Can Rabbits Eat Oranges Safely? Let’s find out!
If you’re a rabbit owner, you’re no doubt concerned with your tiny family member’s health and wellbeing.
And with bunnies, there’s a lot to think about.
You need to have a clean enclosure, ensure your pal gets enough exercise and play. Not to mention offering a healthy diet.
It’s that last concern that causes a lot of questions about what rabbits can eat.
Among the most common questions is, “Can rabbits eat oranges?”
Today, we’ll answer that question for you!
Are oranges safe for rabbits?
Let’s start with the most important question – can rabbits eat oranges safely?
Oranges, like many other fruits and veggies, are safe for rabbits to eat.
However, they should not make up the bulk of a rabbit’s diet. Instead, rabbits should be given “a diet of fresh hay,” including mixed grass or Timothy hay in particular.
Limit the serving of any fruit to 1 or 2 teaspoons per 5 pounds your rabbit weighs.
There are a few great benefits to feeding your rabbit oranges in small quantities.
Offering them as motivational treats that may help train your rabbit.
In addition, offering bunnies treats is a great way to gauge your rabbit’s health.
Because rabbits love fruits so much, a rabbit that refuses a treat may be a sign to take your furry friend to the vet.
Rabbits and Oranges
Rabbits are herbivores. This means that they only eat plants throughout their lifetime. They don’t eat meat or any animal parts!
Rabbits still need important nutrients from their diets like fiber, protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.
Oranges contain vitamin C, potassium, carbohydrates, and sugars.
But, rabbits make their own vitamin C. So, they do not rely on oranges for a significant portion of their nutrients, so they do not particularly need them in their diets.
In any case, leafy green vegetables often contain more vitamin C than oranges. Plus, greens often contain lots of fiber, which is one of the most important nutrients for rabbits.
Why Do Rabbits Like Oranges?
According to the FDA, oranges are quite high in sugar. A full orange can contain 14 grams of sugar.
Most rabbits love sweets and will welcome an opportunity to earn a sugary morsel.
But, this doesn’t mean that sugary treats like oranges are a good regular snack for our bunnies!
Are Oranges Bad for Rabbits?
We’ve learnt that rabbits can eat oranges as an occasional snack. But too much orange can have its downsides.
As we know, rabbits don’t need oranges for any nutritional value, as they produce their own vitamin C.
The reason most rabbits will love oranges is their relatively high sugar content. But, too much sugar can lead to overweight or obese rabbits.
Plus, if your rabbit gets too many sugary treats, he may stop eating his normal balanced diet, and just focus on unhealthy snacks!
Are Oranges Good For Rabbits?
If the answer to can rabbits eat oranges is yes, then does that mean they are good for them?
Sadly, not really, no.
Oranges are not hugely bad for rabbits, but they are not particularly good for them either. Let’s take a look at the negatives of this fruit.
Downsides of Oranges for Rabbits
There are a few downsides to feeding your rabbit oranges, however. Because of the sweetness of fruits, they are not the most healthy food to feed rabbits every day.
Instead, they should be given sparingly.
Large doses of fruits like banana should be avoided because of their extra-high sugar content.
At just 5 grams of sugar less than bananas according to the FDA, oranges are still quite high in sugar at 14 grams. For this reason, a wedge or two will likely do the trick.
As you would with any animal, it is best to start rabbits off with small amounts of new foods.
You do not know how your rabbit will react to a new taste, so it’s a good idea to limit its intake to small pieces of orange until you’re sure it won’t have an adverse reaction.
Can Rabbits Eat Orange Peels?
So, we know rabbits can have small pieces of orange as an occasional treat. But can rabbits eat orange peels? Or should you stick with just the fruit?
Well, opinions here differ.
Some veterinarians give the OK to feeding your rabbit orange peels. But, many rabbit owners across the Internet are leery of offering orange peels.
Why? They suggest that pesticides used in growing oranges may linger on peels and cause harm to rabbits.
Your best bet, if you do not want to take the time to remove the peel, is to offer an organic, pesticide-free orange.
Can Rabbits Eat Mandarin Oranges?
Just like oranges, mandarin oranges, or tangerines – are safe for rabbits to eat.
However, these oranges are still a sugary choice.
So, as you would with any other fruit, offer a mandarin orange in small doses and be wary of giving your rabbit too much.
Can Rabbits Eat Dried Oranges?
Dried oranges are basically oranges that have had all of their water content removed. Fruit will often shrink during this drying process. So, these smaller pieces of fruit may seem a better option for treats.
However, removing water from fruit simply concentrates the same amount of sugar and calories in a smaller package.
So dried orange is actually no healthier than regular oranges. Plus, many store-bought dried fruits contain added sugars and sweeteners to improve their taste.
These added sweeteners and sugars make dried oranges even less healthy for our rabbits, and should be avoided completely.
Can Rabbits Eat Orange Leaves?
If you grow your own oranges, you may be wondering whether rabbits are allowed to eat the branches and leaves from orange trees.
Branches and leaves from citrus trees are safe for rabbits to eat, as long as they are not covered in pesticides.
Do not let your rabbit eat orange tree branches or leaves if they have had pesticides sprayed on them, as these can really harm your rabbit.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Oranges?
Rabbits are mammals. This means that when they are first born, they rely on their mother’s milk for nutrients.
As they get older, you may start introducing small amounts of solid food into their diets.
The House Rabbit Society suggests waiting until 12 weeks to introduce very small amounts of veggies to a rabbit’s diet. However, it suggests waiting until the rabbit is around seven months old to introduce fruits such as oranges.
This will help ensure that the rabbit does not learn to refuse more nutritious foods in favor of the sweet treats they love.
Can Rabbits Eat Oranges Every Day?
Oranges are high in sugar and do not add any nutritional value to meals for rabbits. So, they should only be used as a treat.
You should only give your rabbit treats like oranges once or twice a week at most. It’s main meals should be made up of hay, nutritional pellets, and lots of leafy greens.
Only use orange segments as an occasional treat in small amounts.
Rabbits Orange Treats
Using orange as a treat is a nice way to spoil your rabbit. You can also use this fruit as a training treat, to teach your rabbit tricks.
The best way to give orange to your rabbits is to simply stick to a couple of the natural segments.
You might want to cut these up even smaller to create more of the treats during training. But remember not to give too many at once. It’s just a treat!
Alternatives to Orange for Rabbits
Oranges, as we’ve seen, are high in sugar. Plus, rabbits don’t need vitamin C, which is the main nutrient in oranges.
So you might want to consider some other foods to give your rabbit instead. Take a look at some of our other rabbit food guides below.
Can Rabbits Eat Oranges Summary
To conclude, rabbits can eat oranges.
However, it would be a good idea to limit your rabbit’s orange intake to just a few bites.
Because their nutritional value to rabbits is limited in comparison to other fruits and veggies, oranges do not need to be a staple of your rabbit’s diet.
Instead, oranges should be offered occasionally as treats, not as meal replacements.
In fact, both the House Rabbit Society and the Humane Society of America recommend using fruits as motivational treats to aid in training.
But be warned: offer too much, and your pet may decide it doesn’t like its regular food!
Further Reading & Resources
- The House Rabbit Society
- The Humane Society
- FDA, Nutrition of Fruits, 2019
- Adda Bjarnadottir, ‘Dried Fruit: Good or Bad?’, Healthline, 2017