Have you ever asked yourself the question, can rabbits eat strawberries? You may be wondering if this fruit makes a suitable summer treat for your pet, or maybe your rabbit has had a nibble on a juicy red strawberry in the vegetable garden and you are wondering if this is a cause for concern. So, can rabbits have strawberries? Read on for the answers to this and more.
Are strawberries harmful to rabbits?
Nothing says summer more than a bowl of fresh red strawberries; a delicious treat for us maybe but possibly not such a great idea for our bunny friends. If you have a rabbit that loves spending time in your veg patch, you may have found that they love the taste of this summer fruit, and who can blame them? With such a sweet taste and juicy texture, these fruits make a delectable and refreshing summer snack.
Strawberries are non-toxic for our bunny friends, but just because they can eat them, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they should. So, the answer to ‘can rabbits eat strawberries?’ is yes, but there are more suitable snacks that would make a better choice. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail.
Why rabbits shouldn’t eat strawberries
Eating a strawberry on an occasional basis is unlikely to cause problems for a rabbit, but you should resist the temptation to feed your bunny too many strawberries for these reasons:
- Weight gain – strawberries have a relatively high sugar content so eating too many strawberries will increase the risk of weight gain and obesity. In turn, obesity increases the risk of several diseases including arthritis and fly strike.
- Gut problems – bunnies have a very sensitive digestive system. Any changes to their normal diet, such as eating lots of soft fruit, will predispose them to gut upsets. Gut stasis (when the digestive tract stops moving) and bloat are two serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences of an upset tummy in rabbits.
Do strawberries have any health benefits for rabbits?
- Water content – strawberries have a high fluid content, being approximately 90% water. You may wonder if strawberries make a good and hydrating snack on a hot day. However, there are more suitable snacks for the hot weather that are less high in sugar. Why not offer a small piece of cucumber instead?
- Vitamin C – like many fruits, strawberries are rich in vitamin C. However, unlike us humans, rabbits can make their own vitamin C from glucose. This means that they don’t have the same requirement as we do to obtain it from their food.
So, if there are no particular health benefits from feeding strawberries to your rabbit, and you may risk making your bun unwell, it is best to be safe and offer snacks that are more bunny-friendly on a daily basis. Strawberries shouldn’t be part of the daily diet but you may choose to feed them as an occasional treat in very small quantities.
What should I feed my rabbit?
In the wild, rabbits spend much of their time grazing, with grass forming the major part of their daily food intake. Grass may not be so readily available for our pet bunnies, so they should be offered unlimited hay as a substitute. As a rough guide, they should eat a quantity of hay the same size as their own body each day.
This should be supplemented with a tablespoon of high-quality bunny food. Muesli-style diets can sometimes raise the problem of selective feeding, in which the rabbit picks out their favourite ingredients and leaves the others behind. If this is the case with your bun, it’s best to choose an alternative diet that your pet will eat in its entirety. Bunnies should also be offered a handful of fresh vegetables to ensure they get all the nutrients that they need; carrots, cabbage, or dandelion leaves are a good choice.
For more information, check out our article with all you need to know about feeding your rabbit a great diet.
So, can rabbits eat strawberries? Strawberries are non-toxic and fed in very small quantities are unlikely to cause harm. However, there are plenty of veggie treats that are a more suitable choice, so save the strawberries for yourself and reach for more bunny-friendly options for your pet’s daily portion of fresh veg.