Can rabbits eat oranges? This is a question that a lot of rabbit owners have. The answer, as with most things rabbit-related, is it depends. Before you go giving your bunny an orange to snack on, there are a few things you should know. In this blog post, we’ll give you the fast facts about how oranges fare for bunnies and how to feed them. So keep reading to learn more!
Can rabbits eat oranges?
Can rabbits eat oranges? Yes, they can – but in moderation, as they have little nutritional value for a rabbit versus other fruits and vegetables. Oranges are a high-sugar fruit, and too much sugar can be bad for rabbits. However, if administered in moderation, oranges can be a healthy treat for rabbits. But before you give your bunny an orange to snack on, there are a few things you should know.
1. Oranges are high in sugar and should be given sparingly
Oranges have a lot of sugar in them – almost as much as grapes have. This means that they’re not going to be super good for your rabbit’s health if they eat this sweet fruit regularly, so it’s important that you don’t give them the whole fruit at once! They’re also lower in fiber and other nutrients than many other fruits and vegetables.
2. Nutritional Value of Oranges
Oranges are a powerhouse of Vitamin C with high water content, but really very little other nutritional benefits to your pet bunny. Below is the nutritional value of some vital nutrients in 100 grams of orange
- Energy: 52kcal
- Protein: 0.91g
- Total carbohydrates: 11.8g
- Sugar: 8.57g
- Fiber: 2g
- Calcium: 43mg
- Potassium: 166mg
- Vitamin C: 59.1mg
3. Health Benefits of Oranges
Vitamin C is really the only Vitamin and mineral in a decent amount in this juicy fruit. Vitamin C is essential for healthy bones, teeth, collagen production, and healing wounds. These are vital to your rabbit’s health so it’s important that your bunny gets enough Vitamin C in his diet. It helps
- Antioxidants help protect cells from damage and help fight cancer-causing free radicals
- Helps your rabbit’s body make collagen, a protein that helps to heal wounds
- Makes it easier to absorb iron to fight anemia
- Boosts your bunny’s immune system, our body’s defense against germs
Dietary Fiber: Is pretty low in oranges at 2g per 100g and is not a major benefit
4. How to feed oranges to my rabbit?
Rabbits love oranges and this treat will make them extremely happy but remember that oranges are high in sugars so they should be used as an occasional treat. They are not recommended to feed your rabbit on a daily basis as sugar is an empty calorie that can add to obesity and dental disease.
- Always be sure to peel any orange that you’re going to give your rabbit and remove as much of the white pith as possible. Both the peel and pith are bitter, with minimal nutritional value.
- Following this, breaking the orange into pieces will make it easier to feed small quantities.
- Only feed one segment once per week and only if your bunny really loves them and has a sweet tooth.
- Don’t feed oranges to baby rabbits or young adults. Only feed treats from 7 months age to adult rabbits.
- It is a good idea to introduce new foods slowly by starting with a small piece the first time and watching for any digestive upsets such as diarrhea after each time you introduce new fruits
5. What should I feed my rabbit for a healthy diet?
- Fresh grass hay, such as alfalfa hay and timothy hay should make up 80% of your rabbit’s diet.
- Moderate amounts of vegetables (2-3 types per day), such as dark leafy greens (mustard greens, collard greens, carrot tops etc) that are high in fiber can also be part of their daily diet.
- Small amounts of treats such as small pieces of fresh fruits – such as apples, pears, blackberries, and strawberries that are high fiber fruits. Only give banana or orange as an occasional treat as it is very high in sugar.
- Provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your bunny.
- Avoid foods such as beans (eg kidney beans, broad beans) as they can cause gas and bloat.
6. What are the dangers of feeding oranges to my rabbit?
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, which means that high-vitamin-C foods are usually quite acidic. Oranges are acidic to the digestive system and can cause upset stomachs or diarrhea and other health problems. Oranges and other citrus fruits have an average pH of about 3 or 4. The stomach acid of bunnies is already at a pH level of 1 to 2, which means that feeding too much orange may jeopardize your rabbit’s digestive system and acid-base balance. This can lead to diarrhea
This could lead not only to tummy troubles but also to a condition called metabolic acidosis where the blood becomes too acidic which can cause other health problems.
High levels of Vitamin C can potentially cause kidney damage so please make sure to feed acidic fruits sparingly in small portions. On another note rabbits produce their own Vitamin C so there is no real need to consume this acidic fruit.
When fed sugary treats such as oranges in large quantities on a daily basis, sugar might cause health issues and obesity in rabbits. Make sure your rabbit’s diet consists of mostly hay and some vegetables as discussed above
If you give your rabbit vast quantities of sugars and citrus, the teeth may be damaged. If a rabbit has dental issues, it will refuse to eat, putting its health in danger. Make sure that you’re checking your bunny’s teeth weekly.
7. Healthier alternatives to oranges
Below is a list of popular fruits for you to consider that have a good source of vitamins and other essential nutrients for your rabbit’s health
- Apple (remove the apple seeds)
- Cherries (remove seeds)
8. Can rabbits eat orange peels?
They can – but they are not a healthy treat with almost zero nutritional value. The skin is often also sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals so they are best avoided.
9. Can rabbits eat mandarins (tangerines)?
Yes, your rabbit can be fed mandarin oranges or tangerines – they should be treated the same way as feeding your rabbit’s oranges. Mandarin oranges are part of the citrus family and so are also high in sugar with a high acid content with few other nutritional benefits. Only feed them one section once per week.
10. Can I give my rabbit orange juice?
No. Don’t give your adult rabbits orange juice. It has a very high sugar content which is bad for your rabbit’s teeth and waistline. It doesn’t matter if it contains the orange pulp or not – both can cause digestive issues and the problems mentioned.
11. Can I give my rabbit dried orange?
No. Dried orange is even more concentrated in sugar and calories
12. Are Orange seeds safe for rabbits?
No, the orange seeds are a choking hazard as the slippery slimy seeds can get lodged in your bunny’s throat.
13. Can I give my rabbit orange leaves?
No, orange leaves contain limonoids which can be poisonous to your bunny.
While oranges and orange peels might seem like tasty treats for your furry friend, the best option is to avoid feeding your rabbit oranges altogether. Every time you feed any high sugar fruit to your precious bunny, it has the potential of causing upsets in your rabbit’s digestive system, dental problems, and, too many treats can lead to obesity.
If you want to provide your rabbit with something sweet, try fresh vegetables such as carrots or low sugar fruits such as strawberries and blackberries instead of these acidic citrus fruits. If you really want to feed your bunny orange – make sure they are peeled and only give them a small segment once every week.