Last Updated on December 17, 2021 by Rei Garnet
It’s fine if your rabbit accidentally ate small amounts of bird food, but make sure that you don’t make it a habit. Rabbits and birds have different nutritional needs.
Bird food is mostly made of sunflowers, corn, millet, fruits (such as raisins and cherries), and peanuts. All of which should not be fed to rabbits intentionally because it’s too high in fat and sugar.
Rabbits that are fed large amounts of food that’s high in fat and sugar like bird food is at risk of developing digestive problems like diarrhea, GI stasis, intestinal blockage, liver diseases, and dental damage.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why rabbits can’t eat bird food long-term:
Table of Contents
Risk of feeding bird food to rabbits.
Because rabbits and birds have different nutritional needs, feeding your rabbits bird foods has risks if fed long term.
Here are some of the risks associated when you feed your rabbits large amounts of bird food:
Fatty liver disease
Because most bird food is high in fat, feeding your rabbit’s bird food long-term to lead to Hepatic Lipidosis or fatty liver disease. Rabbit’s diet should only consist of less than 3% fat, while most bird food contains sunflower seeds and peanuts that are high in fat.
Here are the signs that your rabbit might be suffering from fatty liver disease caused by excess fat:
- Loss of appetite (anorexia) – may be sudden or gradual
- Weight loss
- Decline in number and size of droppings (feces)
- Depression and lethargy
Diarrhea in rabbits is often caused by the wrong diet or when their diet is changed too fast. Feeding your rabbit large amounts of bird food would check those two boxes I mentioned.
Gastrointestinal stasis is also possible when a rabbit is fed large amounts of bird food, which is high in carbs and starch due to the fruits(such as raisins and cherries) and corn content of most bird foods.
GI stasis happens when the balance of bacteria in your rabbit’s gut is disrupted due to a high-carb, low-fiber diet. This disruption would cause painful gas that would eventually lead to organ failure and death if not treated immediately.
The signs of GI stasis are:
- Hunched posture
- Decreased appetite/anorexia
If you notice any of these signs, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.
Obesity in rabbits is also possible when fed large amounts of fatty food like bird food. Due to the peanut and sunflower seed content of most bird food, feeding it to your rabbit could lead to an increased risk of obesity. But if your rabbits are eating large amounts of bird food for long periods of time, they would likely develop other health problems that could lead to death before obesity.
Soft uneaten cecotropes are also possible when rabbits are eating large amounts of bird food instead of hay. This could lead to softer cecotropes due to the lack of fiber in your rabbit’s diet.
Because bird foods are designed to be consumed by birds, feeding them to rabbits could cause damage to your rabbit’s delicate teeth and gums.
Additionally, the fruits in bird foods can also cause dental damage in rabbits due to their high sugar content if fed in large amounts for long periods of time.
Dental damage in rabbits is extremely serious. A rabbit that’s in pain due to dental damage would refuse to eat or only eat a little.
A rabbit that’s refusing to eat would eventually develop some kind of digestive problems like GI stasis because rabbits need to constantly eat for their gut to function properly.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Should you panic if your rabbit ate a little amount of bird food?
While it’s true that rabbits should not eat bird food, eating a small amount of bird food is not a problem.
As long as you’re not feeding your rabbit a lot of bird food then you should be fine. Just observe your rabbit for any behavioral changes or any changes in their poop.
What to do if your rabbit ate bird food?
Bird food should never be fed to rabbits intentionally because most bird foods are high in fat. If your rabbits ate a little bit of bird food, just observe their poop, urine, and behavior for any changes.
Most bird foods are made of sunflowers, corn, millet, fruits (such as raisins and cherries), and peanuts. Which is high in fat and sugar. Rabbit’s diet should mainly be fiber. Feeding your rabbit anything in lieu of hay would likely lead to unwanted health problems.
If you did notice some behavioral, urine, and poop changes, call a veterinarian for proper advice.