Ask anyone who has grown a garden full of vegetables, and they’ll probably tell you that some of the most persistent garden pests are rabbits. It seems like there’s hardly anything that you grow that rabbits don’t enjoy eating!
But if you think about it in another way, doesn’t that mean that most fruits and vegetables are safe for our own rabbits?
I can tell you that lots of veggies are, but not all, including some produce that you might assume otherwise! How about tomatoes? Are tomatoes safe for rabbits?
Yes, tomatoes are safe for rabbits to eat, but only in limited amounts and only the flesh. All other parts of the tomato plant are toxic to rabbits, the seeds too, though it’s okay if they have a few. Having too many tomatoes can cause serious diarrhea, too.
I’ve known a few people that grow tomatoes every year and they report that, yes, rabbits will indeed eat the fruits they have worked so very hard for.
But when it comes to giving tomatoes deliberately to our own rabbits, we must be careful because it is so easy to overdo it. Nothing you should be scared of, but you’ve got to know where the possible issues are. I’ll tell you about them in the rest of this article.
Do Rabbits Like Tomatoes?
Yes, generally speaking. Most rabbits I’ve known have seem to enjoy getting a little bit of tomato every now and then, though not all rabbits have a taste for them.
Tomatoes have a lot of sugar and a flavor that rabbits seem to enjoy, so yours will probably look forward to getting a little bit now and then as a treat.
Are Tomatoes Healthy for Rabbits?
Yes, tomatoes are a healthy snack for rabbits so long as you only feed them in strict moderation. They have too much sugar and are way too acidic for rabbits to have all the time or in unlimited amounts.
Keeping that in mind, when we look at the nutritional content of tomatoes, we see that they are a decent source of carbohydrates, and they even have a little bit of protein and fat along with a fair amount of fiber.
This is good for giving rabbits a boost of energy, but the real payoff is in the vitamin and mineral content.
Tomatoes contain a great assortment of vitamins, and they’re a reliably good source of vitamin A and beta carotene.
From the B-complex vitamins, though not particularly abundant, among them you’ll find B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate. Tomatoes have a good amount of vitamins E and K, and a great amount of vitamin C, their standout nutrient.
Mineral content isn’t quite as good as the vitamins, but still very respectable. Tomatoes contain a good amount of manganese and potassium along with slightly lesser amounts of phosphorus magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium.
Together, all of these nutrients are things that rabbits need in order to stay healthy, the trick is that tomatoes have other downsides that mean they aren’t the best source for rabbits to get them.
Don’t Serve Unripe Tomatoes to Rabbits!
Before going any further, it is crucial that you remember you must never serve any unripened tomatoes to your rabbits. That’s because unripened tomatoes are toxic and can hurt them.
It’s true: tomatoes are members of the nightshade family of plants, and that means that most parts of the plant and even the tomato fruit itself throughout most of development will contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid toxin that can easily kill rabbits.
This toxin dissipates from the fruit as it ripens, but unripened tomatoes can easily cause harm. You should never give unripened tomatoes to your rabbits or give them any other part of the tomato plant at all.
Can Rabbits Eat Tomato Flesh Safely?
Yes, and tomato flesh is the part of the fruit that they like best. It is sweet, nutritious, tender and quite easy for rabbits to eat. But as we will learn, you’ve got to take the time to prepare it properly before serving it to them.
Can Rabbits Eat Tomato Skin?
Yes. Tomato skin is just fine for rabbits to eat.
Can Rabbits Eat Tomato Seeds Safely?
Not really. Rabbits can have a few tomato seeds without you having to worry. Still, you should scoop out those seeds before serving the rest of the flesh to your rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Tomato Vines?
No! Tomato vines contain solanine at every stage of the plant’s life and throughout the development of the fruit. Never give them to your rabbits!
Can Rabbits Eat Tomato Leaves?
No! It seems like tomato leaves will be something that rabbits would love and that they would be good for them, but the opposite is true: tomato leaves also have high amounts of solanine and must never be given to your bunnies.
Are Tomato Flowers Okay for Rabbits?
No. Tomato flowers like every other part of the plant, contain solanine at every phase of growth. Don’t give them to your bunnies!
Is Tomato Juice Okay for Rabbits?
Absolutely not. Tomato juice is full of sugar and it is just too acidic for rabbits to drink with very little in terms of nutritional payoff. Giving tomato juice to them is certainly going to upset the balance of their digestive system and, at best, give them diarrhea.
Is Tomato Sauce Safe for Rabbits?
Nope. Tomato sauce is very much like tomato juice in that it’s just too sugary to be worthwhile for rabbits, even if it contains more pulp and accordingly more vitamins and minerals. Never give this stuff to your rabbits.
Can Tomatoes Cause Problems for Rabbits?
Yes, they sure can. Tomatoes have several things going against them even in ideal circumstances.
For starters, they contain a bit too much sugar to be a worry-free snack for rabbits, or at least one that they can have in significant quantities.
Then there is the acidity of tomatoes to consider: There is some difference between individual rabbits, of course, but broadly speaking rabbits can’t have many tomatoes before they get a seriously upset stomach and diarrhea.
This can turn into a major problem because it causes dehydration.
Even more worryingly is the fact that tomatoes can be highly toxic to rabbits due to the presence of solanine, though this is only an issue if you’re feeding them unripened tomatoes or any other part of the plant, including the stem or calyx that comes off the top of the tomato itself.
Luckily, both of these outcomes are avoidable with careful selection and preparation, and also with discipline regarding how much and how often you feed your rabbits.
If your rabbits like tomatoes and you give them too many in one serving or if you decide to feed them tomatoes on a daily basis, don’t be surprised if problems soon arise.
How Often Should Rabbits Eat Tomatoes?
I think rabbits should only get one or perhaps two very small servings of tomatoes a week. It is theoretically possible that they might eat even smaller servings daily without any ill effects, but this will be up to the individual rabbit; some are more sensitive to the acid in tomatoes than others.
Like I said above tomatoes are a bit too sugary for rabbits to have regularly or in high quantities, and they are definitely too acidic. This is one seemingly wholesome piece of produce they can only have on a limited basis.
As always, start with a very small amount and then see how your rabbits do. For adult rabbits, this will be a couple of tablespoons worth of tomatoes once or twice a week, or a teaspoon every other day or so.
For adolescent or smaller rabbits, make the portions no larger than a large grape.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Tomatoes to Rabbits?
Any tomatoes that you serve to your rabbits must be seeded, and I like to chop them up into small cubes to make them a bit easier for them to eat without much mess.
To do this, I recommend you cut your tomato into quarters and then use a spoon to scoop out the jelly-like guts and all of the seeds from the flesh. Discard that, and then chop the flesh into pieces they’re about a half inch or a little bigger.
Serve to your rabbits in a shallow bowl or on a plate or tray.
Never Give Rabbits Spoiled Tomatoes
Even the freshest, best tomatoes can cause issues for rabbits, and it can get a whole lot worse if you get them old, moldy or rotting tomatoes.
Don’t risk giving this stuff to your rabbits and just throw it out instead; rabbits can get sick from foodborne illnesses and bad food just like you and I can!
Are Tomatoes Safe for Bunnies, Too?
Yes, but with major reservations and they must be allowed to grow up for a time first.
For starters, never, ever give any tomatoes to any baby bunny that is younger than 3 months old. Letting them hit about 14 weeks might be even better for caution’s sake!
This is because young rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems that are vulnerable to disruption, and tomatoes are the equivalent of a wrecking ball.
If you give tomatoes or any other produce to baby bunnies, it is possible that an overabundance of bacteria could develop in their gut and lead to a fatal production of gas. Not good, and a grueling death for the little thing!
But, assuming they are old enough, you can give them a few tiny tidbits of seeded tomato according to the other instructions above. Monitor for diarrhea and discontinue at once 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.