When you think of ideal rabbit snacks, carrots and lettuce probably come to mind. What about bell pepper? Well, the nutritious and flavorsome bell pepper seems to be good rabbit-friendly food.
But there are a few things you’ll need to know before you actually plan a colorful diet chart with crispy bell peppers. Stick with us till the end, you’ll be well-informed on how good are bell peppers for rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Peppers?
Pepper is a healthy, rabbit-friendly veggie. In fact, they can eat almost all varieties of peppers – yellow, green, red, or purple. However, hot peppers such as Jalapeno, Cayenne, or Habanero shouldn’t be fed to rabbits as their digestive system is sensitive to hot and spicy foods.
Feeding rabbits bell pepper every now and then is certainly encouraged, but start out with a small portion and see how the rabbit’s stomach handles it. If there isn’t indigestion or diarrhea, slowly increase the quantity.
Note though that an ideal rabbit diet is typically 80-85% fresh hay and grasses. Meaning veggies and fruits including bell peppers should be no more than 15% of the recommended value.
Another point to remember: bell pepper has phosphorous and vitamin C and are slightly acidic. That means overdoing is a strict no-no.
What Health Benefits do Bell Peppers Offer For Rabbits?
Sometimes called capsicums, the crunchy, colorful bell peppers pack a punch of nutrients in every bite. The good news is that bell peppers are bunny-friendly and they can eat almost all varieties of bell peppers – Green, Yellow, Red, Orange, and Purple.
- Water: Almost 92% of bell pepper is water meaning munching on bell pepper will keep rabbits remain hydrated in hot weather.
- Fiber: Dietary fiber in bell pepper will take care of the rabbit’s digestive health.
- Vitamins A and E: Vitamins are an essential part of the rabbit’s daily diet. Vitamins A and E in bell peppers offer benefits like better eyesight, bone and teeth health, improved muscle strength, and supple muscle. Remember not to overdo, as excess vitamin A can cause skin damages and neurological problems.
- Vitamin B6: Helps maintain healthy weight and metabolism in rabbits. It also contributes to cellular repair. In fact, studies show that rabbits fed a diet without Vitamin B6 showed poor growth rates and mortality in about 100 days.
- Vitamin K1: Deficiency of Vitamin K can make rabbits anemic. This is fatal as these animals are small and delicate.
- Fatty acids: Omega-3s and Omega-6s in bell peppers are good for bunny’s brain. They also keep the rabbit’s joints supple.
- Antioxidants: The red bell peppers have capsanthin, the yellow variety has violaxanthin, lutein green ones have lutein. All these antioxidants reduce the risk of cancer, inflammation, and arthritis in rabbits.
- Potassium: Important for the rabbit’s nervous system and muscle development.
- Manganese: Helps rabbits grow and maintain strong, sturdy bones.
A word of caution: Bell peppers contain a significant amount of Vitamin C. Considering the fact that rabbits need all vitamins except Vitamin C, moderate the portions. Excess Vitamin C will cause kidney damage in rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Green and Red Peppers?
Bell peppers of all colors are good for rabbits. Green and red peppers are tangy whereas yellow and orange ones are sweeter. The nutrient levels in green and red bell peppers may vary significantly as green ones spent the least time on the vine whereas red ones remain on the vines the longest before harvest.
Compared to green bell peppers, red ones have 11x more beta-carotene, and 50% more vitamin C. Green peppers have low sugar content, making them a healthy addition to rabbit’s weekly diet.
Whether your rabbits love green or red bell peppers, do remember to wash them well and deseed before adding into your pet’s bowl. Pay attention to how your pets digest each color, as the different nutrient levels may create different digestion patterns.
Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Peppers?
Bell peppers are often called sweet peppers, though they are pretty much different in terms of texture and taste. Knowing what separates them and how to tell them apart is important while including them in your rabbit’s diet plan.
Typically, a green, red or even purple pepper taste like a crisp, fresh vegetable. Orange and yellow peppers, on the other hand, have a mild, sweet flavor with juicy flesh. In terms of shape, sweet peppers have a long shape that tapers down to the bottom lobes.
Sweet peppers (yellow and orange) are safe for rabbits. Despite their fruity, sweeter taste, they do not contain excess calories and sugar. Rabbits’ taste buds have a ‘soft corner’ for sweetness. Also, keep in mind that rabbits are expert beggars when it comes to their favorite food. That means ‘moderation’ is the key when it comes to sweet peppers and rabbits. Too much sweetness will make their stomach upset.
Can Rabbits Eat Pepper Seeds and Cores?
Bell pepper sees are part of the fruit so technically they do not affect the rabbit’s digestive system when consumed. But there’s always the danger that the hard seeds may get lodged in their throat.
Plus, they don’t offer any specific nutritional value to rabbits. Talking about the cores, they aren’t edible. Rabbit’s digestive tract cannot break down pepper cores, which in turn increases the chances of blockage and fatality.
In short, pepper seeds and cores aren’t toxic, but choking and blocking hazards. Our advice – be sure slice peppers, remove seeds and cores and feed only the fleshy part.
Can Rabbits Eat Pepper Leaves?
Bell peppers are nightshades. Nightshades is a botanical family of several thousand members that make up the plant species, Solanaceae. Most nightshades are nutrient powerhouses but due to their alkaloid content, they elicit toxic reactions in humans and animals.
Mature pepper leaves contain solanine and scopoletin, the alkaloids. These compounds may irritate the rabbit’s digestive tract and cause irritation to nausea and diarrhea. So, it’s better not to feed pepper leaves to your rabbit.
Some rabbits will be fine with eating tender, young pepper leaves, but they are not the most preferred part of bell pepper.
Can Rabbits Eat Jalapeno Peppers?
Bell peppers, Jalapenos, and all other sweet and hot peppers are members of the same species, Capsicum Annuum. However, Jalapenos are pretty hot due to high amounts of Capsaicin in them.
Skin contact with this chemical irritant causes a burning sensation in both humans and animals. Capsaicin in hot peppers can disrupt the rabbit’s taste buds and may even burn their sensitive mouth. Also, hot pepper can cause gastric issues and irritability in animals.
In general, rabbits strongly dislike the pungent smell jalapeno carries and turns away from them. Farmers using hot peppers that contain capsaicin as rabbit repellent also confirm the animals’ disdain for the spicy kick of hot peppers.
So, the answer is – rabbits cannot eat jalapeno peppers.
Should I Feed My Rabbit Cooked Peppers?
Always feed rabbits raw peppers. Cooked peppers aren’t the best idea.
The thing to remember is that rabbits are herbivores and their digestive system is made for a raw diet. Also, they need to continuously chew on hay and crunchy, stiffer veggies and fruits which help their teeth from getting overgrown (that’s why pellet-only diet is not recommended for pet rabbits, as pellets melt in their mouth).
Cooking reduces the nutritional value of bell peppers. And the last thing you want is denying your pet the numerous health benefits raw peppers offer.
Cooking softens the peppers up, and you run the risk of your pets biting themselves hard. Rabbits can’t differentiate a cooked pepper from a raw one, and they will bite into it expecting it to be hard and crunchy.
Another reason why you shouldn’t feed your rabbit’s cooked peppers is that they don’t understand the concept of hot and cold food. The chances of hot food seriously burning the rabbit’s mouth are also high.
Can Rabbits Eat Expired Peppers?
Straight off the garden (or shelf) peppers are what recommended for rabbits. If the expiry date of the store-bought peppers is within 24 – 48 days, you must check for mold or rotten skin. Because peppers that are past their prime is typically unsafe for rabbits. In fact, mold in peppers can kill your rabbits.
You must also regularly check for uneaten peppers or other veggies. If rabbits aren’t eating the fresh foods on the same day, toss them away.
Note: Properly stored, bell peppers will retain their freshness for 5-7 days in the fridge. You can usually tell the freshness of peppers by looking for wrinkles or soften the skin on the peppers. Then, they will start to become slimy and mold will start to develop. That’s your cue to toss the peppers.
Green bell peppers usually last longer than yellow, orange, or red bell peppers.