Raising rabbits is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, but I’m not quite ready to take the leap. It’s not because I’m worried about the challenges of feeding them. In fact, rabbits are some of the easiest critters you can care for! As herbivores, they can eat just about any kind of plant, but you might be wondering, “can rabbits eat eggplant?”
You may be worried about feeding your rabbits eggplant because you heard that they can’t handle plants from the nightshade family – and to some extent, that’s true. But there is one part of the plant you can feed them…
Yes, rabbits can eat eggplant – but be careful not to feed any part of the plant itself! Don’t feed them leaves, stems, or roots. However, they can eat the vegetable itself, but only as an occasional treat!
They’re just like us in that the leaves, stems, and other parts of nightshade plants (including tomatoes and peppers along with eggplant) are toxic. So, while you can feed your rabbits eggplant, there are some considerations you’ll want to keep in mind.
This is because eggplant is part of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Along with peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, eggplant can be highly toxic. Avoid feeding the peels, too!
Eggplant, or Solanum melongena, is a perennial plant (yes, perennial! but only in some places) that is usually grown specifically for its spongy white, green, or purple fruits. It is often used for culinary purposes, although the plant is quite gorgeous to look at, too. It produces lovely purple or blue flowers atop a spiny stem.
However, all plants in the Solanaceae family contain a toxic glycoalkaloid, known as solanine. Glycoalkaloids are bitter-tasting organic compounds that can be extremely toxic. Solanine acts as a natural pesticide, as many plants develop this chemical to deter insects.
It’s important to note that other members of this family, like potatoes, contain more solanine than eggplant. In fact, potatoes have the highest amount, most of which is concentrated in their eyes or in their green sections.
Solanine poisoning can affect all species, with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, slow pulse, low respiration rate, headache, and fever. These symptoms can be suffered by just about any animal after consuming solanine – yourself included!
Diarrhea in rabbits is particularly dangerous. It can be fatal, in fact.
In most cases, it’s totally fine to give your rabbits eggplant as long as you are only feeding the fruit. They cannot eat parts of the plant, as these are those that contain solanine. They should be given only as an occasional treat, just as you would feed other fruits and non-leafy vegetables to your rabbits.
When in doubt, cook your eggplant. Nightshade poisoning, which comes from elevated levels of the chemical solanine in the plants, is rare when you’re only feeding the actual eggplant fruit itself, but cooking can completely eliminate the risk. However, do keep in mind that cooking eggplant can slightly reduce its nutritional value.
Also, mind the quantity. Eggplant is high in starch, so you’ll want to feed it in small amounts to avoid overloading your rabbit’s delicate digestive system – something I’ll tell you more about later in this article.
That said, there are some benefits to feeding your rabbits eggplant. It is low in acid, filled with vitamins, and also high in phosphorus and other vital nutrients. It’s low in sugar, too.
Eggplant has carbohydrates along with dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, potassium, manganese, and vitamins C, K, B, and E. As with many animals, rabbits cannot make their own vitamins, so adding vitamin-rich foods like eggplant every now and then is a smart choice.
Manganate and potassium are particularly valuable, since eyes encourage good bone development and muscle growth.
If you aren’t sure how your rabbits will do with eggplant, just start by feeding them small amounts. We’re talking one teaspoon of eggplant for every two pounds of bunny, perhaps just once or twice a week. And do keep in mind – some rabbits don’t like the taste of eggplant anyway, so it might not be important for you to get an answer to this question!
Keep an eye out for any potential side effects and be sure that your rabbit is tolerating it well before you introduce it into his regular diet.
Eggplant is viewed by some people as an inflammatory food. There’s not a ton of science behind this claim, but if you’re worried that your rabbit is prone to inflammation, avoid feeding eggplant, you can go ahead and avoid it altogether.
If you can, only feed your rabbit eggplant that has not been treated with any pesticides or herbicides. Be sure to clean it thoroughly before you chop it up, too.
Do not feed your rabbits any eggplant that you have already prepared for yourself. Eggplant is pretty bitter, so there’s a good chance that you used spices, oils, or herbs to make it more palatable. These might be fine for you, but they can be dangerous for your rabbits.
Eggplant Varieties whose Fruits Are Safe to Rabbits
You can feed your rabbit just about any kind of eggplant, including:
- ✅ Rosa Bianca eggplant
- ✅ Chinese eggplant
- ✅ Globe eggplant (American eggplant)
- ✅Filipino eggplant
- ✅ Graffiti eggplant
- ✅ Rosa Bianca
- ✅ Italian eggplant
- ✅ Japanese eggplant
- ✅ White eggplant
- ✅ Indian eggplant
- ✅ Fairy Tale eggplant
- ✅ Thai eggplant
- ✅ Green Apple eggplant
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Eggplant?
Not a good idea. The digestive systems of young rabbits are much more sensitive than those of adult rabbits. Wait until your rabbits get a bit older until you try eggplant.
If you must feed eggplant, feed very small portions. This can help you determine how well they are tolerating it. Rabbits can be quite picky, so you may need to do some trial-and-error to figure out what they like, anyway. But just to be on the safe side, you can just forget feeding them eggplant altogether.
Keeping Rabbits Away From Your Eggplant Plants
If you grow a garden, you might be concerned that your rabbits are going to get into your eggplant plants. Not only would that be bad for your rabbit – eggplant leaves and stems can kill them! – but it would also spell disaster for your plants.
There are several ways to keep rabbits out of your eggplant, but luckily, rabbits, for the most part, will avoid your eggplant plants, along with any other nightshade species. They know eggplant is bad for them, and won’t go after the plant itself (although they might try to nibble on the actual fruits).
Some other plants that rabbits generally won’t touch include tomatoes, squash, cucumber, corn, sunflowers, and peppers. This can vary based on the rabbit, though, so don’t count on them leaving these plants alone just based on instinct itself.
You may want to consider growing eggplant in a raised bed that is elevated enough so your rabbits can’t reach it. You could also erect a fence around your garden to keep your rabbits out if they free-range.
Raising your rabbits with movable pens or tractors is another way to give them all the fresh air and exercise they need, without having to worry about them getting into something they shouldn’t.
Otherwise, feel free to give your rabbits a bit of eggplant from time to time – just not the leaves or other plant parts. They’ll love the occasional treat, and as long as you’re only feeding the flesh of the vegetable itself (and only in small amounts) you should have nothing to worry about!
Other Foods to Avoid
Eggplant is fine in small amounts, but there are some foods that you should never feed your rabbit – even if you’re only giving him little bits at a time.
- ❌ Yogurt drops (they can cause enterotoxemia, or the overgrowth of bad b bacteria in the gut
- ❌ Starchy treats like cookies, crackers, pasta, and bread
- ❌ Avocado (the excess fat can kill your rabbit)
- ❌ Iceberg lettuce (in high quantities, too much iceberg lettuce contains lactucarium and adds little nutrition to a rabbit’s diet)
- ❌ Chard (can cause your rabbit to suffer from colic)
- ❌ Hamster food (not designed specifically for rabbits and lacking many of the nutrients he needs)
- ❌ Walnuts (too fatty)
- ❌ Chocolate (can be poisonous, just as it is with dogs)
- ❌ Peanut butter (too high in fat)
- ❌ Potatoes (high in starch, and if containing any green parts, can poison your rabbit)
- ❌ Rhubarb (can be poisonous to all animals when eaten raw)
- ❌ Meat (I mean…rabbits are herbivores)
- ❌ Cauliflower (can lead to bloat and gassiness, as can broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables)
What to Feed Your Rabbit
Ideally, your rabbit’s diet should be composed almost entirely of hay – in fact, about 80% of your rabbit’s daily rations should consist of hay, with the rest of his diet made up of fresh foods.
Leafy greens should account for about three-quarters of all of those fresh foods, while fruits and other non-leafy vegetables comprise the rest.
You can also feed your rabbit pellets. Choose high-fiber pellets and don’t forget to provide your rabbit with plenty of water!
When it comes to treats, some other safe treats for your bunny include:
|✅ Apples||✅ Apricots|
|✅ Bananas||✅ Blueberries|
|✅ Cucumber||✅ Clover|
|✅ Spinach||✅ Beet greens|
|✅ Mango||✅ Turnip greens|
|✅ Cranberries||✅ Endive|
|✅ Grapes||✅ Huckleberry|
|✅ Raspberries||✅ Orange|
|✅ Arugula||✅ Escarole|
|✅ Zucchini||✅ Wheat grass|
|✅ Carrot tops||✅ Yellow squash|
…just to name a few, of course!
Rebekah is a full-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens, sheep and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies. She has a huge greenhouse and does lots of DIY projects with her husband in her ever-growing homesteading endeavor.