Question: Can rabbits eat coconut?
Answer: The answer to this question is a really definite ‘no’. Pieces of coconut flesh (which is referred to as the ‘meat’) are far too sweet and contain a high level of fat which makes them nutritionally bad for your rabbit.
Why is coconut so bad for rabbits when they can eat other sweet foods?
Rabbits naturally have a sweet tooth and many of them would be quite happy to eat coconut meat but because it is so bad for rabbits to eat, it cannot be given to rabbits even as an occasional treat.
As well as being very sweet and having a high level of fat, there is another reason why coconut meat is bad for rabbits. The calcium to phosphorus ratio found in coconut meat is totally wrong for a rabbit’s diet. The correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus for a pet rabbit is between 1:1 – 1.5. There is a higher ratio of calcium to phosphorus in coconut meat and this can cause a variety of health problems to your rabbit.
Too much calcium in your rabbit’s diet will mean that he is not able to absorb all the important minerals in his other foods. An ongoing low level of phosphorus in his diet can lead to weak bones, stunted growth and fertility problems.
Should I avoid giving my rabbit all sweet foods?
Rabbits love sweet foods such as different fruits and berries, but it is essential that they are only fed a very small amount of different fruits and berries as a treat once or twice a week. Sugar and fructose is bad for your rabbit – just as it is for humans – and too much can lead to weight problems for your rabbit and bad teeth.
To ensure that your rabbit stays in good health, it is essential that you feed your rabbit a really good basic diet of low calorie foods. Rabbits have delicate digestive systems so this type of diet ensures that they develop no problems and that they can digest their food easily.
Rabbits have relatively small stomachs too so it is really important that they eat a really nutritious basic diet. The trouble is that because your rabbit likes sweet tasting fruit and vegetables he will always favour them and over eat. When this happens, there is no room in his stomach for the all important basic foods that are rich in both vitamins and minerals.
What is a good basic diet for rabbits?
To keep your rabbit in good health, he needs a good basic diet that is low in calories. The best basic diet for a rabbit is one with an unlimited amount of fresh, good quality hay, rabbit pellets and plenty of fresh drinking water. These foods should be given to your rabbit every day. On top of these basic foods, rabbits should also be given a variety of fresh, leafy vegetables every day. The amount that they need daily is 1- 2 tablespoons of leafy vegetables per 500g of their body weight. The ideal choice of leafy green vegetables for rabbits include romaine lettuce (but not iceberg lettuce) curly kale, bok choy and celery are among the leafy greens that are good for rabbits and the list also includes carrot tops, watercress, kohlrabi, broccoli leaves, and coriander (cilantro).
Can rabbits eat any coconut products?
With so many other coconut based products, you might be wondering if rabbits can eat coconut oil or dried coconut. Lets see.
What about coconut oil?
Coconut oil is as bad for your rabbit as coconut meat as it is very fatty and in fact not particularly pleasant to eat. Nutritionally, coconut oil is very bad for your rabbit and will certainly do more harm than good especially as it can raise your rabbit’s cholesterol levels.
Coconut oil can be beneficial if your rabbit is suffering from dermatitis, which is a skin condition. Your Vet may well recommend that you try treating your rabbit’s skin with coconut oil. The oil can be very effective in treating skin problems and will not cause your rabbit any digestive issues as the coconut oil is used topically – i.e. applied to your rabbit’s skin.
Are pieces of dried coconut better for rabbits to eat?
Nutritionally, feeding your rabbit dried coconut is the same as feeding him fresh coconut meat because both have an extremely high fat content. Dried coconut has been designed with humans in mind, so plenty of sugar is added during its manufacture. Your rabbit may well find a piece of dried coconut difficult to eat and it could be a choking hazard. If you do regularly give your rabbit dried coconut he will soon gain weight. The calcium phosphorus ratio is no better in dried coconut either so the best advice is never give your rabbit dried coconut- especially as there are so many fruit and berry treats that are far more nutritious for your rabbit to eat.
Can rabbits drink coconut water?
Although coconut water is a popular drink with humans, once again, it is not good for your rabbit to drink as it does not contain much nutrition. Rabbits should always be given plenty of fresh clean water to drink every day.
The only time that rabbits can b e given a very small amount of coconut water is if they are refusing to drink at all. In this case, the coconut water will help prevent your rabbit from getting dehydrated, but if the problem continues for more than a day, seek advice from your Vet.
What about the coconut shell?
Interestingly enough, half a coconut shell can be the ideal toy for your rabbit. Rabbits thoroughly enjoy rolling them around and nibbling them which is an ideal way to keep your rabbit’s teeth clean and sharp. It is best to supervise your rabbit when he is playing with a clean coconut shell to ensure that he doesn’t hurt himself with it.
If you like the idea of giving your rabbit a coconut shell to play with, buy an organic one as you will know it has been grown without pesticide. If you are giving your rabbit just half to play with, remove all the meat first and wash the shell well. Make sure the shell has no cracks in it as these could injure your rabbit and if any do appear, remove the shell from your rabbit straight away.
As coconut shells can take up room, they are the ideal toy to give your rabbit when he is in his run in the garden.
With so many different foods to safely feed your rabbit, it really is best to avoid coconut and coconut products. Your rabbit may well enjoy eating them because of their lovely sweet taste but it just isn’t worth risking the possible health issues that your rabbit could develop. Keep your rabbit really healthy by giving him the recommended basic diet plus leafy vegetables every day. As occasional treats your rabbit can enjoy a small quantity of fruit such as a piece of apple (pips removed), orange, some slices of strawberry or carrot. These are all better options for your rabbit than feeding him coconut.