Yes, rabbits can eat cherries as a treat. You need to remove the stalks, stones, and leaves first as they contain cyanide which is toxic to rabbits. This includes all types of cherries: dark red, black, and any other brands.
One teaspoon of cherries for every two pounds that your rabbit weighs is a good-sized treat. Once or twice a week is an ideal amount for your rabbit to have treats like cherries.
You’ll need to decrease the portion size if your rabbit is having cherry for the first time so they can get used to it. Scroll on to find out more.
Be aware: Cherries are very juicy and likely to stain your rabbit’s face and any nearby surfaces.
How to Prepare Cherries for Your Rabbit:
It’s very important to prepare cherries properly for your rabbit since they can get very sick if certain steps are missed:
- Wash the cherries thoroughly to remove any traces of pesticides. This helps prevent parasites, harmful bacteria, and pesticide poisoning in your rabbits. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning include lethargy, hunched body, difficulty breathing, lost appetite, and mouth irritation.
- Remove the pit (seed with a hard shell around) and stalk. They contain cyanide, and eating just a few of these could be fatal for your rabbit. If your rabbit eats either of these accidentally, get them to a vet ASAP. Signs of cyanide poisoning include difficulty breathing, excessive salivation, weakness, and nervousness.
- Also make sure that there are no leaves, twigs, branches, or any other part of the cherry tree. It’s all poisonous to rabbits.
- Cut them into halves. This makes them a more manageable size for rabbits to eat. Measure one to two teaspoons to make the perfect treat size.
If your rabbit hasn’t had cherries before, you’ll need to give them just one cherry to try and monitor them closely for the following 24 hours. If they don’t react, you’re good to increase the portion size next time.
Health Benefits of Rabbits Eating Cherries
As well as being delicious, cherries have a bunch of vitamins and minerals that will benefit your rabbit.
- Vitamin A (For vision and maintaining teeth, skin, and bones).
- Vitamin B (To produce antibodies, disease resistance, and more).
- Vitamin C (Aids teeth, gums, and bone formation).
- Vitamin K (To boost their immune system and red blood cells).
- Antioxidants (Removes free radicals from their system).
- Low calorie and fat content (Less likely to cause weight gain).
Cherries also contain enzymes like melatonin (for good sleep) and anthocyanin (reduces inflammation). For small fruits, they’re packed full of nutrients!
Risks of Rabbits Eating Cherries
You need to be extra careful when you feed your rabbit cherries. Too many can harm your rabbit’s health:
- Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis: When movement in the gut slows down, blockages can be caused. It’s essential that rabbits’ digestion is always moving, if not they will get sick very quickly.
- Cyanide poisoning: As mentioned above, eating cherry pit and stalk will cause cyanide poisoning. This needs to be avoided at all costs as it can end up being fatal.
- Gas: Caused by too much phosphorus building up. This can further cause health issues that can turn fatal if not treated quickly.
- Acid damage: Since they’re high in acid content, your rabbit might end up with kidney damage and problems with their mouth.
- Calcium overload: Too much calcium puts pressure on the kidneys to remove all the excess.
- Diarrhea: Upsetting a rabbit’s digestion can lead to loose stools.
- Obesity: When rabbits eat too much sugar, they’re prone to gaining weight. If they become obese they will have several related health issues.
- Uneaten cecotropes: A result of rabbits not getting enough fiber in place of unhealthier options, their cecotropes can become softer and your rabbit might not want to eat it. Not eating cecotropes means missing out on nutrients.
- Dental issues: Eating sugary treats like cherries too often can cause tooth decay and overgrown teeth from eating the wrong types of food.
There are plenty of potential risks of giving your rabbit cherry, so think carefully if you choose cherries as a treat and do everything you can to reduce the risk.
Can Rabbits Eat Dried Cherries?
No, rabbits can’t eat dried cherries. This is because cherries have an incredibly high sugar content which is only increased by drying them. If you want to give your rabbit some cherry as a treat, stick with fresh cherries.
Can Rabbits Eat Canned Cherries?
No, rabbits shouldn’t eat canned cherries. When they’re canned, cherries have added preservatives and sugar levels which make them unhealthy for rabbits. Fresh cherries are best.
Can Rabbits Eat Frozen Cherries?
No, rabbits shouldn’t eat frozen cherries. Though you can feed your rabbit frozen cherries if you remove the stems and pits and let them thaw, they’re not as good as fresh cherries. Freezing changes the texture and sometimes has extra additives.
What Other Fruits Can Rabbits Eat?
As well as cherries, there are similar fruits like berries that make a safe, tasty treat for rabbits. These include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and more. As long as you serve in appropriate portions and check preparation guidelines, your rabbit will enjoy eating berries.
What Other Food Should Rabbits Eat?
Your rabbit should eat a balanced diet. This looks like unlimited hay, fresh vegetables, pellets, and treats. Cherries would be counted as treats, which should only be given to your rabbit at most twice per week. As well as needing a constant supply of hay, rabbits need access to clean water too.