The diet of a rabbit is pretty simple; plenty of fresh hay and a few choice veggies as a treat. In truth, rabbits don’t even need these vegetables since they can quite healthily survive on hay alone.
However, pet owners like to offer their bunnies a varied diet and this is fine as long as it is done in moderation. But while vegetables are OK, things like nuts and legumes might not be quite as suitable.
If you’ve got some leftover walnuts, you might be tempted to give them to your rabbit, but let’s think about this first – can rabbits eat walnuts?
There are some foods that are toxic to rabbits – walnuts are not one of them. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be giving them to your pet. You see walnuts can cause a wealth of health problems outside of toxicity that can be very unpleasant for your bunny.
Nuts, grains, and cereals should always be avoided especially since there are so many other foods that you can offer your rabbit as a treat.
Why Rabbits Shouldn’t Eat Walnuts
One of the reasons that a lot of rabbit owners make the mistake of giving walnuts to their pets is that they aren’t actually a nut. They are in the same family as things like peaches and plums.
Technically being a fruit, you could be forgiven for thinking that the high levels of vitamins and minerals in walnuts would be beneficial to your bun.
However, according to PETA, rabbits should never be given walnuts. There are several reasons that they could be problematic to your pet, let’s take a look at these in more detail.
They Can Cause Indigestion
If you have every suffered with indigestion then you will appreciate how uncomfortable it can be. We know you wouldn’t wish that on your pet so avoiding walnuts is a must.
The reason for this is that walnuts are incredibly high in fat but also very low in fibre which can slow the gut and cause indigestion.
Typically, anything that is super high in fat will be difficult for a rabbit’s sensitive digestive system to handle and should always be avoided.
They Can Cause Obesity
It goes without saying that foods that are high in fat could contribute to your rabbit gaining unhealthy amounts of weight. Obesity is not a condition on its own but one that has a lot of side effects, some of which can be fatal if things are allowed to progress.
Not only will your rabbit’s health be affected if he is allowed to become overweight, but it can then become difficult or uncomfortable for him to move around.
They Can Cause Hepatic Lipidosis
Including too much fat in your rabbit’s diet can cause a lot of problems, one of which is something know as hepatic lipidosis. It sounds odd but this is the scientific name for fatty liver disease.
We know that this can cause many problems in humans and naturally, the same is true for rabbits.
A lot of the time, this condition is caused by other factors such as anorexia or stress. But whatever the cause, this is something that should be taken seriously and addressed by your vet as soon as possible.
It can take time for your rabbit to recover from hepatic lipidosis and it may be necessary to feed your pet with a syringe during this time.
What Alternatives To Walnuts Can I Give To My Rabbit?
If you had become accustomed to the idea that walnuts might be a good treat for your furry friend then you are probably feeling a little disappointed to learn that they aren’t good for your pet’s health.
However, all is not lost since there are many other foods that you can give to your rabbit as a treat that he will not only enjoy but also have a lot of nutritional value.
It is imperative to provide your rabbit with copious amounts of fresh hay. This is not only the most nutritionally beneficial food for him but it also helps to keep his teeth in check through nibbling.
Moreover, green vegetables can be given at around a cupful each day. For such small animals, it can be surprising how much rabbits can eat.
If you are keen to offer fruit to your rabbit, you should do this occasionally and try to source fruits that are high in fiber.
Things like pineapple, apple, strawberries, and plum are all excellent options. The key is to remember that your rabbit should always have a well-balanced diet.
Other Foods Not To Give A Rabbit
Walnuts are not the only foods that should be avoided when feeding a rabbit. There is a very long list of foods that should never be given to your pet either because they are considered toxic or may result in other health problems like walnuts do.
- Grains such as rice or cereals.
- Any kind of junk food such as sweets, chocolate, crisps or biscuits. Although there are a whole host of other foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat that should never be given to a rabbit.
- Any type of meat; rabbits are herbivores and this means that their digestive systems are not designed to process meat in the same way that humans can result in complications.
- Dairy products can cause a build-up of unhealthy bacteria in your rabbit’s gut which could lead to a fatal condition known as enterotoxemia. Moreover, these products may cause damage to your rabbit’s teeth due to the high sugar content.
- Iceberg lettuce might be something that a lot of rabbit owners think is OK. But lettuces that are lighter in colour like this stand to cause a lactucarium build-up which can cause diarrhea.
There are lots of foods that rabbits can eat but their diet only really needs to consist of hay and a few choice veggies.
Offering treats to your rabbit is fine provided that they are suitable. In the case of walnuts, there are several problems that may come off the back of using these as a treat.