Bunnies are cute little pets. But if you have houseplants, you probably already know that they are likely to munch on anything they can get their sniffing near-invisible mouths on.
Rabbits are also big fans of greens, which means they will go for the plants with or without your permission. This means, as a pet parent, you need to be aware of the kind of houseplants that you absolutely should not have because some of them are poisonous.
Unfortunately, the pothos plant from the Araceae family is both a popular houseplant and a poisonous choice if you have rabbits in the house.
A Little Background
This plant has more than a few names like the Ceylon creeper, golden pothos, ivy arum, marble queen and devil’s ivy or devil’s vine. The last two names are particularly special and important in this context because apart from being popular, this plant has another distinctive feature. It is nearly impossible to kill a pothos plant even if you deprive it of sunlight.
In fact, it is an invasive species that has caused a lot of ecological disruption in the regions that it is not native to but has been allowed to grow freely. It hardly has any natural enemies and is even known to be immune to herbicides. It has even destroyed places where it was used for decorative purposes and has made it to the list of invasive species maintained by the Florida Exotic Pest Control Council in 1999.
It is preferred as a houseplant because it grows easily and well. It looks good and adds to the style of any room it is in. There is very little to be done in terms of maintenance and it is a good air purifier. But, apart from bunnies, it is also a toxic presence if you have dogs or cats.
Types of Toxins
There are a few types of plants that need protection from rabbits and sometimes, the rabbits must be protected. Here’s how they are categorized based on the kind of toxins they contain.
⦁ There is the class 1 type which is the list of universal species of toxins. These usually lead to systemic problems with a local but sufficient effect. Ideally, these plants should not even be in the house if you have a rabbit.
⦁ Then there is class 2 which has local toxins. These are also systemic toxins but they are not as intense. So, they cause dermal sensitivity or contain allergens. These plants are a problem because rabbits tend to chew the shrubbery.
⦁ Finally, there are class 3 plants that might be low risk but they do contain toxins. Some of these were historically considered toxic but that stand is now being reevaluated to be categorized as low or not toxic.
What It Looks Like (Or Doesn’t)
When a rabbit consumes a toxic house plant like pothos, it does not tend to vomit as other animals do. This brings up two problems. One, it is not as obvious to detect that something went wrong. Two, the poison remains in the rabbit’s body.
Unfortunately, rabbits are also capable of recycling toxic compounds in their digestive system. So, whenever they eat something they are not supposed to, the symptoms are often mild. But depending on how much of the plant has been consumed, the levels might be deemed severe. The toxicity is also determined based on the rabbit’s age and its general state of health.
Whether it is clear or not that the bunny has been poisoned, you must take it to a vet. Typically, these are the symptoms of poisoning in a rabbit.
⦁ Pain in the abdomen
⦁ Lack of appetite
⦁ Having trouble breathing (very rare)
⦁ Irregular heartbeat
⦁ Bleeding (internal or external)
⦁ Irritation in the mouth, tongue and lips
If you notice any of these symptoms, calling a vet right away is more than recommended. And in case that does not happen, do not hesitate to reach out to the ASPCA.
If you can determine the plant that the rabbit chewed on, take a sample to the vet. Carrying a little bit of the vomit for the vet to examine is also not out of order in severe cases.
You must also make sure that none of the other plants have been chewed on.
What Makes Pothos Toxic
Pothos plants contain crystals of calcium oxalate that are insoluble. In fact, this is a little toxic to humans too and can cause eczema or swelling near the mouth. Contact dermatitis or skin irritation is also likely if there is too much contact with the plant.
This is a trait in many plants that belong to the Araceae family. When the rabbit chews into it, the crystals get released into the tissue, causing irritation in their mouth and gastrointestinal tract.
The upper airway does not get swollen, but in rare cases that happens too and makes it tough for them to breathe.
It is known that rabbits are temperamental creatures when it comes to their health. So, you don’t always have too much time which is why it is best to rush to the vet right away.