The almond tree belongs to the Prunus genus which has other fruit trees including apricots, plums, cherries, nectarines, and peaches. They are cultivated mainly for their seeds, which are not true nuts, obtained from their drupe fruit.
Some of the almond varieties are sweat with the Prunus dulcis var. dulcis often having sweet seeds whereas the Prunus dulcis var. amara have seeds that are always bitter. Despite having medicinal value, the bitter almonds have cyanide which can cause poisoning.
Can I give my rabbit almonds?
Before we give our verdict, you deserve to know that almonds are nutritious and have fiber, proteins, fats, vitamin E, B2, manganese, phosphorus, phytic acid and so on.
The antioxidants they have help in reducing oxidative stress, they can help control blood sugar level, their magnesium can benefit blood pressure levels, they can lower cholesterol, among other benefits.
Our verdict on giving these seeds to bunnies is no. You should not provide rabbits almonds. Whereas they may not kill them and have nutrients that might be beneficial, they have a high content of fats, and the bitter almonds have cyanide.
The rabbit’s digestive system may not be able to digest fats effectively. Their caecum is best adapted to absorb nutrients such as minerals and vitamins contained in fiber foods. Therefore, their ideal foods should have high fiber, low sugar, and fats. This is where hay becomes very important.
Feeding your bunnies these nuts often may bring digestive problems as well as nutritional imbalances. There is a chance of weight gain and obesity too since they are highly calorific.
Therefore, avoid giving your bunnies any bitter almonds. Should you want to provide them with the sweet ones, they should be offered as rare treats in small quantities (a nut or two occasionally). They will not kill them but might not have many nutritional benefits as they do to human beings.
What about almond leaves and twigs?
Like all other members of the Prunus genus, their leaves, twig or wood are poisonous to rabbits and should not be given at all. Some sources state that the wood could be safe if it is completely dried.
Instead, consider fruit trees that have multiple seeds such as apples, pears, grapevines and so on. Their plant (branches and leaves) are safe even when they are still fresh.
Rabbits derive most of their nutrients from the hay which should account for over 80% of their daily dietary needs with Kaytee Timothy Hay, and Oxbow Timothy Hay good brands to buy. The rest could be high fiber pellets making about 5% and the remainder fresh foods.
Fresh foods should be predominantly leafy greens with small amounts of treats such as fruit that rabbits eat as well as non-leafy green vegetables.