Is Bamboo Safe for Rabbits?

Is Bamboo Safe for Rabbits?

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Everyone wants to keep their pet rabbits safe and happy. Bamboo seems like a fun plant to give them but is it a good idea?

In this post, I will talk about whether bamboos and their common lookalikes are safe to rabbits, discuss the bamboo pellets, and end with ideas on how to repel wild rabbits and hares from ruining your bamboo gardens.

There are more than 1400 known species of bamboo worldwide, ranging from sky-high to tiny in size. Most bamboos prefer tropical climates, but some hardy versions can survive temperatures as low as minus 20F (minus 28C). Over 450 varieties are grown in the United States.

According to the University of Georgia, it is possible to grow bamboo, depending on the variety, in any one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones.

The world’s largest type of grass, bamboo’s leaves can be attractive to hungry rabbits.

It is important to distinguish between true bamboo varieties and common look-alikes “Lucky bamboo” and “Heavenly bamboo”. These plants are different and I will look at them separately. Scroll down to read about those.

Bamboo as a treat

Bamboo shoots and stalks fit into the category of food that you can give to your rabbits as a treat but must be careful to not give them too much in one sitting.

It can upset their gastrointestinal health. The problem they contain high levels of plant sugars and starches, and even moderate amounts can result in too much sugar in the rabbit’s hindgut. It will lead to an imbalance in unhealthy bacteria.

It is not advisable to young bunnies and should be reserved as a treat only to your adult pets as it is too easy to give too much to the youngsters. The result can be diarrhea and even death.

Because of the hollow stalk, it is a nice idea to fill the middle with some hay and give a 1 or 2-inch long piece to keep your curious explorers to play with and chew.

What about bamboo look-alikes?

Now that we know that true bamboo varieties can be fed to your bunnies in moderation it is important to note that not all that has “bamboo” in its name really is bamboo.

Lucky bambo

Photo: Heidi De Vries; CC
BY 2.0

The commonly grown Lucky Bamboo actually is a Dracaena. In all my research I have done, I did not find information either way. It is not included in any of the lists that state foods that are safe or unsafe for rabbits. It is officially stated as toxic to cats and dogs though.

I did find a case where a rabbit had chewed quite a lot of this plant and was ok but who knows how yours will react.

To stay on the safe side I would advise to not experiment and better not let your rabbits near it.

Heavenly Bamboo

Photo: William Herron;
CC BY-SA 2.0

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina Domestica) is another plant that is unfortunately named after bamboo and is not related to them. It is officially known to be toxic to rabbits. Specifically, the leaves are the part that should not be given to them.

Pellets

It is important to use a rabbit-safe litter. Clay cat litter is not acceptable! Rabbits are nibblers and clay litter can cause blockages in bunny’s tummy if they eat it. Also avoid corn, wheat, alfalfa, and oat-based litters as bunnies too commonly ingest them.

What about the bamboo pellets? As we established, a bunny nibbling on a bit of bamboo will not cause much harm. But it is important to watch to make sure your pet does not start treating their pellets as food because ingesting too much bamboo will cause problems.

Another important thing to look for – make sure the litter your choose is not a type of clumping litter. Any kind of litter can have clumping agent added to it, and every kind of litter should tell you on the package if it is clumping or not.

You should always avoid clumping litters for rabbits, just in case, but especially if you have a rabbit which likes to nibble litter – avoid it like the plague. You do not want things clumping in your rabbit’s digestive tract.

How to repel rabbits from your garden

What if you are growing some nice bamboos in your garden and rabbits already have convinced you that they are not a poison to them – because they keep coming back to eat some more?

In that case, you need to think of some ways to repel them from visiting your property.

Thankfully, there are several things to try out.

One of the most effective ways is to put up wire mesh fencing also known as chicken wire. Bury 10 inches of the fence to discourage digging under it, and make it at least 2 to 3 feet tall to prevent the rabbits from hopping over it.

If you want to go for something that does not ruin the view, then you can try various recipes of unpleasantly smelling sprays.

Rabbits sniff around a lot and dislike many smells – garlic, onion, chili pepper, soap, sulfur – make a smelly mix with water and spray around the plants you want the rabbits to stay away from. Another option is to go for coyote, fox, or wolf urine – smelling their predators will definitely make them hop away. Don`t worry, you don`t have to follow a wolf to get its urine. You can easily buy it online or even at physical stores like Home Depot.

If you have cats or dogs as well, you can check out this article!