Tomatoes are fruits that are both loved and hated by people all over the world. They’re loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, folate, and lycopene — an antioxidant linked to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. With all of the health benefits that come from tomatoes, you may be wondering: Can rabbits eat tomatoes?
Can I Give My Rabbit Tomatoes?
In short, yes, rabbits can eat tomatoes in small amounts. This fruit is not dangerous or toxic to rabbits, but it isn’t necessarily the most nutritious snack. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t give your bunny a tomato treat every now and then.
What Do Rabbits Eat In The Wild?
In order to better understand whether or not you should be feeding your rabbit tomatoes, it helps to know what rabbits naturally eat in the wild. Rabbits have been a household pet for thousands of years, with the modern rabbit that we know today existing for around four thousand.
During this time, they have roamed throughout North and South America, Japan, Southeast Asia, Sumatra, Europe, and Africa while eating roughly the same foods. This has resulted in their digestive systems becoming optimized for these specific foods over time.
That’s why it’s so important to match your rabbit’s diet to the diet of a wild rabbit — it’s what their bodies are fine-tuned for!
Rabbits are herbivores, meaning that their diets consist only of plants and plant matter. Their bodies are able to break down the plant proteins and get all of their essential nutrients from this relatively simple group of foods. This characteristic is great for rabbit owners as herbivores can eat a wide variety of foods but don’t require too much diversity to fulfill their dietary needs. Wild rabbits have diets that consist primarily of leafy weeds, wild grasses, and forbs.
If you’ve seen a rabbit in the wild, there’s a good chance that you caught it while it was grazing. Rabbits graze so much that about 80-90% of their diet is made up of grass. The remaining 10-20% of their diet depends on their geographical location, but it generally consists of weeds, clovers, wildflowers, and vegetable plants.
Health Benefits & Dangers Of Tomatoes
Upon looking at the natural diet of a rabbit, it’s made pretty clear why tomatoes are safe but not the most optimal food for rabbits. They may not eat tomatoes specifically, but they do eat some vegetables that are similar in nature. Because of this, they’re still able to digest and process tomatoes in order to get some nutritional value out of them.
There aren’t many dangers associated with feeding your rabbit tomatoes. They won’t cause negative reactions, but they can be a bit unhealthy to feed regularly. This is due to tomatoes being high in sugar and quite acidic — traits that shouldn’t be present in your rabbit’s regular food. The high sugar content can cause bacteria overgrowth and a few digestive problems, while the acidity can cause dental and digestive issues.
A rabbit that’s new to tomatoes could experience an upset stomach after eating them, even if they’re only fed a very tiny piece. To avoid this becoming a big problem, be very observant of your rabbit when giving them tomato. If they react negatively to it, it’s generally a good idea to just avoid feeding it to them altogether. There’s plenty of other fruits and veggies that they could be eating instead!
When fed properly, tomatoes should just be a fun and tasty addition to your rabbit’s normal diet.
How To Properly Feed Your Rabbit Tomatoes
Tomatoes make for a nice bunny snack when fed properly, and proper feeding isn’t difficult to do. Rabbits are used to eating foods that are similar to tomatoes, so introducing them to this fruit won’t be a crazy experience. There are a few basic guidelines that you should follow to ensure the well-being of your rabbit, though.
When it comes to serving sizes, the equivalent of a cherry tomato fed once a week is a safe amount to feed. A quantity this small will still be a nice treat, but it’s not enough to cause any problems. Of course, it is possible for your rabbit to eat less or slightly more tomato than this, so it’s up to you as the owner to determine how much tomato your rabbit should be eating.
Upon first introducing your rabbit to tomato, make sure that you ease into it with very small amounts. This will allow you to see if your rabbit likes the tomato, and you’ll also be able to observe any potential problems that it may cause. Tomatoes shouldn’t be the only snack food for your rabbit, either. Diversifying your rabbit’s snack foods is a great way to keep their diets interesting and packed with a diverse array of nutrients.
If you do want to feed your rabbit tomatoes, you need to first make sure that their nutritional needs are being met. Despite the fact that tomatoes have quite a few healthy nutrients, they’re nowhere near healthy enough to be a staple of your rabbit’s diet. So, you’ll want to ensure that your rabbit is getting enough nutrients through other foods before supplementing their diets with fruits and vegetables.
Rabbits need their diets to be made up of around 80-90% high-quality hay. This is such an important piece of your rabbit’s diet because their bodies are very used to constant grazing and processing of grass. While it doesn’t seem like the most nutritious food, hay provides rabbits with most of the nutrients that they need to stay healthy.
Other Healthy Snacks For Your Rabbit
Rabbits can definitely eat a small amount of tomato as a snack, but it shouldn’t be the only fruit or vegetable that they eat. The key to a strong diet for your rabbit is a diverse selection of food on top of their hay. This ensures that your rabbit’s diet stays interesting yet healthy. Below are some of the most commonly-eaten and enjoyed vegetables by rabbits.
- Romaine lettuce
- Spring greens
- Artichoke leaves