Who doesn’t like to have a bite of a sweet and juicy apple? After all, an apple a day can keep a doctor away, right? Being a highly nutritious and tasty fruit that has a unique flavor apart from being highly rich in nutrients, it is also one of the most popular fruits in the world. Apples are rich in fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and make it a perfect diet not just for humans, they are great for animals as well. Though apples cannot be fed as a staple diet for most animals, they are still enjoyed by most animals.
Animals such are elk, bears, mice, rabbits, chimps, moose, raccoons, hamsters, pigs, horses, possums, etc. eat apples. Almost most of these animals eat apples in their natural habitat. For instance, foxes in the wild are found to feed on apples irrespective of the availability of their prey. It is rather interesting to note that among these animals, most of them prefer to eat fermented apples. These animals are found to store apples and consume them once they are fermented.
An interesting thing about apples is that even though they are highly nutritious they cannot be fed to animals a regular diet. Similarly, apples are also found to cause serious health issues to some animals, if fed in excess. So are these animals really supposed to eat apples?
In this article, we will have a look into whether animals should really consume apples and some other interesting facts.
Animals That Eat Apples
Almost all herbivores and omnivores eat apples in their natural habitat. That being said, when it comes to animals living in their natural habitat their dietary pattern is highly dependent on the availability of food. Depending on the availability of apples the animals may or may not eat apples.
Another important thing to note is that apples that are found in the wild are different from the cultivated apples that we see in the market. These wild apples are distributed in certain geographical locations and are seasonal fruits. This makes apples a treat that wild animals can only find once in a while.
The following are some of the animals that eat apples:
Because apples are seasonal fruits and are only found once in a while, these animals do not consume them on a regular basis.
Are these animals supposed to eat apples?
Yes, herbivores and omnivores can eat apples because they can digest them. But the quantity of apples they can consume varies with each animal.
Let us take the case of a goat and a panda.
Pandas are herbivores who mainly feed on bamboo shoots & bamboo leaves. Since these bamboo products cannot provide them with sufficient nutrition. A panda must consume 25 to 40kg of bamboo a day to meet its energy requirement. In order to supplement them with nutrition, pandas are fed apples by the zookeepers.
That is not quite the case with goats. Goats love apple and they are always up for a snack at any time of the day. Feeding apples in excess or as a staple diet can cause serious health issues for them.
Since goats absorb nutrition from the food they eat through the process of fermentation, the high sugar content in apple can cause accelerate the whole process of fermentation and cause bloating to the goat.
So yeah, it is safe for animals to eat apples. But the quantity and requirement vary with each animal.
Is it true that apple seeds are harmful to animals?
No, apple seeds are not harmful to animals. You might have heard that apple seeds contain hydrogen cyanide and eating them can cause death.
Before we proceed further you need to understand that apple seeds do not contain hydrogen cyanide as such. The apple seeds have a chemical named amygdalin in them. Only when the seed is broken or damaged does the amygdalin decay to form hydrogen cyanide in a negligible amount.
So can it cause death? Absolutely not because on average, an apple seed can produce 0.4mg of hydrogen cyanide and it takes roughly 150 seeds to produce enough cyanide to poison a human weighing 70kg.
Unless a wild animal eats in excess of 200 apple seeds in one go (for which it needs to find that many apples) there is no risk of death from hydrogen cyanide poisoning.
Are apples good for animals?
As discussed in the previous section, apples are highly nutritious fruits. Apart from being nutritious, apples are rich in antioxidants. In a recent study conducted on the effect of these antioxidants in apples, it was found that these antioxidants extended the average lifespan of test subjects by 10%.
Fruit flies which were used as test subjects showed many positive signs during the test. It was found out that the polyphenols (antioxidants in apple) apart from prolonging the lifespan also helped the fruit flies preserve their ability to walk, climb and move about.
The most important finding was that these polyphenols were found to reverse the various biochemical substances present in older fruit flies.
Is it safe to feed apples to pet animals?
Yes, it is safe to feed your pet apples if they are fed in limited quantities. As mentioned in the previous section apples are rich in fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants which make it an ideal supplement for your pets.
The first thing to keep in mind while feeding any pet is that you should be replicating its dietary pattern in the wild. A sudden change in dietary patterns can prove to be fatal for them.
As mentioned in the earlier section, apples are scarce to find in the forest and they are not an easy find for the animals. This means that the best way to go about feeding apples would be to give them apples as a treat once in a while.
Why shouldn’t I feed apples as a regular diet to my pet animals?
The reason why most animals love apples is for the same reason we love them, they are sweet and juicy. The reason why you shouldn’t be feeding apples as a regular diet to your pet animals are:
High sugar content in apples
Sugar, in general, is not good for your pet animals and feeding them apples regularly as a staple diet can be fatal. Sugar is basically carbohydrates and a high carb diet can make your pets obese. Apart from that excessive sugar can adversely affect calcium absorption.
The need for a balanced diet
As mentioned, in their natural habitat apples constitutes only a part of their diet. They obtain their vital nutrients from other sources. The best way to go about feeding a pet animal is to replicate its diet in the wild depending on the pet you have.
Is apple peel safe for animals?
The peel of an apple is highly nutritious. In fact, an apple with its skin has 332% more vitamin K, 142% more vitamin A, 115% more vitamin C, 20% more calcium, and up to 19% more potassium than a peeled apple.
Though the peel is highly nutritious, with the use of excessive pesticides in apple farming it has become poisonous. Consumption of apple peel after a thorough cleaning is safe for humans but that is not the case with animals.
It is advisable to feed your pets apples, only after peeling their skin and preferable after cutting them into smaller pieces.
Is it true that some animals eat fermented apples?
Yeah, some animals such as mice, elk, and rabbits are found to feed fermented fruits. There have been cases where elks have been caught in trees because of the effect of fermented apples.