Strawberries are aromatic, juicy, sweet bright red fruits which according to WebMD can “protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer.” They can also reduce inflammation, arthritis pain, fight free radical damage, among other benefits.
These fruits contain sugar, fiber, vitamin C, A, K, manganese, magnesium among other nutrients. Can you give strawberries to your rabbits or are they harmful?
Do rabbits eat strawberries?
Yes. Rabbits can eat strawberries. They are not harmful or toxic. There is a consensus on this fact with various sources including Saveafluff.co.uk, Rabbit.org and Rabbits.life all agreeing on the issue. Bunnies can eat all types of uncooked berries.
However, like any other fruit that bunnies eat such as apples, bananas, mangoes, grapes, raisins, pineapples, kiwi fruits, watermelons, peaches, papayas and so on, they should be given as treats and not substitute the rabbit’s recommended diet. They should not eat fruits.
Secondly, they should be given in small amounts. A teaspoon per two pounds of bunny weight per day occasionally is the recommended amount. One medium-sized one is enough. Do not give them to young ones since their digestive system may not be able to handle fruits and vegetables yet.
Your furry friends will like these berries so much. However, you cannot give them more due to the following reasons:
- Their lagomorph digestive system is designed to digest cellulose and not sugars, fats or carbohydrates. These fruits have lots of sugar and carbs while the bunny’s diet has low sugar, carbs, and high fiber. Dried strawberries have even more sugar.
- Giving them too much sugar may affect their gut flora by encouraging bad bacterial growth. This might cause stomach upsets, diarrhea, nutrition absorption problems, bowel movement problems among others.
- Finally, the high calories found in the excessive sugars and carbohydrates will make your rabbits be obese or add weight. This will affect their grooming ability and shorten their lifespan.
Despite all these reasons, as we have seen, they can be a source of additional nutrients as well as treats especially if you are training your rabbits such as litter training them or if you want to sharpen their brilliance using logic toys. They can also be used to check if your bunny is ok and enhance their happiness.
The rule of giving your bunnies any treat is varying them, i.e., including different fruits and the non-leafy treats including carrots, broccoli, bell papers, cucumber, cabbage, pumpkins, zucchini, among others. Treats can account for up to 5-10% of your rabbit’s diet.
How to feed these berries?
As Rabbit.life notes, “introduce any new foods to your rabbit slowly and in small amounts, especially fruits. Observe your pet for any unusual behavior. If you pet bunny doesn’t show any discomfort or soft stool, you can continue feeding him strawberries.”
In case of diarrhea, gas or stomach upsets, stop giving them strawberries. Instead, give them the recommended foods which are mainly hay and small amounts of high fiber pellets and some fresh foods, especially leafy greens.
Organically grown ones will be recommended and if not, clean them thoroughly with clean running water to get rid of any remnant herbicides, pesticides or insecticides.
Can they eat strawberry leaves and plant?
Yes. Bunnies can also eat strawberry plant and leaves. As Sfgate.com notes, “low-lying strawberry plants are easy for rabbits to reach, allowing them to use their incisors to destroy the berry plants.”
They can nibble the tender leaves, shoot, and flowers. The leaves are much healthier than fruits, and they can be added to the list of leafy greens that your bunny can eat. Other leafy greens that are safe include cucumber leaves, carrot tops, arugula, wheatgrass, watercress, cilantro, borage leaves, basil, mint and so on.
The leafy-greens should be 75% of the fresh foods you give your furry friends. Keep varying them and giving them at least three different types. Remember fresh foods should be about 10 -15% of your bunny’s diet. ,
Strawberry plants, leaves, and fruits are safe for rabbits. However, the fruits should be given in small quantities as occasional treats. Be careful not to make your bunnies to be used to these sweet fruits until they stop eating their usual recommended diets.