Summer Herbs to Plant for Small Animals
Obviously, we’re big fans of hay over here. After all, hay should be around 80% of your small animal’s diet. But even we can admit variety is the spice of life. Herbs are a fun way to add something new, plus a nutrition boost, to your rabbit and guinea pig’s standard fare. Our own house mixes are pretty great – we only use organic and wild crafted herbs and flowers. But this time of year is perfect for growing herbs right in your own backyard, too! Here are a few of our favorites.
I have yet to have a rabbit tell me cilantro tastes like soap. Always a popular favorite, you can harvest cilantro early and bring indoors to grow all year long. Simply make successive sowings every 2 or 3 weeks starting in early June.
Parsley is a slow starter but can grow up to a foot high. Talk about a guinea pig’s dream. I think the only thing better than foraging in hay would be to burrow under parsley fields. Fun fact, parsley is a biennial, which means that it grows only for two seasons.
Echinacea is a pretty summer bloom that’s easy to grow. Echinacea also offers some immune system-boosting powers for the little ones indoors. It acts as a mild pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. While not a replacement for antibiotics, this superpower herb makes a nice complement for those recovering from a URI or other infections. The stalks, stems, and leaves are safe for guinea pigs and rabbits to consume. Try sprinkling on some hay a few times a week.
Dill is a healthy, tempting treat for rabbits. Bunnies have more taste buds than we do, so appreciate this strong and pungent herb. It grows like a weed, so a great choice for beginners. Serve with cucumbers and let your rabbit brag to her friends that she tried a pickle.
An acquired taste in guinea pigs, give mint a try with those that have a more adventurous palate. Herbs like mint spread easily so may be a better choice for pots than the backyard garden bed. Mint can easily take over a space if not contained. Not that your herd would complain.
If you’re lacking a green thumb like me, don’t give up hope. There’s still a chance for you and me. Try dandelion greens. Come on, it’s technically a weed. What can go wrong? Dandelion is good for digestion and high in vitamin C. Oh, and you can conveniently collect the plants and seeds from your own pesticide-free backyard.
The possibilities are endless when planting an herb garden for small animals. There are literally hundreds of options to try! But remember, not all herbs are safe. Herbs can consist of leaves, seeds, flowers, and roots and some or all could be dangerous to consume. Keep a list of safe and toxic foods handy before harvesting any summer treat.