Hey bunny caregiver! Good for you researching “can rabbits eat strawberries” and not assuming that it’s safe to share your snack with a rabbit.
There are, in fact, human foods that can kill bunnies (hint: rhubarb, avocado, chocolate) so you need to research everything before feeding it to your pet.
Today we’re talking about strawberries, and I have good news: rabbits can eat strawberries safely.
At least, a rabbit can eat a single small strawberry. Don’t give your bunny more than one per day, or you’ll risk upsetting its tummy. (Which, in rabbits, is a scary thing!)
Let’s take a comprehensive look at why strawberries are okay for rabbits, the risks of feeding too many, and how to safely enjoy this wonderful summer treat with your long-eared friend.
Are Strawberries Good For Rabbits?
A small strawberry makes a healthy treat for a rabbit. With lots of fiber to balance its natural sugars, it won’t cause obesity as easily as processed treats like yogurt drops. However, feeding large portions of strawberries (especially if your rabbit isn’t used to them) can trigger gastrointestinal distress that can be life-threatening.
Nutritional Benefit of Strawberries for Rabbits
The nutritional benefits of strawberries for rabbits are scant; this is really a treat food. However, here are few things working in strawberries’ favor:
- Fiber. At 3 grams per cup, strawberries have more fiber than a lot of foods that people eat. Human doctors promote strawberries because their fiber content helps prevent the sweet fructose from causing blood sugar spikes.
Stable blood sugar is great for bunnies, too. But, realistically, strawberries aren’t an outstanding fiber source for rabbits. A rabbit’s diet should be 20-22% fiber – and a strawberry is only 2% fiber.
- Vitamins. All plant foods are packed with nutrients. Some of these nutrients are vitamins, some are phytochemicals, and some are yet to be discovered! There’s surely nutritional benefit in feeding a strawberry to rabbits. However, we might not know fully what that is.
We do know that rabbits don’t need one of the main vitamins in strawberries, vitamin C. Because, Unlike humans and guinea pigs, bunnies’ bodies manufacture their own vitamin C and don’t get it from their diets.
- Low Calcium. Rather than say that strawberries are good for rabbits, it may be better to emphasize the ways that they aren’t bad treats. For example, their calcium content. Rabbits frequently struggle with high calcium in their urine, causing bladder stones and stress on the kidneys. Strawberries are low in calcium, so they won’t contribute to this problem.
- Don’t contain fillers like packaged treats. Have you looked at the label of yogurt drops sold as treats for rabbits? The main ingredients are sugar and palm oil! These are terrible ingredients for a natural herbivore! It’s so much better to give a bunny a strawberry.
I think the biggest benefit of feeding strawberries to bunnies isn’t nutritional, but emotional. Rabbits love them. Watching a bunny make happy noises while eating a strawberry will brighten your day. Not only does it make you feel benevolent and heart-warmed, but it makes for some amazingly cute videos – especially if your bunny has white lips.
Risks of Feeding Strawberries to Rabbits
There are risks to feeding your rabbit too many strawberries.
- Obesity. If rabbits have lots of sweet treats – even natural ones like berries or mangoes – they become at risk for obesity and a host of health problems that go with it.
- Poor nutritional balance. Rabbits in the wild eat grass, grass, and more grass. They’re perfectly adapted to this “boring” diet, and they thrive on it. Large amounts of “junk” food like fruit and starchy vegetables will fill a bunny’s tummy, but not provide the right balance of nutrients. In other words, it’ll spoil their dinners. Most vets recommend that rabbits have a diet of 80% timothy hay.
- Upset stomach. In a worst-case scenario, a bunny that ate several strawberries might experience a slowdown of its digestive system. Bunnies need tons of roughage to keep their digestive tracts running day and night. High-water, high-starch foods like strawberries can shock a rabbit’s system if fed without enough hay.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Strawberries?
Baby rabbits are extra sensitive to changes in their diet. Veterinarians don’t recommend feeding fruit to baby rabbits at all. Wait until your bunny is 4-6 months old before giving it anything sweet or starchy, including strawberries.
How Many Strawberries Can Rabbits Eat?
Small rabbits can have one 1-inch cube of fruit per day. Larger rabbits can have a little more, up to two 1-inch cubes, once they are accustomed to it.
When talking about strawberries, this translates to one small strawberry per day that’s safe for a small rabbit. Big bunnies (8 pounds or more) may have two small strawberries or one larger one.
Can Rabbits Eat Strawberry Seeds, Tops, and Leaves?
Strawberry seeds are tiny and embedded into the flesh of the berry. There’s no reason to cut them out before giving them to your rabbit. Strawberry seeds will pass through your bunny without causing harm. Rabbits can eat both the red flesh of a strawberry and the white core.
Tops and Leaves
Did you know that strawberry leaves are edible? This includes both the small “crown” of pointy leaves on the top of the berry, and the broad three-part compound leaf of the strawberry plant.
You should keep the strawberry tops, or the small crown leaves, attached to the strawberry when you give them to your rabbit. If you grow your own strawberries, you can see if your bunny likes to munch on the larger compound leaves as well.
How to Feed Strawberries to Rabbits
1 – Source High-quality Berries
Have you heard of the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list? It’s a list of the 12 produce items contaminated with the most pesticides. The Environmental Working Group updates it every year.
Well, strawberries were #1 on the just-released 2023 Dirty Dozen list – and that’s not a good place to be. That means strawberries tested higher for pesticides than any other produce item in the grocery store!
Since rabbits are small, extra sensitive animals, you should avoid pesticides and only feed them clean strawberries. Call local farms and ask if they spray their strawberries, even with organic pesticides. Or, if you have room for a planter or two, you can discover how easy it is to grow strawberries on your porch!
2 – Inspect for Mold
Being sweet and soft means strawberries are quick to mold. Mold can cause a plethora of health issues, so don’t risk feeding it to your rabbits. If there is mold on a berry, that doesn’t make it “animal-grade!” It’s better to throw it out than to feed it to your bunny!
3 – Wash them Correctly
According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), washing doesn’t completely remove pesticides from fruits and vegetables. However, scrubbing produce under running tap water can help and is more effective than dunking berries in water. The NPIC also doesn’t recommend using soap, since berries can trap soap in their pores.
4 – Cut Strawberries Into Small Pieces
Rabbits will attack a whole strawberry, leaves and all, and make a juicy, adorable mess. But the berry will be gone very quickly! If you want to watch your rabbit enjoying its special treat for more than a few seconds, cut the berry into small pieces and feed them to your bunny one at a time.
Remember, the first time you offer your rabbit a new food, even something as tantalizing as a strawberry, your bunny may not be interested. Place a piece of strawberry in your rabbit’s bowl and give it some time to think about eating it.
5 – Use for Training Exercises
Once your rabbit knows the delight of biting into a strawberry, you can use berries for positive reinforcement. Strawberries can aid you in litter box training, bonding with your bunny, or using a “clicker” to train your rabbit to do tricks.
In my opinion, strawberries are one of the most fun treats to feed a bunny – even if things get a little sticky! If you get fresh, high-quality berries and offer them in moderation, you can share this sweet and juicy treat with your rabbit guilt-free.
That said, vets advise rotating the fruits and vegetables in your bunny’s diet to ensure well-rounded nutrition. Other great treats for bunnies include blueberries, apples, carrots, and parsley.
What’s the messiest your rabbit has ever gotten digging into a treat? Let us know in the comments, especially if you have a video!