red and green cabbages and some shredded carrot. All of these are fine for rabbits…
However, you should never serve your rabbits any coleslaw that has mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, and other ingredients incorporated because this is going to play hell with their stomach and digestive tract!
Is Sauerkraut Okay for Rabbits?
Never! Sauerkraut has vinegar, salt, and often sugar in it. All are things that are very bad for rabbits: never serve them sauerkraut!
Are Cabbage Stems Okay for Rabbits?
Nominally yes, but practically they really aren’t: Rabbits can technically eat cabbage stems but they are so tough, fibrous and woody most rabbits won’t even try unless they are trying to sharpen their teeth or are frustrated.
Plus, cabbage stems have very little to offer in terms of nutrition, so it’s just not worth the trouble.
I recommend that you remove the tender leaves from the stem and then discard it.
Can Rabbits Have Cooked Cabbage, Too?
No. Cooking cabbage does not make it any easier for rabbits to eat or more appealing to them, but what it’ll do is reduce the amount of nutrients that the cabbage contains and also make it more watery.
This is a trade-off that isn’t worth it. Only give your rabbits fresh, raw cabbage and they will be fine with it.
Can Cabbage Cause Them Problems?
Yes, cabbage can potentially cause problems for rabbits if you give them too much.
I know I’ve spent some time already building up cabbage as a healthy and natural source of nutrition for rabbits, and it is, but this is a great example of where too much of a good thing causes problems.
That’s because cabbage is a brassica family plant, and like most such vegetables in the same family they contain compounds that tend to promote gas production in the gut. Combined with the higher-than-average amount of sugar cabbage has for a leafy vegetable, the stage is set for gas-related problems…
Normally, this is less than a non-issue for people and mammals but it is a major concern for rabbits for one simple reason: they cannot expel gas by burping or farting!
This means any gas that gets trapped inside their stomach or elsewhere in their digestive tract is going to literally tie them up in knots, causing serious pain and bloating.
At best, this will cause them to lose their appetite and result in major discomfort until it dissipates. At worst, this gas accumulation can cause death! No joke!
Because of this, you only want to give rabbits cabbage in the right amounts and as a rotating option on their menu with other vegetables and especially other leafy greenery.
If you do this, your rabbits will definitely benefit from the nutrients cabbage has to offer and they can enjoy eating it.
How Often Should Rabbits Eat Cabbage?
Rabbits can have cabbage daily if you are cautious, but they should only have part of their total leafy green intake as cabbage, combined with other foods that present fewer issues.
A good rule of thumb is to give a rabbit one packed cup of greens per 2 pounds of body weight in addition to their usual supply of hay and, if needed, pellets.
According to this ratio, only about a third of the total greenery that they are getting should be cabbage, but no more. Even then, keep a close eye on them and observe for any signs of gas or other discomfort.
If you see your rabbit sitting in a strange posture, grinding its teeth, indicating any signs of pain, or if you hear a gurgling coming from their stomach you know that gas is affecting them.
Keep an eye on them, and discontinue the cabbage at once until they get back to normal, reducing the total amount they get next time.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Cabbage to Rabbits?
You can serve washed and dried cabbage to rabbits shredded or as larger leaves according to your preference and theirs. Just make sure you carefully portion out how much cabbage they get so they don’t eat too much.
Never Give Rabbits Spoiled Cabbage
Cabbage is a great choice for rabbits as long as they get it cautiously and in the right amounts, but one thing you must never do is serve them any spoiled cabbage.
Cabbage that has started to rot or go moldy, turn yellow or brown, or turn slimy must never be given to your precious, furry friends.
This is only going to dramatically increase the likelihood of digestive tract issues, and if they get sick or the gut flora in their cecum becomes disrupted that could be the end of your rabbit.
If the cabbage has gone bad, throw it out. Only ever give your rabbits fresh, clean unspoiled cabbage!
Is Cabbage Safe for Bunnies, Too?
Yes, it is, as long as they’re old enough to be eating solid foods and vegetables in particular. A rule of thumb is that you should never serve baby bunnies cabbage or any other veggies until they’re at least 3 months old.
This will give their digestive tract time enough to properly develop and stabilize so they can handle solid food.
Doing otherwise is a great way to severely compromise the health of a bunny, and death is likely if you do!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.