Apples are tasty, healthy and are loved by humans. In fact, we are advised to eat at least one apple per day to stay away from diseases. But the question is, can rabbits eat apples? Let’s find out!
Rabbits are lovely pets to keep at home. They are beautiful, friendly and give you much joy. While rabbits don’t ask for a lot of care and maintenance, you have to take care of them as a responsible pet owner. A pet rabbit’s diet can be confusing to a majority of new rabbit parents. If you’re one of them, know that these little animals have very delicate digestive systems.
They need a specific diet to stay healthy and happy. This is the reason you should be careful while introducing any new food to them. Any food that is given without knowing it’s effects on the bunnies, can be harmful for them. But what about apples, are they safe? Before discussing that, it’s important to know what a rabbit’s diet looks like!
What Does a Rabbit’s Diet Consists of?
Rabbits are herbivores, so they rely on plant-based foods and hay. About 80 per cent of their total diet is made of good quality hay including timothy, orchard, meadow etc.
The remaining 15 percent of their diet includes fresh greens, vegetables, fruits and pellets. The last 5 percent includes treats, mostly natural ones like a particular fruit or vegetable. Some vegetables and fruits are very high in sugar, thus they can’t be given on a regular basis. These items can be used as treats and can be given to a bunny once or twice a week.
Know that, rabbits can’t tolerate high amounts of sugar. It can badly impact their digestive tract, teeth and overall health. For these reasons, fruits and certain vegetables should be given in very limited portions.
So, are apples safe for bunnies? Should you feed them?
Are Apples Safe For Rabbits?
Talking about the wild rabbits, they don’t eat fruits on a regular basis. They rely on fresh grass, plants and sometimes vegetables. They would eat fruits only at certain times. While they can easily digest most fruits, they aren’t essentially a part of their regular diet.
Pet rabbits can safely eat small quantities of seedless apples. Portion size should always be kept small and limited and apples should be prepared well by washing and de-seeding them before allowing your bunny to munch on them.
Just like any other fruit, apples have high amounts of sugar, so they should be fed as an occasional treat rather than including them in your bunny’s regular diet.
Apples are absolutely safe for bunnies in small portions, but their seeds and leaves are not. Apple stems, leaves and seeds contain a toxic compound known as cyanogenic glycosides and cyanide. These poisonous compounds are very harmful to rabbits. They can lead to issues like upset stomach, dropped heart rate, vomiting, diarrhoea etc. Cyanide can even kill your lovely pet.
Hence, it is very important to discard the seeds, stems and leaves of the apple before giving it to rabbits and even other animals as well.
The best practice is to wash the apple and chop it up into small pieces
Health Benefits of Apples for Rabbits
Apples are very high in fiber which is very good for your bunny’s digestive system. Fiber is the main component of a rabbit’s diet, it helps in pushing food in their gut and hence helps in digestion. Apart from this, fiber is also great for their teeth.
Apples have high water content and are rich in potassium, both of these are very good for a rabbit’s health. While water keeps the animal hydrated, potassium prevents them from hypokalemia which leads to muscle loss, weight loss, cardiac arrhythmias, stunted growth etc.
Apples are loaded with antioxidants that fight with free radicals and keep your rabbit healthy and active.
Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Apples For Rabbits?
So, now you know that apples are safe for your rabbits and they can eat it in small proportions. But are there any health risks?
As we have discussed, small portions of apples are absolutely safe for adult rabbits provided that the seeds and stems are removed before offering them.
Limited amounts of apples are safe for your rabbits but if it’s the only food they’re eating regularly, then it is not safe at all. There are some risks with apples to watch out for.
You should feed them only 1 teaspoon per pound of their body weight, wash thoroughly to remove any traces of pesticides.
Below are the risks with apples :
As discussed, the biggest con of apples is their stems, leaves and seeds contain a poisonous compound, cyanogenic glycosides which can be very harmful for your rabbit.
These harmful compounds can lead to problems like upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory issues, dropped heart level and convulsion. In the worst cases, these toxins can even result in death.
Unfortunately, bunnies can’t sense these toxins by smell or taste, so it is your responsibility to make sure that your pet doesn’t eat these parts of apples.
The best way to prevent bunnies from consuming these harmful substances is to thoroughly wash and chop apples before offering them to your pets.
Apples are high in sugar, therefore they should be served in small portions. Large quantities of sugars can result in dental problems, diabetes and obesity.
Chopping the apples in small pieces allows you to control portion size which further helps in cutting sugar intake of your pet. Give one or two pieces of apple as occasional treats.
Also, some apples are sprayed with pesticides and chemicals that are life-threatening if ingested. Hence, it’s very important to wash the fruits properly before using them. You should thoroughly wash every fruit and vegetable first.
Lastly, bunnies have sensitive stomachs and some of them don’t digest apples well. Hence, if your rabbit is not familiar with apples and eating it for the first time, introduce it slowly and watch for any unusual behavior. If you notice diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and other similar problems, consider not to feed apples to your bunny.
Best Ways To Feed Apples To Your Rabbit
Apples are great natural treats for rabbits. You’ll be able to strengthen your bond with your bunny by feeding small pieces of its favorite treat. You’ll delighted watching your little pet nibbling the small, colorful chunks of apple from your hands.
Hand feeding the pets is a good way to build a warm and affectionate bond with them and it also helps in ensuring that your pet is healthy.
You can also play with your rabbit by hiding the apple treat in his hay or any box where you bunny can find his own treat.
Introduce any new food to your rabbit very slowly, so that your pet’s stomach can get used to it. Keep rotating the new foods and consider feeding one type of food at a time.
Whenever you feed any new food to your bunny, stay alert and vigilant to make sure everything is going fine. For that, keep an eye on your rabbit’s poop and make sure there are no signs of diarrhea and constipation.
There are some foods that may be safe for rabbits in general. But a specific rabbit may still can’t digest or don’t like that specific food.
If you think that apple or any fruit/vegetable/green you’ve introduced your bunny is causing discomfort, then consider removing that particular food from his diet. If your rabbit still experiences health problems after you’ve stopped giving them the new food, then consider visiting your vet.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Apples?
Apples shouldn’t be given to newborn rabbits because their digestive systems haven’t developed completely and they are not ready to eat solid food up to a certain age.
Just like other animals, the initial diet of baby rabbits should only consist of their mother’s milk.
After 2-3 weeks or birth, they can start eating hay. After 3 months, they can start eating solid foods and pellets.
Baby rabbits should rely on their mother’s milk for up to 8 weeks, after this time they’ll start their weaning process. You have to be very careful with the newborn rabbits, they’re very sensitive and take time to adjust with solid food.
After three months, you can start introducing new foods slowly. This includes fresh greens, pellets, vegetables and small amounts of fruits.
Give tiny portions to start. Also, stay vigilant to any unusual behavior and signs that the food your rabbit is eating is not making it sick. If you notice any of the above signs we’ve discussed then stop feeding that particular food immediately and take him to the vet immediately.
Can Rabbits Eat Apples With Skin?
Yes! You can feed apples to your rabbits with the skin on.
Rabbits can digest both the flesh and the skin of an apple. In fact, the skin of an apple is more nutritious than the flesh itself. It is where the most fibers, vitamins and minerals are located making it the healthiest part.
For these reasons, apple skin is perfectly safe for rabbits to eat. You can even feed them the skin without flesh, it will offer your bunny all the health benefits of an apple without having to worry about the sugar content. But always remember to wash the skin thoroughly under running water to remove any pesticides or chemical sprays. These chemicals can be really toxic to small animals and even result in their death.
Can Rabbits Eat Green Apples?
Green or red, all varieties of apple can be fed to rabbits. They can eat green apples in the same way and with the same precautions as the red ones.
However, some bunnies don’t enjoy the taste of green apples as they’re slightly sour and bitter. If you want to feed your bunny green apple, offer him a small piece and watch his reaction. If your pet doesn’t seem to like it, don’t force him.
Moreover, taste the green apple yourself before giving it to your bunny. If it’s too sour or bitter, avoid giving it because it can upset their taste buds and stomach.
Can Rabbits Eat Apples – Summary
So, can rabbits eat apples? Your answer is yes.
Feeding apples as an occasional treat will do no harm and will offer all the possible benefits of this healthy fruit. 80% of your bunny’s diet should be hay and the other 15% should consist of fresh vegetables and greens. Fruits and other treats should only be 5 percent of a bunny’s diet. High amounts of sugars from fruits can put your rabbits at various health risks including obesity, digestive issues, dental problems and many others.
Baby rabbits should never be given apples or any other solid food because their digestive systems are very delicate and they can only digest their mother’s milk.
Rabbits can only start eating solid foods once they are around three months of age, but new food should be introduced slowly.
As a responsible pet parent, you should keep an eye on your rabbit to make sure the food you’re feeding him is not causing any discomfort or health problem.
Adult rabbits can eat the apples with their skin on, wash thoroughly to remove traces of chemical sprays. They can also eat green apples but should never ingest the seeds, leaves or stems of apple in any case. Other parts of an apple contain toxic compounds which can be very poisonous to rabbits and may even kill them.