Can Rabbits Eat Peppers? (Bell Peppers & Others)


Rabbits eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables, however not all are equally good for them.  Some vegetables contain high levels sugar and even chemicals which over time may do damage to a rabbits delicate digestive system while fruits are usually high in sugar and can cause obesity if not given in moderation.  It’s important to know which fruits and vegetables are safe for a bunny.  In our continuing series were taking a look at peppers, particularly Capsicums otherwise known as bell peppers however we will also cover some of the hotter varieties.

Rabbits can eat peppers but only certain types should be given as some may upset their digestive system. Rabbits eat any color of capsicum (bell pepper), however, hot peppers such as Cayenne or Habanero should not be given due to their high acidity.

Good and bad fruits and vegetables

Rabbits have a sweet tooth and enjoy lots of different fruits and veg however due to the high sugar content of fruits and certain vegetables (usually root varieties) they should only be given to rabbits in very small amounts, bell peppers as can be expected from their sweet taste fall into the category of sweet fruit and although they are low in calories they also have high sugar content.

Some fruit and veg also contain seeds, pips, or stones, many of which can be poisonous to rabbits if eaten.  Bell pepper seeds while safe have little nutritional value to a rabbit if eaten.

When buying any fruit or vegetables to give to a rabbit, organic fruit is a wise choice as it will be free of potentially poisonous chemical pesticides.  In any case, both fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly in cold running water before offering them to your pet to ensure harmful chemicals are washed off.

Rabbit digestive system

A rabbit’s digestive system can be very sensitive to sudden changes that can interrupt the delicate gut flora which plays an important role in keeping the rabbit happy and healthy.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, rabbits each have their own likes and dislikes so when you introduce anything new into a rabbit’s diet be it a fruit or vegetable (even those considered safe) you should give the rabbit a chance to get used to it first.

Give a very small amount initially and observe the rabbit over a few hours.  If he produces any soft poo it may be that the particular fruit or vegetable does not agree with him.

Wait till everything seems to be back to normal with your rabbit before testing him on anything else.

Also, keep an eye out for behavioral changes that may indicate more serious gastrointestinal issues.

Rabbits can experience trapped wind from certain foods, which the rabbit may display by lying still with occasional shifts in position through discomfort or diahorrea which will be more obvious in contrast to the rabbit’s normal droppings.  If there are any obvious issues do not persist with the new food.

In the case of hot peppers, anything that might make our nose stream or eyes water is best avoided, the acidity and ability to irritate a rabbit’s acute senses have allowed peppers such as cayenne to be used to create sprays that deter rabbits from intruding on crops or vegetable patches.

Here are some other things you should consider before deciding whether or not to give your rabbit bell peppers.

Do rabbits like bell peppers?

Rabbits love sweet foods and bell peppers are no exception, every rabbit has its own personality so there’s no sure way to tell if a particular bunny will enjoy them until you try.

Capsicums come in red, orange, yellow, green, and even purple so If your rabbit doesn’t seem to like one particular color try the others, there is plenty of variety for even the fussiest of rabbits!

Remember that rabbits have a sweet tooth and can’t be trusted to stop eating sweet foods on their own accord.  You will need to show necessary restraint on their behalf and stop them, regardless of how cute they look (or how much they beg!)

If you would like to learn more about rabbit diet including you may like to read our extensive rabbit feeding guide.

Bell pepper availability

Bell peppers are fruits that belong to the nightshade family and are native to Central America.  Red bell peppers start off green but turn red as they ripen on the vine giving them a sweeter flavor.  Green bell peppers have a peak season that runs from July through to September however due to a global network of farmers you will likely be able to get peppers all year round.

Benefits of introducing bell pepper into a rabbits diet

  • Low in calories
  • Broad level of antioxidants which will help protect a bunnies cells
  • Great source of fiber
  • Good source of vitamins A and C
  • Source of potassium and folic acid
  • Rich in various carotenoids which help support healthy night vision

Negative effects of introducing bell pepper into a rabbits diet

  • High carbohydrate (sugar) levels may cause rabbits to become overweight (if fed in excess)
  • Increased diarrhea risk due to high water content.

Preparing bell pepper for rabbits

Bell Peppers are easily prepared for a rabbit.  As mentioned ensure they are rinsed thoroughly in running water to reduce the risk of your bunny being exposed to potentially poisonous chemical pesticides that may harm him.

Bell peppers should be chopped and seeds removed.  When preparing for a rabbit peppers can be diced or cut into thin strips for easier digestion.  While we humans will eat bell peppers both in their cooked and raw forms, rabbits should not be given cooked pepper although they may eat them dried as treats.

Small amounts of bell pepper can be combined with the regular cups of leafy greens a rabbit has to add a bit of texture to a meal.

Can rabbits eat bell pepper seeds?

Bell Pepper seeds have little nutritional value to a rabbit and while not poisonous to rabbits like some seeds are, we generally recommend seeds or pips be removed as best as possible from most fruits and vegetables before offering to a rabbit, only then can you be completely sure that they won’t cause a digestive issue or even get stuck in a rabbits throat.

Can rabbits eat bell pepper stems?

Bell pepper stems will provide little nutritional value to a rabbit and your unlikely to see them eating them if you grow this plant yourself.  leaves are safe for rabbits however all rabbits are different, there’s no telling if they will like these unless you try however there are much tastier plants more readily available for rabbits at most supermarkets

How to use bell pepper in a rabbits diet

Bell pepper is primarily composed of carbohydrates and just like all high carb foods should be given to your rabbit in moderation, as overfeeding will likely cause digestive problems. 

Due to the aforementioned high sugar content bell pepper should only be fed occasionally either as a treat food at a portion of around one teaspoon per two pounds of body weight or alternatively the same amount should be diced or chopped and added as a ‘garnish’ to a rabbits regular foods. 

This relatively small amount is a safe amount that will cause no negative long-term health problems for your bunny however bell pepper is a treat that should not be given every day.

Can a young or baby rabbit eat bell pepper?

If you’re in the process of training a young rabbit, small bits of diced pepper can make a much better training treat than pet shop brought yogurt drops or seed-based treats which are high in refined sugars and can be really bad for a rabbit.  While bell peppers are high in sugar these sugars are naturally occurring.

If the rabbit is very young, feeding small pieces approximately 5mm squared or nibbling on thin pepper strips occasionally (but not daily) should not have any negative effects on the young rabbit however keep a close eye on the rabbit as you would with any new food in case of abnormal reactions as described above.

Wrap up

We hope you enjoyed this short article, as we continue this series we hope to provide you with basic information to allow you to make your own informed decisions when deciding what to feed your bunny.

Remember that a rabbit’s digestive system is not the same as a human.  It does not need the same degree of  variety that we humans enjoy.

A rabbit’s diet should be mainly fiber based in order to keep the gut moving and prevent gut stasis.  Aside from water, hay should make up approximately 80% of the rabbits diet and an unlimited amount should be provided (a rabbit can eat a ball of hay equivalent to his own size each day).

Above all remember that too much of anything can be bad for a pet.  Just because a rabbit’s digestive system can digest bell pepper safely, in the long term it is not really suited for high sugar foods so (again) ensure bell pepper is given as a treat only.

Further Reading

What Can Bunnies Eat? resources.bestfriends.org

Can Rabbits Eat Bell Pepper? What You Need to Know! petkeen.com

Safe foods suitable for rabbits saveafluff.co.uk

Darren

Darren is the founder and editor at Bunny Advice and has been caring for rabbits for over a decade. He has a passion for helping animals and sharing his experience and knowledge with others.

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