Do you have a veggie patch at home, and you’re wondering if it’s okay to let your pet rabbit eat and play to their heart’s content? It seems like a great idea. Your bun will have the freedom to play and fresh produce to eat straight out of the garden.
But can rabbits eat tomatoes? And more importantly, is it safe?
Rabbits can eat tomato fruit but in small quantities. Tomatoes are very high in sugar, and when a rabbit consumes too many, they develop digestive issues such as diarrhea. Certain parts of the tomato plant are also toxic to rabbits, such as the stem, leaves, flower, and tomato seeds.
If you are considering feeding tomatoes to your floppy-eared friend, but you’re unsure if it’s safe for rabbits, this guide will provide you with all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision.
Can Rabbits Eat Raw Tomatoes?
The tomatoes you feed your rabbit must be raw, and not processed or cooked. Processed tomato products contain even higher levels of sugar than raw tomatoes.
They often also contain unpleasant chemicals and have very high levels of acidity.
Keep these considerations in mind when giving your bun raw tomatoes:
- Remove the stem, leaves, and flowers from the tomato as they contain a toxic chemical called solanine or Tomatidine. This chemical is deadly if your rabbit ingests it.
- Ensure the fruit isn’t overripe as it may have worms or other parasites, which will grow in your bun’s intestinal tract.
- Wash the tomato fruit to remove any pesticides or chemicals.
- Ensure all the seeds have been removed, as they can be poisonous to your bun.
- Cut the tomato into smaller pieces to allow smooth digestion and avoid choking.
- Only provide small amounts of tomato to your bunny.
Benefits of Feeding Tomatoes to Rabbits
Tomatoes may be small, but they have great nutritional value for your bun (when eaten in moderation). Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of feeding tomatoes to rabbits:
Source of Fiber
Tomatoes are a source of fiber for your bun. Your bun is a herbivore (an animal that feeds on plants) and has a sensitive digestive system.
It’s vital to ensure your bun has enough fiber in its diet to keep its digestive system running smoothly. Your bun’s primary source of fiber comes from ingesting hay.
Again, tomatoes must be fed in moderation and certainly not given daily, as too many tomatoes can cause diarrhea.
Source of Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Tomatoes are jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals, which add value to your bunny’s diet when offered as an occasional treat.
Here’s a list of a few of these vitamins and minerals:
- Potassium prevents hypokalemia (low concentration of potassium in the blood) in rabbits
- Vitamin K and folate keep your bun’s blood clotting, which means if they injure themselves, they won’t continue to bleed
- Vitamin C given in small quantities is known to have stress-relieving properties for rabbits
A Refreshing Treat
Tomatoes also have a high water content, which makes them a good source of hydration for rabbits.
If the weather is hot, offer your bun a few slices of tomato, which will cool them down and keep them hydrated.
Prevents Cell Damage
Tomatoes contain an antioxidant known as lycopene (which also gives them their bright red color). Lycopene reduces the risk of cell damage and is known to prevent heart disease in your bunny.
Risks of Feeding Too Many Tomatoes for Rabbits
Feeding tomatoes to your floppy-eared friend in excess can be dangerous. Let’s take a look at some of the risks of feeding too many tomatoes to rabbits:
Tomatoes contain high levels of sugar. If your bunnies eat tomatoes too often, this can lead to obesity, dental issues, and in severe cases, diabetes.
Your bun has a sensitive digestive system and treats that contain high levels of sugar and acid (such as tomatoes) can result in diarrhea and an upset stomach.
Tomatoes are very high in vitamin C, and even though vitamin C is an essential part of your bun’s diet, it can also be deadly if your rabbit consumes too much.
Your bun’s body is able to produce its own vitamin C through the food they eat and through cecal (colon) bacteria.
Because of this, if your bun ingests too many tomatoes, they will have increased levels of vitamin C, which can result in kidney damage.
How Many Tomatoes Can I Give My Rabbit?
Depending on the size of your bunny, on average, you should only provide them with one tomato (about the size of a cherry tomato) once or twice a week. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, then slice up a tomato into small pieces.
Tomatoes should be a treat and shouldn’t be part of your rabbit’s daily diet. Ensure you allow at least two days between each helping of tomato so your rabbit can digest their food correctly.
Make sure to remove all the leaves, stems, and seeds. If your rabbits eat tomato leaves, this can cause terrible bloating and pain.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Tomatoes?
If your rabbit is under 12 weeks old, it’s recommended that you don’t allow them to eat any tomatoes. In fact, you shouldn’t give them any fruits or vegetables at all.
Baby rabbits (known as kits) have a far more sensitive digestive system than adult rabbits.
Fresh fruit and vegetables can cause an upset stomach, bloating, and severe diarrhea in kits. This reaction is because a kit’s intestines aren’t developed until 12 weeks after birth.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
While tomatoes do have a fantastic array of benefits for your bun, it’s so important to give tomatoes to your rabbit in moderation.
A tomato given as a treat once a week is perfect. Ensure you wash the tomatoes thoroughly before giving them to your bun.
If it’s the first time you are giving your bun a piece of tomato, make sure to monitor them in case of an adverse reaction.
Always research and ensure you’re offering your bun the best diet to suit their needs. This will keep your floppy-eared friend happy and healthy.