Last Updated on December 17, 2021 by Rei Garnet
Mealworms should never be fed to rabbits intentionally because 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 mealworm 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 mealworm.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain why rabbits can’t eat mealworm:
Table of Contents
Risk of feeding mealworm to rabbits.
Because rabbits are herbivores, they are not really designed to digest large amounts of mealworm or any kind of meat for that matter. Here are some of the risks associated when you feed your rabbits large amounts of mealworm:
Fatty liver disease
Because most mealworms are high in fat, feeding your rabbits mealworms long-term could lead to Hepatic Lipidosis or fatty liver disease. Rabbit’s diet should only 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)
- 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 mealworm would check those two boxes I mentioned.
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:
- Hunched posture
- 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 ate a little amount 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 as a survival tactic to raise the probability of their offspring, so rabbits are able to eat small amounts of meat.
The same case for domesticated rabbits, as long as you’re not feeding buckets of mealworm then you should be fine. 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 meat.
What to do if your rabbit ate 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 because the extra fiber would help flush out that meat in their system.
Mealworms should never be fed to rabbits intentionally because rabbits are not designed to digest meat because they are herbivores. If your rabbits took a bite of 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 took a bite out of mealworm while you’re not looking.
If you did notice some behavioral/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