You may be wondering if your rabbit can eat tomatoes. And I don’t blame you, since tomatoes are not exactly on the list of foods for rabbits. Moreover, this is the question that has been annoying many rabbit owners all over the world. In this article, I’ll clear up the confusion that exists around the question. I am going to help you understand whether can rabbits eat tomatoes or not.
Can rabbits eat tomatoes? Fortunately for rabbit owners, the answer is yes, rabbit can eat tomatoes. However, only ripe tomatoes are safe for your rabbit to consume. You should certainly never give your pet under-ripe or green tomatoes, as these can lead to a severe gastrointestinal upset in your rabbit
Tomatoes are nutrient-dense fruits that can contribute to your pet’s health when fed in moderation. However, you should only feed them the red, fully ripened tomatoes, not the green ones. All the green parts of the tomato plant, including the green, unripened tomatoes, contain solanine, which can be lethal for your pets. All tomato varieties, including yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and plum tomatoes, are safe for your rabbit’s consumption. However, the seeds inside these fruits are not healthy for them and should always be removed beforehand.
This article will talk about everything you should know before including tomatoes in your furry pet’s diet.
Why feed tomatoes to rabbits?
Before you add anything new to your pet’s diet, it is natural to wonder how it would affect their health. For example, although tomatoes are considered beneficial for humans, rabbits have different dietary needs.
In this section, we will discuss the benefits of feeding tomatoes to your furry pets.
First, take a look at the table below that contains the nutritional information about tomatoes:
|Vitamin A||42 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.037 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.019 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.594 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||6.7 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.089 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.08 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||15 mcg|
|Vitamin C||13.7 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.54 mg|
|Potassium, K||237 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||24 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||11 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||10 mg|
|Sodium, Na||5 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.27 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.17 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.114 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.059 mg|
|Dietary fibers||1.2 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
As you can see in the table above, tomatoes are rich in several vitamins and minerals, all of which together contribute to their improved respiratory, reproductive, and immune health.
Moreover, these fruits also contain macronutrients that provide them with energy, help them perform bodily functions, and keep them hydrated. In other words, these fruits can be a healthy addition to your pet’s diet in moderation.
The downsides of overfeeding tomatoes to rabbits
As healthy as tomatoes can be for your furry pets, it might take a toll on their health if you overdo it. You must always remember that your rabbit’s primary diet should ideally contain hay and pellets. Fruits like tomatoes are only to be fed to them as occasional treats.
Although tomatoes contain a moderate amount of sugar, it is not so moderate for your furry pets. Thus, eating too many tomatoes can lead to tooth decay and digestive issues in their body and make them fat in the long run.
Tomatoes also contain 95% water, which is far more than what your pets need for hydration. If they’re consuming more water than they need, your pets will end up suffering from runny stool and diarrhea.
Are tomato seeds safe for your rabbit’s consumption?
Tomatoes have several small, pale-yellow-colored seeds scattered inside their flesh. These tiny seeds are the storehouse of vitamin C and can do wonders for our immune health. For this reason, many people add the powder of dried tomato seeds to their soups and other dishes for a stronger immune system.
Besides their health benefits, tomato seeds are also far too small and squishy to present a choking hazard to your furry pets. That’s why many rabbit owners don’t see a problem with feeding seeded tomatoes to their rabbits. However, most veterinarians advise against feeding these seeds to rabbits as they are not suitable for their health.
Although the reason behind this is not clear, it is still a safe practice to remove all seeds present inside tomatoes before you feed them to your pets.
What if my rabbit ate a seeded tomato?
The answer to your question depends on the number of tomato seeds they’ve eaten. Did they eat a small slice of seeded tomato or the whole fruit? It takes a large number of tomato seeds to affect your pet’s health adversely. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry too much if they’ve eaten a couple of slices; keep an eye out for any unusual signs like loose stool or lethargy for the next 24 hours. However, if your rabbits have consumed one or more seeded tomatoes, there is a reason for concern; you might want to contact your veterinarian about it.
Unripe tomatoes for rabbits: safe or not?
Suppose you’ve bought tomatoes for yourself, and some of them are still a little green. Can these be fed to your pet bunnies? No, absolutely not. While the fully-ripened tomatoes are safe for their consumption, the unripe ones could be lethal for them. Wondering why? We’ll tell you.
The unripe tomatoes contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid poison present in all the nightshade plants belonging to the Solanum genus. Solanine is a defense mechanism of these plants to protect their fruits from insects and pests. However, since solanine is only present in green parts of the plants, once the fruits are fully ripened, they are safe for the consumption of your furry pets.
If your rabbits end up eating unripe tomatoes, they can suffer from solanine toxicity. Following are some of its common symptoms you should look out for:
- constant drooling
- trembling of the limbs
- difficulty in breathing
- inflamed stomach
In some cases, solanine poisoning has also led to chronic paralysis in the bunnies, which is why you should be extra careful about not feeding them tomatoes that are even slightly green.
Can rabbits eat the other parts of tomato plants (stem and leaves)?
Rabbits are voracious leaf-eaters in the wild. Therefore, it is not surprising if some of them retain this tendency in captivity as well. But when it comes to the leaves and stems of tomato plants, can they be fed to your little pets? No.
As we discussed in the last section, solanine is present in all the green parts of tomato plants, including their leaves and stems, along with the green fruits. It is the presence of solanine that has made tomato leaves and stems unsafe for rabbits.
If you happen to have tomato plants in your garden, you should consider getting fencing around them as soon as possible. Although rabbits usually avoid these plants themselves, it is always better to be precautious when their health concerns.
Tomato varieties for rabbits
There are many popular hybrid varieties of tomatoes that you can find in the market today. Some of these vary in size and color, while others have a unique flavor. But before you share any of these exotic varieties with your pets, let’s discuss if they are okay for their consumption or not:
Can you feed cherry tomatoes to rabbits?
As the name suggests, cherry tomatoes are a small (almost the size of your thumb tip) cherry-sized tomato variety known for its sweet, candy-like taste. These perfectly round tomatoes have juicy flesh inside and are often used in pizza toppings.
If you want to feed cherry tomatoes to your bunnies, go ahead by all means. Feeding these tomatoes to rabbits is, in fact, easier than feeding them garden tomatoes. It is because these tomatoes are bite-sized for them and need no chopping or slicing. However, cherry tomatoes do contain more sugar, so you must practice strict moderation with these.
Can you feed grape tomatoes to rabbits?
Grape tomatoes are also smaller than garden tomatoes in size but have an oblong shape, somewhat similar to the grapes. These tomatoes have a meaty flesh and crunchy texture, making them more desirable for your pet bunnies. Also, because these tomatoes have lesser seeds than garden tomatoes, you can easily remove their seeds for your pets.
Can you feed yellow tomatoes to rabbits?
Yellow tomatoes are a hybrid tomato variety that is quite popular as exotic fruits in many parts. These tomatoes are free from solanine (when fully ripened) and have more or less the same nutritional value as their red counterparts, which makes them both safe and healthy for your rabbits. However, lycopene, an important antioxidant that lends red tomatoes their color, is absent in these tomatoes. For this reason, red tomatoes have the upper hand from a health perspective and should be preferred for your pets.
Can kits (baby rabbits) eat tomatoes as well?
When the kits are born, they need their mother’s milk for proper growth and development, just as the human babies. Many rabbit-owners are curious about when they can add fruits and vegetables like tomatoes to the diet of kits. In this section, we’ll attempt to answer these queries.
Kits survive solely on their mother’s milk (or a replacement formula) for the first 2-3 weeks of their lives. Once they’ve crossed this threshold, you can wean them off milk and introduce solid food to their diet. However, by solid food here, we mean high-quality hay that can fulfill all their nutritional requirements.
After the kits have had a couple of months to get accustomed to solid food, you can gradually introduce different fruits and vegetables to their diet.
In the beginning, you should go with fruits and veggies that have low sugar content, as their sensitive digestive tracts cannot digest large amounts of sugar at once. Tomatoes can be introduced to these kits when they are about 14-16 weeks old.
Feeding tomatoes to rabbits: things to remember
When we talk about feeding tomatoes to your furry pets, the first thing to keep in mind is moderation. You should limit these fruits in their diet to once or twice a week. And as far as the serving size is concerned, two thin slices of garden tomatoes are enough. In the case of cherry tomatoes, you can give them a whole tomato at once.
Most tomatoes come with their calyx attached on top. Unfortunately, the calyx contains solanine and is also often sprayed with pesticides, which is why they’re lethal to your pets. Therefore, start preparing tomatoes for your pets by removing these.
Washing tomatoes is the next step. Since tomatoes can’t be peeled, it would be best if you washed them thoroughly (preferably with lukewarm water) to remove any possibility of toxic chemicals present on their outer surface. After washing tomatoes, dry them off using a paper towel, and chop them into thin slices for your pets.
Conclusion: Can Rabbits Eat Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are just another healthy treat you can offer your adorable bunny. Just remember to introduce them gradually and make sure there is ample fresh water available.
Remember that tomatoes cause gastric distress if eaten in large quantities. The reason for this is that they are not part of a rabbit’s natural diet. Rabbits are herbivores, primarily eating grasses, legumes, and timothy hay. They do also eat small amounts of vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, and kale as part of their regular diet.
Well, that was fun. We hope you learned some useful information and took away some new bunny facts. If you found the information interesting, then please do come back to read more great articles like this one.