Mint is a readily available herb that is found in abundance in many gardens, grocery stores, and outdoor markets. It is even found growing in many people’s backyards. Mint likes to make its presence known and is a wildly growing and spreading plant that adds a strong but pleasant fragrance. Since it is so plentiful and easily obtained, can rabbits eat mint, and if so, is it a nutritious, healthful addition to their diet?
Table of contents
- Can Rabbits Eat Mint, and if so, what parts?
- Are Any Kinds of Mind Toxic to Rabbits?
- Best Types of Mint for Rabbits
- Does Mint Have Health Benefits for Rabbits?
- Mint as Medicine
- When Should I Avoid Mint?
- Is Mint Ever Not Good for Rabbits?
- Introducing Mint
- How to Feed Mint
- How Much is Too Much?
When they think of mint, most people probably think of peppermint and spearmint, and are surprised to learn that thyme, balm mint, sage and basil are also members of the mint family. All of these are safe and edible plants for rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Mint, and if so, what parts?
The short answer to this question is yes, rabbits can eat mint. In fact, as discussed in a moment, mint is actually quite good for them. The question is, how much and what parts of the mint plants can rabbits eat?
Can Rabbits Eat Mint Leaves
The leaves of mint plants are the thing most people think of when it comes to eating mint. Mint is commonly used in tea as a soothing beverage and used to spruce up and add character to many dishes. It’s the leaves that add the flavor and zest to teas and recipes. The leaves are also the best and most nutritious part of the plant for rabbits as well.
Can Rabbits Have Mint Stems
Most people are surprised to learn that the stems of mint are as flavorful and aromatic as the leaves. The part of the stem closest to the leaves is the softest and therefore most edible, and yes, safe for rabbits to nibble on and eat.
Can Bunnies Eat Mint Flowers
If a rabbit finds the taste of mint leaves too strong for his liking, the flowers of the plant are a tasty yet more subtle alternative. The basic mint flavor is definitely there, but in a fruitier and more palatable variety.
Do Rabbits Eat Mint Root
Can rabbits eat mint roots? The root of the mint plant is the least nutritious and unappetizing part of mint plants, but it is not toxic and will not harm rabbits in any way. Roots are not the best part of the plant to introduce to a rabbit for enjoying the benefits mint can offer.
Are Any Kinds of Mind Toxic to Rabbits?
A form of mint called pennyroyal is toxic for rabbits. There are both an American and European version of this plant, both of which look similar as well as being quite toxic. The European pennyroyal has lilac flowers and spearmint-shaped leaves, while the American pennyroyal has pale blue flowers and smaller, more rounded, grayish-green leaves. Do avoid this plant as in addition to rabbits, it is also toxic to humans.
Best Types of Mint for Rabbits
Besides the poisonous pennyroyal mint plant, most other varieties are safe for rabbits to eat. A few of these varieties include the following:
Lemon balm: Provides support for digestion and helps relieve stress
Peppermint: Often used as a natural pesticide, but serves to soothe the digestive tract
Rosemary: Affords numerous health benefits for rabbits, including support for digestion, circulation, and even helps avoid depression
Lavender: Stimulates appetite, circulation, and provides pain relief
Does Mint Have Health Benefits for Rabbits?
Mint has definite health benefits for rabbits, and offers a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Its considerable amounts of Vitamin A, potassium, and iron are excellent for a rabbit’s digestive system and help to firm up loose stools and reduce bloating and gas. Here are a few of the other important health benefits mint provides rabbits.
Diet supplement: Although it should not be the main ingredient in a rabbit’s diet, fed in appropriate quantities, mint is an excellent source of fiber as well as is low in calories.
Vitamins and Minerals: Mint is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and B complexes. It is also high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and copper.
Antioxidants: Like other herbs, mint is high in antioxidants, which helps in avoiding arthritis, memory loss, and cancer.
Mint as Medicine
Throughout the ages, herbs have been valued for their medicinal properties for humans. In addition, many of those properties have value for pet rabbits as well.
Digestive Aid: Mint has long been recognized as effective in soothing digestive issues including stomach pain, diarrhea, and gas. It is also useful for freeing intestinal blockages.
Brain power: The strong concentration of minerals in mint suggests it is helpful in boosting the workings of the brain.
Relaxing at the Spa: Just as many humans enjoy the calming effects of certain kinds of mint, the same is true of rabbits. Lavender provides spa-like soothing properties for rabbits.
When Should I Avoid Mint?
In normal situations, mint is always safe for your rabbit to eat, pending they are getting small quantities of fresh, organic mint. However, if you have a mother rabbit actively nursing her young, you may want to steer away from the mint until the babies are weaned. Mint tends to dry a mother’s milk, which could leave her babies hungry. If you normally give your rabbits mint, simply stop this habit once the babies are born. After they are weened, feel free to start giving the mother rabbit mint again to keep her healthy and strong.
You’ll always want to avoid mint if you are unsure where it originated. Commercially available mint at the grocery store is often treated with pesticides and insecticides, which can be dangerous for your rabbit to consume. If purchasing mint from the grocery store, be sure only to purchase organic mint. Instead, if you choose to grow your own mint for your pet rabbit, only use organic fertilizers and soil, and never treat the mint with chemicals. As a precaution, always thoroughly wash and dry the mint before giving it to your rabbit.
Is Mint Ever Not Good for Rabbits?
It’s essential to avoid feeding mint to a lactating and nursing rabbit because it will dry up her milk. The same is true for other plants in the mint family, including parsley and sage. However, the milk-drying properties of mint can be beneficial and even prevent mastitis for a rabbit that is in the process of weaning her kits.
Many people have mint growing wild in their yards, which gives a pet rabbit plenty of opportunity to find and begin relishing the herb on her own. However, for those who do not have their own gardens of mint, here is a process to gradually acquaint a rabbit with this fragrant, tasty herb.
- Introduce the mint by hand feeding it in small quantities.
- Try feeding flowers which are not as sharp tasting
- Place some mint where the rabbit is sure to find it and can nibble it on his own.
How to Feed Mint
Feeding mint to a pet rabbit is simple. The steps below provide general guidelines on how to incorporate mint into a bunny’s diet.
- Wash the mint thoroughly.
- Tear the leaves into small, bite-size pieces.
- Sprinkle a small amount of mint onto their regular food, preferably wet vegetables and hay.
- Mix the mint in well to minimize the strong odor of the herb.
Making Mint Tea
When it’s time for the tea party, there is nothing quite as yummy and soothing as a cup of mint tea. To make mint tea for a rabbit, pour hot water over some mint leaves, let the tea cool and serve it to the rabbit in a dish. Do be forewarned that some rabbits may eschew the tea because of its strong flavor.
How Much is Too Much?
Can rabbits eat mint to the point of being harmful?
It’s not likely, but for people who have a yard full of mint and rabbits who find it a great delicacy, there is the possibility that rabbits can eat mint to excess. An important caveat is that mint should not be the main staple in a rabbit’s diet. For the best nutritional results, mint should be used as a supplement to the main diet staple — grass hay – and fed along with other supplements that include vegetables and fruits.
If a rabbit has consumed too much mint, the following symptoms will occur.
- Significant straining when the rabbit is taking a bowel movement
- Signs that the rabbit is in pain
- Stools that are of an odd color and shape
- Noticeable loss of appetite
It’s important that if a rabbit shows any of these signs to stop feeding any vegetables and call the vet immediately.
Your rabbit needs a balanced diet to stay healthy and happy. Most of your rabbit’s diet should come from grasses and hay, but your rabbit should also have access to leafy greens. While mint should be used sparingly, leafy greens should make up about 15% of your rabbit’s total diet.
When choosing leafy greens for your pet rabbit, be sure to mix up your pet’s selection. Giving your rabbit a variety of greens each day will keep your rabbit interested and engaged and give it the best possible mix of valuable vitamins and minerals. Some wonderful leafy green vegetables for your rabbit include bok choy, mustard greens, kale, spinach, beet greens, watercress, or even basil.
Finally: Can a rabbit eat mint? Yes, rabbits can indeed eat mint, and those that do will experience a great culinary treat as well as a wealth of health benefits.