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Bell pepper is one of those common household veggies that just seems to always be in the fridge. Eating bell peppers has a lot of clear and obvious benefits. They’re low in calories and absolutely loaded with great nutrients.
All varieties of bell peppers are packed with vitamin A, C, folic acid, potassium, and fiber – to name just a few.
It’s no secret that bell peppers are nutritious and have loads of great nutrients for us humans – but what about for your pet? Can rabbits eat bell pepper safely? In this article, we’ll give you our quick answer to can rabbits eat bell pepper and then dive into some of the ways you can safely feed bell peppers to your bunny.
Short Answer: Can Rabbits Eat Bell Peppers?
The short answer – yes, rabbits can eat bell peppers. It is safe for rabbits to eat all colors of bell peppers.
In fact, bell peppers are a great snack for your bunny for the exact reason that they’re great for humans! These veggies are easy to digest, and a great source of vitamin A, C, and fiber for your rabbit.
It’s important to note that your rabbit’s diet shouldn’t consist entirely of bell peppers! Instead, it should be viewed more as a snack and no more than 10-15% of your rabbit’s diet.
A Few Things to Keep In Mind
A rabbit’s diet is typically about 80% or more of fresh hay and grasses (or pellets containing these ingredients), and while feeding your bunny bell peppers is certainly ok and encouraged sometimes, you need to be careful not to over do it.
Variation is also quite important, you should try to switch up which vegetables you feed your rabbit from time to time. Improper balance and feeding your rabbit only peppers can lead to digestive problems or diarrhea.
Also, and this might go without saying, but you should make sure that the bell pepper you feed to your bunny is as fresh as possible. Fresh vegetables are the healthiest and provide the most nutrients. Fresh peppers are made up of around 92% water, and come with the most amounts of the nutrients we listed off (vitamins A and C, fiber, small amounts of proteins and fats).
Pay attention to how your rabbit’s digestive system responds to the introduction of bell peppers. If the digestive system responds well, you can continue to feed bell peppers to your rabbit in increasing quantities. If you notice excessive gas, bloating, or diarrhea then it’s a good idea to stop feeding peppers.
How to Feed Bell Peppers to Your Rabbit
Just like with many other vegetables, you should introduce bell pepper to your rabbit in small quantities. Doing this will allow the digestive system and stomach to adjust. Also, you should really only introduce one type of vegetable at a time to your bunny. It’s not recommended to introduce bell pepper and say, zucchini squash at the same time.
It’s best to feed bell peppers to your rabbit raw. Make sure you first wash your fresh bell pepper under water, ensure that no pesticides or any other substances are on your veggies.
From there, simply slice the peppers and remove the seeds. You can feed your bunny the slices and they can take it from there!
What About Those Seeds?
Bell pepper seeds, while technically ok for a rabbit to digest, don’t provide any sort of nutritional benefit to your rabbit. And even though the risk might be small, you don’t want to have a situation where a seed gets lodged in your rabbit’s throat.
Our advice? There’s really no upside, so it’s best to just stay away from seeds. Be sure to remove them after slicing your bell pepper and before feeding to your pet.
Should I Feed My Rabbit Raw or Cooked Bell Peppers?
The short answer – always feed your bunny raw peppers. Cooking them isn’t the best idea.
The thing to remember is that wild bunnies feed on a raw diet, and that’s what their digestive systems are adapted to. Rabbits have strong jaw muscles and teeth that are made for chomping through tougher, raw veggies.
Cooking vegetables softens them up, and you run the risk of your bunny biting themselves hard! They don’t know the difference between a cooked and raw pepper, and they’ll bite into it expecting something hard and crunchy.
Your bunny also isn’t used to eating hot or warm foods, and the temperature of your food could seriously burn your pet’s mouth. They don’t know the difference between a food that’s hot and cold just by looking at it.
Last but not least, cooking vegetables actually takes away many of the nutrients that you’d feed a pepper to your rabbit for in the first place. So from that perspective, cooking your veggies first defeats the purpose. You’d be denying them the great nutritional benefits that the food has to offer!
How Fresh Do They Need to Be?
Straight off the shelf peppers are ideal, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes life gets in the way and those foods sit in the fridge for a few extra days than you hoped.
You should never feed your bunny expired peppers, and if the expiry date is within 24 hours, you should definitely do a visual inspection of the peppers to check for mold or other issues. If something looks wrong, throw the food away.
The rule of thumb here is that you should NEVER feed your bunny a bell pepper that you wouldn’t eat yourself.
What About the Bell Pepper Leaves?
If you have an at home garden or buy from a local farmer’s market, your peppers might still have a little bit of ruffage on them. It’s ok for your bunny to eat the leaves, although many don’t love the taste and might naturally just stay away from them.
How Much Bell Pepper Should I Feed My Rabbit (Portion Size)?
The rule of thumb is that you should feed your rabbit around 1 tablespoon of fresh foods for each two pounds it weighs. So a bunny that weighs 4 pounds should be fed roughly 2 tablespoons of fresh food per day.
Keep in mind though that you should be mixing up which veggies and fresh foods you include in your pet’s diet. So maybe one day you feed 2 tablespoons of bell peppers, and the next you choose a different veggie.
Are all Bell Pepper Colors Safe for My Rabbit?
Bell peppers come in a few different colors and sizes. The most common colors you’d find bell peppers to be at your local store are green, orange, yellow, and red.
A fun fact for you is that these peppers are all the exact same species of pepper – the only difference being how long the pepper remained on the vine before harvest. Green peppers are harvested the earliest, then orange, followed by yellow, and lastly red bell peppers have been on the vine the longest before harvest.
There is a small flavor difference between each of the colors, but more importantly the nutrient levels vary significantly because of the time spent on the vine. Compared to green bell peppers, red ones have about 11 times more beta-carotene and 50% more vitamin C.
What does that mean for your rabbit? Well one thing is for sure – green, orange, yellow, and red bell peppers are all safe for your rabbit to eat. I would just pay attention to how they digest each color, as the different nutrient levels could cause slightly different digestion patterns. Nothing to be worried about though.
Green and red peppers are typically more tangy. On the other hand, yellow and orange peppers are sweeter (also known as sweet peppers). In our experience, bunnies tend to prefer yellow and orange peppers to their tangier counterparts.
Health Benefits of Bell Peppers for Rabbits
We’ve mentioned many times in this article already that this veggie is loaded with nutrients and a great healthy choice. Here’s where we get specific about which nutrients can be of value to your bunny’s diet:
- Vitamin A is great for healthy teeth, bones, and vision
- Vitamin C doesn’t do a whole lot for your bunny to be honest, but it could help to heal damaged skin if that ever happens
- Vitamin E helps for your rabbit to maintain strong muscles that recover quickly
- Potassium helps to keep your bunny’s nervous system working properly and also feeds muscles
- Manganese helps contribute to strong bone growth
- Fatty Acids Omega 3 and 6 help to promote supple muscles and joints, and also are great for the brain
- Antioxidants which help to reduce the risk of arthritis and generally promote good health and strong immune systems for aging rabbits
- Lutein and zeaxanthin are great for vision and the long term health of your pet’s eyes
What About Hot Peppers?
You might be wondering if it’s safe to feed your rabbit hot peppers like jalepeños, chili peppers, or cayenne pepper.
The very short answer is no. While studies are unsure as to whether or not a bunny can taste spicy flavors, a spicy pepper will cause some immediate and serious issues with the digestive system. Namely, uncomfortable gastric upsetness.
Capsaicin is the name of the compound that’s found in hotter peppers which give it that “spicy” smell. Rabbits will actually turn away from capsaicin and strongly dislike the smell, so they’re unlikely to ever eat a hot pepper on their own. Farmers have actually used a technique before where they sprinkle cayenne pepper on their land to keep rabbits away.
Alternatives to Bell Peppers for Rabbits
In case you need a few suggestions for some other fresh foods you can incorporate into your bunny’s diet, here are a few alternatives to bell peppers:
- Carrots (read note below)
Carrots are the stereotypical bunny food! But they are pretty high in sugars, especially compared to bell peppers. In many regards, bell peppers are better for your rabbit and carrots should be incorporated sparingly into their diet.
Beware of Beggars
Especially with the sweet peppers (yellow and orange bell peppers), your bunny will quickly realize how delicious of a treat these veggies can be!
Just like many other pets would, you might hear some whining and see some cute begging eyes for more after all of the goods have been eaten up. Don’t give in! It’s best for your rabbit’s health both short and long term that you stick to proper portion sizes.
If you were wondering “can rabbits eat bell pepper?”, well, now you have your answer! It’s a great snack and a fantastic fresh food to incorporate into your pet’s diet, as long as you do it in moderation.
Remember, it’s incredibly important that you choose fresh bell peppers at the store. Only feed your rabbit fresh bell peppers! Before serving, ensure that you’ve properly washed the food and removed all seeds from the inside. Slice or chop up the peppers and serve!
Out of all of the choices out there for fresh foods, bell peppers are without a doubt one of the best choices you can feed your bunny.