Rabbits need fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet. Apples are one of the healthiest fruits for humans. But are apples also healthy for rabbits?
Rabbits may eat apples with the skin on, but only in moderation and without seeds. Give your rabbit only 1 or 2 apple slices per week. While apples are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, and fiber, they also contain a lot of sugar. This can lead to dental obesity and problems in rabbits.
Apples are delicious treats for rabbits. However, remove apple cores as they contain toxic compounds called cyanogenic glycosides.
However, leaves, twigs, and branches of apple trees are considered safe for rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Apples?
All apple varieties, including Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Ambrosia, McIntosh, and Honeycrisp, are safe for rabbits.
However, some rabbits refuse to eat green apples because they taste sour and bitter. It is also essential to offer apples to your rabbits only as an occasional treat.
Never feed a rabbit whole fruit, especially a whole apple. Generally, fruit should make up no more than 10% of your rabbit’s diet.
In other words, your rabbit should only eat 20-30 grams of fruit daily. For apples, the recommended amount is 1-2 slices once a week.
What Are the Benefits of Apples for Rabbits?
Apples are rich in antioxidants and fiber, which are excellent for your rabbit’s gut health.
However, be sure to give your rabbits apples with the skin on. The apple skin is where most of the fiber and antioxidants are found.
Apples contain the following essential nutrients that are excellent for rabbit health:
- Fiber: Fiber contributes to gut health and allows rabbits to produce healthy feces. A diet high in fiber can also help fight heart disease.
- B vitamins (vitamin B-6, thiamine, and riboflavin): They improve the red blood cell health and the nervous system. A deficiency of vitamin B-6 in rabbits can cause impaired growth, scaly skin, cramps, mild anemia, and, in severe cases, sudden paralysis.
- Phytonutrients: These compounds help reduce free radical damage and infection.
- Calcium: Promotes stronger bones and teeth in rabbits.
- Potassium: Potassium helps rabbits with optimal growth.
Why Shouldn’t Rabbits Eat Too Much Apple?
Fruits, including apples and pears, should be limited to about 30 grams per kg of rabbit body weight.
Apples are high in acidity and high in fructose, which is a plant sugar.
The high acidity makes apples harmful to rabbits’ teeth. However, a few pieces a week should not harm your rabbit’s dental health.
Because apples are high in sugar, they can cause digestive problems and obesity in rabbits. Don’t let your rabbit eat too much sugary fruit like apples.
Rabbits naturally produce vitamin C in their bodies. If rabbits have too much vitamin C in their diet, it can cause kidney damage.
Rabbits have sensitive stomachs, and too much fruit in the diet can cause stomach pain and diarrhea.
The foundation of a balanced diet for rabbits must be hay. Hay should comprise at least 80-90% of a rabbit’s diet.
The remaining 10-20% should be fruits and vegetables. Ideally, however, no more than 10% of your rabbit’s diet should be fruit, such as apples.
Can Rabbits Eat Apple Cores and Apple Stems?
Apple stems and apple cores should not be fed to your rabbits. The stems and cores of apples contain toxic compounds called cyanogenic glycosides.
Therefore, always slice apples very carefully and make sure there are no seeds or stems.
Although the cyanide in apple seeds and stems is toxic to animals, there are no reports of rabbits being seriously harmed by eating some apple seeds.
The toxin is trapped by the hard covering of the seeds, which usually pass through the animal’s digestive tract without difficulty.
However, there is a possibility that your rabbit will chew the seeds, releasing the contents in the intestines. Fortunately, cyanide in tiny amounts is usually neutralized in the body.
A few seeds or a piece of stem that accidentally gets into your rabbit’s stomach probably won’t seriously harm your pet. However, it is better to be safe than sorry.
The pits and stems of other fruits, such as cherries, also contain cyanide. So always check before feeding new foods to your rabbits.
Not all rabbits react to food in the same way.
However, cyanide in large amounts is toxic to rabbits and can cause the following symptoms:
- Stomach upset
- Decreased heart rate
- Muscle cramps
- Shortness of breath
In severe cases, eating apple stems and seeds can be fatal for rabbits and other pets.
Can Rabbits Eat Apple Peel?
Apple skin is the most nutritious part of the apple, as it contains most of the fiber and antioxidants.
Just wash the apples thoroughly to remove pesticides and other chemicals before you feed them to your rabbits.
It is best to buy apples that are organically grown. These are likely to contain fewer chemicals compared to conventionally grown apples.
Can Rabbits Eat Leaves, Twigs, and Branches from Apple Trees?
Apple leaves, twigs, and branches are not only safe but also healthy and fun for rabbits. Therefore, you can give your rabbit apple leaves in the summer and twigs and branches from the apple tree in the winter.
Rabbits are used to eating twigs and branches in the wild. They are among the few food sources for rabbits during the cold season when fresh foliage is scarce.
Rabbits also like to nibble on apple twigs and branches because it helps to sharpen their teeth.
Rabbits’ teeth never stop growing. If they are not ground down, they can grow into the jaw and face. This can cause dangerous infections.
Foods like hay and twigs can help to wear down your rabbit’s teeth, limiting their growth.
Wash leaves, twigs, and branches thoroughly before offering them to your rabbit. Also, watch out for chemicals and pesticides often sprayed on apple trees and their soils.
Can Rabbits Drink Apple Juice?
Water is the best drink for rabbits. However, if you want to get your rabbit to drink more, it is okay to give him some apple juice.
Be sure to count the apple juice as part of the fruit for the day or week.
Apple juice contains a lot of fructose and acid. Therefore, please do not overdo it. When a rabbit drinks too much fruit juice, it can lead to obesity and dental problems.
Avoid giving your rabbits processed, store-bought apple juices. These contain too much sugar, even if labeled as 100% pure juice.
Can Rabbits Be Allergic to Apples?
When you introduce a new food to a rabbit’s diet, introduce it slowly over a few weeks. First, see if there are any digestive problems or allergic reactions.
Rabbits can be allergic to apples as well. There are the following signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction in rabbits:
- Sneezing (dry sneezing without discharge).
- Red, inflamed, and watery eyes
- Drooling (wet chin)
- Clear discharge from the nose
- Constant rubbing of the face with the paws or rubbing of the face on the floor.
Every rabbit is different and may not tolerate certain foods.
Such foods are usually perfectly safe and healthy. But what is good for one rabbit may not be suitable for another.
Give only a small amount of the new food at a time and wait 24 hours.
If your rabbit develops diarrhea or its feces are too soft, you should try an alternative after his feces return to normal.
Wait 5 to 7 days after introducing a new food before introducing another new food.
Always wash rabbit food thoroughly. Do not feed fruits, plants, and vegetables that come from unknown sources or contain high levels of pesticides.
How Do You Feed Apples to Rabbits?
It would be best to give your rabbits apples only as an occasional snack. Proceed as follows if you want to offer your rabbits an occasional piece of apple as a treat:
- Wash the apple thoroughly. Many apples are contaminated with pesticides and chemicals. Always buy fresh and preferably organic apples and wash them thoroughly before feeding them to your animals. Not washing apples can lead to serious illness.
- Cut the apple into small portions. When your rabbit eats apples for the first time, offer him a small piece. Rabbits should be given a maximum of 30 grams of fruit per week.
- Watch for any reactions. When your rabbit eats apples for the first time, start slowly and watch for changes in feces. Stop feeding your rabbit apples if the droppings are too soft after eating them.
- Remove the core, seeds, and stems. These are unsafe for rabbits because they contain cyanogenic glycosides (amygdalin). If you accidentally feed your rabbit a seed or two, don’t worry. Apple seeds and stems are usually only dangerous if eaten too often or in large amounts.
Never give your rabbits cooked apples, as they contain no fiber, are full of sugar, and are very starchy. This can lead to diarrhea, upset stomach, and obesity in the long run.
Therefore, always feed only raw apples to rabbits. Processed or packaged apple juice is also unsuitable for this reason.
Be very careful with tart apple varieties. These contain high cyanide concentrations in their core and seeds, which can harm rabbits even in small amounts.
Green apples are safe for rabbits, but some refuse to eat them because they taste sour and bitter. Keep in mind that every rabbit is different.
Are Apples Suitable for Baby Rabbits?
The diet of baby rabbits and young rabbits is different from the diet of adult rabbits.
Apples are unsuitable for baby rabbits because their digestive tract is still developing. They are not ready for solid food until they reach a certain age.
Like all mammals, a baby rabbit feeds exclusively on its mother’s milk, which is rich in nutrients and energy. Baby rabbits continue to drink their mother’s milk until they are about 6-8 weeks old.
Care must be taken with young rabbits that are to be weaned, as their digestive systems are still susceptible.
They must be gradually acclimated to adult food to avoid adverse reactions.
Baby rabbits often eat hay as early as 2 to 3 weeks of age and other solid foods at 3 to 4 weeks.
Once your rabbit is about three months old, you can slowly introduce him to new foods. Offer your young rabbit only a tiny amount of apple until he gets used to it.
Always watch for unusual signs indicating your rabbit is not tolerating the apples.
If you notice anything unexcepted in your rabbit’s behavior or feces, stop feeding apples. Consult a veterinarian if necessary.
Will Wild Rabbits Eat Apples?
Wild rabbits usually won’t eat sugary fruits such as tomatoes and apples. Carrots are also considered unsuitable for wild rabbits.
Rabbits in the wild prefer twigs, branches, dry and fresh grasses, and plants.
Supermarket vegetables and fruits contain too much energy, sugar, and nutrients for the needs of wild rabbits.
Every rabbit, including wild rabbits, needs high-fiber, low-energy foods such as hay, twigs, and branches because they promote tooth wear.
Low-energy food also prevents rabbits from becoming overweight. For example, cucumbers are great as a snack for overweight rabbits.
Introduce your rabbits to new foods slowly. Rabbits, especially wild rabbits, have very sensitive stomachs that take time to get used to.