Can your rabbit join in on summer’s bounty of fresh nectarines? These sweet, juicy fruits can be a fun seasonal treat for bunnies. But is it safe and healthy to let your fluffy friend indulge? What if it upsets their sensitive digestive system? Nectarines may seem like an innocent snack, but they do carry some risks. Before biting into that first ripe, ruby-red nectarine of the season, make sure you know the facts. We’ll cover everything you need to know about feeding nectarines to rabbits – from ideal portion sizes to potential problems. You’ll learn how to safely incorporate this summery fruit into your rabbit’s diet or determine if it’s better to just hop right by.
Are Nectarines Good For Rabbits?
Nectarines can make a tasty treat for rabbits in moderation. As with any new food, it's important to introduce nectarines slowly to make sure your rabbit tolerates them well. Nectarines contain a good amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can benefit your rabbit's health.
The main nutrient in nectarines is vitamin C. One small nectarine provides about 10% of a rabbit's recommended daily vitamin C intake. Vitamin C helps support a healthy immune system and keeps cells and tissues strong. It's especially important for skin and coat health.
Nectarines are also a source of vitamin A, which is good for vision, growth, and fighting disease. They provide B vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid to help convert food into energy. Minerals like potassium, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus in nectarines play many essential roles in the body.
Antioxidants including beta-carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin found in nectarines can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. The bright orange flesh indicates the presence of these beneficial plant compounds.
Fiber makes up about 2 grams of a medium nectarine's total carbohydrates. It aids digestion and promotes a healthy gut environment. The fiber and water content in nectarines may also help prevent gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea.
With around 60 calories per fruit, nectarines are low in fat and calories compared to treats like fruit snacks or sweets. The natural sugar in fruit provides rabbits energy without excess fat or empty calories.
The small amount of acidity in nectarines isn't a problem for most rabbits. Acidity levels are much lower than in citrus fruits which can sometimes irritate rabbits' mouths or upset their stomach.
Always feed nectarines in moderation since they do contain natural sugar. The fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they provide can be part of a nutritious, balanced diet for rabbits. Introduce new fruits slowly and watch for any signs of digestive upset.
How Much Nectarine Can My Rabbit Have?
It's fine for rabbits to have a few bites of nectarine as an occasional treat. The amount you can safely feed depends on your rabbit's size:
- Small rabbit (under 5 lbs): 1-2 small slices a few times per week
- Medium rabbit (5-10 lbs): 3-4 small slices a few times per week
- Large rabbit (over 10 lbs): 5-6 small slices a few times per week
Nectarines should make up no more than 10% of your rabbit's daily calories. Overfeeding fruit can lead to weight gain and digestive upset.
Always start by introducing just a small piece of nectarine, about the size of your rabbit's nail. Wait 24 hours to see how they tolerate it before increasing the portion size.
Monitor your rabbit's poops after giving nectarine. Soft, mushy, or excessively wet poop could mean too much fruit is causing diarrhea. Reduce the amount or avoid nectarine if this happens.
The flesh is the rabbit-safe part of nectarines. Avoid giving pits, seeds, or leaves from the tree. Only feed the nectarine itself, not stems, branches, or any other inedible parts.
Nectarines are best fed as an occasional treat, not every day food. Variety is important in a rabbit's diet, so rotate different healthy fruits and veggies to provide an assortment of nutrients.
Follow your rabbit's lead on favorites, and be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before serving. Limit high-calorie treats to keep your bunny healthy and happy.
Can My Rabbit Have Nectarine Stones To Play With?
It's best not to let your rabbit play with nectarine stones or pits. While they may seem like fun toys, nectarine pits pose a few safety risks:
Nectarine pits are small enough to become lodged in a rabbit's throat. Rabbits have unfortunately choked and died from playing with pits or seeds. It's safer not to let them interact with any small, hard objects.
The seed inside the pit contains a naturally occurring cyanide compound called amygdalin. It's toxic for rabbits if chewed or swallowed. Never give rabbits access to removed pits.
The hard, smooth surface of pits could chip or crack rabbits' teeth. Rabbits' teeth continuously grow and are prone to painful malocclusion if damaged. Avoid letting them chew on any pits, shells or stones.
Rabbits may try to ingest small objects like pits while grooming. The pits can get lodged in intestines, causing a life-threatening blockage.
Germs and Dirt
Pits may be covered in bacteria from being on the ground or contaminated during processing. Dirty pits could make a rabbit sick if handled or chewed on.
While foraging and digging are natural rabbit behaviors, nectarine pits are too hazardous to use as toys. There are safer alternatives to satisfy your rabbit's need to play:
- Untreated wicker or straw baskets/mats
- Cardboard boxes, tubes, castles
- Hard plastic baby toys without small pieces
- Wooden blocks or balls too large to choke on
- Paper bags to dig and shred
Redirect your rabbit if you see them playing with pits. Providing acceptable outlets for their energy is a better way to keep them entertained and safe.
Do I Need To Peel Nectarines?
It's not necessary to peel nectarines before giving them to rabbits. The skin of nectarines is thin and completely edible for humans and rabbits.
In fact, nectarine skins contain beneficial compounds like flavonoids and tannins. Flavonoids act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation. Tannins may help fight bacteria and viruses.
Leaving the peel on also preserves more of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals contained in the nectarine flesh. Peeling fruit removes some of the healthy contents along with the skin.
Washing nectarines well is more important than peeling them. This removes any dirt, chemicals, or microbes on the surface that could make a rabbit sick.
Here are some tips for preparing nectarines to maximize safety and nutrition for your bunny:
- Wash thoroughly under running water before serving.
- Rub gently with clean hands or a soft brush to clean the skin.
- Cut away any bruised or damaged sections which may contain mold.
- Check for and remove any stray stems or leaves.
- Slice into small pieces that are easy and safe for rabbits to eat.
- Keep the peel on to retain nutrients and fiber.
- Refrigerate any unused portion within 2 hours to prevent spoilage.
The peel of ripe, undamaged nectarines is completely rabbit-safe. Washing the outside well is adequate preparation as long as the nectarine will be eaten right away.
Peeling may be preferred if the nectarine isn't very fresh, the peel is damaged, or you're preparing a chopped recipe. But leaving it on is an easy way to give your bunny extra nutrition from this healthy fruit treat.
What Should I Do If Nectarine Gives My Rabbit Stomach Problems?
Nectarines are generally safe for rabbits, but excessive fruit can sometimes cause digestive upset. Here's what to do if your rabbit has adverse effects like soft stool, gas, or diarrhea after eating nectarine:
Remove Nectarine Entirely
Discontinue feeding nectarine immediately if it seems to be the cause of stomach issues. Allow at least 24 hours with no symptoms before retry