Fennel or Foeniculum vulgare is one of those herbs which belong to the family of Apiaceae or Umbelliferae. Common herbs that come under this family are carrot, parsley, celery, cumin, coriander, dill, anise, caraway, and many others.
Fennel is a perennial herb that is used for culinary as well as medical purposes. It has a great aroma and is known to add liquorice or aniseed-like flavor to the food. Due to its aromatic and flavorful nature, rabbits get attracted to it and like to chew it. But, as a concerned rabbit owner, you may be wondering: can rabbits eat fennel? Is it safe for them, or are there any harmful effects of it?
Fennel is safe for rabbits to eat. Rabbit can have fennel greens, including stalk, leaves, and flowers, as well as its white bulb too. But, it should not be the main part of the meal. Fennel should be fed to rabbits in moderation on an occasional basis. You can give a small slice of fennel as a treat to your bunny or add a small amount of it to the rabbit’s food to enhance the flavor.
Let’s dig a little bit deeper to learn more about this subject.
Is It Safe For Rabbits To Eat Fennel?
Fennel doesn’t cause any direct harm to rabbits. It is safe for them to eat but in moderation. This crunchy herb belongs to the same family as carrots and is a bit sweet and crunchy, which rabbits like. It is entirely non-toxic, which means you don’t have to go rushing to the vet in case your rabbit ingests some of it.
The white bulb of this herb, along with the green stalks, are suitable for rabbits to eat. But, it would be best if you bore in mind that excess of anything can have some adverse effects. In the case of rabbits, if your bunny fell in love with this herb and urges to eat it daily, then you have to be a little strict with your cute pet. It is because excess of this Mediterranean plant can lead to stomach issues and other health complications for rabbits. Therefore, feeding fennel to bunnies should be practiced in moderation.
Hay and grass should be the primary parts of a rabbit’s daily healthy meal, and fennel can be added to it sometimes as a treat or supplement. For rabbits, serving one slice of the white bulb or a fennel stalk is enough.
Health Benefits Of Feeding Fennel To Rabbits
Fennel has a lot to offer, not just to humans but also to our little bunnies. If your rabbits like to chew on fennel, it is not bad news as fennel is safe for rabbits and provides a number of nutrients too. Let’s look at the nutritional value of fennel:
As per the USDA database, a raw fennel bulb weighs around 234g and consists of:
- 73 calories.
- 7.3g of dietary fiber.
- 2.9g of protein.
- 0.47g of fat.
- 17g of carbohydrate.
- No cholesterol.
A full cup of fennel will offer:
- 838 IU of vitamin A.
- 0.041mg of vitamin B-6.
- 10.4mg of vitamin C.
- 360mg of potassium.
- 15mg of magnesium.
- 43mg of calcium.
- 45mg of sodium.
- 0.64mg of iron.
In addition to this, fennel also contains:
- Vitamin E.
- Vitamin K.
- Pantothenic acid.
As we now know that fennel is rich in nutrients; here are some of the benefits that your bunny can get from fennel.
- Nutrients like Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, folate, and antioxidants that fennel provides are highly beneficial for rabbits’ well-being.
- The high dietary fiber content in fennel can help your rabbits when it feels low due to indigestion. It works as herbal medicine to cure indigestion.
- Fennel has got a unique type of antioxidant which is known as anethole. This antioxidant has the ability to lower the chances of incidence of cancer in rabbits and many other animals.
- Anethole even can also fight against toxic substances and protect the liver.
- The antioxidants present in fennel are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Plants, like fennel, rich in antioxidants, can provide relief to animals suffering from arthritis by alleviating inflammation that causes joint pain and stiffness.
- For the improvement of joint mobility, fennel works well. It makes this herb ideal for older rabbits who are dealing with joint pains.
- Fennel has low sugar content, which means you can feed it to rabbits with a sweet tooth.
What Dangers Can A Rabbit Face Due to Excessively Eating Fennel?
Excessive eating of fennel can result in indigestion in rabbits. Some of the symptoms related to it are:
- Pain in the stomach.
On noticing any of these symptoms, it is advisable to contact a vet and follow the remedial measures, as advised.
Can Rabbits Eat Fennel Seeds?
It is a big fat no for fennel seeds. It would help if you never let your rabbit eat fennel seeds. One of the biggest reasons behind it is the presence of a high amount of fats and oils in these seeds. By ingesting these seeds, your cute little charming pet can go into obesity and can develop many other health complications.
Another point you need to consider is that there is the risk of choking on these seeds. The throat of rabbits is a bit compact, which increases the risk of choking on seeds. In the case of weak or old rabbits, their chewing power is not that good. Hence, they try to swallow the seeds directly without chewing, and the seeds end up getting stuck in their trachea.
What makes the situation even worse is their inability to vomit. Here is where you need to worry because rabbits are delicate creatures that do not have the capability to survive breathing issues for a long time. The choking situation can make the breathing problem far worse.
All in all, the fennel seeds are not good news for rabbits. Whether they reach the digestive tract or stuck at the entrance, it is not advisable by vets and animal experts to let your rabbit eat fennel seeds.
So, can rabbits eat fennel? The answer is yes. All the parts of the fennel plant, including the bulb, leaves, and flowers, are safe for rabbits to eat except fennel seeds. You can give your rabbit fennel as a treat. It is a fantastic snack option for rabbits with a sweet tooth as it has low sugar content.
The herb does not cause any stomach complications and benefits rabbits as it is rich in antioxidants and several essential vitamins and minerals. It has a moderate level of dietary fiber, which is also suitable for rabbits.
As long as you are giving hay and grass as a primary meal, there is not an issue in feeding fennel to your rabbit a few times a week. You can give it as a supplement mixed with hay and other vegetables to make up for a balanced diet for your rabbit.