The New Safe Plants for Rabbits List

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Zee-Man

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Hostas (Hosta spp) the very popular ornamental landscaping plant is edible for humans and rabbits. They were originally cultivated as a vegetable before gaining popularity as an ornamental.

I often see it on the "poisonous" lists for rabbits because there have been cases of hosta toxicity in dogs and cats and I think a lot of the rabbit sources just pull their info from the ASPCA pet poison lists. The compound that causes issues for dogs and cats is saponin. Saponin doesn't have a toxic effect on rabbits. My guys love hosta leaves. They stay nice and green through the heat of the summer and have a good moisture content.

They're a hardy perennial that grows well in shade, I have them around my property in areas I can't cultivate anything else. A really nice set it and forget it food source for the buns.

The young spring shoots are delicious by the way. Tastes like a fresher asparagus. Can be used in place of fiddleheads in most recipes.
I concur. Rabbits are definitely not sensitive to sapponins. One plant that everyone should know that rabbits enjoy is dandelion. All of that plant above ground is heavy with sapponins. The leaves and the yellow part of the flower are human edible. However you should only use young leaves for salad and cook the senescent leaves with vinegar to knock the sapponins down. Rabbits, on the other hand will devour even the flower stalk which is milky rich with sapponins.

As to hostas, I even use them to make gulampki! Use them in any way you would use cabbage. Hmmm, hosta slaw?
 

RabbitsOfTheCreek

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I concur. Rabbits are definitely not sensitive to sapponins. One plant that everyone should know that rabbits enjoy is dandelion. All of that plant above ground is heavy with sapponins. The leaves and the yellow part of the flower are human edible. However you should only use young leaves for salad and cook the senescent leaves with vinegar to knock the sapponins down. Rabbits, on the other hand will devour even the flower stalk which is milky rich with sapponins.
My rabbits love dandelions, I'm growing a few in a pot currently

During the time they grow I go out and pick some for all of them
 

HTAcres

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I can't remember where now but this summer squash is another vine plant for rabbits and is supposed to grow prolifically:
 

Aqrabuamelu

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Jerusalem artichoke tubers are perfectly fine for rabbits, they, as herbivores, have no gas issues. Like everything, introduce gradually and feed in moderation - quite some calories there.
I feed (or just don't put a fence around it) excess greens throughout summer, and in winter I dig up, eat and feed the tubers.
I'm planning a mini open-range of 50' x 50' and I'm going to put in a patch of Fartychokes of about 10' x 40' on one side. I've got two varieties. One grows around 6' tall with white skinned very knobby tubers that get to baking potato size. The wild buns will eat on the fresh sprouts and leaves but not very hard. When I harvest the tubers they love the ones I miss at or near the surface. The other variety grows about 8' tall with reddish skinned fairly smooth tubers that look a lot like small sweet potatoes. The wild buns hit those tops ravenously! They'll eat those tubers too, but not as well. These are the ones I'll put in the 'range' at first. I may put a 10' x 40' patch on the other side for the tubers, but I'm still debating with myself on that. I keep thinking that the natural lawn with white clover, plantains,violets and what-not would be better.
The tubers are packed with minerals and vitamins and are most excellent for rabbits. They're also packed full of a fiber called Inulin. That's what gives us gas but doesn't seem to mess with rabbits at all. It may be quite beneficial for the bun's guts. The greens range in protein percentage from 15% or less in the warmer zone 8-7 range, 16% in zones 6-5 and up to 17% in zones 4-3. The leaves contain trace amounts of salicylic acid (raw aspirin) and coumarin (raw Coumadin or Warfarin). Studies were done on 'choke silage and there was apparently not enough of these two compounds to matter at all.
My wife and I have found a few ways to deal with the Inulin for ourselves.
 

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KelleyBee

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I'm planning a mini open-range of 50' x 50' and I'm going to put in a patch of Fartychokes of about 10' x 40' on one side. I've got two varieties. One grows around 6' tall with white skinned very knobby tubers that get to baking potato size. The wild buns will eat on the fresh sprouts and leaves but not very hard. When I harvest the tubers they love the ones I miss at or near the surface. The other variety grows about 8' tall with reddish skinned fairly smooth tubers that look a lot like small sweet potatoes. The wild buns hit those tops ravenously! They'll eat those tubers too, but not as well. These are the ones I'll put in the 'range' at first. I may put a 10' x 40' patch on the other side for the tubers, but I'm still debating with myself on that. I keep thinking that the natural lawn with white clover, plantains,violets and what-not would be better.
The tubers are packed with minerals and vitamins and are most excellent for rabbits. They're also packed full of a fiber called Inulin. That's what gives us gas but doesn't seem to mess with rabbits at all. It may be quite beneficial for the bun's guts. The greens range in protein percentage from 15% or less in the warmer zone 8-7 range, 16% in zones 6-5 and up to 17% in zones 4-3. The leaves contain trace amounts of salicylic acid (raw aspirin) and coumarin (raw Coumadin or Warfarin). Studies were done on 'choke silage and there was apparently not enough of these two compounds to matter at all.
My wife and I have found a few ways to deal with the Inulin for ourselves.
Can you tell me where you got your sunchoke variety that gets such large tubers? I’d love to have that size!
 

Big Mac

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We have cases of Rhdv2 in our area, and I have become concerned about forage for my rabbits being contaminated by wild rabbits in the forage, what say you?
I think it important for my feed to come from a region where there are no out breaks .
 

KelleyBee

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We have cases of Rhdv2 in our area, and I have become concerned about forage for my rabbits being contaminated by wild rabbits in the forage, what say you?
I think it important for my feed to come from a region where there are no out breaks .
One way or read about foraging relativity safely is by harvesting from plants that are more Bush and tree like. Harvest from the plant growth 3 feet high and higher. Another option is to put on raised beds, 3 feet high and/or well fenced off and harvest from there. I have dandelion, carrot tops, strawberry plants, plants in, lemon balm, camomile, etc , growing in such a raised Bed dedicated to forage for the rabbits.
 

Aqrabuamelu

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Can you tell me where you got your sunchoke variety that gets such large tubers? I’d love to have that size!
West-central PA. The town I live in is just about the heart of the native range and we've got dozens of patches scattered around town and throughout the county. I'm in DuBois, about 15 miles north of Punxsutawney, the home town of THAT groundhog.
As a kid on the farm we had a red skinned variety that was a tad bigger than the red skins I have now, but then they grew in much better soil on the farm. My parents never wanted to do anything with "those things" because of the gas issue! I'd hit that patch when they were ready in the fall up to early spring and eat my fill as long as the ground was thawed enough to dig! I love them raw. It wasn't until about fifteen or better years ago I recognized some growing in town and snagged a handful of tubers that my wife and I researched how to deal with the gas that we got back into growing and eating them. I rescued the red skins from a tiny flower bed next to a garage that was being demolished and the third variety I found along a back road near Stump Creek, a little community just north of Punxy. That third variety is the one I've decided to get rid of. Other than fodder, there's no good use for them. Who knows how many other varieties there are scattered around this area!! World wide it's estimated there could be around 400 varieties.
From the height of the stalks, 6', their color and very knobby shape and since they only spread around 10" from the crown, I'd guess they're either the Stampede variety or closely related. I'm sure I saw them on Amazon. On our 1 1/2 in-town lot I can't grow enough to sell much more than maybe a few pounds. We use the rest except for what I miss in the ground. They have a nice mild earthy taste mixed with a potatoey and sunflower seed flavor as best I can describe. It seems they taste a bit different to each person too. When roasted or grilled my wife says they taste very similar to sweet corn. I don't get that taste and it makes me jellyous. But then, I've made wine from both flower and tuber broth which my wife doesn't care for, but I like it!! More for me!! It's definitely not a fruity wine but it blends well with fruit wines. It's even a half decent cooking wine. It gets a very pronounced earthy, nutty flavor as it ages. Two years and more brings out that flavor.
 

Aqrabuamelu

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One way or read about foraging relativity safely is by harvesting from plants that are more Bush and tree like. Harvest from the plant growth 3 feet high and higher. Another option is to put on raised beds, 3 feet high and/or well fenced off and harvest from there. I have dandelion, carrot tops, strawberry plants, plants in, lemon balm, camomile, etc , growing in such a raised Bed dedicated to forage for the rabbits.
Hi neighbor, DuBois here. New member planning on a mini open range setup for this spring.
I've got Sunchokes that would fit that requirement. One variety I've got grows 6' tall which wild rabbits nibble on the spring greens and readily chomp any exposed tubers. Another variety grows 8' and the wild ones love the spring greens to death as well as the tubers. I didn't know about Lemon Balm. I've got two patches, one of them is in the area I'm planning on fencing.
 

Big Mac

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One way or read about foraging relativity safely is by harvesting from plants that are more Bush and tree like. Harvest from the plant growth 3 feet high and higher. Another option is to put on raised beds, 3 feet high and/or well fenced off and harvest from there. I have dandelion, carrot tops, strawberry plants, plants in, lemon balm, camomile, etc , growing in such a raised Bed dedicated to forage for the rabbits.
The process you are writing about is called pollarding, or to pollard, using young shoots as forage for animals
 

Zee-Man

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The only way I can conceive of segregating Sylvanus from forage is to use tree and bush. To fence off a section of the yard would be a huge effort since rabbits dig. Burying fencing is not for me.

I would not want to put the effort into making raised beds for fodder. I (now) have only 4 rabbits and they consume a lot of forage. I expect to make raised bed / hugelculture for berries. Mayhap I will encourage dandelion in them. Storied use is a good way to maximize the square footage.
 

KelleyBee

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West-central PA. The town I live in is just about the heart of the native range and we've got dozens of patches scattered around town and throughout the county. I'm in DuBois, about 15 miles north of Punxsutawney, the home town of THAT groundhog.
As a kid on the farm we had a red skinned variety that was a tad bigger than the red skins I have now, but then they grew in much better soil on the farm. My parents never wanted to do anything with "those things" because of the gas issue! I'd hit that patch when they were ready in the fall up to early spring and eat my fill as long as the ground was thawed enough to dig! I love them raw. It wasn't until about fifteen or better years ago I recognized some growing in town and snagged a handful of tubers that my wife and I researched how to deal with the gas that we got back into growing and eating them. I rescued the red skins from a tiny flower bed next to a garage that was being demolished and the third variety I found along a back road near Stump Creek, a little community just north of Punxy. That third variety is the one I've decided to get rid of. Other than fodder, there's no good use for them. Who knows how many other varieties there are scattered around this area!! World wide it's estimated there could be around 400 varieties.
From the height of the stalks, 6', their color and very knobby shape and since they only spread around 10" from the crown, I'd guess they're either the Stampede variety or closely related. I'm sure I saw them on Amazon. On our 1 1/2 in-town lot I can't grow enough to sell much more than maybe a few pounds. We use the rest except for what I miss in the ground. They have a nice mild earthy taste mixed with a potatoey and sunflower seed flavor as best I can describe. It seems they taste a bit different to each person too. When roasted or grilled my wife says they taste very similar to sweet corn. I don't get that taste and it makes me jellyous. But then, I've made wine from both flower and tuber broth which my wife doesn't care for, but I like it!! More for me!! It's definitely not a fruity wine but it blends well with fruit wines. It's even a half decent cooking wine. It gets a very pronounced earthy, nutty flavor as it ages. Two years and more brings out that flavor.
I would be very interested in some tubers from your varieties that generate the largest tubers. Are you willing to share? I am willing to pay. I am located about 50 minutes southwest of Indiana, PA. What rabbits are you raising?
 

ladysown

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The tubers are packed with minerals and vitamins and are most excellent for rabbits. They're also packed full of a fiber called Inulin. That's what gives us gas but doesn't seem to mess with rabbits at all. It may be quite beneficial for the bun's guts. The greens range in protein percentage from 15% or less in the warmer zone 8-7 range, 16% in zones 6-5 and up to 17% in zones 4-3. The leaves contain trace amounts of salicylic acid (raw aspirin) and coumarin (raw Coumadin or Warfarin). Studies were done on 'choke silage and there was apparently not enough of these two compounds to matter at all.
My wife and I have found a few ways to deal with the Inulin for ourselves.
How do you deal with inulin? I've just started growing sunchokes, I don't know the variety.
 

Skai

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I'm going to experiment with growing oats for hay. I've read in a couple of places that if you harvest the oat grass at 1-2 feet, while still green and right before it buds you get good quality grass that you can feed fresh or dry for storage. I use oat straw for bedding and oats grow everywhere I don't want them to so "maybe" I can get it to grow where I do want it to. I'm going to try interplanting it where I have a healthy stand of Kentucky 31 tall fescue and see how it goes (grows). Oat hay has the same amount of protein and calcium as Timothy grass hay, slightly less fiber but more than Bermuda hay.
 

HTAcres

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I would be very interested in some tubers from your varieties that generate the largest tubers. Are you willing to share? I am willing to pay. I am located about 50 minutes southwest of Indiana, PA. What rabbits are you raising?
So I came here to see if you sell on Etsy and you do! Yahoo! Need some Bocking 4 comfrey and now I know where I'm getting it.
 

Aqrabuamelu

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How do you deal with inulin? I've just started growing sunchokes, I don't know the variety.
Four ways. The Inulin has to be converted into Fructose;
Freezing. You'll hear about after the first frost is OK, not so much. My tops, even the flowers aren't fazed by light to medium frost. The tubers have to fully freeze and thaw.
Fermenting as refrigerator pickles, but wait until after you've had them in the fridge for a few weeks. As sauerkraut or in a Kimchi is best for conversion.
Cooking with an acidic ingredient, vinegar, citric acid etc. We pressure can most of our fall harvest as pickles and relishes. I like them better than cukes. The vinegar works well after a couple weeks of storage.
Cooking for an extended time as in a slow cooker or crockpot.
There is a fifth way. Both my wife and I take a daily supplement of Inulin. Both of my parents had colon issues. My mom had the break-away type polyps that luckily never developed further. My dad developed a fast colon cancer that went to type 4 within just a couple months. He had to endure the belly bag for the rest of his life. That gives me a double whammy. My first colonoscopy yielded a polyp and signs of inflammation. Not good. I researched ways to treat colon cancer and found that Inulin as a prebiotic could reduce or eliminate inflammation. Holy Crap! We'd been raising 'chokes for years and following the methods above, destroying the Inulin. I started taking it daily. My doctor had me on a three year colonoscopy schedule for high risk and I asked her about the Inulin. She looked over what I'd found and said that it certainly wouldn't hurt. The next three scopes showed no polyps and no inflammation. Inflammation is the primary cause of colon cancer. After that my doc changed my schedule to every 5 years. Win-win! After the third scope my wife got interested. She's suffered from diverticulitis usually at least twice each year. Holidays were when she slipped up. She started daily Inulin too and she hasn't had one attack in nearly 8 years! If anyone wants to try daily Inulin, take our advice and start very low and slow. The packages most all say to take 1 tsp daily - DO NOT START WITH 1 TSP!!! The gas could be drastic and even painful. We learned and then restarted with slight 1/4 tsp per day for at least 10 days. Each 10 days or better after, we doubled the dose as the gas permitted. My wife leveled off at about 3/4 tsp per day. I took it to a heaping 1 tsp per day.
Will it help any other gut ailments? I have no idea, but if inflammation is the cause or effect, I'd say look into it and bounce it off your doctors.
 

Aqrabuamelu

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I would be very interested in some tubers from your varieties that generate the largest tubers. Are you willing to share? I am willing to pay. I am located about 50 minutes southwest of Indiana, PA. What rabbits are you raising?
We're on a 1 1/2 in-town lot in DuBois about 100 miles from you. I don't sell them since we use most of what I harvest, though I sent a five pound package to a friend in NC and another to a friend in Canada over the years. Sending to Canada surprised me. I checked with our local postal manager and since 'chokes are a north American native that grows in the states and Canada and I wasn't charging for them, he said "Send them, I won't tell"!
We've got relatives in Bradford that go to "Little" Washington fairly regularly to visit their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. If you'd like I could give them a package this fall and on one of their trips you might meet them somewhere, or I could send it USPS if that would be easier. I'd have to check, but unless prices have changed that was the cheapest way back then.
Those white/tan skinned knobby ones look a lot like the commercial Stampede variety. The red skin's tops are obviously tastier to wild rabbits since those get hit hard while the knobby's tops are just sampled. I haven't got my backyard fully set up yet so haven't started with any rabbits. I plan to have it built by early spring. I'm planning on checking with the local 4H group to see about getting good rabbits. The tops are allelopathic, like Walnuts they spread a chemical that retards sprouting of competition. After a couple years you don't have to think about weeding. I found that out when I got the reds. I mixed the reds with the established knobbies and the reds didn't do well. I separated them and put the reds in their own patch and they've done so much better. The allelopathic chemicals are trace amounts of salicylic acid (raw aspirin) and coumarin (raw Coumadin or Warfarin). The trace amounts don't harm mammals unless you find a way to concentrate the chemicals. Even feeding heavy is supposed to be fine. In the past I let the tops die and dry, put them through a small chipper and spread the chips over the patch I took them out of. That's built the soil up grand over the years in the knobby patch. Starting next year I'm going to cut about 1/2 off the tops to dry for over winter fodder just as they start into flower. That's supposed to be the best time from what I've read. I'll find out if cutting 1/2 affects the tuber's size and quality.
Some pics; The small leaves are the Stampede(?). The large leaves are the reds. The larger leaves plus the extra 2 feet of height is a better yield of fodder. The reds look like small sweet potatoes and since they're not knobby, they're so much easier to clean. And we don't skin any of them, like potatoes the skins are very healthy and they're thinner than potato skins, easily bruised. The wild rabbits will eat any tubers I miss that are on or near the surface and they're packed full of minerals and vitamins. They should make excellent treats.
 

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KelleyBee

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We're on a 1 1/2 in-town lot in DuBois about 100 miles from you. I don't sell them since we use most of what I harvest, though I sent a five pound package to a friend in NC and another to a friend in Canada over the years. Sending to Canada surprised me. I checked with our local postal manager and since 'chokes are a north American native that grows in the states and Canada and I wasn't charging for them, he said "Send them, I won't tell"!
We've got relatives in Bradford that go to "Little" Washington fairly regularly to visit their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. If you'd like I could give them a package this fall and on one of their trips you might meet them somewhere, or I could send it USPS if that would be easier. I'd have to check, but unless prices have changed that was the cheapest way back then.
Those white/tan skinned knobby ones look a lot like the commercial Stampede variety. The red skin's tops are obviously tastier to wild rabbits since those get hit hard while the knobby's tops are just sampled. I haven't got my backyard fully set up yet so haven't started with any rabbits. I plan to have it built by early spring. I'm planning on checking with the local 4H group to see about getting good rabbits. The tops are allelopathic, like Walnuts they spread a chemical that retards sprouting of competition. After a couple years you don't have to think about weeding. I found that out when I got the reds. I mixed the reds with the established knobbies and the reds didn't do well. I separated them and put the reds in their own patch and they've done so much better. The allelopathic chemicals are trace amounts of salicylic acid (raw aspirin) and coumarin (raw Coumadin or Warfarin). The trace amounts don't harm mammals unless you find a way to concentrate the chemicals. Even feeding heavy is supposed to be fine. In the past I let the tops die and dry, put them through a small chipper and spread the chips over the patch I took them out of. That's built the soil up grand over the years in the knobby patch. Starting next year I'm going to cut about 1/2 off the tops to dry for over winter fodder just as they start into flower. That's supposed to be the best time from what I've read. I'll find out if cutting 1/2 affects the tuber's size and quality.
Some pics; The small leaves are the Stampede(?). The large leaves are the reds. The larger leaves plus the extra 2 feet of height is a better yield of fodder. The reds look like small sweet potatoes and since they're not knobby, they're so much easier to clean. And we don't skin any of them, like potatoes the skins are very healthy and they're thinner than potato skins, easily bruised. The wild rabbits will eat any tubers I miss that are on or near the surface and they're packed full of minerals and vitamins. They should make excellent treats.
I would definitely be interested in both your varieties. I will definitely pay for postage and then some. I love sunchokes and so do my rabbits! Mine are all a much smaller variety of tubers (perhaps the actual native variety?). It would be wonderful to have tubers much easier to prepare for eating. I can mail a check to cover everything or send another way. It’s up to you. I usually wait until November and all greens back before I harvest my tubers. You?
 

Aqrabuamelu

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Can you tell me where you got your sunchoke variety that gets such large tubers? I’d love to have that size!
I'm in the heart of their native range, west-central PA. There are dozens of patches in town and around town. The two good tasting varieties I have are from in-town and I got one from outside of town that's obnoxiously turnipy/herbal flavored. Who knows how many other types there are! Some people know what they have, others only know 'chokes as pretty flowers.
I waited until the tops were dead and dried before harvesting. Like potatoes all the nutrients should be allowed to drain into the tubers, makes them taste better. Now though I'll be experimenting with how much of the top to leave after trimming for fodder. From what I've read, the best time to cut for fodder is when the flowers are in full bud, just as they're about to open.
Chipping the tops and spreading the chips over the patch and turning them under is what I've done up til now. That builds the soil up surprisingly well.
I should have said 'We're' in the middle of their native range since they grew from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi valley and from zone 3 in Canada into zone 8 in the Carolina range. There might a patch or two in your area to look for. We'll have to get together in late October through November to deal on the tubers. Covering postage would be fine. It's crazy with some online suppliers! I've seen up to $60/lb. for organic! That is so far beyond ridiculous. Ours are grown to organic standards, no fertilizers, no weed killers, no insecticides other than Sluggo for the slugs and that's organically acceptable. We just don't grow enough to really sell them. Whatever you do when you plant them, don't mix different types in the same patch, they'll retard each other's growth.
 
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