It can be difficult to know what is safe and what is not safe to feed rabbits. We know that the bulk of your bunny’s diet should consist of mostly hay with small amounts of pellets and leafy green vegetables, but can you take this further? Are there more food items that you can provide to your rabbit for a bit of variety?
We were asked recently by a curious owner about what type of fruits they could feed to their rabbit. One of the fruits mentioned was coconut and we thought this would be an interesting topic to take a closer look at to see how safe it was for you to feed coconut to your rabbit as a treat.
So, can rabbits eat coconut? No, rabbits cannot eat coconut. The meat is very sweet and high in fat content which nutritionally is very bad for rabbits. It also contains the incorrect phosphorus to calcium which can lead to severe stomach issues. Rabbits struggle to handle the content of coconut and should not be fed to rabbits in any form.
Overall, coconut is not a good choice for rabbits. It can, however, be prepared in many different ways and here we will look into the variety of methods coconut can be consumed and if any of these methods may be suitable and safe for your rabbit.
Can rabbits eat coconut meat?
Coconut meat is just far too sweet for rabbits to safely consume. It also has a very high-fat content that helps contribute towards piling on the pounds.
That isn’t to say that your rabbit isn’t prepared to eat it though. They most certainly are.
Coconut is very palatable to rabbits and they will happily wolf down every last bit given half the chance. This can often be a problem since it puts them off eating their regular feed such as hay, which is a key element in their diet.
The contents of coconut meat do not fit in well with rabbits’ nutritional needs. Rabbits require a calcium to phosphorus ratio that ranges between 1:1 and 1:5:1.
An excess of calcium above this range can lead to them experiencing problems absorbing minerals sufficiently. Low phosphorus levels can lead to retarded growth, lower conception rate, and weak bones.
Coconut does not provide ratios of these two chemicals in sufficient quantities for rabbits making this an unsuitable treat for your rabbit.
Can rabbits eat coconut oil?
Our furry friends tend to put on weight very easily and as responsible owners, we should not be encouraging our rabbit to eat an unhealthy diet (which is entirely our call).
One study carried out specifically on rabbits showed that introducing 9% of coconut oil into a rabbit’s diet over a 12 week period significantly increased cholesterol levels to the point of causing harm to our furry friends.
Coconut oil is unnecessary for rabbits to consume and can certainly cause more harm than good. Besides, coconut oil is not very palatable and it is likely your rabbit will turn their nose up at the prospect of consuming.
Fear not! It is not all doom and gloom.
Coconut oil is being used more and more these days to assist with chronic skin conditions such as dermatitis. Research has shown that coconut oil is small amounts that can safely be used on rabbits’ skin as a topical treatment.
Coconut oil contains MCFA’s (Medium Chain Fatty Acids) which help to prevent skin infections and speed up cellular repair processes.
As an example, if your rabbit receives a scrape or cuts to the skin, coconut oil can help soothe and protect whilst healing up the wound much more quickly.
As a recap, only use coconut oil as a topical treatment on your rabbit. Do not allow them to consume this oil which can have some disastrous long term effects such as promoting high cholesterol.
Can rabbits eat dried coconut?
Feeding your rabbit dried coconut is a very similar scenario to feeding them fresh coconut meat. Even though this product is a dried version it still contains the same very high-fat content of fresh coconut.
This can cause your rabbit to become overweight if feed regularly and does not contain the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio that your furry friend needs to stay fit and healthy.
Dried coconut can be bought quite widely in a variety of supermarkets and you can be sure that this is a highly processed food that has been doctored to suit the human taste buds.
This means that it is likely the dried coconut that is commercially bought has lots of extras included such as added preservatives and sugars to make this product more palatable to humans. This is not ideal for your rabbit and anything with extra sugar included must be avoided.
Dried coconut variety is also quite difficult for rabbits to swallow. It is very dry and does not contain much moisture. This is liable to get stuck in your bunny’s throat and can be a serious choking hazard.
As you can see there are not any benefits to feeding dried coconut to your rabbit and with so many other tasty fruits and produce on the market it is an unnecessary food source that is best avoided for the health and well-being of your rabbit.
Can rabbits eat coconut shells?
Rabbits cannot technically eat the shell of coconuts however they are likely to give this a good go! Coconut shell is extremely hard to eat and does not break easily. It is unlikely a rabbit would be able to get their teeth into the shell far enough to even break it, let alone eat it.
Coconut shells can make a wonderful toy for your rabbit to play with. They can have hours of fun rolling the shell around which can be a great boredom buster for when they are in their cage.
Just make sure that they aren’t having too much fun as coconut shells can be pretty heavy and you don’t want your rabbit getting injured during playtime. You may want to reserve this activity for when they are out of their cage for exercise for complete peace of mind so you can keep a close eye on them.
Coconut shells can be great for sharpening your rabbit’s teeth. They will often use items similar to coconut shells such as pieces of wood to keep their teeth healthy, sharp, and in tip top condition. This is perfectly safe for your rabbit to chew on and has the potential to be much more durable than a piece of wood.
Some things to consider when using a coconut shell as a toy for your rabbit:
- Buy organic so you know it is pesticide free
- Check regularly for cracks in the shell which can cause splinters and become a hazard for your rabbit
- Make sure your rabbit is in a large cage since coconuts are a decent size and can take up valuable space
- Consider using this as a toy when your rabbit is out for exercise so you can keep a close eye on them
Can rabbits drink coconut water?
Coconut water is becoming a much more popular drink nowadays and many supermarkets are stocking a wide variety of brands for human consumption. Most brands contain only a hint of calcium, phosphorus, sugar, fat, and fiber which means in small doses this is considered ok to provide to your rabbit.
This doesn’t mean to say that this is a great drink to give to your rabbit frequently and it should never be given in direct replacement of fresh, clean water. Regular water must be available to your rabbit at all times and coconut water must be provided as a treat rather than a permanent solution.
Rabbits seem to love the taste of coconut and will happily drink this all day long without a second thought. It may stop them from drinking their regular water which can become an issue.
Owners have found that coconut water can be particularly helpful for rabbits that suffer from dehydration and refuse to drink water. Coconut water is so tasty that they just can’t resist taking a sip.
There are definitely some pros to this drink, but it is a wise idea to limit your rabbit’s access to it and try to stick to regular water.
Can rabbits drink coconut milk?
No, rabbits should not drink coconut milk. This creamy drink is far too fatty for our furry friends and is not a healthy choice for them.
On average, coconut milk contains 23% fat content which is way too high. Rabbits do not receive very much exercise on the grand scale of things and therefore it is unlikely they will be able to burn this off sufficiently.
Obesity is a common problem in rabbits for this very reason and as responsible owners, we must be careful in terms of what types of foods we feed to our rabbits.
Up Next: Can Rabbits Eat Grapefruit?