While you’re sitting there munching on your favorite nut or nut combination, you just might consider giving one or more nut treats to our buns. Before you do, however, stop and ask yourself, do rabbits eat nuts? Or, are nuts safe for rabbits to eat? The answer to these questions is yes and no. Yes, some nuts are safe for rabbits, but if you feed them to your bun, you want to do so sparingly. After reading this article, however, you may decide to forego the nut treat altogether.
Table of contents
- Can Rabbits Eat Nuts?
- Can Rabbits Eat Cashews?
- Can Rabbits Eat Pecans?
- Can Rabbits Eat Pistachios?
- Can Rabbits Eat Brazil Nuts?
- Can Rabbits Eat Almonds?
- Can Rabbits Eat Peanuts?
- Can Rabbits Eat Walnuts?
- Can Rabbits Eat Hazelnuts?
- Can Rabbits Eat Chestnuts?
- What Nuts Can Rabbits Not Eat?
- Can Rabbits Eat Seeds?
- How Do Nuts Affect a Rabbit’s Gut
- What If a Rabbit Eats Nuts?
- Should Rabbits Eat Nuts
A rabbit’s digestive system is not like our digestive system. It handles food differently. In fact, a rabbit’s digestive system is very delicate and can easily become unbalanced if they don’t eat the right types of foods.
Rabbits are herbivores. To remain healthy, a rabbit requires a diet that is high in plant-based fiber. Fiber is very important in a rabbit’s diet. In fact, their digestive system has a specialized pouch, called a cecum, whose job is to digest cellulose fiber.
Cellulose fiber is obtained entirely from a plant-based diet, such as hay, grass, leaves, wood and bark. Additionally, a rabbit has very little access to nuts in the wild.
Can Rabbits Eat Nuts?
Nuts, which are high in fats and carbs, are only considered safe for buns in very, very small amounts, if at all. Their diet should predominantly consist of hay which is low in calories and high in cellulose fiber. Their delicate systems just can’t handle a diet containing foods high in carbohydrates and fats. Nuts have large quantities of both making them inappropriate for our furry friends.
The excessive amounts of the carbs, fats and calories found in nuts can cause obesity as well as possible health problems such as indigestion, GI stasis, fatty liver disease and other intestinal issues.
Keep reading if you want to know if specific nuts such as peanuts, pecans and almonds are safe for your rabbit in small amounts.
Can Rabbits Eat Cashews?
Who doesn’t love cashews? But can your bun enjoy cashews at the same time that you do? Probably not! Although they only contain 13.1 grams of fat per ounce, which is still high for rabbits, cashews are super-high in calories (163 calories per ounce) and carbs. Additionally, cashews are high in oxalates which, when consumed by rabbits, can lead to urinary tract issues and cause itchiness in the mouth and on the skin.
Can Rabbits Eat Pecans?
Pecans are a yummy human treat that should not be shared with your bunny buddies. Pecans contain very high levels of fat (21.1 grams per ounce), carbs and calories (201 calories per ounce). Pecans also often contain toxins that are poisonous to rabbits – juglone and aflatoxins. These toxins could lead to vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy if consumed in large enough quantities.
Can Rabbits Eat Pistachios?
Who can resist the yummy green goodness of pistachios? When munching on them, however, please refrain from sharing them with your bun. Pistachios contain low levels of fat as far as nuts go (13 grams per ounce) and fewer calories than many other nuts (162 calories per ounce) but are still not a wise food choice for rabbits. Pistachios are particularly susceptible to aflatoxins which are poisonous to rabbits. Aflatoxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy if consumed in large enough quantities. Pistachios also have high concentrations of sugar and phosphorus.
Can Rabbits Eat Brazil Nuts?
Brazil nuts provide a healthy dose of selenium to humans, but are they healthy for rabbits? Raw Brazil nuts contain fairly low levels of fat (19 grams per ounce) and fewer calories than many other nuts (187 calories per ounce) but are still not wise food choices for rabbits. Brazil nuts often contain aflatoxins which can be poisonous to rabbits. Aflatoxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy if consumed in large enough quantities.
Can Rabbits Eat Almonds?
Almonds are a healthy, low-fat nut choice for humans, but should we share them with our rabbit companions? Raw almonds contain low levels of fat (14.2 grams per ounce) and fewer calories than many other nuts (164 calories per ounce) but are still not wise food choices for rabbits. Almonds often contain aflatoxins which are poisonous to rabbits. Aflatoxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy if consumed in large enough quantities. Almonds also contain cyanide, a poison that can be life-threatening if consumed in large enough quantities by rabbits.
Can Rabbits Eat Peanuts?
Peanuts are perhaps the most common kind of nut you’ll find on the grocery store shelves. Also called monkey nuts, goobers and groundnuts, peanuts have low levels of fat (14.1 grams per ounce) and fewer calories than many other nuts (166 calories per ounce) but are still not wise food choices for rabbits. Of all nuts, peanuts contain especially high amounts of aflatoxins which are poisonous to rabbits. Aflatoxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy if consumed in large enough quantities.
Don’t feed a rabbit peanut butter either. Not only does it contain peanuts, but often other oils as well, making it doubly bad for our furry companions.
Some will tell you it’s safe to feed peanut shells (unsalted, of course) to a rabbit … that the shells make a great chew treat. Peanut shells are, in fact, a good source of cellulose fiber; however, they’re also prone to be filled with contaminants such as fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides. Whatever was in the ground in which the nuts were grown … the shells had plenty of time to absorb these toxins.
All parts of the peanut plant should be avoided when feeding rabbits. This includes the leaves and stems which can be made into peanut hay.
Can Rabbits Eat Walnuts?
Walnuts are considered to be brain food, but are they a smart choice for rabbits? Probably not. Walnuts contain high levels of fat (18.5 grams per ounce) and fewer calories than many other nuts (185 calories per ounce) but are still not wise food choices for rabbits. Walnuts often contain aflatoxins and high levels of juglone which are poisonous to rabbits. Aflatoxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy if consumed in large enough quantities.
Can Rabbits Eat Hazelnuts?
Raw hazelnuts, also known as filberts, contain high levels of fat (17.2 grams per ounce) and fewer calories than many other nuts (175 calories per ounce) but are still not wise food choices for rabbits. Due to their phosphorus and calcium levels, hazelnuts can also cause acidity in rabbits which can lead to urinary tract infections.
Can Rabbits Eat Chestnuts?
There are conflicting opinions on the safety of chestnuts, perhaps because of all nuts, chestnuts seem to have the lowest levels of fat and calories. Chestnuts do, in fact, contain low levels of fat (.6 grams per ounce) and fewer calories than many other nuts (70 calories per ounce) but are still not wise food choices for rabbits. Chestnuts are higher in sugar than many other nuts as well – a lot for a rabbit’s digestive system to take on.
What Nuts Can Rabbits Not Eat?
As you can tell, nuts are not a healthy food source for rabbits. The rabbit’s digestive system is not equipped to digest the sugars, fats and carbs found in nuts. Plus, nuts often contain other toxins that can make a rabbit sick, even to the point of death.
Nuts are often roasted with salt. Never feed a rabbit nuts that have been roasted with oils or salt. If after reading this article you still want to feed your rabbit nuts, make sure the nut is raw and free of insects, pesticides and insecticides.
Can Rabbits Eat Seeds?
In the wild, rabbits obviously munch on a seed now and then, especially grass seed; however, the majority of the rabbit’s diet is overwhelmingly foliage instead of seeds.
Although seeds won’t generally harm a rabbit, especially in small quantities, a bunny’s diet and main calorie source should predominantly come from hay. Hay provides the fiber-rich diet a rabbit requires to maintain health and keep their digestive system functioning properly.
Rabbits also need foods they can munch on all day. Did you know that a rabbit chews 120 times a minute and has over 17,000 taste buds in its mouth? That’s a lot of chewing, and if they ate calorie-dense foods like seeds and nuts, obesity could become a serious problem.
So, can rabbits eat seeds? Yes, but there are better food and treat choices for your bun.
How Do Nuts Affect a Rabbit’s Gut
A rabbit’s diet should be made up mainly of hay which is high-fiber and low-calorie. Nuts, on the other hand, are high in fat, starches, carbs and calories which have a detrimental impact on a rabbit’s gut flora.
When a rabbit’s gut flora becomes out of balance, bad bacteria can take over which can cause bloating, diarrhea and/or life-threatening issues for a rabbit.
The rabbit is a hindgut fermenter. Other hindgut fermenters include rhinos, horses, rodents and koalas. Hindgut fermenters have the ability to extract a high amount of nutrition from the foods they consume. The rabbit’s digestive system is unable to handle all the nutrients and toxins it’s able to extract from inappropriate foods like nuts and can easily become out of balance, resulting in issues such as diarrhea and infections.
A rabbit needs to remain healthy so it can produce and ingest cecotropes (cecal pellets or night feces), allowing the cecal pellets to pass through the rabbit’s system a second time.
It’s called coprophagy and sounds kind of gross, but a rabbit derives benefit from eating its cecotropes (they look like small clusters of grapes). Coprophagy allows the rabbit to re-digest the pellets again and derive more nutrients from the food the second time it passes through the rabbit’s system. Coprophagy also re-introduces bacteria into the rabbit’s digestive system as well.
Eating nuts disturbs this balance and should, therefore, be avoided.
What If a Rabbit Eats Nuts?
A rabbit’s digestive system is designed to meet its nutritional needs through a low-energy, high-fiber diet. A rabbit’s cecum helps in the digestion of cellulose fiber such as that found in hay.
Nuts are calorie-dense and high in fat, calories, starches and carbohydrates. They can cause an imbalance in the flora (gut bacteria) inside the cecum. When this happens, the rabbit may develop what is known as “poopy butt” or “sticky butt”. Yes, it’s as nasty as it sounds.
A rabbit with “poopy butt” has soft or mushy poop which sticks to its behind. Besides developing a very unpleasant smell, if left uncleaned, the poop will dry and block subsequent poop. Wet or dry, this is very uncomfortable for a rabbit and may become infected as well. It attracts insects as well.
Other side effects of eating nuts include:
- Joint damage caused by too much vitamin A
- Nervous system problems caused by excessive amounts of folic acid
- Urinary tract problems and infections due to too much calcium
- Sludge-like deposits form in the body because of too much calcium
- Soft stools caused by yeast overgrowth resulting from high intake of starch and sugars
- Urinary tract impairment from consumption of oxalates
- Itchiness of mouth and skin due to oxalates
Should Rabbits Eat Nuts
Nuts can be super-healthy for humans, but not so much for rabbits.
Although nuts come from plants and rabbits are herbivores, rabbits should not intentionally be fed nuts or seeds. Not only do they have poor nutritional value for rabbits (too much fat, starch, calories and carbs) and the ingestion of toxins already discussed, grains and nuts can be a choking hazard for rabbits as well.
It may happen occasionally … your kid feeds them one or two nuts, or you drop one on the floor and don’t realize it’s there. Your furry friend eats it. A small amount is likely to cause stomach pain or bloating. More than that could be a problem for your bunny; therefore, it’s best to avoid feeding your rabbit nuts of any kind.
If you know that your bun has gotten into more than one or two, it’s best to seek help from a veterinarian.
Eating nuts can lead to obesity problems for rabbits because nuts are much more nutrient-dense than hay. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity determined that a high-fat diet could cause vascular dysfunction in rabbits. This means that eating a high-fat diet of nuts can also increase a rabbit’s heart disease risk.
It’s your choice. Now that you have the facts, you can make an informed decision as to the wisdom of feeding certain types of nuts or any nuts at all to your furry friend.