Blueberries are named among the healthiest and most delicious fruits in the world. These little berries are packed with vitamins, fiber and a wide variety of antioxidants. Due to these reasons, humans totally love blueberries, they are considered as a superfood. But, are blueberries safe for rabbits? Can rabbits eat blueberries? Let’s find out.
This simple answer is, Yes. Rabbits can safely eat blueberries. In fact, most rabbits love munching on these delicious soft fruits. However, they are high in sugar, which means you can only offer them to your bunnies occasionally. Just like any other high-sugar food, blueberries can cause issues like upset stomach, dental issues, weight gain etc, when fed in excess.
When rabbits live in the wild, they rarely eat fruit. They only get an opportunity to eat a few selected wild fruits a few times a year. Because they are grazing animals, the diet of rabbits is greatly made of fresh grass, varieties of hay, fresh greens and vegetables. For this reason, rabbits can only be given fruits in small portions and on certain occasions. You can’t and you shouldn’t feed more than 2 blueberries per week to your bunny.
Are Blueberries Healthy for Rabbits?
Blueberries are packed with nutrition, as long as they are given in the right amounts and at the right time, they can offer many health benefits to your bunny.
Blueberries serve numerous health benefits. They are a great source of fiber as compared to other types of fruits. They are also very hydrating, meaning they will keep your bunny hydrated on hot summer days.
Although blueberries have low carbohydrate and sugar content, the amount is still slightly higher for the bunnies. Rabbits need a lot of fiber and very less starch or carbs. For these reasons, blueberries should be given in small portions.
Another major quality of blueberries is their excellent antioxidant profile. These little fruits are the powerhouse of powerful antioxidants like flavonols and anthocyanins. They serve many health benefits like regulating blood sugar, lowering the risk of cancer and heart problems, reducing the risk of diabetes etc.
Below are the health benefits of blueberries.
Health Benefits of Blueberries for Rabbits
A rabbit’s diet should be high in fiber, low in sugar, low in calorie and fat. They also need a small amount of plant-based protein for their growth. When compared to other fruits like grapes and mangoes, blueberries are low in sugar, low in calorie and high in fiber. They also contain an enough amount of protein for small animals and hence fits in a rabbit’s diet.
While bunnies don’t require fruits daily, if you’re looking for a great natural treat for your bunny, there isn’t any better option than blueberries.
Here is the nutritional information of blueberries:
|Water: About 84% of blueberry is made of water. Water is very important for a rabbit. It aids digestion and keeps the bowel movements regular. Water also prevents overheating, which is a major concern for the bunnies.|
|Vitamin A: Vitamin A is required for a healthy vision and skin. Your bunny’s heart health, kidney and lungs depends on this vitamin.|
|Vitamin K: Vitamin K improves the blood flow and reduces the risk of blood clotting. This vitamin ensures that all the minerals are transported to all the parts of the body. In this way, it indirectly improves the functioning of bones and joints.|
|Folic Acid: Folic acid promotes the formation of red blood cells that are responsible for strengthening the immune system of your bunny and also prevent blood loss or anaemia.|
|Potassium And Magnesium: These two minerals are great for your bunny’s heart and muscles. They help in getting a peaceful and calm sleep.|
|Phosphorus And Manganese: Phosphorus when works with calcium aids to dental health. On the other hand, manganese is required by the bunnies to process protein and carbohydrate in their diet.|
|Macronutrients: These are the nutrients that are required by the rabbits in large portions. They provide energy and keep the bunnies healthy and active throughout the day.|
|Minerals: Minerals are naturally occurring compounds that help bunnies to grow in a healthy manner and prevent many health complications.|
What makes blueberries stand out is their antioxidant profile. Here are the powerful antioxidants that are loaded in blueberries :
- Anthocyanins: This antioxidant is responsible for the dark and rich color of the blueberries. It helps in reducing the risk of heart ailments in rabbits.
- Myricetin: It is a flavanol that is effective in reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer.
- Quercetin: Finally, quercetin is a flavanol that reduces the risk of higher blood pressure and heart problems.
Do Rabbits Like Blueberries?
Blueberries are very sweet and juicy, so most of the rabbits love devouring them. In the wild, rabbits hardly get any fruit, they mostly rely on the leaves and stems of the fruit that have a minimum flavor. However, the house rabbits can easily get spoiled for fruits.
But no matter how tempting it looks to spoil your bunny with her favorite treats, you should control yourself from giving a lot of fruit to her. Overfeeding of fruit can cause dental problems and obesity.
Another important thing is, each rabbit is different, just like humans, they have their likes and dislikes. So, some rabbits may not like the taste of blueberries at all. If you’re introducing the fruit for the first time, watch closely for your bunny’s reaction. If she likes it then you’re good otherwise don’t force her to eat the fruit right away.
Also, the digestive systems of rabbits are very delicate. Some bunnies may not be able to digest blueberries well, so after feeding them blueberries, keep a check on their poop and look for signs like diarrhea, vomiting and constipation.
How Many Blueberries Can Rabbits Eat?
Blueberries fall in the category of healthy rabbit treats. Hence, they should not be given on a daily basis. If you want, you can totally avoid feeding them blueberries because they aren’t really necessary. But if you’re looking for healthy treats, blueberries are the way.
Instead of rewarding your bunny with those commercial sugary treats, offer them healthy blueberries once or twice a week.
The amount of blueberries is very important to keep in mind, an average-sized, mature bunny shouldn’t be given more than 1-2 blueberries at a time per week. However, the larger breeds can eat a few more blueberries because they are large and super active. They burn the calories at a faster pace. So, if you own breeds like Checkered Giant, you can feed them 3-4 blueberries at a time. Further, breeds like Dwarf Hotot put on weight much faster even after eating small quantities of fruits. So, keep the amount of fruit very limited for these bunnies.
Just like any other new food, introduce blueberries to your bunnies slowly so that their digestive systems handle it well.
Side Effects Of Blueberries For Rabbits
Blueberries are healthy and bunnies love their taste as well, then why can’t you feed them these irresistible treats in large amounts or on a daily basis?
Below are the reasons why you shouldn’t overfeeding blueberries to your lovely pet :
- They Are Packed With Sugar
Although less when compared to other fruits, blueberries still contain a good amount of sugar which is heavy for a bunny. Excess of sugar can cause numerous health complications in rabbits including obesity, poor dental health, digestive problems and many more. If your rabbit ends up consuming a lot of sweet fruits, he is likely to suffer from bloating, stomach ache, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
In the worst cases, overindulgence in fruits can cause diarrhea which is a life-threatening problem in rabbits.
- They Contain Less Fiber Than Required By Rabbits
About 80 to 90 percent of a rabbits diet is made of fiber which they get from grass, hay and a few vegetables. Fiber is necessary to push the food down their guts and hence can’t be compromised.
Not just that, fiber also boosts their metabolism and keeps the bunnies active and healthy. It is responsible for absorbing essential vitamins and minerals from the food a rabbit eats.
While blueberries contain a good amount of fiber, it is not enough for the bunnies. This is because due to high sugar content, rabbits can’t eat more of the blueberries and hence can’t get enough fiber.
So, the combination of high-sugar and low-fibre keeps the amount of blueberries very limited in a rabbit’s diet.
What If Rabbits Overeat Blueberries?
If you’re feeding too many blueberries to your rabbit, it’s the right time to stop and bring her back to his normal diet.
As we already discussed above, when blueberries and other sugary fruits are consumed in large amounts by the rabbits, they can cause problems like obesity, tooth decay, kidney issues, skin issues, digestive problems and more.
So, if your bunny is spoiled for fruits, control her diet by giving her plenty of grass and hay. A good idea is to offer blueberry leaves and stalks as they have enough blueberry flavor and no sugar and carbs.
And if you don’t have blueberry leaves and stalks, you can feed other berry plants such as strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. You can also control the addiction to fruit by offering a mix of different healthy greens such as carrot and radish tops.
Can Rabbits Eat Dried Blueberries?
While rabbits can eat dried blueberries, they are dehydrated and may not get digested well. So, always offer soft and fresh blueberries to your bunnies. Also, avoid giving frozen berries to your bunny because their nutritional value is much less than the fresh, raw berries. So, prefer uncooked and fresh blurriness.
Can Rabbits Eat Blueberries with Skin?
Removing the skin of blueberries isn’t only a tedious task, it is also very unnecessary. In fact, blueberry skins contain vitamins and minerals. So, you can directly offer the freshly plucked blueberries to your rabbits. But make sure that you wash the fruits nicely to remove any traces of dirt and pesticide before offering them to your lovely pets.
Can Rabbits Eat Blueberries with Seeds?
Blueberry seeds are very small, they almost went unnoticed when you eat them. The good thing is, blueberry seeds are digested well by the bunnies as well. They will pass the seeds through their droppings without any issue.
If it makes you uncomfortable, you can cut the blueberries and discard the seeds before offering them to your rabbit.
Except for some fruits like blueberries, the seeds of others can be toxic to rabbits, such as apple, peach, cherry etc. So, always feed seedless fruits to your rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Blueberry Leaves and Stems?
This is one of the best foods you can feed your rabbit. Rabbits totally enjoy nibbling the blueberry stalks and leaves. In fact, the plants are healthier than the blueberries themselves. They don’t have too much sugar and instead, they are a good source of fiber. Almost all the rabbits love munching on the leaves and stems of blueberry plants. So, you can freely feed blueberry leaves and stalks to your bunnies.
However, before offering any plant to your pet, make sure it is not treated with pesticides and fertilizers. Also, don’t forget to wash the leaves and stems thoroughly before offering them to your bunny.
How To Feed Blueberries To Rabbits?
Berries work great as occasional treats. A good idea is to use blueberries during rabbit training.
Always prefer raw and fresh blueberries and avoid feeding cooked, dried or frozen berries to your rabbit.
Take a blueberry and keep it in the ice-tray, fill the tray with water and freeze it. You’ll get a nice ice cube with a cute blueberry trapped inside, offer this edible toy to your bunny on a hot summer.
If possible, prefer organic blueberries that aren’t treated with harmful chemicals or fertilizers.
Rabbits of all breeds and size enjoy eating blueberries. These delicious soft fruits are safe for bunnies but this doesn’t mean you can feed them every day and in large portions. Blueberries are high in sugar, so feed them sparingly and in limited amounts. 1-2 berries once or twice a week would work great.