Adult rabbits can eat fresh, uncooked apples in small quantities as part of a balanced diet.
Offer them no more than two tablespoons of apple fruit once a week, and remove the core and seeds first.
Don’t give apples to baby rabbits under four months old.
Apples for Rabbits
Welcome to our complete guide on rabbits and apples where we answer that all-important question, “Can rabbits eat apples?”
You have probably heard of the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
And this is particularly true for humans since this fruit is extremely nutritious with many health benefits.
But does it have the same effect for your bunny?
Rabbits have sensitive stomachs, so you need to be careful what you feed them.
The best option is a diet comprising mainly of hay and pellets along with some vegetable and fruit.
But while munching on a whole apple is perfectly safe for us, you should only feed small quantities to your bunny.
Owing to the high sugar content, apples are best given to your rabbit as an occasional treat.
In this informative article, we look closely at how to safely serve apples to your furry friend. And when it may be harmful.
Rabbits Are Lagomorphs
Until the early part of the 20th century, rabbits were classed as rodents. But then, they became known as lagomorphs, an order that also includes hares and pikas.
Although rodents and lagomorphs have similarities, they also have vast differences.
Both have incisor teeth that grow continuously necessitating the need to chew constantly on fibrous food to wear them down.
What Is a Natural Rabbit Diet?
However, rodents only have one set of incisors and eat meat as well as plant matter. Whereas lagomorphs have two sets of incisors and are obligate herbivores.
So their digestive system and feeding needs are slightly different.
The best diet for a bunny is one that is as close as possible to that of a wild rabbit. In other words, a variety of grasses, herbs, and leaves.
As a grazing animal, an unlimited supply of fresh quality grass hay should be fed daily to your pet rabbit.
This not only provides essential nutrients but also prevents their teeth from overgrowing because of the sheer amount of chewing and grinding required.
Although rabbits can live on hay and water alone, it is recommended to also give some fresh leafy vegetables.
This could include broccoli, chicory and baby greens, along with a small amount of high fiber commercial pellets and a little fruit.
Water is a vital part of your bunny’s diet, and there should be a constant supply of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration and to keep the gut moving.
What Are Apples?
To gain a better understanding of the risks and benefits of feeding apples to rabbits, let’s look at what apples are and why you might want to share one with your pet bunny.
The apple is an edible and crunchy fruit that has a delicious, sweet taste. They grow on trees and come in all shades of reds, yellows, and greens.
This fruit belongs to the Rosacea family, which also includes pears, cherries, peaches, strawberries, and roses.
The apple tree originated millions of years ago—according to DNA tests—in the Tian Shan mountain range in Kazakhstan. Here, wild apple trees still flourish, even today.
Silk Road traders brought apples from central Asia to Rome and Greece, where they were quickly brought to the rest of Europe by the Romans.
European settlers later introduced apples to America.
Apple trees flower in the spring when pollination occurs, usually by bees who move from one tree to the next.
When the blossom dries up, the apple starts to form. And once ripe, they are harvested, packed, and shipped to consumers.
Nutritional Benefits of Apples
The apple is often referred to as a “nutritional powerhouse”. And it’s easy to see why!
They are rich in vital antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, are low in calories and contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium.
Eating apples can aid digestion, reduce fat levels in the blood, and keep skin healthy and bones strong.
Eating this tasty fruit lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers.
And since there are so many health benefits, it’s no surprise that caring pet parents would like this fantastic fruit to their bunny.
But are apples good for rabbits too?
Are Apples Good For Rabbits?
Many rabbits love the sweet taste of apple. And in small portions, they are safe and harmless fruit for bunnies.
Be sure to leave the skin on when you feed apples to your pet as this is where you find valuable nutrients, as well as antioxidants and fiber.
Also, make sure to wash them thoroughly first to remove any chemicals.
The fiber found in apples is beneficial to rabbits because they lack peristalsis, the involuntary muscle contractions push food through the digestive tracts of humans.
But rabbits must instead rely on fiber in their diet to keep food moving.
In addition, apples provide a good source of potassium. This mineral is particularly important for your bunny as it can prevent hypokalemia or low blood potassium levels.
Signs of a rabbit with this condition include
- stunted growth
- muscle weakness
- weight loss.
However, apples also contain a lot of sugar. So they should be fed in small portions—around two tablespoons—no more than once a week.
Just remember, the seeds and core should be removed.
Are Apples Bad For Rabbits?
Although there are advantages to your bunny eating apples, you need to be aware of a few vital points.
Always remove the seeds and core as apple seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which are poisonous and extremely harmful for most pets, including your rabbit.
If consumed, they may display the following symptoms:
- reduced heart rate
If this occurs, immediately seek veterinary attention for your pet the condition could be life-threatening.
You must only feed apples to your pet in moderation as this fruit contains high levels of sugar. This can lead to problems like
- tooth decay
If your rabbit already has weight issues, then feeding them apples is a bad idea.
How to Prepare Apples For Your Rabbit
Moreover, fruits often have pesticide or chemical residues. Therefore, be sure to wash apples thoroughly with running water.
Otherwise, your rabbit could become extremely ill if they ingest any of these harmful substances.
Only feed your rabbit raw apples. Cooked apple are starchy and full of sugar. Plus, cooking reduced the amount of fiber and could cause diarrhea.
When introducing any new food to your bunny, only feed them tiny amounts at first and just one type of food at a time.
Stay vigilant for any signs that the food you have given is making them sick or for any changes in their behavior.
If you notice your pet is not well—indicators are soft stools or an upset stomach— stop feeding your rabbit the new food and take them to a rabbit-savvy vet.
Is It Safe to Feed Apples to Baby Rabbits?
The nutritional requirements for baby rabbits are different. Young rabbits require mother’s milk up until eight weeks old.
And at this time, their digestive system is extremely sensitive. So they should not be fed apples until at least four months old.
What Other Fruits Can Rabbits Eat?
It is vital that you feed your rabbit a balanced diet that includes plenty of quality hay.
But occasionally providing fruit as a treat adds variety to their daily routine, as well as providing an alternative source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Always remove the pits, seeds, and cores of any fruit before feeding and give no more than two tablespoons.
With bananas, make sure they are ripe, and always remove the peel.
Here are some other fruits you can safely feed your bunny in small quantities:
Which Fruits Are Toxic to Rabbits?
You can feed your rabbit most fruits in moderation. But some should never be given to your furry friend.
The following fruits are harmful to bunnies:
- Avocados contain a toxic substance called persin, which is highly dangerous for rabbits and other pets.
- Custard apples are high in sugar and also contain large amounts of fat.
- Dates and figs, although not toxic, contain excessive amounts of sugar, which is extremely bad for rabbits.
Do Rabbits Like Fruit?
Rabbits love the taste of fruit due to their natural sugars but can quickly become addicted to the sweet taste if fed too much too often.
Just as we must limit our intake of items like chocolate, cake and ice cream, as caring pet parents, we need to do the same for our bunnies.
Only give fruit as an occasional treat.
Fruits are favored over commercial treats which are often loaded with sugar and preservatives, as well as being expensive.
Giving your pet bunny some fruit is cheaper and natural foods are far more nutritious and beneficial for your bunny.
Can Rabbits Eat Apples?
So, the answer to that all-important question “Can rabbits eat apples?” is a resounding yes. However, only in moderation and prepared correctly.
Feeding them small portions once a week is ideal.
Always remove the seeds and core and wash the apple thoroughly beforehand to remove pesticide and chemicals. Otherwise, your bunny could become sick.
Only feed your rabbit raw, fresh apples.
However, baby rabbits cannot eat apples until they are at least four months old since their sensitive digestive systems will be unable to digest them.
Does Your Rabbit Like Apples? Have they got a favorite type of apple? Do you have any fun ways to include them in your bunny’s diet? Tell us in the comments box!
References and Further Reading
Spengler RN. 2019. Origins of the Apple: The Role of Megafaunal Mutualism in the Domestication of Malus and Rosaceous Trees. Frontiers in Plant Science.
Harcourt-Brown F. 2009. Dental disease in pet rabbits. In Practice.
Dinning PG et al. 2014. Neural mechanisms of peristalsis in the isolated rabbit distal colon: a neuromechanical loop hypothesis. Frontiers in Neuroscience.
Hove EL & Herndon JF. 1955. Potassium Deficiency in the Rabbit as a Cause of Muscular Dystrophy: Three Figures. The Journal of Nutrition.