Lettuce for rabbits

by Tiara

My rabbit is going to give birth, & I'm going to give one of the kits to my best friend... She's going to feed the kit lettuce EVERYDAY!!!! What shall I do to stop her??

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Sep 03, 2013
by: Patsy

I just read that lettuce could be fatal to baby bunnies. I didn't know that! My bunnies have been eating lettuce and they are just 3 weeks old. I have it in there hutch with their mom and they have started eating quite a bit. The mom also ate Romaine, parsley, etc, since she was 5 weeks old. I noticed that the mom ( now 6 months)eats more veggie than Timothy hay. She also eats grass and pellets, but more veggies. She is still nursing the babies but I think she wants to stop nursing. What should I do? How long should she nurse?

***** Karen Sez *****
So, eating lettuce is fatal to rabbits, but your doe has survived very well, and so are her bunnies. I have problems when internet assertions are not borne out by experience. (I'm sure that a bunny here and there has died with a leaf of lettuce in its mouth.)

Does in the wild generally have stopped nursing their babies by 4 weeks. I frankly don't think there is any reason why kits need to be still nursing after 7 weeks of age, 8 at the most, the operative word being "need."

Enjoy your bunnies!

Jul 28, 2011
NO Fresh Veggies for Rabbits Til at least 6 Months OLD
by: Anonymous

NO LETTUCE or any fresh veggies until the kits are at least 6 months old. They need a diet that's high in fiber/roughage, meaning it should be MAINLY TIMOTHY HAY. You can supplement with a small amount of pellets, but make sure the pellets have at least about 17-18% fiber. Otherwise, if the baby does not get enough fiber he can get Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis), quit eating, and die suddenly within a matter of hours.

***Moderator Comments***
Forgive us for chiming in here. We know that the above is a major stance by some parties 'out there,' but in our opinion and since this is an educational website, we'll say that the advice is all kinds of wrong. Except, we agree that fiber is a very important component in a rabbit's diet, and that GI stasis can kill a rabbit quickly. But we're highly dubious about the connection to lettuce...

First: Kits grow fast. If you feed them mainly timothy hay, they may not grow correctly, and may also suffer nutritional deficiencies. (But no fiber deficiencies!) Most breeders free-feed their kits with 17-18% rabbit pellets, all-you-can-eat, plus offer timothy or orchard hay all day long as well.

Second: At 6 months old, a bunny is already an adult and ready to breed (except for very large breeds, which are mature at 8 months). A rabbit is well out of any bunny-danger zones at approximately 10 weeks of age.

Third: A baby rabbit can eat anything the doe is eating, even at just a few weeks old. How many does in the wild command their litters to sit by the mouth of the burrow until they're 6 months old ("Don't you DARE go nibbling anything--it'll KILL you...you HEARD me!"). We actually wonder if the person who invented the 'no lettuce' thing had fed pesticide-sprayed lettuce to his bunnies and that's why they died. (We don't know this for sure, of course.) Anything pesticide-sprayed is toxic.

Fourth: Gastroenteritis and GI stasis are indeed serious threats to rabbit health. Our point is that the risk of these problems from *small* amounts of lettuce, when the rabbit owner is also free-feeding pellets and hay to the young rabbit, is exceedingly small.

Lastly: This website is a non-judgmental one, where people discover how to take care of rabbits. Have we ever 'yelled' at anyone in ALL CAPS? I don't think so. A rabbit is a rabbit. They're just rabbits. If a pet owner makes a mistake and the rabbit dies, no crime has been committed. We believe people can learn from mistakes and do better the second time around. We all like to be granted such grace, don't we?

If the best friend's bunny dies from the lettuce, you can bet she'll not do that again. (We're betting it won't die, unless lettuce is ALL she feeds the little critter.) It is very healing to get to do it right the second time around.

At any rate, thank you to Anonymous for the post.

Jul 12, 2011
RE Lettuce for bunnies
by: Moderator

First of all, a bit of lettuce is nothing to ruin a great friendship over.

Secondly, the science of feeding bunnies people- food is highly imprecise. Meaning, we're not so sure lettuce is horrible for bunnies, especially if fed in moderate quantities.

Iceburg lettuce is low in nutrients, and high in moisture. (Romaine and dark green lettuces are much better.) I know people who feed lettuce with no ill effects, and those that swear lettuce is fatal to a rabbit. If it has been sprayed with pesticides, it can do harm to the rabbit, but I'm not seeing the danger in low nutrients/high moisture.

Lastly, no matter what one feeds bunnies, there are a few weeks in their lives in which they are particularly susceptible to dietary upsets resulting in possibly fatal bunny diarrhea. From 3 weeks of age until around 9 weeks of age is the danger zone. After 9 weeks, the chance of death from diarrhea goes waay down.

Here's what you might do for your best friend:
Give her a hug and tell her how happy you are to give her one of your bunnies. You'll give the bunny as soon as it is 9 weeks old.

Or, you could give her the bunny at the normal weaning time (5-7 weeks), and suggest to your friend that she keep a verrrrry close eye on the rabbit's bottom. If the poo starts getting thin, maybe it would be best to stop with the vegetables and stick with rabbit pellets and dried hay for a while.

It won't hurt to explain WHY you have concerns. But, if the bunny dies of a lettuce overdose, the worst that has happened is that a rabbit has died. Hopefully your best bud will learn better ways to feed her next pet rabbit.


Jul 12, 2011
RE Lettuce for rabbits
by: Silver Desert Rabbitry

NO!!!!!!!! Lettuce will kill rabbits!!! If she doesn't listen, just let her learn the hard way.

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