Potatoes, botanically known as Solanum tuberosum usually refer to the edible tuberous starch, but the word can also refer to the plant itself. There are many cultivated varieties cultivated around the world.
Raw potatoes have about 79% water, 17% carbohydrates with starch making about 88% of the carbs and about 2% proteins. This calorific tuberous crop also has dietary fibers, potassium, sodium, vitamin A, C, B-6, B-12, D, iron, calcium, magnesium, among others.
With all these nutrients, it is obvious they have many benefits including “improved blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk and higher immunity. They may also improve digestive health and combat signs of aging,” as Healthline reports.
However, are they suitable for your furry friends? This is all that the discussion is going to be about, and we will include whether they can also eat potato chips, leaves, plant and peels or skin or not. If you would like to know if rabbits can eat sweet potatoes or not, we will not cover that in this post.
Can rabbits eat potatoes
No. Rabbits should not eat potatoes. Although this root vegetable may not be harmful or poisonous to your bunnies, PETA warns, that they “are high in carbohydrates and starch, both of which can cause issues for your bunny’s digestive system.” Save a Fluff and Rabbit.org does not list them as non-leafy foods to give your furry friends.
As we have seen, this root vegetable has a lot of starch and some sugars whereas a bunny, which is a lagomorph, has a digestive system designed to digest high-cellulose foods (high fiber diets with low starches). Therefore, you should expect digestive problems including diarrhea, bloating, gas, and so on.
Why sugars and starches are not healthy is because what “small intestine can’t digest will wind up in the cecum. If they arrive in large quantities in the cecum, they encourage the overgrowth of toxin-producing bacteria with consequent illness to the rabbit” states Rabbit.org.
The high starch is also likely to make your furry critter gain weight and be obese. Obesity has many other possible consequences including a reduced lifespan and an inability properly groom.
Since they are not harmful or poisonous, there is a huge debate with some sources including Animals.mom.me noting that “limit potatoes and other root vegetables like carrots, beets, and radishes because their sugar and starch content is higher than ideal.” Lovebackyard.com also support the idea.
If you are looking for non-leafy vegetables that rabbits eat, we recommend foods such as carrots, broccoli, squash, zucchinis, celery, bell pepper, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, which must be given only as occasional treats and not replace the recommended rabbit’s diet.
Bottom line: Rabbits should not eat potatoes, even in small quantities. There are other alternative non-leafy vegetables including flowers you can give to your bunny.
Can rabbits eat potato skins or peels?
Rabbits should not be given potato skins or peels. The reasons are what we have seen. They have a high amount of starch which may cause digesting and other problems.
Various sources including Rabbitmatters.com warms against these skins or peels. Therefore, as much as you may be having a lot of peels or skin since this vegetable is one of the most popular ones, do not give them to your bunnies.
Do rabbits eat potato plants?
Whereas it is possible for bunnies to nibble them, potatoes plants are among the least preferred and bothered plants you can have your garden. As Smilinggardener.com notes, “in your edible garden your onions, garlic, rhubarb, potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, and artichokes should be relatively safe from rabbit damage.”
These are also the same sentiments presented by Arizona Cooperative Extension. Therefore, there is no need of giving them this plant as they do not prefer it. However, it is not harmful or poisonous to rabbits.
What about cooked ones or chips?
Rabbits should not eat potato chips, crisps or even cooked ones. This is because chips have high-fat content, salt, starch, preservatives and chemical flavorings which might not be suitable for your bunny.
Also, the cooked ones lack texture and still have high amounts of starch. This is the same case to roast, mashed or fried potatoes. Do not give them to your bunnies.
Rabbits should not eat potatoes, their peels or skin as well as chips even as treats. Instead, go for some fruits that bunnies eat and non-leafy vegetables as they will make better treats.
Secondly, stick to the recommended diet which should be over 80% hay, about 5% high-quality pellets whereas the remainder can be fresh foods. In fresh foods, the leafy greens should make the bulk with fruits and non-leafy greens being given as treats.
Finally, ensure they get an unlimited supply of fresh, clean water. You can opt for automatic rabbit waterers, bowls or water bottles.