Common Poisons that can affect Rabbits
If you think your rabbit may have eaten a poison, firstly, remain calm. Remove the source of the poison but keep any packaging (if applicable), as this could be helpful for our vets. Call us as soon as you realise a potential poisoning has occurred and follow advice: remember you can speak to one of our own vets 24/7. Rabbits often do not show symptoms of poisoning until there has been a build up of the poison in their body over time, so sadly once symptoms are shown it may be too late to treat effectively. However they should always be assessed by a vet to avoid unnecessary suffering.
Whilst in the wild rabbits learn which plants are safe to eat from their older warren members, these lessons can be lost in captivity. Most rabbits are cautious about trying new foods, but if it’s green then they are likely to try it! There are a wide variety of plants that are poisonous to rabbits, too many to give detailed explanations of them all here. Find tips below on some of the most common poisons and how to avoid them. Please visit the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund website, with whom we are an accredited Rabbit Friendly Practice, for more information about safe vegetables and herbs to feed your rabbit: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-care-advice/rabbit-diet/recommended-vegetables-herbs/.
Treatment may often include medication at home to prevent poison absorption from the intestine and overnight stays in the hospital on a drip.
Common poisons for rabbits include:
- House plants: it is safest to presume that all house plants are toxic to your rabbit. This is because there is a huge variety and this makes it impossible to list them all. Keep all houseplants out of reach of rabbits, ideally in separate rooms.
- Garden plants: any bulb growing plant should be kept away from your rabbits’ grazing area. This includes snowdrops, hyacinths, bluebells, crocuses, daffodils and tulips. Likewise buttercups, foxgloves, primrose, delphiniums/larkspur, columbine (aquilegia) hellebore, comfrey, poppy, periwinkle, monkshood, rhubarb, nightshade, ivy, privet, holly and yew are all reasonably common garden plants and all are toxic. Look around your garden and remove any of these plants that you find, or make sure they are out of reach.
- Herbicides: many herbicides contain glyphosate which is poisonous to rabbits, other chemicals in individuals products may also be toxic. Rabbits can ingest enough of this poison if the eat grass of plants that have recently been sprayed with herbicide.
- Rat Bait: if you think your rabbit has eaten rat bait and you have the packing, please bring it with you to the vets as different rat poisons have different effect. These can cause severe problems so it is important to treat quickly.
- Lead: licking or chewing at certain household items, such as lead containing paint, can be enough to give your rabbit lead poisoning. Luckily lead can no longer be legally included in paints, but may still be present in older houses.
- Flea products: do not use cat or dog flea products on your rabbit as these can be poisonous. If your cat or dog has had a spot-on product applied, keep your rabbit away from physical contact with them for 48 hours.