Rabbits are 100% herbivores. Their diet should consist mainly of clean hay with some good quality pellets. They also require some leafy green vegetables and fruit to round their diet out. These, however, should not make up the biggest part of a bunny's diet.
Not all greens and fruits are good for rabbits, either. Something that is good for us humans could be downright toxic to your rabbit. With other veggies or fruit, a specific part, such as the seed, might be toxic. And with some, it's about the quantity that you feed. It's always worth checking before feeding your rabbit anything new.
Can Rabbits Eat Asparagus?
Yes, rabbits can eat asparagus. The whole plant is safe, including the stalks and leaves. Asparagus is a low-calorie, low-calcium food with many beneficial nutrients. Still, feed asparagus only once or twice a week and follow our feeding advice to prevent health problems like stomach upsets and diarrhea in your rabbit.
Rabbits can safely eat asparagus both raw and cooked.
Garden asparagus is safe for bunnies to munch on, but remember; there are some toxic plants that contain asparagus in their name.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
There are some great things about asparagus, but it still shouldn't replace the hay in your pet's diet. Neither should it be the only fresh veggie your bunny gets. Balance is the key to a healthy, happy rabbit.
As a side note, there can be some confusion about which asparagus is being talked about. Here we are referring to garden asparagus. Some other plants carrying the word in their name, like asparagus fern, are actually toxic to rabbits.
Health Benefits: Is Asparagus Good for Rabbits?
Asparagus is a nutrient-dense vegetable and contains lots of goodies for your rabbit.
In the right amounts, it is definitely a great addition to any healthy rabbit's diet.
Low on Calcium
One absolutely fantastic thing about asparagus is that it is low on calcium. Most animals absorb only as much calcium as they need from their food. Not so with rabbits. They cannot really regulate their intake and will absorb most of the calcium they consume.
Excess calcium in a rabbit's system will bind with oxalates to form bladder stones. It is a very painful condition requiring immediate medical assistance from your vet. You always need to make sure that your rabbit isn't consuming too much calcium.
Asparagus contains lots of vital nutrients without contributing much to calcium intake. It makes it a great addition to your bunny's daily cup of veggies.
High Fiber Content
Another good thing about asparagus is its high fiber content. A rabbit's digestive system needs fiber to function well. Rabbits rely on the fiber they eat to help them digest their food and absorb nutrients.
When fiber is eaten together with foods containing sugar, it slows down the absorption of that sugar. This, in turn, prevents any sugar spikes. Long-term, this works to prevent diabetes and other related problems.
Low-calorie, Nutrient-Dense Food
Asparagus is quite literally a nutrient bomb. Many studies have listed it as one of the healthiest foods on earth. It contains a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals. These studies are aimed at people, but the same holds true for rabbits too.
Rabbits don't do well with foods high on fat, sugar, and starch. Asparagus is very low on all three, yet comes packed with valuable nutrition. It is a good source of vitamins C, E, and K, as well as members of the B complex. It also contains copper and iron, with many other minerals present in trace amounts.
All this nutrition comes with very low calories and high-fiber food. Asparagus also happens to contain very little sodium; coupled with the low calcium content, this makes it an excellent, healthy addition to your bunny's veggie selection.
Related reading: What Can Rabbits Eat? Complete Guide to Rabbit Diet
Health Risks: Is Asparagus Bad for Rabbits?
We've already mentioned that asparagus is very nutrient-dense and is an excellent choice of veggie for your rabbit. The vegetable contains nothing a bunny would find toxic either. But too much of a good thing can also be harmful.
High Water Content
Asparagus packs so much nutrition with so few calories thanks to its high water content. At 93%, this vegetable is mostly water. And while water is a necessary part of your rabbit's diet, too much can cause digestive problems.
Bunnies should always have clean drinking water available 24 hours a day. They know what they need and will drink as and when they need to. Some of their water can come from their leafy greens, but not too much.
If a bunny eats too many water-heavy veggies like asparagus, it could end up with a digestive upset. The excess water can upset their digestive tract causing diarrhea. A mild case could lead to minor discomfort, but more serious problems can also result.
Stool that is too loose will stick to the fur, causing cleanliness issues. Your bunny may also fail to eat its cecotropes, which are vital to its health.
Potentially Too Much Fiber
If fed in large quantities, asparagus may be too much for a rabbit's digestive system. It is especially true with younger rabbits under 3 months of age. The fiber in asparagus is quite tough. A young rabbit may find this veggie too difficult to chew and digest properly.
Don't Confuse with Asparagus Fern!
The edible, healthy asparagus we are talking about in this article is garden asparagus. There is another plant known as asparagus fern. This plant belongs to the lily family and is entirely different from garden asparagus. It is a common indoor plant with feather leaves.
Asparagus fern is toxic to rabbits and should not be fed to them under any circumstances. It also has thorns hidden within its leafage. These can easily injure your rabbit's mouth as it is trying to chew through the plant.
Asparagus is a good, healthy vegetable, but it also contains a lot of water. To avoid any problems, asparagus should be fed in moderation.
Once or twice a week as part of a mixed serving is enough
Mix With Other Veggies
Asparagus should be fed as part of a set of greens. Combine it with 2 to 3 other veggies to make up your bunny's serving of greens for the day.
And don't feed asparagus daily. Once or twice a week as part of a mixed serving is enough. You can cut a piece of asparagus about 2-3 inches long and mix it in with the other veggies of the day.
Cooked or Raw?
Cooking asparagus potentially changes the nutrition value, but it doesn't make it toxic. Cooked asparagus is just as safe for your rabbit as the raw version. For a healthy adult rabbit either will work well.
If your rabbit is younger or aging, then perhaps cooked asparagus is better. Cooking will make it softer and easier to chew and digest.
We've already mentioned that asparagus is one of the healthiest vegetables around. [1.]
Asparagus is very nutrient-dense while giving a minimum of fat, sugar, and calories.
Low-calorie, low-carb food
For every 100 grams of asparagus, you only get 20 calories. That's hardly anything. Protein makes up a healthy 2.2. grams of the same 100, but fat gets a negligible 0.1. There are only 3.9 grams of carbs, of which just 1.9 grams is sugar. At the same time, there are 2.1 grams of fiber.
It is an excellent nutritional profile for rabbits who don't do well on high-carb, high-sugar foods.
Low Sodium, Lots of Water
Another aspect of asparagus that makes it healthy is its low sodium content.
There are only 2mg of sodium for every 100 grams of the vegetable. And 93% of asparagus is water, which is why this vegetable is so low on calories. But do remember, for a rabbit, too much water in veggies is not a good thing. This is why asparagus should be mixed with vegetables that contain less water.
Great Source of Vitamins
Asparagus contains sizeable amounts of the essential vitamins A, C, E, and B complex. And it provides a whopping 41.6 mcg of vitamin K per every 100 grams. Vitamin K is part of a group of fat-soluble vitamins, which play a vital role in keeping the body healthy. They contribute to controlling blood calcium levels, blood clotting, and bone metabolism.
Several Essential Minerals
Besides copper and iron, asparagus contains a long list of other vital minerals in the trace quantities. Manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc are all on this list.
The only mineral it is really low on is calcium, containing 24mg per 100 grams. It is an excellent thing for rabbits, as too much calcium can cause bladder stones.
Asparagus is a great, healthy vegetable to add to your rabbit's diet. It contains several essential nutrients in sizeable amounts. At the same time, it's low on calcium, too much of which poses a health risk to bunnies. And it is also low on sodium, sugar, and calories — lots of good points.
The only thing to remember is that because of its high water content, too much is not good. Mix the asparagus with a couple of other veggies and don't offer it daily. Cook it if your bunny is young (or older) and has trouble chewing the tough fiber.
Can rabbits eat asparagus fern?
No, rabbits can not eat asparagus fern because it's toxic to them. Although rabbits can eat asparagus, asparagus fern, also known as feathery asparagus, is poisonous. Asparagus fern also has small thorns, which may cause damage if ingested.
Read next: Why Do Rabbits Need Hay?
Garden asparagus is safe for bunnies to munch on, but remember; there are some toxic plants that contain asparagus in their name. If you're not sure about a plant, always check before offering.
High in water, asparagus is a nice summer treat for your bunny without providing excessive amounts of calcium. Nutrient-dense asparagus is an excellent green to add to your bunny's weekly greens.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.
NOTE: Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your rabbit’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.