Can Rabbits Eat Walnuts – Yes or No – Here’s why

When you first get a new rabbit, it can be difficult to know what they can and cannot eat.

If you’re a new rabbit parent you might be curious to know: Can rabbits eat walnuts?

In this article, I will cover some essential information you should know about your rabbit’s diet, including whether they can eat walnuts.

Keep reading to find out more.

Can rabbits eat walnuts?

The short answer to this is rabbits shouldn’t eat walnuts. While they aren’t considered to be a toxic food for your rabbits, they can still be harmful if ingested by your rabbit. 

That being said, while they technically can eat walnuts, this doesn’t mean that you should be giving them to your pet. This primarily comes down to the fact that walnuts can cause a wealth of health problems outside of toxicity that can be very unpleasant for your bunny.

Rabbits have a specialized digestive system. They are hindgut fermenters and they rely on fibrous foods that have low amounts of energy. 

Their distinctive ability to process fiber and nutrients makes them adaptable to many different kinds of environments. That being said, their unique digestive systems mean that you need to be cautious when feeding them. 

If your rabbit accidentally eats a walnut, they should be fine as they’re not technically toxic or poisonous. However, you should actively avoid giving your rabbit walnuts in their diet. Nutritionally, without their shell, walnuts have about 65% fats, 15% proteins, 14% carbs. As a result, walnuts aren’t suitable for your pet as a rabbit’s digestive system cannot handle that much fat.

In fact, you should avoid feeding your rabbit any nuts, grains and cereals altogether.

What are the dangers of feeding your rabbit walnuts?

One of the primary reasons that rabbit owners make the mistake of giving walnuts to their pets is that despite their name, they aren’t actually a nut. Walnuts are actually in the same family as fruits like peaches and plums.

Bearing this in mind, as they are technically a fruit, you might believe that the high levels of vitamins and minerals in walnuts would be good for your rabbit in theory. However, this isn’t true, and there are several reasons why you should avoid doing so.

The reasons that your rabbit shouldn’t eat walnuts include but are not limited to:

Causes indigestion

Walnuts are high in fat and are low in fiber, which can slow your rabbit’s gut and cause them uncomfortable indigestion. If you’ve ever struggled with indigestion yourself, you know it’s not a pleasant experience. Generally speaking, your rabbit’s digestive system will struggle to digest any food that is super high in fat so should be avoided.

Can cause hepatic lipidosis

Too much fat in your rabbit’s diet can cause a condition known as hepatic lipidosis. Hepatic lipidosis is caused by an accumulation of excess fat in liver cells. 90% of the time, this condition is caused by other factors such as anorexia or stress, resulting in a loss of appetite. However, this isn’t something to be taken lightly and should be addressed by your vet as soon as possible.

Can cause weight gain and obesity

Like all other nuts, walnuts contain high levels of fat and are a calorie-dense food. This can also lead to excessive weight gain or a variety of health conditions including obesity. If this happens, your rabbit’s quality of life will significantly deteriorate. 

As a result of these potential risks associated with feeding your rabbit walnuts, it isn’t worth the risk. Always make sure that you have researched whichever treats you opt to feed your rabbit.

What other foods should rabbits avoid?

There are a variety of foods that you should avoid giving your rabbit.

Iceberg lettuce – Rabbits shouldn’t eat some lettuces like iceberg lettuce as they contain lactucarium which can be harmful in large quantities. 

Avocado – When ingested by your rabbit, avocado can actually have lethal consequences as it is also high in fat.

Peanut butter – Peanut butter is extremely high in fat and will do nothing more than give your rabbit a nasty stomach ache.

Grains such as rice or cereals – Grains and cereals can lead to tooth and tummy problems for your rabbit, so should be avoided.

Chocolate – Chocolate is an absolute no for rabbits. The sweet treat can be poisonous to rabbits and should never be fed to them.

Rhubarb –  Rhubarb is another food that can be lethal. If a rabbit were to ingest raw rhubarb in high volumes, they could die.

Cauliflower – While you might initially think cauliflower is a great choice for your rabbits – think again! Cauliflower causes rabbits to bloat and become gassy. Avoid!

Bread, crackers, and cookies – You should always avoid giving your rabbit foods high in sugar or artificial ingredients as these could potentially lead to enterotoxemia.

What should you feed your rabbit?

On a daily basis, a rabbit’s daily diet should consist of mostly hay, some fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets. Generally speaking, hay is not only the most nutritionally beneficial food for him, but it also helps to keep his teeth in check through nibbling.

There are many other foods that you can give to your rabbit as a treat that he will not only enjoy but also have a lot of nutritional value.

Small amounts of carrot and apple are good to give your rabbit as a treat! If you want to offer other fruits to your rabbit as a treat, you should only do this in moderation and try to source fruits that are high in fiber. 

In summary 

No – your rabbit should not eat walnuts! While walnuts technically aren’t poisonous or toxic to rabbits, they can still cause a variety of issues for your rabbit and should be avoided altogether.

There are many more nutritious foods that you can feed to them without the worry, so it’s best to opt for these and steer clear of walnuts in your rabbit’s diet.