Baby rabbit and tulips

Can Rabbits Eat Tulips?

You have curious pets in the house, which is what motivated you to start an outdoor garden. The last time you let your rabbit romp in the yard, they began making their way towards your tulips. You panicked and picked your bunny up before they took a munch. You’re not quite sure – are rabbits allowed to eat tulips?

Rabbits should not eat tulips despite that wild rabbits have been known to feast on the flowers. Tulips are considered mildly toxic to rabbits, and consumption of the bulbs may lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, lack of appetite, drooling, and vomiting.

This comprehensive guide will explain in full whether rabbits should eat tulips and what the consequences are of doing so. We’ll also discuss how to separate your bunny from your flower garden to reduce incidents of them eating things they shouldn’t!

Can Rabbits Eat Tulips?

If you read our other posts on the blog, then you’ll recall how flowering plants such as honeysuckle and violets are acceptable for rabbits to eat. (Well, for the most part anyway, as some violets are toxic).

What about tulips?

Tulips are considered possibly toxic to rabbits. That’s true of all bulbous flowers, which the tulip is.

The Complete Toxic Plant and Bulb Guide indicates that tulips are considered a Class 2 local toxin. It’s not only tulips that can potentially cause your pet rabbit harm, but orchids, bluebells, and daffodils as well as other bulbous flower species.

The leaves and flowers of tulips should be off-limits to your bunny, but you especially want to prevent your rabbit from ingesting the bulb. We’ll talk more in the next section about why that is.

Red tulips in field; can rabbits eat them?
Tulips in a garden. Can rabbits eat them?

Now, you may feel a tad confused reading this information. After all, if you have wild rabbits in the neighborhood, they may have munched on your tulip garden before, or perhaps you have a neighbor who complained of such.

Wild rabbits, like pet rabbits, shouldn’t eat tulips either. However, unlike a pet rabbit, which has a varied diet thanks to its caring owner, wild rabbits don’t have much of a choice in what they eat.

Tulips are food, and if they’re readily available, the wild rabbit will try to eat them. If they feel sick, then maybe they’ll avoid tulips in the future unless push comes to shove. Just because you saw a wild rabbit eat tulips doesn’t mean it’s okay for your pet rabbit to do the same!

What Happens If My Rabbit Eats a Tulip?

To reiterate what we discussed before, tulips are a Class 2 local toxin for rabbits. Per the House Rabbit Society Wisconsin Chapter, a Class 2 local toxin includes “allergens, dermal sensitivity toxins, or systemic toxins of lesser strengths.”

What does it mean for your rabbit if they ate a tulip? Your rabbit may experience a slew of unpleasant side effects such as lack of appetite, drooling or hypersalivation, diarrhea, depression, and vomiting. Allergic symptoms can manifest as well.

If you’re worried that a bite or several of a tulip could be fatal for your pet bunny, it doesn’t appear that that will be the case. That said, you should still contact your vet after you realize what your rabbit ate.

Call the vet and request their guidance on what to do, says House Rabbit Society. More than likely, your vet will recommend you bring the rabbit into their office for an evaluation.

The vet will check that your bunny’s symptoms align with ingestion of a Class 2 local toxin. They might be able to recommend a treatment for an upset stomach or runny diarrhea.

Activated charcoal can help, as it absorbs the toxins so your bunny should begin feeling better. In rare instances, your vet may recommend surgery. Tulips in their Class 2 categorization are not as dangerous as Class 1 universal species toxins, but they are riskier for your rabbit’s health than Class 3 low-risk plants.

How to Keep a Curious Pet Rabbit Away from the Flower Garden

Now that you know that tulips can be mildly poisonous for rabbits to ingest, you’re ready to make a concerted effort to keep your rabbit away from this pretty, flowering plant. Here are some handy tips that will help you do just that.

Know What to Look For

First, it helps to know if the plant you’re growing is truly a tulip.

At current, over 70 tulip species exist. The flowers that tulips produce are shaped like a star or a cup. You’re likely to see tulips in colors such as white, red, orange, or yellow.

Rabbit outdoors. Can rabbits eat tulips?
Rabbit outdoors. Can rabbits eat tulips?

It can sometimes be difficult to identify tulips, especially considering that other plant species resemble the tulip so closely. Those tulip “cousins,” if you will, including daffodils and the prairie gentian.

Since both flowers grow bulbs, pet rabbits should stay away from those plants as well.

Related: Can Rabbits Eat Daffodils?

Schedule Playtime Inside

Your pet rabbit may have some of its wild instincts intact, such as its crepuscular schedule, but your bunny doesn’t have to spend any time outside if you don’t want it to. Indoor life is perfectly suitable for pet rabbits.

This doesn’t mean you should shut your rabbit away from all sunlight though. According to Vetstreet, the vitamin D in sunlight enables rabbits to absorb more calcium when they eat. This leads to stronger and healthier teeth and bones.

If you want to keep your rabbit inside for now, at least ensure their enclosure is by a window that gets several hours of sun exposure.

Put Your Rabbit on a Leash

Leashes aren’t only for dogs and cats anymore! To prevent your rabbit from moseying their way to your flower garden, put a harness on their body and then hook a leash to the harness. Whenever your rabbit starts to tug towards the flowers, you can gently move them away.

We recommend a harness over a collar. Collars can choke your pet and cause throat and neck damage. That’s as true in rabbits as it is in dogs. A harness goes around your rabbit’s back and middle so their neck is in no way involved.

Build a Fence Around the Tulips

The whole point of growing beauteous flowers is to show them off, but sometimes when you have a pet, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. That may entail you building a fence to keep your stubborn rabbit away from the tulips.

You’ll need to erect quite a tall fence. Wild rabbits are surprisingly adept climbers, and your own pet can surprise you with their climbing prowess as well.

Move the Tulips Inside Where Your Rabbit Can’t Reach

Who says you have to keep the tulips outside in the first place? You might grow them indoors in a contained environment. Just place the tulips high up where your rabbit can’t reach.

We want to mention again that rabbits are great at climbing, so you must truly choose a spot that’s inaccessible to even the most curious bunny.

Consider Faux Plants

You don’t only have a rabbit in the house, but a cat as well. Even if you put the tulips on top of the refrigerator, your cat will find a way to get up there. Tulips are toxic to cats and dogs, so you don’t want any four-legged friend eating them.

At that point, you might be better off just buying fake flowers and plants instead. Plastic plants aren’t as dangerous to your pets, even if they bite off a plastic leaf and swallow it (although we wouldn’t recommend that!).

What Treats Can You Safely Feed Pet Rabbits?

You want to treat your bunny on occasion, but now you’ve sworn them off flowers completely. What can they eat that’s outside of their dietary norm?

Here are some options you can feed your beloved pet!

Grapes

The sweetness of bite-sized grapes is right up a pet rabbit’s alley. Avoid overfeeding, as your bunny won’t know when to stop!

Carrots

Carrots do not comprise a rabbit’s main diet due to the high sugar, but as a treat, the orange veggie is perfectly fine. The texture of carrots will clean your bunny’s teeth.

Rabbits eating dangling carrots
Two rabbits eating

Apples

Apples are sweeter than they taste, so only feed sparingly. Leave the skin on the apples, as this is the most nutritious part. The firm texture of apples is also great at naturally cleaning teeth.

Share the love of Rabbits!