Can Rabbits Eat Christmas Cactus? [+Pet Safety Tips]

Many rabbits will see houseplants as a source of curiosity, but with the knowledge that most houseplants can poison your rabbit, you may wonder if a Christmas cactus can prove deadly to your bunny. You want to keep most houseplants out of reach since it will often lead to poisoning. Rabbits are very sensitive this way, and they can be poisoned easily. Can rabbits eat Christmas cactus? 

Christmas cactus has needle-shaped leaves with spines that contain toxins called saponin, and in high concentrations, it will destroy the red blood cells of your rabbit causing anemia, weakness and diarrhea. Unfortunately, many rabbits will be determined to get at it. 

What to Do if Your Rabbit Ate Christmas Cactus

Your safest bet is to take them to the vet since they will know the best way to help your rabbit. Rabbits eating something poisonous poses a danger since you can’t induce them to vomit up the Christmas cactus like other animals. 

Rabbits have a very tight sphincter in the esophagus, and the position of the stomach makes self-induced vomiting more limited.

Instead, the vet usually tries to block the toxic absorption to prevent poisoning. After that, they will provide supportive care. Some vets recommend that you administer charcoal to bind the toxins in the stomach. They usually give 4 grams per pound every eight hours. 

You can mix this in with food or water to syringe feed the rabbit. Encourage the rabbit to eat hay to add extra fiber to his diet and safely push out the toxins. To best treat a rabbit that has eaten Christmas cactus, it would be wise to take them to a vet. I’m not a vet, so I can’t give expert advice, and you need to take the rabbit to the vet for the best care. 

Will Christmas Cactus Kill a Rabbit?

Saponin in high concentrations will destroy the red blood cells of your rabbit, which can cause anemia, weakness and diarrhea. Some say it isn’t fatal, but you still wouldn’t want your rabbit to get a hold of it. It’s still mildly toxic and can hurt the liver. It will cause GI upset if the rabbit ingests it. Be aware of how your rabbit will have curiosity about the Christmas cactus and houseplants, in general, can get them into trouble.

Keep them all out of reach of your rabbit to keep him safe. In some cases, the rabbit won’t exhibit symptoms of poisoning right away. His condition may unfold over a period of days or weeks. 

Generally speaking with the Christmas cactus, the signs of poisoning will show up within the first six hours of ingestion, or they won’t show up at all. 

Eating Christmas cactus in large quantities can still prove fatal to your rabbit. It wouldn’t be wise to let them eat it even though it probably won’t kill them in most cases. 

Don’t Trust Your Rabbit Not to Eat the Plant

One of the most harmful beliefs that pet owners can have is to think that their rabbit won’t eat the plant because they will know it is poisonous. Unfortunately, as many saddened pet owners have found out, you can’t trust that your rabbit will know what is and isn’t poisonous. Keep the poisonous plants out of their reach. 

In the wild, rabbits learn eating habits from the older warren members. Unfortunately, they don’t receive the same training in captivity, and in many cases, they will eat it if it’s green—even if it kills them. Rabbits in captivity don’t have a great survival instinct compared to rabbits in the wild because they received no training on what to eat and what not to eat. This can make the life of pet owners more tricky. 

Treat All Houseplants as Toxic

The best way that you can keep your rabbit safe is to treat all houseplants as if toxic since they will often be toxic. You have such a huge variety of houseplants that can poison that it’s nearly impossible to list them all. Up to 78 different houseplants can prove toxic to your rabbit, which shows you why it’s better to be safe than sorry. Treat them all as toxic plants to protect your rabbit. 

In the outdoors, you have a little leniency, but you still don’t want them nibbling on anything since they can still munch on a poisonous plant. Check to see that the plant isn’t poisonous first. 

Signs of Poisoning in Your Rabbit

Look for odd changes in the behavior of your rabbit, such as a change in eating, defecating or regular activity levels. You should take your rabbit in to see a vet immediately if you notice these signs and see if they nibbled on your Christmas cactus. Your rabbit may exhibit other signs as well, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Obvious abdominal pain

Unfortunately, rabbits that display the symptoms above may die regardless of treatment. In most cases, if they ate Christmas cactus, they will do fine. You have many other houseplants that can poison a rabbit, however, and it’s always wise to keep the plants out of their reach. Apples and pears are notorious examples due to the trace amounts of cyanide found in the fruit. 

Appropriate Diet

Good pet care comes down to a great diet and making sure that your rabbit eats the appropriate things. You don’t want him eating Christmas cactus. Instead, you will feed him pellets, hay, fresh vegetables and clean water. Up until a rabbit reaches adulthood at seven months, you should continue to feed it alfalfa hay since it contains all the required protein and calories.

The hay should always be fresh since eating anything moldy can sicken your rabbit.

Final Thoughts

Like with all houseplants, you need to exercise caution with them around your rabbit. Don’t put the Christmas cactus out to where he can nibble on it. While eating Christmas cactus will rarely prove fatal to your rabbit, you still don’t want him eating it. You may want to spend time with your rabbit each day to observe him and make sure that he hasn’t eaten anything that he shouldn’t have eaten. 

If you suspect an emergency, call your local veterinarian as soon as possible. A quick response time with poisoning can mean the difference between death and survival. Unfortunately, many things can prove dangerous and even tree branches treated with fire retardant can be toxic. It can also be helpful to have some charcoal on hand in the event of a poisoning. You can check out this Activated Charcoal Powder for Pets.

2 thoughts on “Can Rabbits Eat Christmas Cactus? [+Pet Safety Tips]”

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