Oranges have an excellent reputation for their nutritional value and taste, with abundant vitamin C and an enticing aroma being their biggest selling points for human diets.
As herbivores, though, do rabbits enjoy the health benefits of oranges in the same way that people do? After all, a rabbit’s digestive and immune systems are very different from our own. For starters, rabbits make their own vitamin C.
So, if you’ve seen your rabbit eagerly nosing around an orange while you’re eating it, you may be wondering: Is this safe for them to eat? As with any fruit, just because rabbits can eat oranges in very small amounts as a rare treat, it doesn’t mean they should. Rabbits eating fruit significantly increases the risk of developing gut stasis or other digestive disorders and disbalance in their gut bacteria. This means oranges should be avoided altogether or offered very cautiously!
A rabbit’s diet is based on fiber from the hay and grass, alongside a very small percentage of leafy greens and other vegetables. Fruits are not suitable to be a part of their diet. To summarize, yes, rabbits may eat oranges, but they shouldn’t due to significant health risks.
In this guide, we’ll be providing you with answers for how oranges may harm your rabbit’s digestion and health and why it would be best to avoid them altogether.
Yes! Rabbits Can Eat Oranges, But They Really Shouldn’t
While rabbits can eat oranges, it begs the question of whether rabbits should eat oranges; after all, they’re quite high in sugar and contain citric acid. Excess of these can easily lead to a gastrointestinal upset in rabbits. Unfortunately, there is a lack of reputable evidence to let us know at what amount are oranges safe or unsafe for rabbits, but fruit should not be a part of a rabbit’s diet and carries significant health risks with it.
A very small amount now and then is probably not going to harm most rabbits, but some may develop gut stasis or diarrhea, and it’s important to be aware of the inappropriateness of fruits for your rabbit’s digestion. Always speak to your vet before considering any new foods or fruit for your bunny.
So, while oranges are not toxic for rabbits, they shouldn’t form any part of your rabbit’s diet. Instead, the largest part of your rabbit’s nutrition should come from fresh hay and plenty of filtered water, with a daily serving of vegetables at recommended amounts. Save fruits and other sweet snacks as a very rare treat, if any at all, and your rabbit’s weight and digestive system will stay healthy for years to come.
Nutrition Facts for Oranges
Oranges are a primarily sweet and sugary food, according to the USDA. Besides their high vitamin C content and moderate amount of dietary fiber, oranges only provide very small amounts of other vitamins and minerals. The sugar content of most fruits is what makes them unsuitable to be a part of a rabbit’s diet due to the harmful effects it can have on their digestion and general health.
Health Benefits and Dangers of Oranges for Rabbits
Did you know that rabbits don’t require vitamin C in the same way humans do? It’s true; and in fact, an excess of vitamin C can cause kidney damage in rabbits. While oranges don’t have enough vitamin C to be likely to cause this damage, it’s worth noting that they don’t have much else to offer in the way of nutritional value.
Amongst fruits that you could choose as rare treats for your rabbit, oranges are one of the highest-sugar and lowest-nutrient options. It’s best to stick to offering your rabbit unlimited amounts of fresh hay and a limited amount of veg, while fruits should be reserved as a very occasional treat in small, bite-sized pieces once or twice a week.
How to Feed Oranges to Your Rabbits
If you still want to try offering your rabbit a little bit of orange, consult with a vet, be aware of the health risks we discussed, and make sure this is a very rare treat. Fruits and veggies together should not make more than 10% of a rabbit’s daily food intake in order to keep their digestive tract running smoothly.
Always be sure to peel a part of the orange that you’re going to feed to your rabbit and remove as much of the white pith as possible, as well as the seeds. Both the peel and pith are bitter, quite chewy, and have very low nutritional value. After this, breaking the orange into segments will make it easier to moderate how much your rabbit eats at any one time.
How Much Orange Should I Feed My Rabbit?
First, let us say again that oranges are one of the highest-sugar treats that you can feed to your rabbit, with a risk of negatively impacting your rabbit’s health. Because of this, we prefer to feed other, more nutritionally appropriate food to our rabbits, such as fresh leafy vegetables instead of fruit that may be harmful.
If you would like to feed oranges to your rabbits, though, speak to your veterinarian first and observe strict moderation. Don’t feed it to your rabbit more than once a week, and only in portions about the size of a bite.
Types of Oranges to Feed Your Rabbit
Again, oranges are not the type of fruit we would recommend for your rabbit. They are one of the most varied citrus fruits in the world, and any visit to a grocery store is likely to turn up half a dozen varieties. As far as nutritional value goes, all these oranges are nearly the same: High in sugar and vitamin C, but with little else to offer.
There is also a type of orange called bitter orange that may have negative effects on human and animal health, although the research on this is currently limited and controversial. It just shows that fruit should not find their way in a rabbit’s diet.
Because of their high sugar content, citric acid, and relative lack of bunny-specific nutrients, and, more importantly, due to the rabbit’s specific digestive system and sensitive gut bacteria, we’re not big fans of feeding oranges or most other fruits to our rabbits. While oranges may seem safe for most rabbits to eat in the tiniest amount and very sparingly, there is still a significant risk of digestive and other health issues, and we prefer to choose hay and fiber or veggies that are more suited for their digestive tract.