Oranges are bursting with flavor and goodness. Is your bunny interested in your picnic basket snacks, and do they seem drawn toward the juicy oranges? Bunnies have fragile and sensitive tummies, and you may be in two minds about offering them a segment of orange.
So this begs the question, can rabbits eat oranges?
Rabbits can eat oranges. They have several health benefits, such as pectin (a starch), which eliminates toxins from the colon. Rabbits should have a balanced and varied diet so oranges must be given in moderation due to the high sugar content, which can cause diabetes and obesity.
If you’re considering introducing a new fruit to your floppy-eared friend, this detailed guide will provide you with all the answers you need on whether you can feed oranges to your rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Oranges?
Your bun can safely enjoy citrus fruits such as oranges, mandarin, tangerines, clementines, satsumas, and grapefruit.
Let’s take a quick look at the nutritional composition of an orange:
- Carbohydrates = 91%
- Fat = 2%
- Protein = 7%
Oranges are one of the sweetest fruits available. So it’s vital to remember that oranges should only be offered in small amounts as an occasional treat or snack. Fruit and vegetables should not make up a significant part of your floppy-eared friend’s diet.
When feeding your bun oranges, ensure that you first remove the seeds. Besides being bitter, orange seeds contain a high toxic content (oxalate and cyanide). This can cause unpleasant symptoms if they are consumed, such as:
- Hunched over in pain
- Intestinal blockages
- Coughing and choking
Can Rabbits Eat Oranges With Skin?
You may be wondering if it’s safe for rabbits to eat orange peels.
While it’s safe to give your bun small pieces of the skin (peel), most rabbit owners prefer to remove the peel of the orange before they give it to their rabbit. It’s very bitter and has little nutritional value as opposed to the segments and pulp of the orange.
Orange peels can also be covered in wax and pesticides, making your bun sick. It’s best to peel the orange and avoid accidental ingestion of wax or pesticides.
The pith (white string-like fibers inside the orange) also hold very little nutritional value. Pith is bitter and can get stuck in your buns’ teeth.
Here are a few tips on how to safely feed orange to your bunny:
1. Try to purchase organic oranges
2. Peel the entire orange
3. Remove the pith and any seeds
4. Give your bun one slice or segment
5. Cut the segments into small pieces to avoid too much of a sticky mess
Benefits of Feeding Oranges to Rabbits
Although rabbits love the sweet and juicy taste of oranges, the fruit doesn’t have as many health benefits as other fruits like apples.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of feeding oranges to rabbits:
A rabbit’s gut health is essential for its overall well-being. Oranges contain pectin, which is a soluble fiber. The fiber helps the colon and digestive tract work properly, which prevents constipation.
Pectin also assists in eliminating toxins from the colon, controls cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, and improves blood sugar levels.
Oranges contain beta-carotene, which gives the fruit its vibrant color. Beta-carotene is good for your bun as it lowers blood pressure and improves your bun’s coat quality and overall eye health.
Contains Vitamins and Minerals
Oranges contain a few vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Potassium, magnesium, and calcium, support the nerves, joints, and bones
- Vitamins B6 and B12, which are good for rabbits’ metabolisms and immune systems
Risks of Feeding Too Many Oranges to Rabbits
Here’s a closer look at some of the risks of feeding too many oranges to your rabbit:
Oranges contain a high level of vitamin C and calcium. Your bun produces vitamin C in its livers. For this reason, you shouldn’t give your rabbit increased amounts of fruit that contain vitamin C.
Overeating oranges can lead to a build-up of vitamin C, which causes kidney failure in rabbits. The high levels of acid and vitamin C can form bladder stones, which are very unpleasant and dangerous for rabbits.
A few symptoms are:
- Signs of discomfort and pain
- Lack of appetite
Unfortunately, oranges also contain a high level of acid. By eating too many oranges, your bun can develop mouth ulcers.
High levels of acid can also cause stomach issues such as gastrointestinal stasis.
Obesity and Diabetes
Rabbits have a sweet tooth. If you give them large amounts of oranges, they will consume all of it.
Oranges contain high levels of sugar. Overeating oranges cause your bun to pick up weight, leading to obesity.
Obesity can lead to organ failure and death if left untreated. From ingesting high levels of sugar, your bun can also develop diabetes. Diabetes can also be fatal for rabbits if left untreated.
How Many Oranges Can I Give My Rabbit?
Due to the high sugar levels in oranges, you should only give your bun orange in moderation. Avoid giving your bun an orange treat more than once a week.
As a guideline, only give them a portion about the size of your bun’s paw. Remember your bun’s diet should be made up mainly of Timothy grass hay, good-quality pellets, and a limited amount of leafy greens and fruit.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Oranges?
Baby rabbits should never be offered oranges as a snack or treat. Oranges contain acid that will cause ulcers in the baby rabbits’ mouths. Their digestive symptoms are not ready for solid foods or citrus fruits.
Baby rabbits (kits) should only have their mother’s milk for at least the first 8 weeks, and alfalfa hay and pellets are slowly introduced by week 4. Thereafter they can start nibbling on rabbit food such as Timothy grass hay and pellets.
It’s best to only let adult bunnies – when they are 6 months old and their digestive systems are fully developed – eat sugary treats like oranges.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
While oranges are super nutritious for humans, they don’t have the same benefits for your floppy-eared friend. In general, citrus fruits aren’t the best option for rabbits, as they contain acid, which easily upsets their fragile stomachs.
Avoid giving orange juice to your rabbit, as this is too concentrated. If you want to add citrus fruit to your rabbit’s diet, rather offer your bunny a mandarin orange, which is just as tasty but isn’t as high in sugar.
Even better, you could give your pet rabbits an occasional treat of berries such as blueberries or strawberries, which have way more nutritional value than oranges.