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Can Rabbits Eat Corn? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Carrots may be the most popular image of a rabbit’s favorite food. But do you know what food makes up most of a rabbit’s diet? Fresh, raw hay.

While corn is variously classed as a vegetable or a grain, it is in fact a very large version of a grass – similar to the hay that rabbits know and love. This should mean that rabbits are able to eat corn, right?

Wrong. Corn is an exception to the rule of rabbits being able to eat grasses and should never be fed to your rabbit. In today’s article we’ll be telling you everything you need to know about why you shouldn’t feed your rabbit corn. If you want to know how best to take care of your rabbit’s health, read on to find out more.

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No! Rabbits Cannot Eat Corn

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Credit: Pixabay

To understand why rabbits can’t eat corn, you’ll have to learn a little bit about where corn comes from. This starts with teosinte, the grass that corn is descended from.

Originating in central Mexico, corn’s distant ancestors bear little resemblance to the large, sweet kernels that we know today. After thousands of years of selective breeding and domestication, sweet corn’s entire genetic makeup has changed. As a result of this, the hulls of corn kernels contain a complex polysaccharide that rabbits are completely unable to digest.

Dangers of Corn for Rabbits

Normally, a rabbit’s digestive system can handle large quantities of raw plants. But if a rabbit eats something that it cannot digest – like corn — the consequences can be disastrous. Even a small amount of corn can cause deadly conditions for rabbits, from intestinal impaction to GI stasis.

Even outside of its ability to cause serious digestive upset, corn is not a suitable food for rabbits. Here’s why:

  • Loaded with sugars and “empty” carbohydrates
  • Very low in vitamins and minerals
  • Often grown with pesticides that can harm your rabbit
  • Even the husks and cobs can contain harmful mycotoxins

Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Corn?

Rabbits cannot eat cooked corn for two reasons:

#1. Cooking does not break down corn’s dangerous compounds

The polysaccharides that make corn indigestible to rabbits are so tough that even prolonged cooking does not break them down. Cooked corn is just as dangerous to your rabbit’s health as fresh or dried corn.

#2. Cooked foods disrupt your rabbit’s digestive health

Most rabbits will turn their nose up at anything that’s been cooked. This is not simply a taste preference: The process of cooking makes food unable to be properly digested by a rabbit. If a rabbit eats cooked food, this can cause serious problems with their gut microbiome.

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What to Do If Your Rabbit Eats Corn

Sadly, many rabbits are drawn to the taste of corn because of its large amounts of sugars and carbohydrates. Combine this with their curious, inquisitive natures, and rabbits can often get into food that they’re not supposed to eat.

If you find that your rabbit has eaten corn, the first thing to do is look for signs of indigestion. These can include bloating, gas, constipation, and being unwilling to eat. If any of these symptoms occur, call your vet immediately! Your rabbit may require medical assistance to be able to safely pass the indigestible corn it has eaten.

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Credit: Pixabay

Final Thoughts on Feeding Corn to Your Rabbit

Corn in every form can be harmful or even fatal if fed to your rabbit. Under no circumstances should your rabbit be eating corn! Feed your rabbit a balanced diet of fresh hay, clean water, and a daily serving of dark leafy greens to keep them happy and healthy for many years to come.


Featured Image: Phoenix Han on Unsplash

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.