Rabbits are herbivores or plant-eaters, and lettuce is one of the foods they can eat on the list. We live in the idea that these animals should only eat lettuce and carrots.
However, everything that we seem to know about rabbits is just a scratch to the vast surface.
Your pet bunny diet should consist of fresh hay and supplement by pellets and veggies. Just because lettuce is a human food does not mean you can share it with your cute bunny all the time. You must separate your essentials from their diet requirements.
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Do Rabbits Like Lettuce?
Rabbits do love eating lettuce. These leafy veggies have a white fluid called lactucarium, and a study referred to these fluids as milk-like.
There are amounts of lactucarium in the lettuce leaves, and when rabbits consume it, they seem to get addicted to it.
Whenever a rabbit tastes this fluid, it brings satisfaction to them. It will enter as a soft trance then rabbits begin to feel calm and most likely to fall asleep.
However, even though lactucarium is naturally part of lettuce, too much of it can harm your pet rabbit. If this happened, stomach aches and diarrhea are the results.
Although rabbits like lettuce, it should not be the primary food for their diet. Other lettuces are appropriate for rabbits, like Romain lettuce, Green or red leaf lettuce, Butterhead lettuce, Boston lettuce, and Lamb lettuce.
These lettuces contain water content which your rabbit can stay hydrated, and it has a source of fiber that can help with your digestive problems.
Although they are the appropriate lettuce for your rabbit, you still have to keep in mind to feed your rabbit with lettuce in moderation.
UK RSPCA conducted a study that states light-colored lettuce does not have enough nutrients to consume. So, consider that you should only buy darker leafy types as they produce fibers.
Types of Lettuce
It is popularly known as head lettuce or iceberg. In 100 grams, it contains 14 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fiber, 2% iron, 3% potassium, 7% folate, 5.4% manganese, 3% of Vitamin A, 3% of Vitamin C, and 20% of Vitamin K.
Although it seems nutritious, it is only for human consumption. Rabbits should avoid this leafy green and must not be part of their diet.
Folate is a Vitamin B that can fix neural tube problems that is common birth deficiencies. It also lowers the risk of having circulatory defects and prevents other possible diseases.
Another nutrient highlight is Vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting and bone formation. This lettuce is also a source of phenolic compounds that are identified as antioxidants to prevent inflammation.
It is also known as cos lettuce. Romaine lettuce is one of the main ingredients in Caesar salads.
It is green-crunchy leaves with long veins, and this leafy vegetable is one of the few appropriate lettuces for your pet rabbit.
In 100 grams, it contains:
- 2 grams fiber,
- 5% Iron,
- 5% Potassium,
- 1 gram of protein,
- 34% folate,
- 17 Calories,
- 7% manganese,
- 48% Vitamin A,
- 4% Vitamin C,
- and 85% Vitamin K.
This leafy vegetable also has Vitamin A that serves as a potent antioxidant. It is essential for the eye, skin, and especially the immune system.
It can also lower the possible risk of inflammation and some disease because of phenolic compounds like chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.
It has soft leaves, and it is cabbage lettuce because of its round shape, deep green color with a touch of some red.
Bibb and Boston lettuce are the two popular types of butterhead lettuce. Rabbits can eat this leafy green veggie as it gives essential nutrients to their body.
In every 100 grams, it has 13 Calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 18% Folate, 8% Manganese, 8% Iron, 1 gram of fiber, 5% of Potassium, 18% of Vitamin A, 4% of Vitamin C, and 85% of Vitamin K.
Butter lettuce is lettuce with the source of carotenoid antioxidants like zeaxanthin, carotene, and lutein.
It helps to protect their eyes from macular degeneration, although there are blind spots in their eyes. It is a condition where they can lose their vision. Among other lettuces, butterhead is rich in iron that is essential for the red blood cells.
Leaf Lettuce or Loose-Leaf
Loose-leaf lettuce has different colors, shapes, and textures. It is usually ruffled dark green or red and has a mild to sweet flavor. It does not grow around in the head.
This plant comes together at a stem. There are two types of this lettuce which are green leaf lettuce and red leaf lettuce.
The red lettuce contains 13 Calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, 9% folate, 7% Iron, 9% Manganese, 4% of Potassium, 42% of Vitamin A, 4% of Vitamin C, and 117% of Vitamin K. Both have Vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene that is a benefit for the eyes and skin.
Red leaf lettuce has a high level of phenolic compounds, anthocyanins, and Quercetin, that function as antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage.
The green leaf lettuce, on the other hand, has more Vitamin C.
You can see it in Chinese cuisine. It is known as the Stalk and Chinese Lettuce as it has a long stalk with narrow leaves. The leaves taste bitter because of their high latex content.
In every 100 grams, there are 18 Calories, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 12% of Folate, 3% Iron, 30% Manganese, 7% of Potassium, 19% of Vitamin A, and 22% of Vitamin C.
As you can notice, it has high amounts of Vitamin C essential for collagen synthesis and immune health. This lettuce is also a primary source of manganese that plays a vital role in carb metabolism.
How Much Lettuce Should Rabbits Eat?
Lettuce is a nutritious leafy veggie. However, it is not the primary food for the rabbit’s diet. If you think it can be an alternative food in the hay, it is wrong. Hay is the cornerstone of their diet as it gives high amounts of fiber.
No matter how fresh the lettuce is, rabbits should not take this food for more than 10% of their daily consumption.
Two cups of any Romain lettuce, Green or red leaf lettuce, Butterhead lettuce or Boston lettuce, and Lamb lettuce is enough for every 6lbs. of body weight. Remember to exclude iceberg lettuce in their diet.
Before giving any of these approved lettuces to your rabbit, wash them thoroughly, shred the leaves and mix them with other vegetables.
Since these greens are not a must-have food for bunnies, you can pick vegetables that go well with lettuce. Do not give vegetables with high amounts of calcium.
You can offer it in much healthier foods like bell peppers and spinach. The Butterhead lettuce is okay as long as it is their occasional treat. The leaf, lamb, or Romaine lettuce is always in moderation portions.
These leafy vegetables contribute to the rabbit diet. If you have an adult rabbit, only two cups are enough, and more than is inappropriate.
Rabbits under five pounds which is dwarf breeds need only one cup of these veggies. In adding other vegetables, take it one at a time until your bunny gets used to it.
Closely monitor your pet as they have a sensitive digestive system. There are several vegetables they can eat once or twice a week.
You can include Romaine, Green leaf, Red leaf, Boston bibb, Arugula, and Butterhead lettuces in the list. However, you have to follow how much they should only consume in a day.
Can Rabbits Digest Lettuce?
Rabbits have a complex digestive system, and they can digest lettuce in regular amounts. They can easily digest food, unlike other animals who are having a hard time processing the food.
But on the other side, they have specific dietary requirements, and you should provide them these foods consistently.
Suppose you overfeed them with lettuce without being aware that it’s not right for them. In that case, their stomach bacteria will overgrow, and there is a possibility that they may get sick or eventually die.
So, remember that rabbits should eat lettuce in moderation. Other forms of these leafy greens are suitable for their diet, and as an owner, it is for you to find out.
Final Thoughts: Do Rabbits Like Lettuce?
Rabbits love leafy vegetables, and they will always do. They see lettuce as one of their comfort foods as they find it tasty.
If you have a pet bunny, you have to ensure that their food is nutritious enough for everyday consumption. If not, exclude it from the list.
Since these animals are not aware of what food is right for them and the more likely to eat plants and vegetables, consider that not all lettuce is appropriate for them.
Over-eating the wrong type of lettuce can make your rabbit sick that can lead to serious health problems.
What if the rabbit eats small portions of iceberg lettuce? No matter how much they eat, it is proven harmful.
Do not wait until you see the symptoms. Consult the vet and tell everything detail by detail. The vet should know the exact information they need to give more comprehensive treatment and even prevent the signs.
You may be wondering why some lettuce is bad for your rabbit. Light-colored lettuce has lactucarium that is harmful to rabbit’s health if ingested in large portions.
Some claim their dutch rabbit enjoys lactucarium and their rabbit never experiences anything unusual that can be bad for their health. So, it all depends on the rabbit.
That is why when it comes to lettuce, experts recommend dark leafy greens only. Being the owner of these cute adorable pets is a commitment. Provide them the best possible care and be vigilant in the foods that they eat.
Hezekiah is a pet lover since birth, according to his parents. He started writing for the Pets Checklist in 2020. He is fond of playing with and taking pictures of different friendly animals around his neighborhood. He loves to read and write articles about pets, science, and music.