Can rabbits eat tomatoes?
Rabbits can eat tomatoes in small quantities on occasion. Rabbits need a diet high in fiber and low in sugar, so tomatoes don’t have the same health benefits for bunnies that they hold for humans.
Tomato leaves are poisonous to rabbits.
Rabbits And Tomatoes
It is easy to assume that our cute little herbivorous friends will be up for any variety of fruit or vegetable in their diet.
But it isn’t quite that straightforward.
In this article we will learn more about the ideal diet for rabbits, and why tomatoes are not the best food to give them.
And a word of caution before we start – while you can give your rabbits tomatoes, never feed them the leaves. We will find out why later in the article.
What Is A Natural Rabbit Diet?
Rabbits are lagomorphs. “What does that mean?” I hear you ask.
There are 80 species of lagomorphs, with the rabbit perhaps being the most well-known. They resemble rodents, and it is believed that they are related.
Their native diet is grasses and small plants. They require high amounts of fiber in their diets for their digestive systems to work properly.
Tomatoes are actually a fruit. And while lagomorphs can eat fruit, it does not contain the same necessary nutrition that grasses and small plants provide.
But let’s look closer at tomatoes so we understand how they differ from the grasses that make up the bulk of a rabbit’s natural diet.
What Are Tomatoes?
As we mentioned, tomatoes are in fact a fruit. Even more specifically, a berry! Most of us tend to think of them as vegetables. They are high in many nutrients important to humans, such as folate, vitamin C, and potassium.
Tomatoes are popular in many countries and form the basis of many cuisines. They are also relatively easy to grow, even in your own backyard.
Understandably, being such a common healthy ingredient, it is only natural that you would think to share some with your rabbit. And most rabbits will happily nibble on a tomato if it is offered to them.
Are Tomatoes Good For Rabbits?
As we mentioned, tomatoes are a great source of nutrition for humans. And while they are not bad for rabbits, they don’t hold out the same benefits to rabbits as they do for us, and for this reason should be only offered as a treat.
Largely, this is because they don’t contain as much fiber as grasses and small plants. A high fiber diet ensures your rabbit’s digestive system can work properly.
All the chewing required to eat grasses and hay also wears down the rabbit’s teeth. This is vital as a rabbit’s teeth continually grow and need to be worn down to prevent dental problems.
In fact, a rabbit’s natural diet is pretty much solely grasses and hay – not carrots (as Bugs Bunny would have you believe) or tomatoes.
However, your rabbit will no doubt enjoy an occasional nibble on a tomato. Just make sure it’s strictly a treat only.
Are Tomatoes Bad For Rabbits?
Tomatoes are not so much bad for rabbits as they are of no great value to them. As such, they will have a negative impact if too many are eaten.
Think of tomatoes for rabbits as something similar to cake for us humans.
If tomatoes start to take up too much of their diet, then your rabbit’s health might be affected. They will fill up with tomatoes rather then the grasses and hay they should be eating.
It is also important to be aware that you should never feed your rabbit tomato leaves. These are poisonous to your rabbit and will make your bunny very ill. If you think your rabbit has eaten tomato leaves, take them to your vet immediately.
What Fruit Can Rabbits Eat?
If you are keen to reward your rabbit with a sweet treat occasionally, a bite of an apple or a banana, or a nibble on some carrot or tomato is a good choice.
Rabbits have a bit of a sweet tooth, so don’t let them talk you into feeding them too much fruit!
Beware of processed foods that are marketed as rabbit treats, such as rabbit safe chocolate drops and the like. While fruit is not exactly a natural part of a rabbit’s diet, it is far better for them than foods that are overly processed.
Plus, a bite of apple is far cheaper!
Which Fruit Is Toxic To Rabbits?
There are a number of foods which are toxic to rabbits, such as breads, cereals and chocolate to name just a few. In general, don’t feed human food to rabbits – they simply aren’t cut out for it.
When it comes to fruit it can be a little more confusing. Some are fine as treats and others are dangerous. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some fruits and vegetables you should never feed your bunny.
- Apple seeds
- Apricot (all parts aside from the fruit)
- Rhubarb leaves
- Iceberg lettuce in large quantities
Before you introduce anything new into your bunny’s diet, be sure to check if it is safe for her.
However, there is no need to feed a large variety of different fruits and vegetables. Grass and hay should really be the basis for their diet, with only the occasional fruity treat.
Do Rabbits Like Fruit?
Yes, they do! That is why it is so easy to feed them far too much!
That is not to say that they don’t enjoy their staple diet of grass and hay. In their natural habitat they would spend 6-8 hours a day grazing on grasses, so it can’t be that unenjoyable for them.
You are really doing your rabbit a favor by reserving fruits as a treat. Encourage them to stick to their natural diet of grass and hay so they don’t get a taste for food that is not the best for their health.
Can Rabbits Eat Tomatoes?
In short, yes, your bunny can eat tomatoes… but not too many! They should be given strictly as a treat only.
While tomatoes will not harm your rabbit in small quantities, they are not the natural diet of rabbits, and eating too many of them will interfere with optimal digestion.
Also beware that tomato leaves and stalks are poisonous to rabbits, so if you suspect your rabbit has attacked your tomato plant, then take them to the vet immediately.
We hope you enjoyed this article and found the information helpful. Do you have a pet rabbit? What healthy treats do they enjoy? Let us know in the comments section below.
- Animal Diversity Web
- University of California, “Tomato Anatomy”
- Beecher, G.R., “Nutrient Content of Tomatoes and Tomato Products” Proceeding of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 1998
- University of Georgia, “Commercial Tomato Production Handbook”
- Purdue University, “Hydroponic Tomato Production in Soilless Culture”
- RSPCA Australia
- RSPCA UK
- Victoria State Government, “Toxic Foods and Plants for Rabbits”
- European Pet Food Industry Federation, “Nutritional Guidelines for Feeding Pet Rabbits”