Tomatoes have a bit of a bad reputation for being an unsafe food for rabbits, but this delicious fruit can actually be a great addition to your pet’s diet.
Can rabbits eat tomatoes? Tomatoes are perfectly safe for rabbits to consume in moderation once you have removed the stalks, flowers, leaves, and seeds as they are poisonous for rabbits.
If you’re not sure about the benefits of tomatoes or how to safely prepare this fruit, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ll be going into depth about these topics, as well as listing other safe fruits for your rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Tomatoes?
Contrary to popular belief, tomatoes are perfectly safe for rabbits. It is the leaves, flowers, seeds, and stems (everything that isn’t the fruit itself!) that are unsafe for rabbits.
It is commonly assumed that because the green parts of tomatoes are poisonous, then the entire fruit is also toxic. As long as you remove all the green parts on a tomato and avoid feeding the seeds, then the fruit will not cause your rabbit any harm.
Whilst tomatoes are safe for rabbits, it is recommended you don’t feed them to bunnies under the age of 12 weeks.
Rabbits younger than 12 weeks have sensitive digestive systems and should not consume fruits or vegetables, including tomatoes.
Once rabbits are older than 12 weeks, then fresh fruits and vegetables can be slowly incorporated into their diet.
Make sure you keep an eye on your rabbit for 24 hours after they have eaten a new fruit or vegetable just in case they develop a bad reaction to it.
RSPCA.org.uk have put together this brilliant diet planner for rabbits that can help you give your rabbit the correct amount of food.
Preparing Tomatoes For Your Rabbit
Before feeding your rabbit tomatoes, you need to prepare them to make them safe.
First, wash the tomato thoroughly underwater (without soap) to help remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticides. You should opt for organic tomatoes if you can.
Next remove the stalks, vines, leaves of the tomato and discard them. You should then remove the seeds as they are also poisonous.
Chop the fruit into bite-sized pieces and take out the seeds.
You can then feed the tomatoes to your rabbit. Tomatoes are fruit that contains a lot of sugar, so don’t overfeed them.
A slice or two of tomato 1 to 2 times a week is more than enough for your rabbit.
Any type of tomato is safe for your rabbit, including beef tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. However, never feed your rabbit green (unripe) tomatoes. These are very toxic and dangerous for rabbits to consume.
Feed tomatoes, vegetables, and other types of fruit raw. Rabbits are not able to process cooked foods very well.
Tomatoes Are a Treat: Feed-in Moderation
Like all fruits, tomatoes should be viewed as a treat for your rabbit. Make sure you feed tomatoes in moderation.
One or two slices of tomatoes a couple of times a week is plenty for your rabbit.
Fruits are very high in sugar and water content, which is why they should not be fed every day.
Too much sugar is not good for your rabbit’s health and can lead to obesity and too much water can cause diarrhea and upset your rabbit’s stomach.
Benefits of Tomatoes
Even though tomatoes should be fed in moderation, this fruit is still a good addition to your rabbit’s diet.
The most well-known benefit of tomatoes are their high vitamin C levels. Although, unlike guinea pigs and humans, rabbits are capable of producing their own vitamin C.
Too much vitamin C can actually be harmful to your rabbit and cause kidney problems. Even with this in mind, fruits or vegetables that contain a lot of vitamin C are said to be beneficial for rabbits suffering from anxiety or stress.
Tomatoes contain a lot of water, which makes them effective at keeping your rabbit hydrated. Feeding a couple of slices of tomato to your rabbit on hot days would be a great refreshing treat too!
Tomatoes are full of fiber that is a vital component of your rabbit’s diet. Rabbits require fiber to help them digest food.
That’s why rabbits need constant access to grass hay as it provides them with the fiber they need to digest food! As tomatoes contain a lot of fiber, this makes it a healthy and nutritious fruit to feed your pet.
The antioxidant, lycopene, that is found in tomatoes (and makes them that red color!) is also great for your rabbit’s health. It helps reduce the risk of cell damage and is said to prevent heart disease.
Tomatoes also contain a high amount of potassium. Rabbits need potassium to stop them from developing hypokalemia (potassium deficiency).
A few signs that could mean your rabbit is not getting enough potassium include heart arrhythmias, weight loss, stunted growth, and weakness of muscles.
Tomatoes Can Be Dangerous
Although tomatoes can be beneficial for rabbits, they can also be dangerous.
One of the biggest hazards with tomatoes is that all parts of the plant is poisonous. Only the fruit is safe for your rabbit.
Wild rabbits are able to distinguish between safe or unsafe foods and will avoid ones that are toxic (such as tomato plants). However, domesticated rabbits lack this ability.
This means your pet rabbit will not instinctively know which plants or parts of a fruit/vegetable is safe for them to eat, so it is crucial you know instead!
Tomatoes contain alkaloids, solanine, and tomatine. These alkaloids are found in high concentrates in all parts of the tomato.
Solanine is a toxic compound that is found in tomatoes and all members of the nightshade family (such as potatoes and eggplants).
Although this compound is found in the fruit of a tomato, it is in low amounts. In the green parts (stems, stalks, vines, flowers, leaves) of a tomato, it is extremely concentrated.
That’s why you should never feed your rabbit tomato flowers, vines, stalks, stems, or leaves. Only the fruit itself is safe.
Tomatine is another toxic compound that is present in tomatoes. Again, this compound is not very concentrated in the fruit, but the green parts contain a high amount of it.
Green tomatoes should also never be fed to rabbits for these reasons.
Additionally, tomato seeds are unsafe for your rabbit and should always be taken out.
If your rabbit consumes any part of a tomato that isn’t the fruit, then it can be fatal. If your rabbit has eaten parts of a tomato that are poisonous, then take them to a vet as soon as possible.
A few signs your rabbit might have ingested these poisonous compounds include a swollen stomach (bloat), diarrhea, and abdominal pain or discomfort.
Some rabbits may get away with eating a small amount of these toxins without becoming unwell, whilst others could get very ill after only having a tiny bite.
It’s still important you never take this risk and only feed the tomato fruit.
Tomatoes Can Cause Health Issues
Another downfall of tomatoes is that they are high in sugar. All fruits contain a lot of sugar, but tomatoes are particularly full of it!
Too much sugar is bad for rabbits as it can lead to obesity, diabetes, and dental issues.
Make sure you feed tomatoes (and all fruits) in moderation to keep your rabbit healthy. One or two slices of tomato once or twice a week is plenty for your rabbit!
As well as being high in sugar, tomatoes are quite acidic. This acidity can cause diarrhea and upset stomach if given to your rabbit too often.
Rabbits have sensitive stomachs, which is why overfeeding any type of fruit or vegetable can give your pet abdominal discomfort. If your rabbit has an extremely sensitive stomach, then any amount of tomato might not be ideal.
This is because tomatoes are quite acidic and can irritate your rabbit’s stomach, leading to diarrhea or loose stools.
When feeding tomatoes for the time, make sure you only feed your rabbit a small amount and monitor their reaction for 24 hours.
Always feed tomatoes raw. Rabbits are not able to process cooked foods very well.
Additionally, only feed fresh tomatoes to your rabbit. Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, ketchup, etc. contain harmful or unhealthy ingredients that are not safe for your rabbit!
Make sure the tomatoes are ripe (not green) and have been washed thoroughly under water without soap. Organic tomatoes are preferable.
Tomateos aren’t the only foods that can cause health issues. Peta.org have put out a an excellent article on 15 foods your rabbit shouldn’t eat.
Can Rabbits Eat Tomatoes Leaves?
No, rabbits cannot eat tomato leaves. Only the tomato fruit is safe.
Tomato leaves contain poisonous compounds that can be fatal to your rabbit if consumed.
Before feeding tomatoes to your rabbit, remove all the green parts (leaves, vines, stalks, etc.) and the seeds.
If your rabbit has ingested tomato leaves or other unsafe parts of a tomato, then take them to a vet as soon as possible.
What Other Fruit Can Rabbits Eat?
As well as tomatoes, there are plenty of other fruits your rabbit can enjoy.
Fruits are a great treat for rabbits as they are a lot healthier and nutritious than store-bought treats.
Rabbits have a natural sweet tooth, so few will be able to resist the natural sugary goodness of fruit!
Feeding fruits to your rabbit is a great way to bond with your pet and tame them. Small amounts of fruit could also work as excellent training treats for owners who want to teach their rabbits tricks!
However, all fruits are very high in sugar, so they should not be too often. You should only feed your rabbit fruits once or twice a week.
A couple of slices of any type of fruit is a good portion size.
Overfeeding fruits can give your rabbit an upset stomach and lead to obesity, diabetes, and dental issues.
If your rabbit is overweight or has diabetes, then you should avoid feeding fruits to them.
Additionally, rabbits younger than 12 weeks old should not be fed fruits (or vegetables). This is because young rabbits have incredibly sensitive stomachs that can be easily upset by fresh foods.
When feeding your rabbit a fruit they have not eaten before, make sure you only offer them a very small amount. You should then keep a close eye on your pet for 24 hours to check for signs of a bad reaction.
It’s also important to note that all rabbits have different tastes and may not like every type of fruit. For example, just because your friend’s rabbit likes apples, it doesn’t mean your rabbit will.
Offer a good variety of fruits to your rabbit to determine their likes and dislikes.
Safe Fruits For Rabbits
With the above factors in mind, here is a list of fruits that are safe for your rabbit. Make sure you remove the seeds or pits from most types of fruits before feeding them to your rabbit!
Always feed fruits raw and ensure they have been washed thoroughly before serving them to your pet.
- Apple (remove seeds and core/stems)
- Pear (remove seeds and core/stems)
- Peach (remove pit)
- Pineapple (remove skin)
- Cherries (remove seeds and stems)
- Melon (any type!)
- Plums (remove pit)
- Papaya (remove seeds)
- Apricots (remove pit)
- Mango (remove pit)
- Kiwi fruit
- Nectarines (remove seeds and peel)
- Oranges (remove seeds and peel)
- Satsumas (remove seeds and peel)
- Tangerines (remove seeds and peel)
- Grapes (seedless)
- Tomatoes (remove seeds and all green parts)
- Black Currants
- Red currants
If you’re looking for more food alternatives, mybunny.org has a good list on fruit and vegatables your rabbit can safely consume.
What should I feed my rabbit every day? Rabbits need constant access to high-quality grass hay, a small portion of rabbit pellets, and around two cups of fresh leafy green vegetables each day.
Can rabbits eat nuts and seeds? Nuts and seeds should not be fed to rabbits. Nuts are very high in fat and offer no benefits to rabbits. Seeds are also fatty and can get stuck in your rabbit’s digestive tract or teeth.
Can rabbits eat meat? Rabbits are strict herbivores and should never be fed meat as they are unable to process or digest it. Feeding meat to your rabbit can be extremely dangerous and pose serious health risks.