Yes, rabbits can eat raw turnips as an occasional treat. The portion should be limited to one teaspoon per two pounds of their body weight. If it’s just turnip tops, your rabbit can eat it more often (one cup per day if it’s mixed with other greens). Turnips offer several health benefits, but also have some drawbacks so moderation is important.
Your rabbit can safely eat both the turnip tops and the roots. Read on to explore why turnip tops are healthier and how to safely prepare and feed them to your rabbit.
It’s worth noting that turnip tops are significantly healthier than the roots. The tops contain higher amounts of nutrients and can be given to your rabbit more often.
Turnip tops are rich in:
- Vitamin A: To aid reproductive organs, vision, bones, and more.
- Vitamin C: To boost the immune system.
- Vitamin K: To aid in red blood cell production.
- Beta-carotene: To remove free radicals from your rabbit’s body.
- Folate: To improve the immune system.
- Copper: To regulate the body creating energy and to make hair.
- Calcium: To strengthen teeth and bones, and help in pregnancy.
They also contain lesser amounts of other vitamins and minerals that will still benefit your rabbit, but just not as much as the nutrients listed above.
There’s several reasons why it’s important to limit the amount of turnips that your rabbit can eat. This is because there are some risks associated with overeating:
- Calorie overload: If your rabbit has food high in calories, it’s converted into fat and will quickly lead to your rabbit gaining weight. This is made worse if it’s a pet rabbit kept in a cage, as they don’t get as much exercise as their wild counterparts so will use a lot less energy.
- Digestion issues: Turnips contain only small amounts of fiber, and if rabbits don’t get enough fiber, they’ll have gastrointestinal issues. This can be in the form of diarrhea, bloating, and more.
- Obesity: Eating sugary, starchy foods can cause your rabbit to gain weight. Once they become obese, they could develop heart, mobility, and breathing issues amongst other things.
- Dental problems: Too much sugar and too little fiber can have a detrimental effect on your rabbit’s teeth. Their teeth can rot from the sugar, but they can also overgrow without enough fiber to grind them down.
Altogether, turnips are high in sugar and starch, and low in fiber. This combination means it isn’t good for an everyday snack but is okay for a one-off. Always keep an eye on your rabbit and visit a vet if there are any signs of something being wrong.
If you’re feeding your rabbit turnip for the first time, follow these steps to make sure their first try of this new snack is as smooth as can be:
- Wash the turnip under cold water to rinse any pesticides or chemicals off it.
- Check the turnip for parasites or any indication that it’s gone off – if so, you’ll need a new turnip.
- Cut the root into bite-size pieces, small enough to avoid choking and blockages.
- Cut turnip tops and mix with other greens, your rabbit can eat a cup of greens per day, examples to mix with include spinach, rocket, and kale.
- Measure the portion – half a teaspoon for a rabbit’s first taste of turnip is enough.
- Feed your rabbit turnip alongside plenty of hay and water.
- Monitor your rabbit. Look out for signs that could indicate a problem – diarrhea, lost appetite, acting unusually. Take your rabbit to a vet if you’re concerned.
- If your rabbit is fine after eating turnip, you can increase the portion size next time.
Remember that turnip is a treat that should only be given to your rabbit once or twice per week, and you should regularly vary the type of treat your rabbit eats.
Can Rabbits Eat Turnip Tops?
Yes, the turnip tops (the greenery) are safe for rabbits to eat. This is packed full of nutrients and doesn’t count as a treat. Instead, it comes under the vegetable part of your rabbit’s diet. They can have turnip tops mixed with other greens every day.
Can Rabbits Eat Turnip Peel?
Yes, rabbits can eat turnip peel. It’s very similar to the root, but it needs to either be grown organically or washed thoroughly to get rid of any chemicals from it. Be careful if the peel is thin, rabbits like to sink their teeth into raw vegetables, and might do the same with the thin peel but damage their teeth in the process.
Can Rabbits Eat Turnip Roots?
Yes, rabbits can eat turnip roots. The roots are safe for your rabbit to eat, though they don’t offer as many nutrients as the turnip tops have. As long as you cut them into bite-size chunks, turnip root is safe for your rabbit’s consumption.
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Turnips?
No, rabbits shouldn’t eat cooked turnips. While raw turnip is safe as a treat, cooking it softens the texture which can be problematic for a rabbit’s teeth and the process of cooking also reduces the nutrients. Avoid cooking vegetables for your rabbit at all costs.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Turnips?
No, baby rabbits shouldn’t eat turnips. Until they’re three months old, they can’t handle eating anything except hay and pellets. Only when they’re older can they begin eating new foods. For treats, it’s better to wait until your rabbit is a year old before introducing them into your rabbit’s diet.
What Else Do Rabbits Eat?
Rabbits should eat a balanced diet to be as healthy as possible. This includes unlimited drinking water and good quality hay, a variety of fresh, raw vegetables, pellets, and occasional treats. Turnips are classed under the treats part of the diet, which is why they should only be given to your rabbit now and then.