Around the world, potatoes are a staple of various cuisines.
From Asia to America and Europe to Australia, potatoes are used in all kinds of recipes, whether they be mashed, roasted, or made into delicious French fries.
But, whilst humans can eat potatoes with little to no side effects, the same cannot be said of other animals, such as rabbits.
Table of contents
The digestive systems of humans and rabbits are very different.
For instance, humans are omnivores, meaning we can eat plants, like fruits and vegetables, as well as animal meat, and products such as eggs and milk.
Rabbits, on the other hand, are obligate herbivores (see also ‘Are Rabbits Herbivores?‘), meaning their digestive systems are better suited to raw foods, such as greens, hay, and, of course, carrots.
Potatoes For Rabbits – Yes Or No?
So, if rabbits can eat different types of plants, does that mean they can eat potatoes? In theory, yes, rabbits can consume potatoes.
But, just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.
Humans have no problems when digesting potatoes, but rabbits tend to struggle.
Whilst rabbits may enjoy the taste of potatoes, this starchy plant tuber has no nutritional benefits and is typically high in calories.
Because potatoes are full to the brim with starch, a rabbit’s digestive system can’t handle them all that well.
Read on as we discuss why potatoes are not the best food for rabbits and what this plant’s effects can be on these small mammals.
We will also discuss whether rabbits can eat cooked or raw potatoes, as well as sweet potatoes.
There’s no doubt that rabbits enjoy their veggies. So, if you go to offer a rabbit a piece or two of potato, they will happily oblige and eat it.
But, just because they like potatoes doesn’t mean they are good for them.
A rabbit’s health relies heavily on a herbaceous diet. Their diets should mainly consist of fiber, to help food travel through their digestive systems more smoothly.
Their diets should also contain small amounts of protein and fat, to help cell growth.
Most of the nutrition a rabbit requires tends to come from grass hay, thanks to its high-fiber content.
In fact, grass hay should make up approximately 85% of a rabbit’s diet. The remaining 15% should be made up of herbs and leafy greens.
Yes, rabbits can eat potatoes but, due to their dense starch content, neither wild nor domestic rabbits should be offered them.
Even humans can not digest raw potatoes. This is because of solanine, a toxic compound, which will likely give us a very bad stomach ache or something more serious.
Rabbits, though, like to dig up potatoes (much to the annoyance of gardeners worldwide), and eat them raw.
Their herbivorous digestive systems are better suited for digesting raw potato starch.
However, because rabbit’s can not pass gas, the smallest of digestive issues could be very serious.
So, although potatoes are not poisonous, giving a rabbit a piece could be deadly.
Why You Should Not Feed Potatoes To Rabbits?
A tiny amount of potato shouldn’t cause any harm to a rabbit, because they are not toxic.
But, even if they eat a little too much, they will probably become sick. Think of potatoes as a junk food for rabbits.
They are very high in calories and very hard to digest.
Because a rabbit’s digestive system is not designed for dense starch, eating too many potatoes could result in a whole host of side effects, such as:
- Weight gain
As we said, a little potato shouldn’t cause any issues, but, if a rabbit eats potatoes regularly, they could gain a lot of weight.
But, it’s constipation that could become a very serious issue for rabbits.
This could lead to GI stasis, which is when the entire digestive system shuts down. In most cases, this will lead to death.
You may have seen a wild rabbit digging for potatoes to enjoy a little snack. This is essentially because of an evolutionary survival process.
Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates and calories, so rabbits are attracted to them more than other foods. Again, it’s like their junk food!
One part of a potato is poisonous, however. Potatoes that have sprouted “eyes” can be highly toxic, especially to rabbits.
That is why you should try your best to keep any potatoes you may be growing away from rabbits, both wild and domesticated.
If you have a pet rabbit and you’re concerned that it has eaten potato, keep a close watch on their eating and pooping habits.
If you notice that they suddenly stop, contact a veterinarian immediately so they can inspect your rabbit’s gut.
Can Rabbits Consume Cooked Potato?
Rabbit digestive systems are not designed to handle cooked potatoes.
Although the cooking process destroys most of the resistant starch, there is more than enough ordinary starch left.
Except for fiber, rabbits cannot metabolize many types of carbohydrates.
Cooked potatoes could cause your rabbit to experience the very same digestive issues as eating raw potatoes.
Therefore, cooked potatoes can indeed cause constipation, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal stasis, too.
Can Rabbits Consume Potato Peel And Leaves?
Both red and white potato peels hold more fiber than the interior flesh. In fact, around half of the total fiber in potatoes is found in the skin.
And, the skin also contains healthy nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium.
But, hold your horses. Potato peels contain high amounts of starch, as well, which tends to offset the fiber content.
Therefore, the peels can also be difficult for rabbits to digest.
As for potato leaves, flowers, and vines, these are poisonous for rabbits. The same applies to all nightshade family members (see also ‘Can Rabbits Eat Tomatoes?’).
Can Rabbits Consume Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are not healthy for rabbits. They contain more sugar than standard potatoes, and have an ever higher fat content.
Please review our detailed article on can rabbits eat sweet potatoes if you are interested.
Although rabbits can technically eat potatoes, the starchy plant can cause very serious side effects and cause significant digestive issues.
Whether it’s a wild or domesticated rabbit, you should not feed them potatoes at any time.
Tomatoes are in the same family as potatoes and you may want to know: can rabbits eat tomatoes?