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December 28, 2009

Rabbits Are Nuts About Fruit

Your bunny has a sweet tooth; should you indulge it?

The Humane Society of the United States

While many of us would prefer chocolate, most rabbits view fruit as nature's candy, and nothing will excite a rabbit quite like a fresh slice of apple or piece of banana.

Fruit is certainly full of nutrients, but because it's also high in sugar, it should be used as a treat rather than a part of every meal.

Everything in moderation

Just as those of us with self-control limit our cookie intake, you should show restraint when giving your rabbit fruit. Bunnies love sweet stuff, and some can even become "addicted," refusing to eat their own food. One or two small treats a day can provide nutrients and enrichment.

Because of the high-sugar and high-starch content, treats should only be given in limited quantities: a slice of apple, a few blueberries, a small piece of banana. And of course adjust the amount to match the size of your rabbit.

Treats have their place

Treats can be very useful in training your rabbit and as a way of measuring his appetite.

A rabbit's appetite is central to his digestive health and, ultimately, his overall health. By establishing a daily routine in which your rabbit gets a certain treat at a certain time, you can detect any potential problems. If a rabbit refuses his favorite treat, you may need to call your veterinarian.

A word about carrots

Carrots are not a fruit, but they should also be considered a treat for rabbits. While popular cartoon rabbits are constantly seen eating carrots, such a diet would be terrible for a real-life rabbit. Carrots are very starchy and should only be given in limited quantities. A carrot should never be the basis of a rabbit's diet, but a few baby carrots each day is fine.

Fruits to give to your rabbit 

  • Apple (no stems or seeds)
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry (no pits)
  • Mango
  • Melon (no seeds, if applicable)
  • Papaya
  • Peach (no pits)
  • Pear (no stems or seeds)
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry

Extra-sweet fruits

These treats should only be given very sparingly because they're so high in sugar.

  • Banana (one or two half-inch slices)
  • Dried fruit (two or three raisins; a comparable amount for other dried fruits)\
  • Grapes (one or two)

Commercial treats

Many pet supply stores will sell a variety of commercial rabbit treats. For the most part, your rabbit is better off without such things; they're loaded with fat and sugar and are typically over-processed. Fruits are natural, more nutritious, and less expensive.

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