Blackberries are succulent, sweet, and juicy berries. If you love them, you may also be tempted to give them to your bunnies. But in the world of rabbitry, things don’t work like that. You have to confirm if blackberries are suitable for your rabbits as they are delicate animals and if there are other precautions to take note of.
Are Blackberries Suitable For Your Rabbits?
Blackberries belong to the Rosaceae family in the Magnoliopsida class. Sometimes called bramble, it is closely related to raspberries, salmonberries, and dewberries. It has different colors when ripening but primarily black or dark purple. Not to be confused with berries, blackberries comprise tiny individual globes called drupes or drupelets.
Varieties of blackberries include; Adrienne, black beaute, loch Maree, loch ness, Merton thornless, apache, triple crown, Chester, Arapaho, ark 45, black diamond, marionberry, and Columbia star.
These varieties are classified mainly into 3; erect thornless, trailing thornless, and erect thorny blackberries.
However, your rabbit should be at least seven months old before feeding it blackberries moderately. Blackberries are treats, not whole meals. Also, avoid giving unripe blackberries.
The unripe ones are primarily green, red, or pink. While bunnies get their nutrients from their primary diet of hay, water, and a few greens, vitamins from fruits like blackberries can also be helpful.
Can Rabbits Eat All Parts Of Blackberries?
Blackberries consist of drupelets, fruit, twig, seeds, stem, and leaves. All parts of blackberries are safe for your rabbits except their seeds. The seeds can cause damage to the rabbit’s digestive tract. Although blackberry seeds are rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids, they are not dissolvable.
Your rabbits can eat the plants of a blackberry, including the thorny part. It is safe. They can eat the leaves also. Avoid the wilted ones. Feed them with only fresh blackberry plants and leaves. The whole plant is sweet, so your rabbits will likely appreciate it.
For the fruits, most rabbits will want to eat them. Why? Because they are sweet and juicy. Rabbits with picky food habits can reject them, however. Also, check for signs of changes in your rabbits. If you notice any abnormal symptoms, stop feeding your rabbits blackberries.
Are Blackberries Nutritious?
Besides the sweetness, blackberries are nutritious. They are 0.5% fat, one protein, 10% carbohydrates, and 88% water, with phytochemicals like anthocyanins, ellagic acid, flavonoids, polyphenols, and salicylic acid.
Here is the nutritional information of a 100g serving of blackberries according to the United States Department of Agriculture:
|Dietary fiber (g)||5.3|
|Vitamin A (IU)||214|
|Thiamine (B1) (mg)||0.020|
|Riboflavin (B2) (mg)||0.026|
|Niacin (B3) (mg)||0.646|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.030|
|Folate (B9) (μg)||25|
|Vitamin C (mg)||21.0|
|Vitamin E (mg)||1.17|
|Vitamin K (μg)||19.8|
- Magnesium: Blackberries are a great source of magnesium which offsets calcium to prevent blood clotting. It also produces energy in your rabbits and enhances metabolic reactions.
- Protein: is essential to your rabbit’s wellbeing. Rabbits can only build muscles and enzymes when they have enough protein. In cases of protein deficiency, the rabbit will be unhealthy and most likely have retarded growth.
- Antioxidants: Blackberries are rich in antioxidants that help fight off free radicals that cause cell damage.
- Fat: fats are twice as high in energy as carbohydrates. Rabbits need a lot of energy. Also, fats are necessary to absorb vitamins. Having enough fat in their diet will help your rabbits access the required vitamins.
- Iron: rabbits need iron for blood formation in their bodies.
- Manganese: boosts bone development.
- Fiber: bunnies require enough fiber in their diet to aid easy digestion and avoid constipation since rabbits have a susceptible digestive system.
- Antioxidants: Blackberry leaves contain hydrolyzable tannins and flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol). Flavonoids are one of the most potent antioxidants in the world. The leaves have immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also aid in the healing of wounds and sore throats.
- Good skin health: the nutrients in blackberries enhance skin health.
What Do I Need To Know When Feeding My Bunnies Blackberries?
You have to be cautious when giving treats to your bunnies. Treats not given the right way can become their undoing. Below are a few you should consider.
- Don’t feed baby bunnies (under seven months old) blackberries. It is dangerous to their health as their digestive systems aren’t well developed to process the fruit.
- Feed your bunnies’ blackberries according to their weight.
- Two small blackberries or one big one is enough for each rabbit whenever you are feeding them.
- Your rabbit should only have blackberries once or twice a week.
- Don’t mix other fruits with blackberries at the same time. Instead, dedicate an entire week to a type of fruit. Offering different fruits to your rabbits simultaneously can make them sick.
- When introducing blackberries to your rabbit, start with a small quantity. Monitor your rabbit after giving it blackberry to know if its system tolerates it.
- If you are feeding your rabbit with blackberry leaves, ensure that they are free from pests, insects, and chemicals.
- Don’t give your rabbits blackberry seeds.
- Don’t feed your bunnies green, red, or pink blackberries. Only black or dark purple blackberries are allowed.
- The blackberry leaves and plants must be fresh. Don’t give your rabbits wilted leaves to eat.
- You can feed your bunnies dried blackberries, but it is not advisable. Dried fruits have higher sugar content than fresh ones. Rabbits can live on low-calorie meals; you don’t need to give them high-calorie treats as that can lead to obesity.
- Your rabbits can eat frozen blackberries. They are safe, just like fresh blackberries. Some bunnies will enjoy it, especially on a hot day. But don’t forget to monitor your rabbit when you introduce it to frozen blackberries. Some rabbits may react to the cold temperature.
- Also, ensure that whatever part of the blackberry you are feeding your rabbit is clean. Wash it thoroughly under running water.
- Obese rabbits should not be fed blackberries due to their high sugar content.
- Avoid giving blackberries to a rabbit with digestive problems.
7 Other Berries Rabbits Can Eat
It’s not only blackberries you can feed your rabbits. You can add other fruits like
- Blueberries: are perennial flowering plants. Blueberries are a perfect treat for your rabbits with high vitamins and antioxidants. They should be fed to the rabbit based on its size. Rabbits may eat them dried, fresh, or frozen. Blueberries help to improve rabbits’ digestion and must be introduced into your rabbit’s diet slowly and gradually to avoid digestive system issues.
- Strawberries: Like blueberries, strawberries are high in vitamins and minerals essential for your rabbits, including potassium and fiber. They must be given in moderation to avoid health issues like obesity. You may remove the stems and leaves to prevent digestive problems.
- Raspberries: perennial fruits with woody stems; raspberries are an incredible source of vitamins and minerals. Also, they help keep your bunny’s teeth healthy.
- Cranberries: are one of the most recommended berries for rabbits. They are rich in nutrients like; vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, choline, protein, fat, lysine, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. As enticing as it can be, don’t give your bunnies cranberries until they are at least seven months old.
- Gooseberries: Native to North-Western Africa, Europe, and South Asia, gooseberries contain 88.87% of water. They have other nutrients, which include; carbohydrates, fat, calcium, iron, magnesium thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and protein. Like other berries, rabbits can only eat gooseberries a few times a month. Due to their high water content, they must be fed to rabbits moderately to avoid bloating.
- Bilberry: Closely related to the blueberry, bilberry is a perennial shrub that grows about 16 inches. They are otherwise known as European blueberries. Its branches are green and sharp-edged. It is rich in anthocyanins, which eradicate harmful particles known as free radicals in the body and help improve eyesight and eye health.
- Huckleberries: are the state fruit of Idaho. Their taste is unique but can be sweet and tart simultaneously. They have a bit of calcium and a few other nutrients. Don’t feed bunnies with it more than twice a week. Overfeeding your rabbits with huckleberries can result in stomach aches.
Blackberries are safe, nutritious treats you can feed your bunnies. Even though they are high in vitamins and antioxidants, they should never replace the rabbit’s diet. They must only be given once or twice a week in small quantities.
Giving too many blackberries to your rabbits causes gut issues and obesity. But don’t force blackberries down your bunnies’ throats if they don’t like them. Try other fruits like raspberries, papaya, nectarine, apple, plum, orange, banana, seedless cherries, watermelon, grapes, and pears.