After reading our post about how rabbits can safely consume violets, you became curious about something. Your outdoor garden isn’t full of violets, but rather, honeysuckle. You love the aroma of honeysuckle, and your rabbit seems to as well, but you worry about them ingesting it. Is honeysuckle edible for rabbits?
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Rabbits can eat honeysuckle, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you know which species you have, as many honeysuckle species are toxic. If you must feed your rabbit honeysuckle, it should only be the Lonicera sempervirens. Avoid the seeds and berries.
This ultimate guide to honeysuckle consumption for rabbits will provide lots of information so you can make safer food decisions for your pet.
While we are reviewing honeysuckle, it may be a good time to point out that rabbits should not eat honey!
Can Rabbits Eat Honeysuckle?
In the wild, rabbits forage for wild plants and vines, but your domestic rabbit has the benefit of you filtering their food first. After several instances of them sniffing your backyard honeysuckle garden, you’re curious about feeding them the plant.
This isn’t the best idea. Honeysuckle has 180 identified species, and some are toxic to animals like rabbits.
It’s not only small pets you have to worry about. If you have a dog in the house, they shouldn’t venture too close to your honeysuckle garden either. The plant is poisonous to them. Even people can fall victim to toxic species of honeysuckle, which can be deadly.
Only one species of honeysuckle is known to be okay for rabbit consumption, and that’s the Lonicera sempervirens.
Related: Can Rabbits Eat Tulips?
This honeysuckle species goes by names such as the scarlet honeysuckle, the trumpet honeysuckle, or the coral honeysuckle. Two of those names are a testament to the plant’s trademark red flowers.
Lonicera sempervirens honeysuckle grows in the eastern United States, so it’s a local species. Popular places where you may find it include Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, and Texas. In Rhode Island, the Lonicera sempervirens is very rare, and in Maine, it’s endangered.
The stems and leaves of this honeysuckle have a waxy texture, but that’s true of many other honeysuckles too. As a twining vine, the Lonicera sempervirens can reach heights of 20 or more feet.
What Does Lonicera Sempervirens Honeysuckle Taste Like?
Besides the attractive aroma, most species of honeysuckles have a delectable flavor as well. The aroma is reminiscent of honey (which may explain the name), and the nectar in honeysuckle is honey-like as well.
Your rabbit can sample the nectar of a Lonicera sempervirens honeysuckle, as can you.
Can You Tell Poisonous Honeysuckle Apart from Nonpoisonous Honeysuckle?
You think you found the Lonicera sempervirens, but before you sample it or your rabbit does, you want to be 100 percent sure. How can you be confident the plant species in front of you is nontoxic?
Unless you’re a trained botanist, then deciphering honeysuckle species is very challenging. It’s not like plants advertise their poisonous status. They’re designed to blend into other plants so they look unassuming. They’re toxic as a defense mechanism.
You can’t rely on the waxy leaf texture of the Lonicera to tell it apart from other honeysuckles since honeysuckle species almost always share that same texture.
You can’t even rely on the ruby red hue of the Lonicera sempervirens as a giveaway. Other honeysuckle species in the Lonicera genus are also red, and some of them are poisonous to rabbits.
If you don’t know with 100 percent certainty which honeysuckle variety is in your garden, then don’t feed it to your rabbit. They’re free to enjoy the wafting aroma of honeysuckle, but they should not be permitted to eat it.
It’s not worth the risk!
Can Rabbits Eat Honeysuckle Seeds? What About Berries?
Let’s say you’re sure that you’ve found an edible honeysuckle variety. You bought it from a store, and the clerk assured you 10 times that the plant is safe. You’ve since tried it yourself with no adverse effects.
You want to get the most use out of the honeysuckle. You extracted some seeds from the flower, and maybe yours sprouted a few berries too. Are these safe to feed your rabbit?
Rabbits should never eat honeysuckle seeds, as they’re considered a strong natural medicinal.
Honeysuckle berries are often circular but may have an elongated shape. The colors vary, with black, blue, and red hues common.
How different is one type of berry from another? In this case, very!
Honeysuckle berries are frequently poisonous to rabbits and people. The only exception is the Lonicera caerulea, which produces edible berries. That honeysuckle is known as the fly honeysuckle. Its flowers are dark blue with a distinct bell shape. Besides their toxicity (outside of fly honeysuckles, that is), honeysuckle berries can also be a choking hazard for rabbits.
According to this resources page from the Fire Effects Information System or FEIS, the Japanese honeysuckle grows berries that are between 0.16 and 0.24 inches. That’s small! The berries are the perfect size to get lodged in your bunny’s throat, especially if they eat several at once.
Since the honeysuckle seeds come from the fruit, keep your rabbit away from both!
What Other Plants Can a Rabbit Safely Eat?
For the safety of your rabbit, foregoing honeysuckle as a treat is a wise move.
That doesn’t mean you can’t feed your rabbit any other plants and flowers though. Here’s a list of options to explore with your bunny friend!
The pansy captivates attention due to its multicolored petals in contrasting colors such as dark maroon and yellow or bright purple and white. Rabbits might have limited color vision that prevents them from appreciating the beauty of the pansy, but the flavor will win them over.
Prepared raw, pansies taste almost like lettuce but spicier.
Not all medicinal plants and herbs are necessarily dangerous for rabbits, as the chamomile proves. This appealing herb tastes great dried and fresh. The flavor is supposed to be like a mellower version of honey, so it shouldn’t be too sweet for your bunny.
From one calming flower to another, lavender is a plant your rabbit can consume in moderation. Due to its relationship to rosemary and mint, those flavors come through when eating raw lavender. The floral flavor is also quite appealing.
Pot marigolds or English marigolds are bright yellow or orange flowers that add pops of color to any indoor or outdoor garden. These types of marigolds are also safe for rabbit consumption.
Do be forewarned though that not all marigolds are non-toxic. French marigolds, aka African marigolds, as well as marsh marigolds, are poisonous.
Just as we advised for honeysuckles, if you can’t tell marigold species apart, then don’t feed any to your rabbit.
The vining plant species known as jasmine has trademark small white flowers that are always alluring. If you’ve ever drunk jasmine tea, the same flavor notes will come through when you feed this plant to your rabbit.
That is, there are clear but not overpowering floral notes as well as a delicate, even subtle flavor throughout.
The last plant we’d suggest you feed your rabbit is the mint. This tiny herb is mostly used as a garnish. Since it’s easy to grow, you likely have some mint handy.
Munching on mint isn’t like eating artificial spearmint flavors. There is a cooling sensation, but the flavor is a lot more authentic.
Since rabbits might not like the cooling flavor of mint, it’s not a bad idea to give them a very small piece first. If they enjoy it, then feed them some more!