The beet (Beta Vulgaris) is cultivated for either its leaves and roots with the common types being the garden beet (table, chard, spinach beet, or beetroot cultivated for root and leaves), the Swiss chard ( for leaf) or silverbeet (cultivated for leaves) and sugar beet (for sugar) while the Mangold (gold, orange roots) is fed to livestock.
Also, it is a medicinal plant as well as used as a food colorant with the sugar beet often used to make most of the beet products.
Can I give rabbits eat beets?
This vegetable plant is loaded with various nutrients that rabbits require including vitamins such as A, C, D, E, K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 among others. It also has proteins, carbs, dietary fiber as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, sodium, copper, selenium and manganese.
It is worthwhile noting that its leaves and tops have a high quantity of oxalates  and the amounts of oxalates go higher as the leaves age. Some effects of too much oxalic acid include the following:
- It binds with iron to form ferrous oxalate that becomes unusable by the body
It binds with calcium which may be deposited in the urinary system and kidney. This may possibly cause kidney stones.
- Foods with too much oxalic acid have been associated with vulvodynia and autism. More research is needed to confirm this since the evidence is scanty.
Beet tops (leaves, greens, and stem)
Here is how to feed your rabbit with beet leaves including tops or greens. Since they have high levels of oxalates, do not give your furry friend other greens that have high oxalates such as spinach, mustard greens, swiss chard, radish tops, sprouts, and parsley at the same time.
Instead mix them with leafy greens with low oxalic acids such as arugula, carrot tops, cucumber leaves, kale, spring greens, turnip greens, cilantro, Bok Choy, fennel among others.
Finally, the total amount of leafy greens to feed your bunny is one cup of at least 3-6 different types of chopped greens per 2 pounds of their leaves. Remember no types of high oxalic acids and make the foods high in oxalic acid occasional.
Can rabbits eat beetroot?
Yes. Rabbits can eat beetroot. However, do not forget that it is starchy, and it may change the color of your rabbit’s urine. .
Also, rabbits do not depend on foods that are high in starch as they may alter their gut microflora balance promoting the harmful pathogens which can cause diarrhea, gas, bloating, as well as promote obesity and weight gain if you give it too much of any starchy food.
Also, the little fiber found in this root vegetable may not promote a healthy gut and may cause GI stasis. Bunnies need a lot of indigestible fibers for a healthy gut, teeth, and gut motility.
Therefore, give them this root vegetable as a treat, i.e., not more that one teaspoon per 2 pounds of body weight. Also, make it an occasional treat.
We do not recommend the sugar beet since it has high amounts of sugar which are detrimental to the gut health of your rabbit.
Introducing fresh or new foods
Besides the fact that it is safe, when introducing any new food including fresh greens, fruits or non-leafy vegetable, begin gradually and check for any signs of gastrointestinal disturbances. Stop if you notice any.
If none, you can increase the amount gradually but not more than what is recommended in an ideal diet for rabbits. Do not go beyond even if your bunnies seem to like it.
Also, ensure they are free of any chemicals that may have been used in the farm, have not wilted and are fresh. Wash it thoroughly under running water and the root can be chopped for easy chewing.
Ensure your furry friend has the right diet which should have over 80% hay such as Timothy, 10-15 fresh fruits (leafy greens and treats such as fruits and non-leafy vegetables) and the rest can be high fiber pellets. Do not forget to give them water since it has many roles.