Fresh foods are always best for rabbits, leaning heavily toward grasses and hay. While rabbits generally accept fruit, you should always feed fruit in moderation because of its high sugar content. And many pet owners may be wondering “can rabbits eat lemons?” The answer is yes, in moderation. Lemons not only have loads of natural sugar, but they are incredibly high in Vitamin C and citric acid.
While lemons are not toxic for rabbits, only give your pets small amounts. Too many lemons can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. Always remove the seeds from lemons before feeding them to your rabbit to eliminate a potential choking hazard.
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Do Rabbits Even Like Lemon?
Rabbits generally eagerly accept most fruits because they are sweet and sugary treats. Lemons, though, have a very sour taste, and often, rabbits will turn their noses up at them. If you try to feed your rabbit small amounts of lemon, and they don’t eat it, clear out any fruit after a few hours, so it does not rot and ferment. Rabbits may tend to like dried lemons with the peels still intact. Dried fruit will have higher concentrated sugar levels that may negate some of the lemon’s natural acidity.
Does Citric Juice Pose a Danger?
Lemons have a high concentration of sugars and carbohydrates, which can be dangerous for rabbits in large quantities. Sugars can cause your rabbit to gain weight and suffer health problems associated with obesity. But lemons also have citric acid, which could cause more potential harm. Most lemons will have a 5% to 6% citric acid content.
There is scientific evidence that citric acid is toxic to rabbits. However, studies have been conducted on citric acid’s impact on a rabbit’s liver and internal organs. The study concluded that even doses of up to 75% citric acid in rabbits found little to no effect on liver health. Researchers concluded that the fruit was safe to feed to rabbits through the study.
Even though scientific evidence supports the safety of lemons, it is always best to feed this fruit in moderation due to the sugars and carbohydrates. If your rabbit likes the taste of lemon, only give this food as an occasional treat.
How Many Lemons Can I Give My Rabbit?
Always use lemon as a small treat for your rabbit. The amount of lemon you give your pet will depend on the size of your rabbit. Never give a rabbit more than one teaspoon of lemon for every two pounds of rabbit weight each day. Remember that this ratio corresponds to all treats you give your bunny.
By this math, a larger breed rabbit, like a Flemish Giant, will be able to safely tolerate more lemon than a small dwarf breed of rabbit. Use lemon sparingly with your pet, especially when introducing a portion of new food to your rabbit. You want to ensure lemon will not upset your rabbit’s stomach, so take it slow at first.
How Should I Feed My Rabbit Lemon?
Before giving your pet rabbit some lemon, thoroughly wash and dry the fruit. Unless you are growing fresh, organic lemons in your backyard, chances are the lemons you purchase from the grocery store are sprayed with pesticides which could be dangerous for your pet.
Keep the peel on the lemon and remove any seeds. Chop the lemon into smaller pieces, so the rabbit can easily chew the fruit without choking. Some rabbits may do better with eating dried lemon because it has a sweeter taste.
What Are Safe Fruits For Rabbits?
Fruits should be used as a tasty treat for your pet. You can build a strong relationship with your rabbit by giving sweet treats our using fruit as a reward when reinforcing good habits. Use fruit sparingly, and always be sure to wash the fruit thoroughly before giving it to your pet to remove any possible dangerous pesticides.
Mix up the type of fruit you give your rabbit to ensure your rabbit is getting a mixed diet. Some great fruits to feed your rabbit include:
- Apples with seeds removed
- Any berry including strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries
- Cherries (see also ‘Can Rabbits Eat Cherries?‘) with the pits removed
- Peach with the pit removed
- Watermelon with the seeds removed
You can experiment with different fruits, testing only small amounts at first to ensure the fruit doesn’t upset your rabbit’s stomach. If a fruit goes uneaten, remove the fruit from the rabbit’s cage to prevent rot.
How Much Fruit Should a Rabbit Eat?
Keep in mind that lemons and fruit, in general, should only be used as a treat. Your rabbit’s complete diet should consist of about 1% treats, including all types of fruit and commercial treats. Try to limit your rabbit’s fruit intake to just about once or twice a week. You’ll want to give your rabbit a total of two tablespoons of fruit, lemons included, for every five pounds your rabbit weighs. Go slowly and introduce fruits one at a time to better determine which fruits are safe and which fruits your rabbit prefers.
How Can I Tell If My Rabbit Doesn’t Tolerate Fruit?
When giving your rabbit a new fruit to try, such as lemon, always start out in very small quantities. Over the first 24 hours after giving your pet a fresh fruit, closely monitor your rabbit for signs of gastrointestinal distress. Your rabbit’s stool may be soft and loose, or your rabbit may experience stomach pains. An uncomfortable rabbit may try to press its stomach into the cage floor or have a hunched posture. A sick rabbit may also have reduced energy or appetite.
If your rabbit is exhibiting signs of distress, discontinue feeding the rabbit the fruit and instead give your rabbit an unlimited supply of hay and grass. Usually, the high fiber content in the hay is enough to reverse the digestive distress and help your rabbit recover. If your rabbit’s condition worsens or doesn’t improve after a few days, it may be time to contact a veterinarian for treatment.
What Else Should I Feed My Rabbit?
A healthy diet for a rabbit consists mainly of grass and hay. Nearly three-quarters of your rabbit’s diet should be filled with various types of hay and grasses. Acceptable foods include alfalfa hay, Timothy hay, orchard grass, oat hay, and wheat grass. Rabbits should also have about 15% of their diet filled with high-quality pellets. Another 15% should consist of dark, leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, or bok choy. The remaining bit of the diet, about 1%, should consist of treats, like lemons, fruit, and commercially produced treats used for bonding or training rewards.
Rabbits usually eagerly accept many types of fruit, lemons included. Although some rabbits may turn their nose up at the sour fruit, others will willingly accept the citrusy lemon. While lemons are not toxic for your rabbit, too much can pose a danger. The high citric acid content, combined with sugar and carbohydrates, can be dangerous to rabbits in large quantities. Sugar and carbohydrates can quickly lead to obesity, while citric acid can cause liver damage. Use lemons and fruit sparingly, and never give your rabbit more than a teaspoon of lemon for every two pounds of body weight.