Who would have guessed that corn could be a controversial issue? The debate about whether or not to feed rabbits corn is a hot one. This makes you wonder, can rabbits eat corn? The quick answer is no, and the reason is scientific.
While most rabbits would eat corn if offered, some parts of the corn can be toxic to your pet rabbit. However, there are parts of corn that are edible and safe. There is so much to unpack here.
In this article, we will look into the scientific reason why corn is not suitable for rabbits. We will also cover which parts are safe for rabbits to eat and look into the dangers of corn for your pet rabbit.
Why Rabbits Shouldn’t Eat Corn According to Science
The motivation behind the dispute is that some rabbit owners have fed their pet rabbits corn and had no issues. But most vets will tell you not to feed your rabbit corn. Corn has the potential to cause gastric dilatation and intestinal obstruction in rabbits, which could prove fatal to your pet.
The hull of corn kernels contains polysaccharides. The scientific explanation for polysaccharides is it’s a common carbohydrate found in food. This means that it contains starch, glycogen, and cellulose molecules. These molecules bond together with water, producing constituent sugars, therefore leading to fatal consequences for rabbits.
Rabbits simply cannot digest the hulls of corn kernels. This can cause life-threatening blockages in the rabbit’s gastrointestinal tract.
Corn and corn products also contain fumonisin. Fumonisin is a mycotoxin toxic substance produced by a fungus, especially mold.
Should rabbits eat contaminated corn, they can develop mycotoxicosis. This disease attacks the organs of the rabbit, especially the kidneys and liver. This could cause liver failure, gastroenteritis, and kidney failure in rabbits. It’s important to note that rabbits can also develop mycotoxicosis by eating corn for long periods of time.
Nutritional Risks for Rabbits When Eating Corn
Science aside, there are nutritional reasons as to why rabbits should not eat corn. Corn contains high levels of starch and fat. According to vets, feeding rabbits corn could lead to obesity and gastrointestinal stasis (GI stasis) in rabbits.
Because of the high sugar level content in corn, it should be avoided. Your rabbit can gain an unhealthy amount of weight, which could lead to obesity. Obese rabbits are at a high risk of developing diabetes.
Corn also contains high levels of carbohydrates and sugar. A rabbit’s digestive system is very sensitive, and the sugar content alone makes it hard for your rabbit to digest. Feeding them corn will disrupt their digestive system, leading to digestive issues like GI stasis, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.
Rabbits should not eat dry or fresh corn. As we’ve mentioned before, the hull of corn is indigestible for rabbits and can cause intestinal impactions and blockages. This would require your rabbit to receive emergency medical treatment.
Should your rabbit accidentally be fed corn, look out for any bad reactions. A bad reaction to corn would include diarrhea, painful bloating, and gas. Allergy symptoms include excessively scratching, licking themselves. Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect your rabbit is having an adverse reaction to corn.
Rabbits could potentially develop cecal dysbiosis from eating corn. The cecum stores bacteria and yeast that break down indigestible fiber from hay and grass. A diet that is high in starch, carbohydrates, and sugars will create an imbalance in the rabbit’s gut, causing cecal dysbiosis. This means that bacteria in the rabbit’s gut are incapable of digesting food correctly.
Corn can also decrease the digestive motility in rabbits. It’s better known as cecal hypomotility, which is the slow movement of food through the digestive system. This leads to the life-threatening shutdown of both the rabbit’s intestinal tract and the cecum.
Which Parts of Corn Can Rabbits Eat?
Canned corn, frozen corn, baby corn, and popcorn should never be fed to rabbits. This includes adult rabbits, juvenile rabbits, and baby rabbits. The potential health risks involved are not worth the suffering your pet rabbit will endure.
Are you wondering if there’s any parts of the corn plant that rabbits can eat? It is safe for rabbits to eat the husks of corn—the husk is the green leafy outer layer that protects the corn. Interestingly enough, husks can be used as chew toys for a rabbit’s ever-growing teeth.
Always make sure to wash the husks properly to remove any harmful pesticides and bacteria. The stringy silk-like hairs need to be removed as well, as they can be a choking hazard and get lodged in your rabbit’s throat.
Rabbits can eat the leaves and the stalk of the corn plant. The leaves of the corn plant can be mixed in with a medley of leafy green vegetables. The stalk of the corn plant can be given to your rabbit as a treat, and it is a good source of protein for your rabbit.
Note: Mature corn plants become very hard, and rabbits will have difficulty chewing through them. Select only the softer and green leaves and stalks.
For the health of your beloved pet rabbit, a proper diet matters. A rabbit’s diet should mainly consist of high-quality hay and plenty of water. Your rabbit’s diet should be supplemented with smaller portions of fresh leafy green vegetables daily.
Commercial pellets should make up a smaller portion of your rabbit’s diet. Treats should make up 5% of your rabbit’s diet and be kept to a minimum.
Hay is very important to a rabbit’s diet. The fiber found in hay helps keep your rabbit’s gut healthy. Since there is no nutritional value of corn and the like for rabbits, hay and leafy greens will make up the necessary nutrients and fiber it needs.
Can My Rabbit Eat Corn?
It’s advisable to avoid feeding your rabbit corn. Your pet is incapable of digesting the hull and corn kernels. This will cause digestive impactions and blockages in its gastrointestinal tract.
Can I Give My Rabbit Frozen and Canned Corn?
Rabbits should not eat fresh, frozen, canned, or corn on the cob. Popcorn is a definite no-no, too. Corn contains too much sugar and carbohydrates and will impact your rabbit’s digestive system negatively.
Can Rabbits Eat the Corn Stalks and Leaves?
The leaves and the stalks of the corn plant are safe to eat. It is safe to mix the leaves of the corn plant with a variety of leafy green vegetables. Corn stalks are a good source of protein for rabbits, but should be given as a treat.
The debate on whether or not to feed your rabbit corn remains a hot topic of discussion. Scientifically speaking, the risk to your rabbit’s health is far too great. Corn can cause a multitude of medical issues for your rabbit.
The medical risks include GI stasis, obesity, diabetes, and intestinal blockages. Corn also carries the risk of your rabbit developing mycotoxicosis. This disease attacks the organs of your rabbit, resulting in liver and kidney failure.
Whether it is frozen, canned, or fresh, corn shouldn’t be given to your rabbit. Baby corn and cooked corn should also be avoided. Rabbits are unable to digest the hull of corn and it could lead to disastrous consequences for your rabbit.
The husks and stalks of the corn are safe for your rabbits to eat. Make sure you clean them properly to remove any harmful pesticides and bacteria before offering them to your pet.