While adult rabbits can eat most fruits and vegetables, some ingredients might not be safe for their health. Rabbits have large stomachs, designed to hold huge amounts of plant-based foods. The plants rabbits usually eat are rich in fiber content like grass hay. But that doesn’t mean rabbits should be allowed to eat everything in unlimited quantities.
If you have bunnies at home, you might be wondering if they can eat cherries. Rabbits are capable of eating and digesting a number of fresh fruits and vegetables but the catch is to limit the quantity of each fruit.
Since cherries contain high quantities of sugar, too much intake can be dangerous for your rabbit’s long-term health. Overeating itself has dire consequences that may range from obesity and heart problems to serious health problems like gut stasis and even death.
Let’s find out if you can safely include cherries in your bunny’s diet and if yes, how many should be fed on a daily basis. So, let’s get started!
Can Bunnies Eat Cherries?
Bunnies can eat a number of fruits and cherries are one of them. So, the answer is yes, rabbits can eat cherries. In fact, rabbits love sugary foods and so cherries can become one of their favorite eatables if you introduce them to their diet.
However, make sure they don’t end up eating a lot of cherries all at once. Since bunnies are known to have sweet tooth, that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to consume large amounts of sugary foods.
A lot of sugar can hurt the rabbit’s stomach and so it’s advisable to keep a check on how much sugar content they are consuming on a daily basis. High sugar content in a bunny’s diet can also make her obese, which is not good in the long run.
There are many varieties of cherries, such as black, maraschino, dark red, Chelan, dried, and rainier. Some of these are sweet, while others are sour in taste. All these varieties are safe for rabbits to consume.
Nutritional Value of Cherries
One of the great things about cherries is that they are low in calories but rich in fibrous content. Since rabbits need fiber-rich foods to keep their digestive system running smoothly, cherries are very useful for them.
Other than fiber, cherries also provide vitamin C, A, and K, as well as antioxidants and certain minerals like potassium and manganese. The fiber content of cherries can help promote bowel regularity in bunnies and offer beneficial gut bacteria to promote digestive health.
Cherries are also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, such as polyphenols. A polyphenol-rich diet is excellent for heart health and to combat many other serious health issues including obesity and diabetes.
Feeding cherries to your bunnies may help to get rid of constipation and another serious problem called gut stasis. Gut stasis can occur if your rabbit consistently keeps feeding on low-fiber foods. It is considered a dangerous situation in rabbits and may even cause death if not treated on time.
To stay away from such health issues, make sure your rabbit’s diet is rich in fiber content. Many fruits and vegetables including cherries offer a good amount of fiber so it’s recommended to add cherries to your adult rabbit’s diet.
Cherry juice is even recommended to humans because it acts as a natural laxative. It contains sorbitol and fructose in addition to fiber and vitamin C, all of which are good for getting relief from constipation.
How to Give Cherries to Your Bunny?
If you plan on introducing cherries to your bunny’s diet, it is recommended to give only half a cherry at the start. When you think the rabbit has been able to digest it, you can increase the dose slowly.
Rabbits should not be fed cherries every day. The experts tell us to give cherries to a bunny only twice a week and one serving containing no more than four cherries. First, remove the seeds and cut the cherries into small chunks before giving them to your rabbit. Cherry pits, just like the pits from apples, peaches, and plums contain cyanide. And therefore it is advisable to avoid feeding them to rabbits.
It is also recommended to give cherries only to your adult bunnies. A rabbit that is 5 to 6 months old is considered an adult. Younger bunnies should not be given cherries as the fruit might upset their stomach.
Some of the problems that may occur as a result of overeating in bunnies include;
- Loss of appetite
- Heart problems
- Tooth decay
- Gut stasis
You have to see how much your rabbit is eating daily and what kinds of foods she likes the most. If you allow the rabbit to choose her own diet, she will most likely be inclined towards high-calorie and sugary foods.
Make sure your rabbit is eating 85% of hay including alfalfa and orchard hay and only a small amount of fresh fruit and vegetable content on a daily basis. If you feed them mostly with fruits, they will develop a natural aversion to grass hay and end up having digestive issues.
How Much Should I Feed My Rabbit?
If most of your rabbit’s diet consists of grass hay, there is no limit to how much you should give it to her. Alfalfa hay is recommended only for younger and pregnant rabbits because it contains a lot of protein, which might not be good for older rabbits.
In a rabbit’s diet, leafy vegetables, fresh fruits including cherries, and non-leafy vegetables together should make up only 10 to 15% of the diet. The remaining should consist of only grass hay.
Other than cherries, you can also feed your rabbit with grapes, oranges, apples, bananas, and strawberries. However, since all these foods are high in sugar content, you should only give only a teaspoon full or three to four cherries a day to your rabbit.
Leafy and non-leafy vegetables, however, can be given in slightly larger servings. As a rule of thumb, give fresh vegetables in a portion that is twice the size of your bunny’s head. This portion may comprise of a single vegetable or three or four different types of leafy greens like mustard, carrot tops, basil, beet, and broccoli.
Yes, not only rabbits can eat cherries but the fruit can also prove to be very beneficial for their health. Cherries can help get rid of constipation and other digestive problems. They can also be great for promoting heart health in rabbits. However, since rabbits love sugary foods, they might end up overeating the cherries that you feed them.
Moreover, the mushy texture of cherries is not healthy for their sensitive stomachs, so only a careful amount should be fed in a day. Overeating cherries will cause obesity, loss of appetite, and many other health problems.
It is also recommended to give cherries only to adult rabbits. You can try cutting the cherries into small chunks and offering them to your adult bunny and see how it goes. If there is irritation or any other atypical behavior, stop giving cherries to your bunny because she might be allergic to them.
Overeating is another issue that you need to keep a check on if you’re feeding your bunny with cherries. Rabbits have large stomachs and they have the capability of eating a lot of food all at once. It is therefore recommended to limit the number of cherries fed in a day.