Most rabbits LOVE their vegetable snacks and it’s just so easy to give them a piece of whatever human food you are snacking on too. However, there are some foods that are safe for humans, but can be harmful to your pet bunny. One common food, cilantro, is often in question: Can rabbits eat cilantro safely?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Check out whether rabbits can eat tomatoes here!
What Are Rabbits?
Rabbits and bunnies are small mammals that hop around from place to place.
They are commonly seen as pets with their sweet eyes, floppy ears, furry faces, and cute whiskers.
Rabbits come in many colors, shapes, and sizes, most commonly seen in shades of white, brown, black, and patches or combinations of those colors.
They can be seen with a large ear for their body size and even have long-eared varieties with even larger drooping ears.
Rabbits have long incisors (front teeth) that are constantly growing and needing to be filed either naturally or by the help of some intervention, both discussed further into this article.
What Do Rabbits Need From a Healthy Diet?
A well-balanced rabbit diet will need to deliver a multitude of things to the bunny ingesting it.
Just like humans, rabbits need the right combination of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water to keep their organs working and functioning properly.
However, the daily nutritional requirements for a rabbit differ quite greatly from that of a human, and that is reflected in the common diet that most healthy and happy pet rabbits eat.
What Does a Typical Rabbit Diet Consist of?
An adult rabbit’s main source of food in their diet should come mostly from high-quality hay.
Hay is a forage that is low in calories and high in fiber, easy on the rabbit’s digestive system.
Other pieces of the rabbit’s diet may include commercial pellets and/or treats and snacks such as fruits and vegetables.
However, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for your bunny to have.
Let’s Talk Cilantro… I mean Coriander:
Cilantro is a annual plant used as a herb and a spice in cooking.
People in the United States refer to “cilantro” as the leaves and stems or stalks of the plant, and “coriander” refers to the seeds of the same plant.
Just because cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, doesn’t necessarily mean that they taste the same, does it?
Cilantro and coriander have different tastes and aromas.
Most people describe the taste of cilantro leaves as a citrusy, tart, lemon/lime taste, but some people can’t stand the taste and think that the leaves taste like dish soap!
On the flipside, coriander commonly has a less dramatic taste and smell.
Its flavor and aroma is usually described as warm, spicy, earthy, and nutty, with just a hint of citrus.
Cilantro contains some of essential nutrients including calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin C that can be helpful in keeping your rabbit healthy. It also has some other potential health benefits for your pet rabbit:
- Inflammation/Antioxidants: Multiple studies show that cilantro is a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds that help in fighting against inflammation.
- Vitamins: Cilantro contains vitamin C and A. Rabbits require both these vitamins to stay healthy. Vitamin C helps rabbits stay safe and adequately protected from diseases and strengthens their immune system.
- Blood Sugar: Cilantro may help lower blood glucose levels in the bloodstream of animals
- Toxins: Cilantro has the potential to detoxify the body from some types harmful toxins.
May Reduce Inflammation
Multiple research studies have shown that cilantro is a source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which effectively can help fight different forms of inflammation.
Cilantro and coriander are packed with these potential anti-inflammatory molecules called antioxidants.
Antioxidants are thought to help reduce inflammation inside the body by binding (attaching) to and suppressing (decreasing) inflammation-promoting molecules known as free radicals. [source]
While many of these studies are promising, I definitely would like to see more research studies conducted on the antioxidant benefits of cilantro and coriander.
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
It is widely known in medicine that individuals having elevated blood sugar levels are at higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes [source].
One animal study performed with rats showed that rats that received coriander seeds showed hypoglycemia action, decreased or lower sugar in their bloodstreams [source].
Basically, cilantro has been proven to be an effective tool in the process of managing diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels [source].
Do Rabbits Eat Cilantro?
Most rabbits will eat a cilantro when offered.
In a veggie garden, most rabbits will chose vegetables like peas, beans, beets, and carrots.
But just because rabbits DO eat cilantro does not necessarily mean that this is the best or safest choice for your pet.
Don’t be too worried if your rabbit does not eat cilantro that is offered- it’s normal. You will find another veggie alternative as a source of fresh food that your bunny can enjoy eating.
Can Rabbits Eat Cilantro? Is it Safe?
There are some foods that us humans can eat that are actually toxic to your rabbit and need to be avoided all together.
While there isn’t anything toxic to rabbits in the actual cilantro itself, you shouldn’t give them too much because problems may arise as I will discuss further down in this article.
Pet owners can chose to feed cilantro to their rabbits, but it should not make up their entire diet. Rabbits prefer munching on grass, commercial feed pellets, and hay, along with a bowl of clean, fresh water.
You see, rabbits are herbivores and need a diet which is high-in fiber and low in sugar and fat.
They get their fiber supplied in the form of plants, such as hay which is a roughage that contains a lot of fiber.
This fiber is beneficial for two reasons:
- Dietary fiber keeps the rabbit’s digestive system running smoothly (it’s the same reason why some people take a fiber supplement like Metamucil!).
- The physical roughage (hay) helps keep the rabbit’s teeth healthy and worn down as their teeth are continually growing and need to be filed in order to prevent overgrowth.
So, long story short- Yes!
Adult rabbits can have cilantro, if offered to them safely, and I’ll cover that in just a bit.
You do not want to feed the wrong cilantro or the wrong amount or frequency, potentially making your furry friend unintentionally sick.
Can Baby Bunnies Eat Cilantro?
Compared to their adult counterparts, baby rabbits have much more sensitive gastrointestinal systems.
Avoid feeding baby bunnies any kinds of fruits and vegetables until they reach 12 weeks of age to allow their stomachs to mature with them.
Then, when ready to introduce them to juicy vegetables, take it very slowly, waiting at least 24 hours to observe any potential adverse side effects, before moving on and trying more of the same veggie snack or a different tasty treat.
Remember – baby and young, and juvenile rabbits have more sensitive digestive systems!
Wait 24 hours to see their reaction.
If everything is fine, you can move to the next treat.
How About Cilantro Stems?
There’s no reason that bunnies can’t enjoy chewing on cilantro stems unless they just don’t like cilantro at all.
They love having little things in their mouths to chew on and to keep them occupied and entertained throughout their busy days!
The stem texture is not too tough and you cut them in medium-sized pieces,for them to nibble on.
But just like anything else that they can stick in their mouths, these can be a choking hazard so monitor your bunny while snacking on these stems!
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Cilantro?
Do not give your rabbit any cooked cilantro.
Any cooked or processed cilantro is not recommended since your rabbit is an herbivore and they rely on raw foods to get their nutrients.
Everything a rabbit needs can be provided in fresh and raw form. Your rabbit’s stomach is just not made to handle cooked food, including cilantro.
One big advantage with offering raw vegetables is that it’s not only healthier for your rabbit, but it is much less effort on your part!
Medical & Health Concerns of Feeding Cilantro to Rabbits:
Are there any circumstances when cilantro might be bad for your pet?
Yes, some of the common issues seen with feeding cilantro to rabbits include:
- Pesticides: Cilantro should always be washed to make sure they are free of any pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful to rabbits.
- Parasites: Cilantro should be checked over for parasites that can lead to potential parasite problems with your rabbit
- Overly Ripened: Avoid rotten fruits and vegetables that can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.
- Baby Bunnies: Baby bunnies have a more sensitive digestive system than their adult counterparts do, and therefore you shouldn’t give your rabbit friend any fruits or vegetables until they reach around 12 weeks of age.
How To Feed Cilantro To A Rabbit:
First step to focus in on is the serving size that you are giving your fur baby. Start with offering your rabbit just a bite or two of cilantro and if no adverse signs appear, then you can slowly increase the amount you feed.
Depending on your rabbit’s size, the average cilantro portion should be about 1/2 – 1 handful of fresh, cleaned cilantro.
Rabbits can be fed cilantro on a daily basis, but only in small quantities.
Moderation is key here!
How Much to Feed:
Fresh vegetables should be as a supplement to your pet rabbit’s already well-balanced diet.
Depending on your rabbit’s size, the average cilantro portion should be about 1/2 – 1 handful of fresh, cleaned cilantro. Veer on the smaller side if you have a smaller bunny, and can venture on the larger side for a larger rabbit.
Keep in mind that too many vegetables too often can cause digestive distress.
Common Signs of Adverse Reaction:
- diarrhea/loose stool
- excessive or increased itching/scratching/licking of skin or paws
Rabbits can have pieces of ripe, clean, fresh cilantro in moderation.
Too much cilantro can cause a multitude of health problems for the bunny.
Do not feed immature rabbits or rabbits with underlying health conditions cilantro even as a treat.
If you have concerns regarding feeding your rabbit cilantro, contact your local veterinarian beforehand.
- Oglesbee B. The 5 Minute Veterinary Consults Ferret and Rabbit, Blackwell 2006
- Rabbit Care
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.