Can Rabbits Eat Mealworms?

Categorized as Bunny Diet Tagged

Last Updated on April 22, 2022 by Rei Garnet

Mealworms should never be intentionally fed to rabbits. Rabbits are herbivores, meaning they are not designed to digest meat.

Mealworm is also high in protein and fat, both of which are not recommended to be given to rabbits in large amounts.

Feeding your rabbits mealworms or any kind of meat could lead to digestive problems like diarrhea, GI stasis, hepatic lipidosis, and soft uneaten cecotropes.

While it’s unlikely that your rabbits would die from taking a small bite of mealworm, you should never make this a habit.

Observe your rabbit for signs of a digestive problem or any changes in their behavior or poop after accidentally eating any amount of mealworms.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain why rabbits can’t eat mealworms:

Risk of feeding mealworm to rabbits.

Rabbits are herbivores, they are not really designed to digest large amounts of mealworms or any kind of meat for that matter.

Here are some of the risks associated with feeding your rabbits large amounts of mealworm:

Fatty liver disease

Most mealworms are high in fat, feeding your rabbits mealworms long-term could lead to hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

A rabbit’s diet should consist of less than 3% fat, while most mealworms 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)
  • Dehydration
  • Depression and lethargy

Diarrhea

Diarrhea in rabbits is often caused by the wrong diet or when the diet is changed too fast. 

Feeding your rabbit large amounts of mealworm would check those two boxes I mentioned.

Gastrointestinal Stasis

Gastrointestinal stasis is also possible when a rabbit is fed large amounts of mealworm, which is high in protein, fat, and carbs.

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:

  • Depressed
  • Hunched posture
  • Bruxism
  • Decreased appetite/anorexia

If you notice any of these signs, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.

Soft uneaten cecotropes

Soft uneaten cecotropes are also possible when rabbits are eating large amounts of mealworm instead of hay.

This could lead to softer cecotropes due to the high-fat/protein content and the lack of fiber in your rabbit’s diet.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Should you panic if your rabbit eats a bit of mealworm?

While it’s true that rabbits should not eat meat, taking a small bite of a mealworm is not a problem.

Rabbits in the wild would even eat their own kits (weaker kits) as a survival tactic to increase the probability of their offspring (stronger kits), so rabbits are able to eat small amounts of meat.

The same is true for domesticated rabbits.

As long as you’re not feeding buckets of mealworms, you should be fine.

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Just observe your rabbit for any behavioral changes or any changes in their poop.

If you’re still worried, feed them lots of hay.

The extra fiber would help flush out those remaining meats.

What to do if your rabbit ate a mealworm?

Observe their behavior and poop for any changes.

If you did notice something after your rabbit accidentally ate meat, call a veterinarian for proper advice.

Feeding lots of hay would help to mitigate any adverse effects from eating meat.

The extra fiber would help flush out that meat in their system.

Conclusion

Mealworms should never be fed to rabbits intentionally.

Rabbits are not designed to digest meat because they are herbivores.

If your rabbits ate a mealworm, just observe their poop and behavior for any changes.

Wild rabbits are known to eat meat (their kits) in the wild as a survival tactic.

So your rabbit should be fine if they accidentally take a bite out of a mealworm while you’re not looking.

If you have noticed some behavioral or poop changes, call a veterinarian for proper advice.


Image credit: Pengo, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.