Most rabbits LOVE fruity snacks as treats. However, there are some foods that are safe for humans but can be harmful to your pet bunny. One common food, strawberries, is often in question: Can rabbits eat strawberries safely?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Check out whether rabbits can eat tomatoes here!
What Are Rabbits?
Rabbits and bunnies are small mammals that hop around from place to place.
They are commonly seen as pets with their sweet eyes, floppy ears, furry faces, and cute whiskers.
Rabbits come in many colors, shapes, and sizes, most commonly seen in shades of white, brown, black, and patches or combinations of those colors.
They can be seen with a large ear for their body size and even have long-eared varieties with even larger drooping ears.
Rabbits have long incisors (front teeth) that are constantly growing and needing to be filed either naturally or by the help of some intervention, both discussed further into this article.
What Do Rabbits Need From a Healthy Diet?
A well-balanced rabbit diet will need to deliver a multitude of things to the bunny ingesting it.
Just like humans, rabbits need the right combination of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water to keep their organs working and functioning properly.
However, the daily nutritional requirements for a rabbit differ quite greatly from that of a human, and that is reflected in the common diet that most healthy and happy pet rabbits eat.
What Does a Typical Rabbit Diet Consist of?
An adult rabbit’s main source of food in their diet should come mostly from high-quality hay.
Hay is a forage that is low in calories and high in fiber, easy on the rabbit’s digestive system.
Other pieces of the rabbit’s diet may include commercial pellets and/or treats and snacks such as fruits and vegetables.
However, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for your bunny to have.
Let’s Talk Strawberries:
The strawberry plant is a flowering plant that is perennial, which means that it can survive and come back year after year.
The strawberry plant produces heart-shaped red berries that are coated on their exteriors with small, hard strawberry seeds.
The top of each strawberry has a stem and strawberry leaves attached it’s strawberry top.
When ripe, they have a sweet taste and once bit in to, a sweet, juicy fruit inside.
Strawberry Health Benefits:
Strawberries are high in water content and fairly low sugar content (compared to water content) low in calories, high in vitamin C and antioxidants. According to a recent Healthline article,
They’re an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, which may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/strawberries
Strawberries also contain a notable amount of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and folate.
According to other studies, strawberries may also be good for lowering your blood pressure and may also be good for your heart [source].
Another study even concluded that strawberries may be beneficial when it comes to diabetes and glucose metabolism [source].
Are Strawberries Healthy For Rabbits to Eat?
A strawberry contains some essential nutrients including calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin C that can be helpful in keeping your rabbit healthy.
Calcium and phosphorous are an integral part of a diet which is necessary for proper bone development, Teeth growth, and other nervous system needs.
They also has some other potential health benefits for your pet bunny rabbit:
- Inflammation/Antioxidants: Multiple studies show that strawberries are a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds that help in fighting against inflammation.
- Vitamins: A strawberry contains a high amount of vitamin C and smaller amounts of other notable vitamins such as vitamin B9. Rabbits need vitamins to stay healthy and to allow their bodies to function properly. Vitamin C helps your rabbit stay safe and adequately protected from diseases and strengthens their immune system.
- Diabetes/Blood Sugar: Strawberries may help with glucose levels and glucose metabolism in the bloodstream.
May Reduce Inflammation
Multiple research studies have shown that strawberries are a source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which effectively can help fight different forms of inflammation found inside the body.
As mentioned above, strawberries are packed with these potential anti-inflammatory molecules called antioxidants.
Antioxidants are thought to help reduce inflammation inside the body by binding (attaching) to and suppressing (decreasing) inflammation-promoting molecules known as free radicals. [source]
Source of Fiber:
Strawberries also contain a good amount of fiber, which is an essential part of a rabbits diet as it helps in maintaining their digestive tract and gastrointestinal health.
Do Rabbits Eat Strawberries?
Most rabbits will eat a strawberry when offered. Strawberries are refreshing and sweet to your rabbit.
In a veggie garden, most rabbits will chose vegetables like peas, beans, beets, and carrots and really any sweet fruit offered to them.
But just because rabbits DO eat strawberries does not necessarily mean that this is the best or safest choice for your pet.
Don’t be too worried if your rabbit does not eat strawberries that are offered to them – it’s just fine for some bunnies to do.
You will find another fruit alternative as a source of fresh food that your bunny can enjoy eating.
Can Rabbits Eat Strawberries Safely?
There are some foods that us humans can eat that are actually toxic to your rabbit and need to be avoided all together.
While there isn’t anything toxic to rabbits in the actual strawberry itself, you shouldn’t give them too much because problems may arise as I will discuss further down in this article.
Pet owners can chose to feed strawberries to their rabbits, but it should not make up their entire diet. Rabbits prefer munching on grass, commercial feed pellets, and hay, along with a bowl of clean, fresh water.
You see, rabbits are herbivores and need a diet which is high-in fiber and low in sugar and fat.
They get their fiber supplied in the form of plants, such as hay which is a roughage that contains a lot of fiber.
This fiber is beneficial for two reasons:
- Dietary fiber keeps the rabbit’s digestive system running smoothly (it’s the same reason why some people take a fiber supplement like Metamucil!).
- The physical roughage (hay) helps keep the rabbit’s teeth healthy and worn down as their teeth are continually growing and need to be filed in order to prevent overgrowth.
So, long story short- Yes!
Adult rabbits can have strawberries, if offered to them safely, and I’ll cover that in just a bit.
You do not want to feed the wrong strawberry or the wrong amount or frequency, potentially making your furry friend unintentionally sick.
Can Baby Bunnies Eat Strawberries?
Compared to their adult counterparts, baby rabbits have much more sensitive gastrointestinal systems.
Avoid feeding baby bunnies any kinds of fruits and vegetables until they reach 12 weeks of age to allow their stomachs to mature with them.
Then, when ready to introduce them to juicy vegetables, take it very slowly, waiting at least 24 hours to observe any potential adverse side effects, before moving on and trying more of the same veggie snack or a different tasty treat.
Remember – baby and young, and juvenile rabbits have more sensitive digestive systems!
Wait 24 hours to see their reaction.
If everything is fine, you can move to the next treat.
How About Strawberry Leaves?
There’s no reason your rabbit can’t enjoy chewing on strawberry leaves unless they just don’t like strawberries at all.
They love having little things in their mouths to chew on and to keep them occupied and entertained throughout their busy days!
The stem texture is not too tough, so as long as the stem is short and thin, then it’s okay for a small bit of stem to still be attached to the strawberry for them to nibble on.
But just like anything else that they can stick in their mouths, these can be a choking hazard so monitor your bunny while snacking on this berry treat!
Can Rabbits Eat Strawberry Seeds?
Your bunny should have no problem munching away on a fresh slice of strawberry with the seeds intact.
There is no reason why these small strawberry seeds need to be removed before serving strawberry pieces to your pet rabbit.
Can They Have Strawberry Tops?
Rabbits can eat strawberry tops, but they may very well prefer the sweetness of the berry over its top.
The strawberry top has much less sugar than the rest of the berry, which is good for your pet’s health, but not good in respect of flavor.
Strawberry tops can be fed to your rabbit but they should be offered fresh and cleaned.
Can Rabbits Have Strawberry Juice?
Fruit juices typically contain high amounts of sugars as well as other additives in some juices. This added sugar content is not safe or healthy for your pet bunny. Don’t offer your pet strawberry juice.
Can They have Frozen Strawberries?
No, rabbits should not be given frozen strawberries. Frozen fruits such as strawberries are a choking hazard, something that your pet should not be offered.
Can Rabbits Eat Strawberry Jam or Jelly?
Jellies and jams have added sugars, spices, and/or preservatives or additives in them.
Therefore, it is not advised to feed your rabbit any fruit jam or jelly, including the strawberry varieties.
Can Rabbits Eat Dried Strawberries?
No, your rabbit should not be fed any dried strawberries.
Dried strawberries contain extra sugars that your pet bunny does not need to ingest and can in fact, negatively impact your pet’s health.
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Strawberries?
Do not give your rabbit any cooked strawberries.
Any cooked or processed strawberry is not recommended since your rabbit is an herbivore and they rely on raw foods to get their nutrients.
Everything a rabbit needs can be provided in fresh and raw form. Your rabbit’s stomach is just not made to handle cooked food, including strawberries.
One big advantage with offering raw fruits and vegetables is that it’s not only healthier for your rabbit, but it is much less effort on your part!
Medical & Health Concerns of Feeding Strawberries to Rabbits:
Are there any circumstances when strawberries might be bad for your pet?
Yes, some of the common issues seen with feeding strawberries to rabbits include:
- Pesticides: Strawberries should always be washed to make sure they are free of any pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful to rabbits.
- Parasites: Strawberries should be checked over for parasites that can lead to potential parasite problems with your rabbit
- Sugar Content: Some fruits, like strawberries, contain quite a bit of natural sugar. This additional sugar is not necessarily healthy for your rabbit to be consuming on a regular basis as their digestive system is not built to handle additional sugars.
- Overly Ripened: Avoid rotten fruits and vegetables that can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.
- Baby Bunnies: Baby bunnies have a more sensitive digestive system than their adult counterparts do, and therefore you shouldn’t give your rabbit friend any fruits or vegetables until they reach around 12 weeks of age.
How To Feed Strawberries To Your Rabbit:
First off, you should always purchase high-quality strawberries for your bunny from a reputable food source.
All fruits and vegetables will need to have a visual inspection done to make sure that you are giving your pet a ripe, healthy food to eat.
Next, you will need to remove cut, slice, chop, or dice up the strawberry so that your rabbit can safely eat it.
They will need food in bite-sized pieces at first. When first introducing your rabbit to strawberries, you want to see how they do after giving them just one small piece!
Food should be presented in a shallow clean dish that is not easily tipped over.
Fresh water should always be available in a shallow dish that can’t be easily tipped over. This water dish should be washed and cleaned daily.
Any food left in your rabbit’s enclosure that is not eaten up will start to get old and become unsafe for your bunny to eat, if they will even touch it at all.
This could lead to some major health issues, as well as a smelly enclosure and a bug problem – things you definitely do not want to deal with.
So, it is very important to clean out any foods that your rabbit leaves behind in a timely manner.
- 1 medium fresh store-bought strawberry
- cutting board
- vegetable knife
- Make sure to wash the strawberries thoroughly, removing any possible dirt, chemicals, or pesticides.
- Then you can cut the strawberries into bite-sized pieces or thin slices.
- Make sure to use a clean knife and cutting board that are food-safe to do the cutting.
Consult with your pet's veterinarian before introducing a new feed into your pet's diet, and ask them any questions or concerns that you may have.
Serving Size of Strawberries To Feed Your Rabbit:
First step to focus in on is the serving size that you are giving your fur baby.
Depending on your rabbit’s size, the average strawberry portion should be up to 1 tablespoon of bite-sized strawberry per feeding.
This is for an average-sized rabbit. If you have a smaller rabbit, feed it a smaller amount.
When first introducing your rabbit to strawberries, offer one small piece of strawberry and wait at least 24 hours to see if any adverse reactions occur before offering your pet more strawberries.
They should only be fed strawberries up to 1-2 times per week at most, but not on a daily basis or any two days in a row. Work up to this frequency and amount however!
Remember that strawberries should be limited to a special treat only because of potential digestive and other assorted health problems.
Moderation is key here!
How Much Strawberry to Feed Your Rabbit:
Fresh vegetables should be as a supplement to your pet rabbit’s already well-balanced diet.
These fresh fruits and veggies should make up about 10-15% of your bunnies diet.
Depending on your rabbit’s size, the average strawberry portion should be up to 1 tablespoon of bite-sized strawberry per feeding.
Keep in mind that too many fruits or vegetables can cause digestive distress.
Common Signs of Adverse Reaction:
- diarrhea/loose stool
- excessive or increased itching/scratching/licking of skin or paws
Rabbits can have ripe, clean strawberries in moderation.
Too many strawberries can cause a multitude of health problems for your bunny.
Do not feed immature rabbits or rabbits with underlying health conditions strawberries even as a treat until they are of correct age to have it or their condition has improved and strawberry-eating has been approved by your veterinarian.
If you have concerns regarding feeding your rabbit strawberries, contact your local veterinarian beforehand.
- Oglesbee B. The 5 Minute Veterinary Consults Ferret and Rabbit, Blackwell 2006
- Rabbit Care
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.