When most folks think about the diet of rabbits, probably the first things that come to their mind are hay, grass, and similar vegetation. That’s with good reason, too, because all these things are staple foods for rabbits in the wild or in domestic settings…
But what you might not know is that rabbits can also eat quite a variety of produce, including various fruits and vegetables.
But rabbits have sensitive digestive systems, and they cannot eat some seemingly healthy options that you might think of. How about something wholesome and delicious like apples? Can rabbits eat apples safely?
Yes, rabbits can eat apples safely, but they can only have small amounts occasionally because they’re high in sugar. Too many apples will cause them digestive problems. Make sure you remove the seeds, too!
Apples are some of the most beloved fruits around and enjoyed all over the world. Lots of animals enjoy apples too, and that certainly includes rabbits.
But it isn’t good if they get too many of them! Even though they are entirely wholesome, the sugar content of apples can cause major problems for your bunnies.
But with just a little bit of care apples can be a wonderful treat that they will love. Keep reading and I’ll tell you all about it.
Do Rabbits Like Apples?
Oh yes, they sure do! Every rabbit I have ever known loves apples and it’s easy to see why: they are crisp and sweet, and rabbits love to nibble away on them.
You’ll also love the nutrition and energy that apples can provide for them, but you’ll be making a mistake if you let your rabbits get too much.
Are Apples Good for Rabbits?
Yes, apples can be a healthy snack for rabbits. However, as mentioned, they just have too much sugar for them to have them all the time. But assuming that they only get them in limited quantities, they can still definitely benefit from the many nutrients that they contain.
Assessing the macronutrients present in apples, we see that they contain only a little bit of fat and protein. They are very high in carbohydrates due mostly to sugars, but they have a fair bit of dietary fiber also. And yes, the sugar is fructose and totally natural, but just because it is natural it does not mean that rabbits can have unlimited amounts! Even all natural fructose can disrupt a rabbit’s gut flora.
But the good news is that apples have a diverse lineup of vitamins, even if they don’t contain that much. You’ll find most of the B complex vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate backed up by vitamins C, E and K. Apples contain trace amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene also.
The mineral content of apples is helpful, but not very significant compared to other fruits and veggies. Nonetheless, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium are all here and all can benefit rabbits.
Can Rabbits Have Red Apples?
Yes, they can. All varieties of red apples are fine and safe for rabbits as long as they don’t get too much.
Can Rabbits Eat Green Apples Safely?
Yes. Even though they are typically tart, green apples are also a good choice for rabbits if fed to them in moderation.
Are Apple Seeds Safe for Rabbits?
No. You don’t need to worry if your bunny accidentally eats an apple seed or two, but you want to avoid feeding them any significant quantities of apple seeds or allowing them to repeatedly eat them over time.
This is because apple seeds contain compounds that are basically precursors to cyanide, and upon digestion will form dangerous poisons in the gut.
Obviously, this could be very bad news for a poor little rabbit! So don’t panic if they accidentally get one during feeding time, but you want to make it a point to seed all of the apples you serve to your rabbits…
Are Apple Cores Okay for Rabbits?
No. Apple cores are tough and nearly devoid of the nutrients that rabbits need, aside from being difficult to digest. The cores are also where the seeds are found, so if you are able, it’s a good idea to core the apple entirely before serving.
Is Apple Skin Okay for Rabbits?
Yes, apple skin is just fine for rabbits. They can eat it and digest it with no problems at all, so you don’t need to go to any extra trouble to peel the apple prior to chopping.
Can Apples Hurt Rabbits in Any Way?
Yes, they can. Probably the most worrying thing about apples for rabbits is the fact that repeated consumption of the seeds can lead to cyanide poisoning.
But again, I do want to reassure everyone out there that this is highly unlikely unless they are getting lots of seeds in their diet.
If you are seeding your apples and only feeding them to your furry friends occasionally, this isn’t something you’ll really need to worry about.
On the other hand, you do need to worry about excess consumption: apples are too sweet for rabbits to eat all the time, and this sugar content can lead to a dangerous imbalance of gut bacteria which can cause potentially fatal problems for them.
This is especially likely, and harmful, for young bunnies…
But again, this can easily be avoided so long as you are disciplined when it comes to the treating schedule of your rabbits, and you are diligent about giving them small portions and no more.
How Often Should Rabbits Eat Apples?
I highly recommend you only give any rabbit a small serving of apple once or maybe twice a week for a larger breed. For smaller breeds, this is the equivalent of about 1/8 of an apple, or one common slice. For larger breeds, make it two slices.
This is more than enough for them to enjoy apples as a treat, especially when they will look forward to, but unlikely to cause any serious disruption of the gut.
The Best Way to Serve Apples to Rabbits
Apples should always be washed, cored and seeded prior to serving to rabbits. Once this is done, portion out the amount that is good for your rabbit according to the instructions above and then chop it up into small chunks to make it easy for them to eat.
Rabbits can make short work of apples and easily chew them up, so chunks that are about ¾ to 1 inch are fine.
Never Give Spoiled Apples to Rabbits
Your rabbits should only be fed fresh, high-quality food and that includes produce. You should never give your rabbits any rotted, discolored, or moldy apples. Doing so can easily make them sick.
Even though rabbits in the wild might have to eat some fairly unappealing things to stay alive, it will come as a consequence of illness much of the time. Your domestic bunny, too, can certainly come down with all sorts of diseases from bad food.
If you don’t want to risk that, only give them fresh apples.
Are Apples Safe for Bunnies, Too?
Yes, apples are safe for bunnies but with two major reservations: bunnies should only be allowed to eat apples or any other produce once they are at least 3 months of age. Even then, give them only a very small quantity, a little less than a single apple slice.
This is because bunnies have incredibly sensitive digestive systems that are still developing, and even something as wholesome and nutritious as an apple can easily upset that delicate balance of bacteria and other gut flora they need for healthy digestion.
The result can be something far worse than diarrhea, also: it could result in a potentially fatal buildup of gas! This is a terrible way for a precious little bunny to go, and even worse because something as seemingly harmless as an apple caused it.
Always let your bunnies grow up a bit before they get apples and keep that quantity very small. Stop giving them apples immediately if you notice any issues starting.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.