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Can Rabbits Eat Corn?



I know there is a lot of controversy out on the internet regarding the question "can rabbits eat corn?"  I found out that an often quoted and misunderstood statement that comes from an expert in the field may be part of the source of this controversy.  So I emailed her with this same question, to have her clarify feeding corn to rabbits and found out that she was talking about feeding rabbits fresh corn (not dried).  Dried corn is fine (especially when combined in a ground and pelleted food) so long as it is only part of a balanced diet and not the sole food source.  Furthermore yellow corn is loaded with beta carotene, a natural pro-vitamin A that is great for rabbits. Below I cite my conversation with her.  Thank you for your clarification!
Expert: Dana Krempels, Ph.D.
Subject: Corn in rabbit food
Question: I have had lots of people ask me about feeding rabbits corn. I fed rabbits corn and alfalfa and other feed items for years without any problems.  If a rabbit was eating corn wouldn't it break up the outer hull (instead of ingesting it whole) and wouldn't it then get fermented by bacteria in the ceacum?  Furthermore research that compares the use of corn vs. wheat or barely in the diet of rabbits and found no statistical difference in digestibility, ceacal pH, muscle fatty acid composition and other factors.  What is wrong with feeding rabbits corn?
Answer: Dear David,The hull of a corn kernel is composed of very tough polysaccharides (cellulose, hemicelluloses A, B, and C) and lignin that even a rabbit's intestinal flora may not be able to completely break down if the kernels are ingested in large pieces.Milled corn isn't a major problem.  It's already been broken up into very tiny bits that will pass through the rabbit's digestive tract without incident.  This is the form in which corn is added to commercial rabbit pellets.  The hulls are also less of a problem with dried corn, as a bunny will usually grind the kernels into very small bits before swallowing.But fresh corn is another matter.  The endosperm is soft, and the hull is pliable.  So the whole thing can be swallowed with not much chewing.  If a lot of hulls are swallowed whole, they can cause an intestinal impaction.  I am not sure anyone knows exactly why, but my guess would be that the digestive enzymes and intestinal flora simply don't have enough surface area available on a large piece of hull to access and completely break it down.I've seen the results myself, firsthand.  But our Gryphon was lucky, and after a few days of unhappiness and constipation, he managed (with medical help) to pass a great wad of hulls, and we never fed him fresh corn again.Corn isn't a natural part of a grazing herbivore's diet, so there's that to consider.  It's high in calories and sugar, neither of which is good for long-term maintenance of a healthy bunny.So to be safe, we try to avoid foods with a lot of corn added, and we stay strictly away from anything with fresh corn.Hope this helps.Dana

Dana Krempels, Ph.D.
University of Miami Biology Department
H.A.R.E., Inc. of Miami, FL
Follow the link to read about the results of research comparing corn to barley and wheat in the diets of rabbits.
So in answer to the question... can rabbits eat corn?, yes they can but only dried corn that is part of a balanced diet!  In fact yellow corn is a great source of beta-carotene, a pro-vitamin A that is better for rabbits than adding synthetic vitamin A.