September 9, 2020

Can Rabbits Eat Blueberries?

Risks, Benefits & Serving Size

Fact checked by Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Blueberries are what we consider to be a superfood. They are low in calories, contain antioxidants, taste great, and are easy-to-eat for everyone.

The real question is, can rabbits eat blueberries? The answer is a resounding, yes! It's completely OK and healthy for a rabbit to consume their blueberries. Rabbits love the sweet taste, and owners love how easy it is to portion them out.

As with any food, moderation has to be practiced to make sure your rabbit does not get sick. Here we will show you all you need to know about safely giving your rabbit blueberries.

Can Rabbits Eat Blueberries?

Yes, rabbits can eat blueberries. In moderation, blueberries are a healthy, low-calorie treat for bunnies. However, you should follow our feeding advice as too many blueberries may cause health issues like obesity, diabetes, and digestive upsets.

Blueberries are safe, natural, and taste great. Rabbits love the sweet taste of blueberries, but even though your bunny thinks it's getting a treat, it is actually getting a very nutritious food item. "Chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, blueberries are excellent juicy treats for your bunny.", veterinarian surgeon Dr. Edele Grey confirms.

Blueberries are packed with lots of natural nutrients and quite low in sugar. But although they are not considered a high-sugar food, they could lead your rabbit to gain weight or even experience digestive issues.

So, your main goal is to serve the fruit as a special treat.

Health Benefits: Are Blueberries Good for Rabbits?

Yes, blueberries are good for rabbits. Curious about what blueberries can do for your bunny? Here are a few positives:

Contains Antioxidants

These berries have tons of antioxidants, which actually are what makes them blue (the term is anthocyanin).

Antioxidants are special compounds that help protect the cells of your bunny's body against damage from toxins, disease, or the aging process.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Anthocyanin is an agent that removes free radicals from the bloodstream and helps to protect the body against diseases like cancer. Blueberries are one of the fruits with the highest antioxidant content out there.

Fresh blueberries in a glass bowl

Immune System Boost

The pterostilbene found in blueberries is a booster to the immune system. It helps by increasing the CAMP gene activity, which is critical for the immune system to function. The CAMP gene is part of the body's first line of defense against sickness, so boost it up by letting your rabbit eat a few blueberries.

Great Source Nutrients and Low in Sugar 

Blueberries are packed with Vitamin C. They are also a low-sugar fruit. A single cup of blueberries contains only 15g of sugar, which is not much—the bioactive components of a blueberry help to offset any of the sugar's negative effects.

They are a great source of fiber and help your rabbit feel satisfied longer. Blueberries are also a low GI fruit, so if you are caring for a rabbit with diabetes, they can still be enjoyed in moderation.

Good for the Brain

Eating blueberries may be good for the brain. Nutrients that are naturally found in blueberries are good at improving memory and can also slow down age-related cognitive disorders. Your rabbit could very well remain mentally alert into old age with the help of blueberries.

Health Risks: Are Blueberries Bad for Rabbits?

Blueberries are not bad for your rabbit; your bunny will not be poisoned by eating a blueberry, nor will they get extremely sick. It's OK and safe for your rabbit to eat blueberries.

That being said, these are not to be used as a staple food. Here are a few reasons why it's important to keep your rabbit in check when it comes to consuming blueberries.

Age Matters

You should not feed babies or juveniles any blueberries. Once a rabbit reaches the adult years, it's OK to offer them a blueberry. The stomachs of babies and juveniles are too sensitive, and blueberries may give them an upset stomach.

GI Tract Bacteria

Keep the fruit you serve limited. Not only are blueberries not nutritionally complete, but the sugar in the berry can cause a disruption in the healthy GI tract bacteria if it is given too often or in too large quantities.

They're Not Chewy

Much like guinea pigs and hamsters, rabbits' teeth are always growing. Your bunny needs chewable food to keep their teeth in check. Blueberries do not provide such an advantage.

Diarrhea

Your rabbit will likely NOT suffer any unpleasant side effects when given blueberries. However, every bunny is different. You should avoid giving too many blueberries as the rabbit could end up experiencing diarrhea as a result of the fruit.

Obesity

Blueberries can be eaten by humans without any issues. For rabbits, too much of these fruits can lead them to become obese or develop diabetes. So, it's really important to give this fruit in moderation.

Related reading: What is the Best Rabbit Food?

Feeding Guidelines

Now, we will talk about ways to feed your rabbit blueberries.

Shop Smart

Begin by picking out healthy blueberries at a farm market or local grocery store. Check them over to make sure they are not moldy or rotten. You may wish to buy organic, which minimizes the risk of your pet from consuming any harmful pesticides or chemicals.

Wash Them

Once you get the berries home, wash them even if you don't plan on giving your pet one right away. Store them properly in the refrigerator.

Wash Again

Once you are ready to feed, count out a few berries, (four is OK) for a large adult rabbit. Wash these berries once more to make they are clean.

Now place them into the cage and allow your bunny to enjoy. If this is your first-time feeding blueberries, drop one into the cage, and make sure your rabbit likes it first before feeding them another one.

How Many Can They Eat?

Your rabbit would probably sit down and eat the entire box of blueberries if they were allowed. Your goal is to count out a few blueberries each week for the rabbit to enjoy.

Fruit, in general, should be given once a week, one to two teaspoons of it is OK per 5 lb of body weight.

Baby and juvenile rabbits should be given NO blueberries to eat, while the adult rabbits are OK to eat a max four average-sized blueberries each week. 

It doesn't have to be exact, but blueberries are NOT a nutritionally complete food for rabbits- they don't provide the same health benefits as your rabbit's hay and pellets do.

Keep It Limited for Digestive Health

Aside from not being nutritionally complete, rabbits can experience digestive trouble if they eat too many blueberries. For example, some rabbit owners have reported diarrhea as a side effect. It is rare but could happen.

Stems and Leaves: Are They OK?

Rabbits love green stuff, and it's good for them! If you have access to stems and leaves of the blueberry plant that are free of harmful chemicals and pesticides- some of you may have your own organic gardens- then yes, it's OK for the rabbit to enjoy these plants.

If you have access to the green leaves and stems of the blueberry bush, you can provide an even healthier portion for your bunny's treat.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Even the stalks of this plant are good for the bunny as it promotes healthy chewing.

They're Healthy, But…

They don't have the right nutrients as needed by rabbits. Bunnies should be given a diet primarily consisting of hay, unlimited water, and pellets. 

Rabbits must get the correct nutrients to be set up for success and to engage in coprophagy correctly. Coprophagy means that rabbits produce special fecal pellets called cecotropes, which they then eat. These droppings are full of important nutrients and are different from the ones owners must clean from the cage.

These pellets are soft and dark and may smell sweet. They are loaded with nutrients for the rabbit, such as vitamins K and B, and offer protein. It usually occurs in the early morning and is completely normal behavior.

Related reading: What Hay is Best for Rabbits?

Nutrition Facts

Here are the nutrition facts for one cup of blueberries: 

  • 84 cals
  • 6g fiber
  • 1g protein
  • 21g carb

Here are some helpful minerals you get out of a one-cup serving of blueberries:

  • 5mg manganese
  • 0.1mg copper
  • 6mcg Vitamin K
  • 4mg of Vitamin C
  • 0.1 mg riboflavin
  • 0.1 mg vitamin B6

In tiny amounts, blueberries have magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, folate, and iron as well.

Bottom line: Can Rabbits Have Blueberries?

Yes, rabbits can enjoy blueberries, but moderation is the name of the game for this special treat.

Make sure you buy fresh blueberries and wash them thoroughly before you serve them. Remember that your rabbit is only to have a few of them at a time, just once per week. Anything more than that, and you could risk your rabbit becoming sick or developing diabetes or obesity.

Keep them as a special treat, so you and your rabbit have something to look forward to each week!

Vet's Comment

Blueberries are a good occasional treat for your bunny, refreshingly juicy, and full of cell-protective antioxidant compounds.

Though these berries don't have the highest sugar content compared to many other fruits, they do have easily digested natural sugars with low fiber content, which can contribute to obesity, dental problems, and some diseases such as diabetes.

- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Dr. Edele Grey Veterinary Surgeon

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Edele Grey
DVM

Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your rabbit’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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