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Can Rabbits Eat Maple Leaves?

As more and more people start to keep rabbits as pets, we see more and more people asking various questions about how they are able to offer the best care possible for their pet rabbits. One of the questions that we have started to see people asking more often is if rabbits can eat maple leaves or not.

With so many people reaching out to ask about giving their pet rabbit maple leaves as well as rabbits eating maple leaves being one of the most controversial points within the rabbit owning community, we wanted to publish our own dedicated article on the topic.

Our hope is that we will be able to help show the argument from both sides to put your in a better position to decide if you do or don’t want to feed your pet rabbit maple leaves.

Some people often state that the local wild rabbits in their area will eat the maple leaves from the trees without issue but wild rabbits and domesticated rabbits are not equal.

Most wild rabbits have evolved to live in there area where as the majority of domesticated pet rabbits have evolved thousands of miles away in totally different countries with their digestive systems being able to process different food types.

Can Rabbits Eat Maple Leaves?

Some rabbits can eat maple leaves without issue where as other rabbits can have a number of issues if enough maple leaves are added to their diet.

Maple leaves also contain a very small amount of cyanide at various points of their life cycle adding the threat of serious toxins into the mix too.

This is why the majority of rabbit owners opt to go with the “if in doubt, leave it out” mantra and not take any risks with their rabbits by letting them eat maple leaves.

From a nutritional stand point, maple leaves really do offer little to nothing for your pet rabbit anyway and there are plenty of better rabbit treats that you are able to use instead that are not only safe for your rabbit but also contain more vitamins and minerals too.

If you have let your pet rabbit out to run around and play only for it to find a random maple leaf and eat it, the chances are that your rabbit will be totally fine.

It is usually when a number of maple leaves, especially fresh maple leaves that were not ready to fall from the tree are ate by a rabbit when issues start.

Why Are Maple Leaves Controversial For Rabbits?

The controversy around maple leaves comes from the fact that maple leaves do contain cyanide at at least two points of the life cycle of the leaf.

With cyanide being lethal for rabbits and most other animals, this presents an easy to avoid risk that is usually not worth taking when there are so many other suitable food sources for your rabbit.

In addition to that, there has been research done into the effects of maple leaves on horses showing that there are multiple points when consuming the leaves are toxic to the horses.

Now, we know that rabbits and horses are different but most peoples logic is that if it is strong enough to be considered a serious toxin for a horse then it is definitely a toxin for rabbits.

The other side of the argument usually comes from people saying that the local rabbits in their area eat maple leaves and have no problems.

As we touched on earlier in the article though, wild rabbits and local rabbits have totally different digestive systems.

In addition to that, the domesticated rabbits with the softer coats are usually from Asia and Europe where there are a distinct lack of maple leaves available for their digestive systems to evolve to process them.

Should You Feed Your Pet Rabbit Maple Leaves?

The general consensus is that you should not risk feeding your rabbit maple leaves due to them being confirmed to be toxic and contain cyanide at different point of the leaves life cycle.

There are too many other safe food options for your rabbit that are free from risk to both intentionally giving your pet rabbit maple leaves.

Depending on your local area, you may have local maple trees and thus maple leaves blowing around your garden and yard.

This may present an accidental opportunity for your pet rabbit to eat one of the leaves but most of the time, this should be fine and your rabbit should not feel the symptoms of the toxins due to only eating a small amount.

In addition to that, there are also times of the maple leaf cycle where it is free from toxins and cyanide but it is hard to confirm when the leaf is considered toxin free and when it is considered toxic.

This is why we recommend that our readers just use a suitable rabbit treat or some other type of vegetable that is safe for rabbits rather than taking the risk with maple leaves.


That brings our article going over if rabbits eat maple leaves or not to an end. We hope that you have found our article helpful and that we have been able to help you understand why so many rabbit owners are against giving rabbits maple leaves. We feel that the argument for giving your rabbits maple leaves is not strong enough and is circumstantial at best and still carries a large amount of risk so we would recommend against it all together just like most other people within the rabbit owning community.