While peanuts may seem like fun treats, there are plenty of reasons that you should never feed them to rabbits. Even if you’ve fed peanuts to your rabbit in the past and it seemed like they were fine, it’s still wise to avoid peanuts, as there are plenty of safer and healthier food and treat options for your rabbit.
Read on to find out why peanuts are bad for rabbits. We cover the potential health hazards and provide better treat suggestions. We also look at whether peanut shells and peanut hay are safe for your rabbit.
Facts About Peanuts
Despite having “nut” in their name, peanuts are not tree nuts, but rather legumes. Peanuts are more closely related to soybeans and lentils. Nutritionally, peanuts are known for having high fat content. They pack many calories in a small package. While they’re low in carbohydrates, peanuts are a good source of protein and an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals.
Why Are Peanuts Bad for Rabbits?
While peanuts may be safe and rather healthy for human consumption, the same set of criteria differs greatly for rabbits. Rabbits have sensitive digestive systems, as well as other health factors that make peanuts a poor choice at mealtime or as a treat.
No Nutritional Value
Peanuts, as well as peanut butter, have little to no health benefits for your rabbit. In fact, peanuts create the opposite result. If you feed your rabbit peanuts or peanut products, you’ll be doing more harm than good. Your rabbit may be so full or ill from eating peanuts that they won’t eat their regular, healthy selection of foods, which can lead to major health problems, often becoming life threatening. Digestive issues and poor health are the most obvious problems arising from rabbits eating peanuts.
High Fat Content
Since peanuts are high in fat and calories, if you regularly feed peanuts to your rabbit, there’s a risk of excess weight gain. Obesity is a serious health issue. Overweight rabbits can develop respiratory, joint, digestive, skin, and urinary tract problems. Alongside all of this and even more importantly, rabbits can develop inappropriate dental wear, sharp teeth spurs, and gut stasis due to lack of fiber in the diet.
Difficulties Digesting Peanuts and Other Nut Foods
Your rabbit has a gentle, sensitive belly that’s not equipped for digesting peanuts and other sorts of nuts, such as walnuts. The nutritional makeup of peanuts, including fats, high levels of certain minerals like phosphorus and calcium, and high sugar content, makes peanuts unsuitable for your rabbit’s ability to digest them. The extra sugar can promote the growth of bad bacteria in your rabbit’s gut, which can lead to stomach upset, bloating, and diarrhea.
Peanuts can be a possible choking hazard to rabbits. The texture of the peanut doesn’t match what your bunny normally gnaws on and eats, and it is not suited for their dental formula.
Can Rabbits Eat Peanut Shells?
If you offer peanut shells to your rabbit, chances are that they’ll leave them alone. Peanut shells aren’t good for rabbits, anyway, due to their high cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin content. Shells can also be contaminated with chemicals, such as pesticides, or even mold and may cause health complications for your rabbit. To avoid gastrointestinal distress in your rabbit, skip the peanut shells.
Can Rabbits Eat Peanut Plant Hay?
Perhaps peanut plant hay is the only acceptable peanut product to offer your bunny. However, it’s important to consult with your vet first, as it may not be appropriate for all rabbits. Peanut plant hay is considered legume hay. It’s recommended to use legume hays for pregnant, nursing, young, or underweight rabbits. However, compared to the usual and safer hay choices such as timothy, legume hays offer more protein and calcium, which is not adequate for all rabbits depending on their age and health status.
Peanuts, peanut butter, peanut shells, and other types of nuts are not good food choices for rabbits. Peanut can cause obesity and digestive issues and pose a choking hazard. If you want to treat your rabbit, you’ll be much better off giving leafy greens, such as small bites of carrots tops and broccoli, or very occasionally a limited amount of certain fruits. Offer them once or twice per week, such as a slice of a banana or apple.