Can Rabbits Eat Potatoes? (Raw, Cooked, Peel + Leaves)

Potatoes – innocent tubers or deadly poison for rabbits? This starchy vegetable is a controversial topic among bunny owners. Can rabbits join in on manifest destiny and enjoy America’s beloved spud? Or are potatoes a forbidden fruit full of lurking toxins? What parts poses a risk? Just how much is too much? Take a chomp out of this hot potato issue as we uncover the truth about rabbits and potatoes! Learn what types and forms are safe versus dangerous and how to feed potatoes to your bun without causing harm. Join us on an educational adventure across the rabbit potato divide – it will be unpeelable!

Are Rabbits Allowed To Eat Potatoes?

Rabbits are herbivores, meaning their diet consists primarily of fibrous plant material such as grasses, vegetables, and hay. But the question of whether rabbits are allowed to eat potatoes specifically is a bit more complex.

Potatoes are a starchy vegetable that are part of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. Nightshade plants contain compounds called glycoalkaloids that can be toxic to some animals if consumed in excess.

For rabbits, the main glycoalkaloid found in potatoes that poses a potential concern is solanine. Solanine is found in all parts of the potato plant, including the tubers, sprouts, leaves, and stems. It acts as a natural pesticide and fungicide for the plant, helping protect it from predators and diseases.

In humans, solanine poisoning can cause digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases it may lead to neurological problems. Rabbits eating potato plants with high solanine content could experience similar adverse reactions.

However, the levels of solanine in potato tubers are generally very low, especially in commercially grown potatoes meant for human consumption. Proper potato storage and avoidance of green potatoes, sprouts, and peels can further reduce solanine content.

So in moderation, most rabbits can tolerate eating small amounts of potato without issue. But there are some important factors to consider before feeding potatoes to rabbits:

  • Choose only cooked potatoes that have been thoroughly boiled or baked. Raw potatoes contain higher glycoalkaloid levels.

  • Feed only the potato flesh. Avoid peels, skins, sprouts, leaves, stems or any green parts, as these contain more glycoalkaloids.

  • Introduce potatoes slowly and sparingly to watch for signs of digestive upset. Limit portion size to a tablespoon or two per 2 lbs of body weight.

  • Avoid feeding potatoes repeatedly or in excess, as glycoalkaloids can accumulate over time. Potatoes should be an occasional treat, not a dietary staple.

  • Select low solanine varieties like Russet or White potatoes. Avoid high solanine potatoes like Reds or Yukon Golds.

  • Never feed potatoes that are spoiled, wilted, damaged, or green-tinged, as these indicate solanine buildup.

So in summary, yes rabbits can eat potatoes in strict moderation provided certain precautions are taken to reduce solanine content. Stick to a small amount of cooked white or russet potato flesh only occasionally as a treat. Monitor your rabbit's reaction and discontinue use if any gastrointestinal issues arise. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian about the appropriateness of potatoes for your particular rabbit.

Why Do Rabbits Like Potatoes?

There are a few reasons why rabbits may enjoy eating potatoes when given to them occasionally as a treat:

Taste – Rabbits have a natural attraction to sweet and starchy foods. The subtle sweet flavor and soft, smooth texture of cooked potato is pleasing to a rabbit's palate. This makes potatoes an appealing treat.

Variety – A balanced rabbit diet consists mainly of hay and leafy greens. While important for nutrition, these staple foods can get monotonous. Potatoes offer rabbits a break from their regular diet and some diversity. The change of pace is stimulating.

High Carbohydrate Content – Potatoes are high in digestible carbohydrates and starches. This makes them an energy-dense food source. Rabbits may favor potatoes for the readily accessible calories to fuel their active lifestyle.

Low Fiber Content – Compared to classic rabbit foods like hay and grasses, potatoes are lower in indigestible fiber. Rabbits have to work less to chew and digest potatoes. Their digestive systems welcome this occasional fiber break.

Smell and Texture – Rabbits explore new foods with their senses first. The warm, soft, starchy potato flesh has an aroma and texture that rabbits find intriguing compared to other foods. This entices them to try the new treat.

Boredom Buster – Pet rabbits lead relatively routine lives. The introduction of a new and different food like potatoes helps alleviate boredom and provides environmental enrichment. The novelty factor makes potatoes exciting.

In summary, the sweet flavor, smooth texture, abundant carbs, low fiber content, and general novelty of potatoes make them an appealing occasional treat for rabbits looking to satisfy their taste buds and curiosity. Rabbits don't discriminate – they will opportunistically sample foods that seem new and delicious.

Why Is Potato Bad for Rabbits?

While potatoes may be appealing to rabbits, there are some health concerns associated with feeding potatoes that make them unsuitable as a regular part of a rabbit's diet:

Glycoalkaloids – All parts of the potato plant, including the tubers, contain naturally occurring compounds called glycoalkaloids. These can be toxic to rabbits if consumed in excess over time. The glycoalkaloid solanine is most prevalent in potatoes.

Digestive Upset – The high carbohydrate and starch content of potatoes makes them harder for rabbits to digest compared to hay and greens. Too much potato can disrupt healthy gut bacteria and cause soft stool, gas, or diarrhea.

Blood Sugar Issues – Potatoes have a high glycemic index. Diets heavy in potatoes could cause blood sugar spikes and instability in rabbits prone to glucose imbalance issues.

Nutritional Imbalances – Potatoes are starchy and nutritionally lacking compared to leafy greens, vegetables, and hay. Overuse may lead to deficiencies in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Weight Gain – Since potatoes are very energy and carbohydrate-dense yet low in nutrients, overfeeding potatoes promotes unhealthy weight gain in rabbits. Obesity can result in serious health complications.

GI Stasis Risk – The combination of excess starchy food, gut irritation, and minimal fiber increases the risk of GI stasis (gut slowdown) in rabbits eating too many potatoes. This can be life-threatening.

Toxicity Buildup – Glycoalkaloids like solanine can accumulate in the body over time with regular potato feeding. Eventually this may reach toxic levels, causing neurological issues.

In summary, potatoes fed incorrectly or in excess can disrupt healthy digestion, blood sugar levels, and nutritional intake in rabbits. Glycoalkaloid poisoning is also a risk if potatoes are fed unsafely and too often. For these reasons, potatoes should only be an occasional treat for rabbits, not a primary component of their regular diet. Moderation is key.

Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Potatoes?

Yes, rabbits can safely eat cooked potatoes in moderation, with some stipulations:

  • Cook potatoes thoroughly – boiled, baked, roasted, or microwaved. Raw potatoes contain more antinutrients.

  • Allow cooked potatoes to cool completely before feeding. Hot potatoes can burn a rabbit's mouth.

  • Only feed the potato flesh after removing the skin. Peels have higher glycoalkaloid content.

  • Limit portion size to about 1-2 tablespoons of cooked potato per 2 lbs body weight, 2-3 times per week at most.

  • Introduce new foods slowly and watch for signs of an upset digestive system. Discontinue if diarrhea or other issues arise.

  • Choose plain potatoes. Avoid added fat, salt, seasonings, or toppings which are unhealthy for rabbits.

  • Select low glycoalkaloid potato varieties like Russets or Whites. Avoid Yukon Golds or Reds.

  • Never feed cooked potatoes that are moldy, sprouted, damaged, or appear green-tinged.

  • Store any uneaten cooked potato properly refrigerated in an air-tight container and use within 3 days.

The controlled conditions of cooking helps reduce antinutrients in potatoes to safer levels for rabbits. Thorough cooking is important, as improperly prepared potatoes retain higher glycoalkaloid content. As long as cooked potatoes are fed properly in a limited capacity along with their regular diet, they can be a safe occasional treat for most rabbits.

Can Rabbits Eat Potato Peel?

No, rabbits should not eat potato peels. While rabbits can eat the flesh of properly cooked potatoes in moderation, the peel or skin is not safe for rabbits to consume. Here's why:

  • Potato peels contain high concentrations of glycoalkaloids like solanine and chaconine.

  • Glycoalkaloids function as part of the potato plant's natural defenses. They are concentrated mostly within the skin of the tubers.

  • Peels have 3-10 times more glycoalkaloids than potato flesh. Levels intensify as the potato ages after harvest.

  • Consuming high glycoalkaloid foods frequently and over long periods raises the risk of potential toxicity in rabbits.

  • Potato peel glycoalkaloids can cause serious gastrointestinal illness in rabbits if sufficient quantities are eaten.

  • Neurological issues can also result from solanine poisoning if peels are overfed long-term.

  • The skin is mostly indigestible fiber anyway, providing minimal nutritional value compared to the risks.

  • Peels of sprouted or green potatoes have exceptionally high glycoalkaloid content and must be avoided entirely.

So while potato flesh can be fed to rabbits in strict moderation, potato peels should always be removed and avoided to prevent glycoalkaloid toxicity. Take care to cut away all peel when preparing potato treats to keep your rabbit safe. The peel poses too much risk of solanine poisoning to justify any potential benefit.

Can Rabbits Eat Potato Leaves?

No, rabbits should avoid eating any part of the potato plant foliage, including the leaves. Here's why potato leaves are unsafe for rabbit consumption:

  • Like all parts of the potato plant, the leaves contain toxic glycoalkaloids that defend against pests. Solanine is most prevalent.

  • Solanine content is especially high in potato leaves and vines. Levels intensify as the plant matures.

  • Ingesting potato leaves provides a concentrated source of glycoalkaloids which rabbits cannot safely metabolize.

  • Consuming even a few leaves can cause immediate gastrointestinal illness in rabbits. Diarrhea, cramping, and vomiting may result.

  • Over time, accumulation of potato leaf toxins can also cause severe neurological disruption and other long-term health consequences.

  • Potato foliage provides minimal nutritional value, so there is no benefit that outweighs the risks of poisoning.

  • Dried potato leaves in hay or litter can also be a hazard if eaten. Always discard and replace.

  • Other above ground parts like stalks and stems also harbor high glycoalkaloid content and must be avoided.

  • Never feed rabbits potato scraps if any leaves or vines are present. Remove all foliage first.

In summary, no part of the potato plant's above ground vegetation should ever be fed to rabbits. The risks clearly outweigh any benefits. Avoid planting potatoes near rabbit pens so leaves are not accidentally ingested. Be vigilant about keeping rabbits away from potato foliage to prevent solanine toxicity.

Can Rabbits Eat Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are a variety of potato in the same plant family as white/russet potatoes. But sweet potatoes have some key nutritional differences. Here is what rabbit owners need to know about feeding sweet potatoes:

  • Sweet potatoes contain less glycoalkaloids than white potatoes, making them slightly safer.

  • Still limit portion size to a tablespoon or two, no more than twice weekly. Do not feed daily.

  • Only feed cooked sweet potato that is peeled and cooled. Never give raw, skins, sprouts or vines.

  • Choose plain sweet potatoes. Avoid sweet potato casseroles, pies, fries or tater tots which are unhealthy.

  • Watch closely for signs of digestive upset like soft stool after eating. Discontinue use if this occurs.

  • Do not substitute sweet potatoes for hay or leafy greens as primary foods. Use only as an occasional treat.

  • Sweet potatoes have more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than white potatoes. But they are still very high in sugars and starches.

  • Select darker orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties which are richer in beneficial plant nutrients like vitamin A.

  • As with white potatoes, proper storage and preparation is crucial to reducing risk of glycoalkaloid toxicity over time.

In conclusion, while sweet potatoes are somewhat lower risk than white potatoes, they can still pose threats to rabbit health if fed incorrectly. Strict limitations and vigilance for reactions is needed when using sweet potatoes as an infrequent treat. They provide more nutrition, but require just as much care and moderation.

Can Rabbits Eat Potato Chips?

No, potato chips are an unhealthy snack option for rabbits that should be avoided. Here's why:

  • Potato chips provide no nutritional value. They are made from fried or baked slices of potato starch – no vitamins, minerals, or fiber.

  • The frying/baking process can actually increase the glycoalkaloid content of potatoes to hazardous levels for rabbits.

  • Most chips are heavily salted. Excess sodium is damaging to rabbit cardiovascular and renal health.

  • Potato chips are doused in unhealthy fats and oils during cooking. These oils induce obesity and fatty liver disease in rabbits.

  • Seasonings and flavoring powders on chips contain a myriad of potentially toxic additives and chemicals unsafe for rabbits.

  • Crunchy chips pose a major choking risk due to the hard, irregular shapes. Rabbits lack gag reflexes and cannot easily expel foreign obstructions.

  • The lack of nutrition coupled with the hazards of high salt, fat, and chemicals make chips a very inappropriate choice for rabbit treats.

  • Healthier alternatives include dried fruit pieces, crunchy greens, herb sprigs, or small amounts of oats/cereals.

In summary, no owner should ever deliberately feed potato chips to their rabbit. The risks far outweigh any benefits. While an occasional plain cooked potato may be tolerable for rabbits, potato chips should always be avoided in a rabbit's diet for health and safety reasons. Rabbits deserve healthier, more nutritious treat options than processed snack chips.


Can rabbits eat potatoes? Only certain forms in strict moderation. Small portions of cooked plain potatoes can be an occasional treat if preparation protocols are followed to reduce glycoalkaloid content. All foliage and peels must always be strictly avoided. Potatoes should never comprise a substantial part of a regular rabbit diet. Owners must be vigilant about limiting intake and watching for signs of GI issues or solanine poisoning. With proper precautions, brief potato treats are possible, but a diverse veggie diet is healthiest. When in doubt, consult an exotic vet on appropriate potato feeding guidelines for your rabbit.

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