There are plenty of videos out there showing bunnies making a mess while munching away on fruit, and while the behavior is highly adorable it is also questionable: Most folks who own rabbits know that they shouldn’t get too much sweet stuff in their diet!
Excess sugar has a way of causing big problems for rabbits. But when you think of it, rabbits would naturally be able to eat fruit they find in the wild, right? And since fruit is sweet naturally it makes sense that rabbits could have a little bit.
This is true, but not every kind of fruit is a good choice for them. How about raspberries? Are raspberries safe for rabbits?
Yes, raspberries are totally safe for rabbits as long as they only get them occasionally. Raspberries are natural, nutritious, and easy for rabbits to digest but still too sweet for them to have on a regular basis.
Raspberries are an okay part of a rabbit’s diet, and even in the wild rabbits can occasionally grab a berry or two from low-growing bushes.
Among fruits, raspberries are one of the very best options for rabbits though you still have to be cautious not to give them too many. But don’t worry, because as long as you are diligent it isn’t a big problem.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting raspberries to your rabbits in the rest of this article.
Do Rabbits Like Raspberries?
Yes, they do. Bunnies seem to love berries generally and they really like raspberries in particular. They are sweet, tangy and tender, three things that rabbits love.
You’ll never struggle to get your furry friends to eat raspberries, but this can be a problem all by itself: they will eat all the raspberries you give them, so it’s up to you to only give them the right amount!
Are Raspberries a Healthy Food for Rabbits?
Yes, generally, but only in the context of a treat or a very limited supplement to their usual diet. If fed according to this guideline, raspberries are definitely healthy. But as a bigger, ongoing part of their diet, raspberries are too sugary and moist to be good for rabbits.
If we take the time to inspect the nutritional content of raspberries, we find that they are mostly carbohydrates along with just a little bit of protein. But look closer at the carbohydrate content we find a nice surprise: the carbs mostly come from fiber, which rabbits need.
Don’t get me wrong, they still have too much sugar to be a regular item on the menu, but this is in marked contrast to other kinds of fruit.
And the good news keeps on coming with the vitamin lineup raspberries have to offer, with a good variety of B complex vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate. Raspberries also contain a great amount of vitamin C, A little bit of vitamins E and K, and just a tad of choline.
Even more surprising is that raspberries have a nice variety of minerals also, with calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc all being present.
Manganese is the most abundant by far, but raspberries are relatively low in calcium considering how often they should be fed to rabbits so it isn’t much of a problem.
If you take all of these nutrients together, raspberries can give rabbits a burst of energy and also help improve circulatory health, metabolic regulation, organ function, immune system function and so much more.
That’s great when you consider that raspberries are a treat, and even though that is certainly true they are far from junk food! Just make it a point to not give your rabbits too many and they can do a lot of good for them.
Can Rabbits Eat Raspberry Leaves?
Yes, rabbits can eat raspberry leaves. If you pick a bunch of raspberries off of the bush, or if you’re growing your own in the backyard, grab a few of the leaves to give to them in their other mixed greenery.
Can They Eat Black Raspberries?
Yes, they can. Now, I want to be clear here: raspberries and blackberries are not the same thing. Black raspberries are a distinct type of raspberry, but are increasing in popularity and you’ll see them advertised here and there.
Whether you purchase them or grow them yourself, they are still safe for rabbits. I hope that prevents some confusion in the future!
Are Dried Raspberries Okay?
No, not really. Dried raspberries typically don’t have anything added to them that’s directly harmful for rabbits, but the drawing process concentrates the sugar in the raspberries.
In a way, this can cause even more problems for rabbits. Yes, drier food is better for them but not at the expense of adding even more sugar to the same serving size. That’s where people go wrong and that’s also where disaster usually strikes concerning dried fruit and rabbits.
For that reason, I strongly advise against it.
Can Raspberries Cause Them Issues?
The only way raspberries are going to cause problems for your rabbit is if you give them way too many, or if you give them raspberries too often.
The bottom line is that rabbits need predominantly dry food in their diet, and they don’t need much sugar. Obviously, raspberries have plenty of both things that they should avoid!
What happens when rabbits start getting too much sugar and too much moisture in their diet is their digestive tract starts to get disrupted. If it isn’t too bad, this just takes the form of some indigestion, loose stools, diarrhea and so forth.
While bad enough on its own and capable of causing dehydration, most rabbits usually recover on their own if you stop feeding them the offending food.
Where things really start to go bad is when the microorganisms, specifically bacteria, that rabbits depend on in their diet to help them digest and processed food start to go out of control from too much sugar. This leads to a huge uptick in gas production, and subsequently bloating.
This isn’t funny: rabbits cannot evacuate this trapped gas by belching or farting (at least in a way that will relieve the pressure), and that trapped gas is going to tie them in knots and cause them intense pain. In severe instances, it can even kill them.
How Often Should Rabbits Eat Raspberries?
A good guideline is that you should never give your rabbit more than 4 strawberries a week. It doesn’t sound like very many and that’s because it’s not: Raspberries are too sugary and too moist to be safe for them more often or in greater quantities as discussed.
Also, if you have a smaller breed, cut that number to 2 or 3 and I highly recommend you start with only a single raspberry to see how your rabbit handles it.
If later that day or the next day you notice any signs of discomfort or loss of appetite or any changes in their bowel movements, I recommend skipping the raspberries.
Keep in mind that rabbits are individuals to a degree, and what bothers one might not bother another!
The Best Way to Give Raspberries to Rabbits
Before you do anything, you must thoroughly wash and dry raspberries before giving them to your bunnies. If you buy raspberries from the grocery store, they will be heavily laden with pesticide residues, and these residues can cause serious health problems in rabbits over time.
A better bet is to buy organic, grow them yourself, or get them from a trusted supplier that doesn’t use pesticides and other chemicals.
Once you do that, you can feed your bunny out of hand if you want or set them on a tray or in their feeder.
Do keep in mind that raspberries are extremely juicy and are probably going to make a mess on your rabbit and in their enclosure: that juice gets all over, be prepared for some cleanup after the treat!
Never Give Rabbits Spoiled Raspberries
Raspberries are very much like every other kind of fruit in that they spoil quickly, even in ideal storage conditions.
If your raspberries start to shrivel, turn colors, or start growing mold (the latter being extremely common with raspberries) you should throw them away and not feed them to your rabbits.
Bad produce is highly likely to disrupt their sensitive digestive tract as discussed above, even more than a load of sugar would normally.
Fermented berries are really going to knock your poor rabbit for a loop! Either way, chances are high that they will get sick and can possibly die from eating bad berries.
If you care about your rabbit, just don’t take the chance.
Are Raspberries Safe for Bunnies, Too?
Yes, raspberries are safe for baby bunnies to have as a treat too. However, and this is critically important, they should only have raspberries once they are about 14 weeks old.
A bunny’s digestive system takes a very long time to develop and stabilize to the point it can handle solid food, and handle juicy, sweet berries in particular.
This isn’t just a nutritional thing, either: if you give any sort of solid food to your bunny before they are ready to handle, it can severely compromise their gut and kill them, straight up.
I know you wouldn’t inflict that on such a poor, innocent rabbit so hold off on feeding those raspberries, yeah?
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.