Yes, rabbits can eat raw parsnip as a treat. While there are some benefits of eating parsnip, it’s also super high in sugar and phosphorus – so it should only be eaten in moderation.
At most, your rabbit should have parsnip twice in one week. A serving would be about two tablespoons worth.
Read on to find out exactly how a couple of teaspoons of parsnip can benefit your rabbit.
There are plenty of reasons why parsnips make good treats for your rabbit:
- Naturally diuretic: It’s good for their heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs as it makes them urinate more.
- Lots of magnesium and potassium: Makes enzymes to boost your rabbit’s health like their heart and nervous system.
- Tough: Good for their teeth and keeps them busy while they work their way through it. Rabbits usually enjoy a crunchy snack.
- Filling: As a root vegetable, parsnip is a carbohydrate so it’ll slowly release energy throughout the day.
- Low calories: Pet rabbits are prone to obesity since they don’t need to forage for their food (so don’t exercise as much as they should). This means that low calorific foods are a good option.
- High in fiber: Rabbits need fiber based foods which is what their digestive system is designed for.
- High water content: Great for keeping your rabbit hydrated.
Parsnip certainly has a few benefits for your rabbit, but there are a few risks you should be aware of.
- Parsnip is a very sugary snack. The high sugar content can cause health issues for your rabbit if too much parsnip is consumed long-term. They could get diarrhea, start to have trouble with their digestion, or even develop diabetes.
- Too much phosphorus or vitamin C can result in kidney issues or trigger vitamin C toxicity.
- Humans can be allergic to parsnip tops and break out in rashes and other skin problems. It is unknown if rabbits are affected similarly. With little scientific evidence a lot of people (including myself) avoid giving them to rabbits to be on the safe side.
Can a Rabbit Eat All Parts of a Parsnip?
While parsnip tops aren’t toxic to rabbits, many people (including myself) avoid giving it to rabbits – as it’s not clear whether rabbits are allergic to them.
Your rabbit can also eat the peel. However, the peel is very thin – which makes it harder for your rabbit’s big teeth to bite into and may be a choking hazard.
Remember to wash, peel and chop parsnips into small pieces before offering it to your rabbit.
You should only feed your rabbit raw parsnip. Once you cook it, the parsnip loses a lot of its nutrients – but retains all the sugar. In its raw state, parsnip is already very sugary so can only be given to your rabbit as a treat.
No, your rabbit can’t have honey parsnips. While your rabbit may love a honey-coated parsnip, it massively increases the sugar content for your rabbit which can cause issues like dental problems and obesity.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be able to prepare a tasty parsnip snack for your rabbit:
- Always wash the parsnip to remove any chemicals or insects.
- Peel the parsnip. While the peel is safe for rabbits, it is very thin and increases the risk of choking.
- Chop the parsnip into small chunks. This is another way to reduce the risk of choking.
- About two tablespoons of parsnip is the right amount as a weekly treat for an adult rabbit. You can give your rabbit parsnips no more than twice a week.
- If your rabbit is trying parsnip for the first time, give them half a chunk (less than one tablespoon) and monitor for any reactions. If they seem okay, you can gradually increase it up to two tablespoons.
- Baby rabbits should not eat parsnip (or any foods outside of their age appropriate pellets or hay) until they’re at least one year old to avoid giving them gut problems.
- Always remember that parsnips are a treat to enjoy in moderation. Your rabbit’s diet should be mainly hay, green vegetables, pellets and fresh water.
- You can either buy the parsnip from a store or grow it yourself. Growing your own would be better as you can be sure that there’s no chemicals on it. Where possible, organic parsnips are best.