Question: Can rabbits eat oats?
Answer: Yes, they can, but not too much.
Rabbits and Oats
Oats and oatmeal are widely known as wholesome, highly nutritious meals, and many eat them as breakfast. They contain minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, iron, manganese, and copper. Oats also contain fiber, fats, and vitamins like B1, B2, and B6. Some pet owners have even added this meal to their pet’s diet as a nutritious whole grain. However, oatmeal might not be a recommended addition to your rabbit’s diet.
While oats and oatmeal are not poisonous to your rabbit, they don’t do much in nutritional value either. Sure, oats have plenty of nutrients, including complex carbohydrates, protein, a high fiber content. Still, these nutrients don’t make them the best option for bunnies.
What Does Oat Do in a Rabbit’s Body?
Since oats have little to no nutritional value to rabbits, the meal will add unnecessary weight to your animal and sometimes cause stomach upset. If this continues, your rabbit might end up becoming obese and end up having diabetes, heart or lung problems, or liver diseases. Furthermore, if you feed your rabbit oatmeal, it might not be able to eat much of anything else that day. So, while getting full on an unhealthy meal, it’s missing out on healthier choices. If this continues, it could lead to deficiencies.
However, oatmeal can be beneficial to sickly and underweight rabbits. These rabbits need the nutrient in the meal to stay healthy – protein for muscle gain and carbohydrates and fiber for energy. Over time, the underweight rabbit would begin to gain weight and look better than it used to. Then, sick rabbits digest oats better than their healthier counterparts.
How Often Should I Feed my Rabbit Oats?
Like we already established, rabbits can eat oats, only that too much is bad for them. If you’re sure you can feed your bunnies this meal in moderation, then you can incorporate it into their diet. It would be best if you made it a treat, giving them maybe once or twice a week. It would also be better to feed them whole oats instead of the regular oatmeal we have for breakfast.
The truth is, rabbits can eat any kind of oats – cooked, raw, rolled, etc. So, you can select whichever oat you want to feed your rabbit. You can also try the different types to find out which of the oats your rabbit prefers. Then you can keep providing it that particular kind of oat.
If your rabbit is sickly, you might have to feed him more oat than a healthy adult rabbit. In this case, you can make their ration two to three times a week. It’s still not advisable to make the meal a major diet, even if you’re trying to get your pet to put on a few pounds.
When you’re just introducing your rabbit to oats, you need to start slowly – don’t rush them. Watch your pet to see how it reacts to the food before you feed them more. Believe it or not, some rabbits might not enjoy eating oats, and you wouldn’t want to give them more than they would like to eat. Once you get your rabbit used to oats and have gauged their reactions to the oats, you can then balance their meal accordingly. You might end up giving your rabbit less oat than you actually planned to, especially if the rabbit isn’t really a fan of the food.
Can Rabbits Eat Oat Hay?
Rabbits can definitely eat weaned oat hay. This grass hay is high in fiber and has low calcium and calories. This makes them better than other kinds of hay, such as legumes and alfalfa. However, since the legume and alfalfa hay are high in protein, they’re usually more recommended for lactating and growing rabbits. Underweight bunnies can also eat them.
Since rabbits require over 80% hay as their main diet, you can mix the hay with other grasses such as meadow, orchard, barley, timothy, and so on.
What Can I Feed my Rabbits Besides Oats?
Since oats and oatmeal don’t add any kind of value to your bunny’s body, your pet is better off eating something that will provide all the nutrients they need. The primary source of nutrition for a rabbit is hay. The hay contains fiber that rabbits much need.
Rabbits also need leafy greens to add more nutrients and variety to the rabbit’s diet. Then, since we all can’t do without water, rabbits need a constant water supply to stay hydrated.
Also, rabbits are known to have quite a sweet tooth, so we sometimes include fruits in their diets. Fruits like bananas, strawberries, apples, etc., are examples of fruits you can feed your rabbit. A little bit of caution here, though: Rabbits can only eat fruits in moderate amounts as too much of it can be bad for their health. They also shouldn’t be given fruits all the time as they might get addicted to the sweetness and not want to eat any other things again.
Oats are highly nutritious and highly recommended for humans, and that’s why they are packed full of nutrients that our body needs. However, such isn’t the case for rabbits, as most of the nutrients available in oats are not necessarily required by bunnies.
Oats aren’t toxic to rabbits, but neither are they recommended. If you decide to introduce the meal to your pet, the best thing you can do is to start slowly and limit it to once or twice a week. You can also reach out to a vet or an expert for special advice on your rabbit’s dietary needs. Have it at the back of your mind, though, that majority of your pet’s nutrients comes from hay.