Question: Can rabbits eat cranberries?
Answer: Yes Rabbits can eat cranberries, but because of their high sugar content, cranberries are defined as a sweet treat to be given in a small amount, once or twice a week.
The botanical name for cranberries is Vaccinium subg Oxycoccus and although cranberries are cultivated in many countries, they are predominantly found in North America as well as Spain and the Netherlands in Europe.
Rabbits tend to have a ‘sweet tooth’ and most love cranberries, but because of their high sugar content and low amount of nutrition, cranberries should be fed to your rabbit as a treat and only if your rabbit is in good health and not suffering from any digestive problems and is not obese.
Cranberries like many other fruit and vegetables should be given to your rabbit as a treat only once or twice a week and only in small amounts. It is important to give your rabbit plenty of different treats to ensure he gets a balanced diet and these must be given in modest amounts and only to supplement, rather than in place of, your rabbit’s basic diet.
What is the basic diet for rabbits?
To ensure that your rabbit enjoys good health, he needs a good basic diet and to this you can add a variety of other fruit, vegetables and herbs in small quantities. This will give your rabbit the broadest diet that ensures that he gets all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to keep him healthy.
The basic diet for a rabbit is an unlimited amount of fresh, good quality hay, rabbit pellets and plenty of fresh drinking water. On top of these basic foods, rabbits should be given fresh, leafy vegetables every day. The amount that they require is 1- 2 tablespoons per 500g of body weight. Lettuce (not iceberg lettuce) curly kale and celery are among the leafy greens that are good for rabbits.
As well as enjoying leafy greens every day, there are an array of different fruit and vegetables that rabbits can be fed in small quantities as occasional treats – and cranberries fall into this group. Rabbits have small stomachs so it is really important that they do not just eat one food type – especially if it is not particularly nutritious or it is high in sugar. If they do, they will then have a full stomach and not be able to eat the more nutritious foods. Importantly, if this pattern continues for some time, your rabbit can suffer from malnutrition, or if the diet is sugar rich, your rabbit will become obese or suffer with dental problems.
So are cranberries bad for rabbits?
On the contrary, fresh cranberries are completely safe and not toxic for rabbits. They enjoy eating fresh cranberries but must never be given dried cranberries or cranberry juice as both of these contain added sugar.
Rabbits love sweet food and most enjoy tucking into some cranberries but nutritionally, cranberries are poor as they contain only traces of Vitamins A, E and B6. Cranberries also contain just traces of protein and various minerals including copper, magnesium, niacin and potassium.
Can rabbits eat other fruit and berries?
You should only give rabbits small quantities of different fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs to ensure that they enjoy a good balanced diet. Among the small amounts of fruit that your rabbit will enjoy are melon, nectarine, banana, papaya and plum. Two other berries that your rabbit will enjoy eating are strawberry, blackberries, blueberries and raspberry.
How much fresh cranberry should I feed my rabbit?
Carefully choose only top quality berries to feed your rabbit and not fruit that is past its prime condition. Cranberries are full of sugar which is why your rabbit will love them but to prevent obesity, stomach problems and dental decay, be strict with the amount of cranberries you feed your rabbit and make them an occasional treat. The guidelines are as follows:
- Small rabbits weighing 1-1.5 lbs – 1-2 teaspoons of chopped fresh cranberry
- Medium rabbits weighing 6-10 lbs – 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cranberry
- Large rabbits weighing 9-12 lbs – 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cranberry
How do I test my rabbit with cranberry?
If you are trying your rabbit with cranberry for the first time, give him just a couple of chopped, well-washed berries and make sure these are the only new food that you are giving him on this day.
After you have given your rabbit a small amount of chopped cranberries, closely monitor him for a full 24 hours to ensure he does not suffer any side effects. If your rabbit seems happy, you can give him the recommended amount of chopped, fresh cranberries once or twice a week as long as you give him a variety of other fruit and vegetables on the other days.
Can you give cranberries to baby rabbits?
Cranberries can be safely given to your baby rabbit once they are seven months old. As cranberries are sweet, they should be given to your baby rabbit as an occasional treat only.
You should offer your baby rabbit a couple of cranberries as a test. Wash the berries carefully to ensure that they are well washed, so that there there is no chance that the berries have any traces of chemicals or pesticide on their skins. Cut the cranberries in small pieces so that they do not pose a choke hazard. Feed your baby rabbit with the berries but make sure that this is the only new food that you are introducing on this day. Closely monitor your baby rabbit for the next 24 hours to ensure that he suffers no side effects. If your baby rabbit does not want to eat the berries, leave them in his bowl for a maximum of 12 hours and then remove them before they start to decay. You can try the experiment again after a few weeks.
If your baby rabbit enjoys eating cranberries they can be given as a popular treat every now and then but it is best to give your other treats too as well as a good balanced basic diet and leafy greens so that his diet is as nutritious as possible and he enjoys good health.