Many animals are kept for a food supply, to make money, or just because it is fun to have animals around. One of the most popular animals to keep fits that bill on all accounts is rabbits.
They are cute animals and easy to keep requiring little space. They will eat just about anything, especially any garden surplus. However, that does not mean that they should be fed absolutely anything. I was given a whole tray of eggplants the other day, but I was not sure if they would be good for rabbits.
So, can rabbits eat eggplant? Yes, rabbits can eat the eggplant fruit, however, it is not a good idea for them to eat too much. They shouldn’t be allowed to eat any of the leaves or stems of the plant. These parts are toxic to rabbits.
Some rabbits can react to even small amounts of the eggplant. It is, therefore, best to try feeding them with a tiny amount initially to see if they can tolerate it.
How does the toxic part of the eggplant affect rabbits?
The eggplant is a plant that belongs to a group of plants called nightshade. Most of us will be familiar with the reputation of a plant called the deadly nightshade.
Despite being a member of this deadly plant group the fruit in small quantities can be eaten by rabbits.
However, eggplant flowers, stems, leaves, are high in solanine.
High doses of solanine will cause a rabbit to develop abdominal pain, diarrhea, a reduced breathing and heartbeat rate, fever, or low temperature (hypothermia). These symptoms could cause the rabbit to die.
Are there benefits to feeding rabbits eggplant?
Small quantities can be beneficial for rabbits as it has many vitamins and nutrients, while being low in sugar and acid.
Rabbits are unable to produce vitamins naturally. So, the iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, manganese, and vitamins K, C, E, and B that are in eggplant are beneficial.
However, the elevated starch levels will cause problems if they eat too much.
Are all eggplants good for rabbits?
Many eggplants are grown around the world, and are an integral part of the cuisine especially in the United States and the Mediterranean region. Although they are often thought of as a vegetable, they are actually a fruit.
- Chinese eggplant
- Globe eggplant (American eggplant)
- Filipino eggplant
- Italian eggplant
- Japanese eggplant
These are only a small selection of the many different types. Their appearances may be slightly different however, the benefits and certainly, the dangers of these plants for rabbits are the same.
Can young rabbits eat the plant?
We think of rabbits as that easy-to-keep animal that is not fussy about how it is housed or what it eats.
However, the young rabbit, just as many young animals have a more sensitive digestive system and can be a bit fussy. Eggplant on its own does have a slightly bitter taste. Although unpleasant for many, some rabbits do love the taste.
Feeding eggplants to young rabbits can be beneficial as it will aid their development. It is beneficial due to the high nutrient and vitamin content, as we said earlier. However, the quantities given to the young rabbits must be tiny.
Giving eggplants to your baby rabbits can help supply enough nutrients for their growth.
Does it help to cook the plant?
There are many ways that eggplant can be cooked. Although cooking does not remove the danger involved with eating this plant, it does remove much of the goodness and benefits of the plant.
So, yes, they can eat cooked eggplant in small quantities, but it is not as beneficial for them.
When we cook this plant for ourselves, we normally season and possibly add spices to enhance the somewhat bland flavor. When cooked like this it is no longer suitable for rabbits to eat.
Should rabbits be kept away from eggplant that is growing in the garden?
It is always great to see rabbits running free rather than enclosed in a small hutch.
It is always a good idea to try to keep rabbits out of the veg garden since they will eat just about everything. Good idea for cleaning the garden of debris left after harvest, but not so good if you want the veg.
However, if you are worried about them eating the poisonous part of the eggplant then do not worry. Rabbits are clever animals they are aware that stalk, leaves, and flowers of the eggplant are bad for them.
They will, however, nibble on the eggplant fruit itself. Where it is a possibility that rabbits might have access to the garden it is a good idea to plant anything that is precious at higher levels. This will keep precious items away from their reach.
Alternatively, a sturdy fence will keep them out.
Are there other plants that should not be fed to rabbits?
There are quite a few plants that should not be fed to rabbits. Although rabbits are normally fully aware of what is bad for them, it is difficult to guarantee that they will not eat it.
Some plants are just not good for them while others can potentially be lethal:
Mention rabbits, and we normally think of them eating lettuce. However, Iceberg lettuce has elevated levels of lactucarium that can cause rabbits to be ill. Iceberg lettuce also has few nutrients and is therefore of little benefit to the rabbit.
Many people love avocado because it’s chock-full of healthy fat… good for humans, that is. It will create weight gain in people; however, it could kill rabbits if eaten in significant quantities.
Chard is a green leafy vegetable that reminds us of lettuce. However, too much of this in a rabbit’s diet can cause it to suffer from colic.
Potatoes are normally an abundant crop that many might consider a good rabbit plant. However, the potato is high in starch which could cause illness. Any green potatoes could kill a rabbit.
This is a popular plant, makes lovely crumbles, but it is poisonous to most animals if they were to eat it raw. It is also best not to feed it to animals in its cooked state either.
Cauliflower and similar plants such as broccoli will create bloating and gassiness in rabbits as well as people.
Having asked if rabbits can eat eggplant, we have discovered that yes, they can but with certain provisos.
Firstly, while they can eat and, for the most part, thoroughly enjoy the actual fruit, they should not be fed any other part of the plant. The leaves, the flower, and the stalk, especially the small part that is attached to the fruit should not be eaten by rabbits.
The problem is that the eggplant is a member of a group of plants called nightshade and has a substance called Solanine.
This substance can affect the animal’s breathing and heart rate. It can lower the rabbit’s body temperature and give them abdominal pain that could lead to diarrhea. These effects could potentially lead to the death of the rabbit.
So, rabbits can eat the fruit of the plants as it has lower quantities of the harmful Solanine. However, it is best to keep the quantities small to prevent any problems.
We’ve seen that in small quantities the fruit of this plant is beneficial for the animal since it is high in valuable nutrients and vitamins. These can help to keep them in good health.
To gain maximum benefits from the nutrients and vitamins it is best to feed the rabbits with raw eggplant rather than cooked. Cooking reduces the efficiency of the nutrients.
Gordon is a British homesteader established in Spain, growing large amounts of veggies and fruits. He also has a high degree of self-sufficiency as he is procuring his own water, wood, and solar energy.