Can Rabbit Eat Apple Seeds or Apple Cores?


After decades of raising rabbits and growing apples, backed up with a background in science, I decided to write the definitive answer to the safety of feeding rabbits apple cores and apple seeds.

A rabbit can eat apple cores, seeds and all, and be just fine. Now, to be perfectly clear, your bunny shouldn’t eat lots of apples and apple seeds for a number of reasons that we’ll discuss in detail below.

To put you at ease, I have never heard a reputable first-hand story about a bunny rabbit actually dying from eating apple seeds; or any other animal or person for that matter.  

Why Would it Be Dangerous for a Rabbit to Eat Apple Seeds?

To be fair, I understand why my fellow rabbit lovers get a little freaked out when their pet bunny eats some apple seeds because it’s kind of true that apple seeds contain cyanide, which the CDC identifies as a “rapidly acting, potentially deadly chemical”.

But we need a much broader understanding before we stress about our bunny eating some apple seeds.

Do Apple Seeds Actually Contain Cyanide?

Apple seeds do not actually contain cyanide, but they do contain a common plant compound known as amygdalin which can be broken down into very small quantities of cyanide. So it’s fair to say that apple seeds have the potential to contain toxic cyanide.  

There are a few things that we need to understand about amygdalin.

  1. Amygdalin is also called Vitamin B17, and Laetrile.
  2. Amygdalin is found in many plants, not just apple seeds.  This includes apricots, almonds, cherries, plums, peaches, and more according to the US National Library of Medicine.  
  3. Amygdalin can be turned into small amounts cyanide when nuts or seeds are macerated or crushed { Research }.  That means that you have to chew up the nuts to release the potential cyanide.
  4. There is roughly 0.49 Mg of potential Cyanide Compounds per Apple Seed. { Research }
  5. Apple Seeds don’t even contain the most Amygdalin of the common fruits we eat and feed our animals!

    Amygdalin content in various seeds (mg/g) { Research }.
    • Apricot 14.37 ± 0.28 
    • Cherry (Black) 2.68 ± 0.02 
    • Cherry (Red) 3.89 ± 0.31 
    • Nectarine (Summer Fire) 0.12 ± 0.01 
    • Peach 6.81 ± 0.02 
    • Plum (Green) 17.49 ± 0.26 
    • Plum (Black; Friar Black) 10.00 ± 0.14 
    • Plum (Purple; Larry Anne) 2.16 ± 0.02 
    • Plum (Yellow; Son Gold) 1.54 ± 0.02 
    • Plum (Red; Laetitia) 0.44 ± 0.04 
    • Apple (Royal Gala) 2.96 ± 0.02 
    • Pear (Conference) 1.29 ± 0.04 

How Many Apple Seeds Would Be Lethal for a Rabbit?

CDC Research tells us that the LD50 for cyanide for a rabbit is 5 mg/kg. The LD50 { Definition } is the median lethal dose to kill an animal, which means that it would kill half of the rabbits who ate that much actual cyanide.

How many apple seeds is that to kill the average rabbit?  Let’s do the math.

Rabbit SizeAverage WeightLD50 in mgMg / Apple Seed# Of Apple Seeds
Small1.4 kg (3 lbs)7 mg0.4914.25 Seeds
Medium3.63 kg (8 lbs)18 mg0.4936.7 Seeds
Large6.8 kg (15 lbs)34 mg0.4969.4 Seeds

Most apples have between three and twelve seeds, but to be safe let’s assume that the average is a hefty 8 seeds.  

That means that a small rabbit would have to eat (and chew up) all of the seeds from nearly two apples to have 50% chance of dying.

A medium rabbit 50% lethal dose would be all the seeds from four and a half apples!

And a large rabbit would need over eight and one half apple cores (seeds and all)!

As you can see, that’s a lot of apples and a lot of seeds.  However, that is for a 50% mortality rate, and we don’t want to get anywhere near that, but a seed or two is probably going to be just fine!

Personal Evidence of the Danger of Apple Seeds to Rabbits?

I tried hard to give you solid empirical evidence that apple seeds are not as dangerous for rabbits as we are sometimes scared into believing and I hope I was successful.

But let me also share some personal anecdotal evidence.

I’ve raised rabbits on this property for 15 years.  We also have apple trees and raised both of our kids here.  Our rabbits have finished off countless apples that our toddlers only ate half of, and we’ve never had one sick or die.

Our property also has countless wild rabbits, who feast during the apple harvest and I’ve never seen a dead rabbit that killed over while eating its weight in fallen apples.

The pasture to the north of our property has an old homestead with dozens of apple trees that no one but the horses who live there eats. I’ve never seen a dead horse felled by cyanide poisoning.

I’ve heard stories of someone who knows someone who knew someone who’s rabbit died of apple seed poisoning…but I’ve never met anyone with first-hand experience of this horror.

All I’m saying is that with all of the opportunities I’ve had to see the tragic outcome of animals eating apple seeds, I’ve never seen it or met anyone who had actually seen it.  

While I believe it’s possible, I also believe it’s very very unlikely and would probably need some human assistance to extract enough cyanide in a digestible form from apple seeds.

Now, if you have first-hand experience with this tragedy, please let me know in the comments.  I want to learn!

Other Dangers of Feeding Your Bunny To Many Apples?

The much more real danger of feeding your pet rabbit apples, or any other fruit, too often is the same danger that it poses for humans.

Apples are packed with sugar and making it a mainstay of their diet will cause them to gain unhealthy weight.

Even some Zoos have stopped feeding fruit to their monkeys as a major part of their diet because their monkeys were getting fat and developing diabetes!

It’s fine to give your rabbit an occasional sweet treat of fruit and berries (even Apples!), but just don’t do it every day.  Your bunny deserves to be healthy and happy just like you!

On a side-note, my family started eating Keto (Low Carb / High Fat) a decade ago.  It’s the easiest way to maintain our healthy weight. If you want to learn more about the Keto Diet, be sure to check out my wife’s Keto Diet Information.

~ Stacey, Your Rabbit Friend at RabbitPros.com

P.S.  Remember, if you have first-hand experience with a seed-cyanide rabbit death, please tell me about it in the comments!

Stacey

My name is Stacey Davis, and I and my family had rabbits for decades. Here on RabbitPros.com we share our love of rabbits, our experience, and lots of research to help you enjoy your pet bunny even more and as stress-free as possible.

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