Anyone who owns a rabbit knows that their lust for all things sweet can sometimes outweigh their better judgment on what to eat. When it comes to fruit, any rabbit would likely eat themselves sick if given unlimited access. Where do fruits fit into a balanced diet for a rabbit, then? In fact, if prepared correctly, rabbits can eat cherries.
In today’s article, we will cover everything you need to know about whether you can feed your rabbit cherries. After looking at their nutrition properties, we will be discussing how they fit into your rabbit’s total diet as well as which types of cherries are the best to seek out.
Yes! Rabbits Can Eat Cherries
The fleshy fruit of both sweet and sour cherries is completely safe for rabbits to eat! Because the pits contain a very small amount of cyanide, they can be toxic if ingested and should not be fed to your rabbits. And while the fruits are perfectly safe, cherry wood should not be fed to rabbits because of its toxicity.
Cherries Nutrition and Fun Facts
Though they come from a variety of cultivars, cherries are found in two main varieties. Sweet cherries are meant for consuming on their own, while sour cherries are used almost exclusively for baking and confections. They are suspected to have originated in Turkey, and their presence has been recorded since 72 BC.
Cherries are only abundant in one substance – sugar! With an extremely small portion of vitamins and minerals, they are prized for their flavor more than their nutritional value. Even sour cherries have a high proportion of sugar, with nearly 9 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit according to Nutritionvalue.org.
Do Cherries Have Health Benefits for Rabbits?
Because of their exceedingly high sugar content, cherries cannot truly be said to be beneficial for most rabbits’ health. Most of the benefit of cherries for rabbits comes from the sense of safety and satisfaction that can come from giving them as occasional treats, helping your rabbit to feel more comfortable and cared for in your home.
Why Are Cherries Bad for Rabbits?
The detrimental effects of cherries for rabbits come from their extremely high sugar content. Though rabbits crave sweets, their digestive systems are poorly equipped to handle simple sugars. Too much of any sweet food will upset the balance of bacteria in your rabbit’s gut, potentially leading to disastrous consequences for their gastrointestinal health.
How to Feed Cherries to Your Rabbits
It is essential to only feed cherries to your rabbit infrequently. Save them as an occasional treat or use them as a reward while training your rabbit in better behaviors. Either way, peel the flesh from the cherries and discard their pits before feeding them to your rabbit.
How Many Cherries Should I Feed My Rabbit?
Even the largest rabbits should not be fed very many cherries in one sitting. Chop up the flesh of cherries into smaller pieces and feed them to your rabbit sparingly. For smaller rabbits, feeding them less than a whole cherry is appropriate.
Types of Cherries to Feed Your Rabbit
There are more than two dozen recognized varieties of cherries, and all of them have nearly identical nutritional properties. Most rabbits seem to prefer sweet cherries because of their higher sugar content, but sour cherries may be a better choice for your rabbit because of their relatively lower sweetness.
Final Thoughts on Feeding Cherries to Your Rabbit
While almost every rabbit will gladly gobble up any cherry within their reach, it is not advisable to feed them to your pet on a regular basis. Even though they are not toxic to rabbits, their high sugar content makes them potentially dangerous to your rabbit’s digestive health. Save them as an occasional treat, or for rewarding good behavior during training.
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Featured Image Credit: (R) Zidonito McBrain, Unsplash | (L) Gavin Allenwood, Unsplash