If you’re worried about feeding tomatoes to your rabbit, it’s a smart concern to have, as tomatoes have a bit of a reputation. They’re a member of the nightshade family, along with peppers, potatoes, tobacco, and eggplants. These plants contain chemical solanine, which can be toxic to some animals. Nightshades are also known for having inflammatory properties for humans.
Tomatoes Are Okay to Feed to Your Rabbit — In Small Quantities
The good news is that in small quantities, tomatoes are okay to feed your rabbit. A healthy rabbit will eat a mix of hay, vegetables, and pellets, with fruit added a few times per week. Tomatoes make a great occasional snack or treat for your rabbit.
They’re a quick, simple treat that your rabbit will love, and they’ll provide your pet with a healthy dose of nutrients. Fresh tomatoes are a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You’ll need to watch their quantities, though.
Fruits make the best treats for your pet rabbit. Whether you consider tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable, it’s all the same to your bunny: Tomatoes should not be considered an essential part of their diet. It’s optimal to rotate the type of fruit you offer to make sure that your bunny gets a variety of nutrients each week.
While the stereotype of bunnies loving garden vegetables is somewhat rooted in truth, their diet should consist of mostly hay. Fruit should be used as a special treat and provided only a few times a week in small portions. Rabbits get most of the vitamins and minerals they need from hay, pellets, and leafy greens.
Feeding Tomatoes to Your Rabbit
Feeding fruit and vegetables to your rabbit is simple. Most bunny owners just offer their fluffy companion a few plant-based bites from their own fridge. It saves time and is much more cost-effective that way. Before you toss your bunny a chunk of tomato as you fix your own salad, however, there are a few important things to keep in mind. While most fruit and vegetables that you consume yourself are healthy elements of a bunny’s diet, you’ll need to take a few precautions with tomatoes.
Wash your tomato carefully. Fruit, especially whole fruit, is often covered in pesticides. These can be harmful or even toxic to your pet. Even if you’re feeding your rabbit fruit from your own garden, it’s still wise to wash it carefully.
Remove the stem and leaves from your tomato. You should not feed your rabbit stems and leaves from a tomato plant. The concentration of toxic chemicals is especially high in these parts of the tomato, so they will likely make your rabbit sick. In fact, wild bunnies tend to avoid tomato plants instinctively, only snacking on the fruit.
Cut the tomato into an appropriate size. If you’re using a large tomato, cut it into slices. For cherry or plum tomatoes, cutting them in half will suffice. Remove the seedy portion of the tomato. Seedy fruits are not usually recommended for rabbits. The seeds may cause gastrointestinal distress and are often poisonous.
How Much Is Okay?
Keep in mind that your rabbit has an incredibly small stomach. A rabbit’s diet should contain no more than 5% treats, so moderation is key. Just the flesh of one cherry tomato is enough to fulfill their need for treats. If you have plum tomatoes on hand, a quarter of one would be most appropriate. A slice of a sandwich-sized tomato is a perfect sized portion.
Feeding your rabbit too many tomatoes can mean that they aren’t hungry enough to consume other foods that provide most of their nutrition. Rabbits love treats, but too many can lead to malnutrition and a host of dangerous, expensive health issues. Bunnies need to have enough appetite left over to chew on fibrous hay to keep their teeth from growing too long.
Using treats appropriately is one of the most important parts of taking care of your pet. Stick to these recommended guidelines for tomatoes to help your bunny live as happy and healthy as possible.
Featured Image: Josephine Baran on Unsplash