Rabbit Treats

We do not feed our rabbits carrots or lettuce.
An occasional treat can be given, but only in small quantities. Some treats sold in stores may make you feel good but they may not make your rabbit feel good or be healthy for it.  Our Rabbitry has small breeds and they have very different dietary requirements than larger breeds.

That cute little whiskered face is so hard to ignore, especially when your bun sits up and looks so deserving of that special treat. Pet stores sell a selection of rabbit treats which can be perfect for your precious rabbit.  IMPORTANT note ... For small rabbit breeds (like ours averaging 2-3.5 pounds) many rabbit treats are the equivalent of taking your rabbit to McDonald's, providing non-nutritious junk that can cause potential harm to your rabbit. Confusing the issue is that many of these products use phrases that lead the buyer to believe that the product is healthful: "nutritionally fortified", "doing right for the environment", "natural feeding habits", "for nutritional variety", "the finest selected ingredients".  The addition of "feeding instructions" and "guaranteed analysis" lend a cache of authority.  Commercial rabbit treats fall into several categories: pellets, processed cereal kibble, mueslix (dried seed/fruit/veggie mixes), cereal/veggie blends (only certain vegetables are allowed), and candies/sugars. None confer an advantage over the fresh treats, high fiber pellets, and unlimited timothy hay diet.

What we give as our bunnies as treats:
  • Timothy Hay (required as 80% their diet) in a hanging feeder
  • Fresh Pineapple (one chunk of pineapple only - every week to two weeks.
  • Apple Wood (without leaves)
  • Oatmeal, "Quaker" Brand Oats plain, One teaspoon of dried uncooked Quaker Oatmeal sprinkled on top of their food or mixed into the food once or twice per week.  Do not add sugar or any other ingredients.  Oatmeal can also assist you bunny's digestive system if it has diarrhea.
                                                                   
  • Pine Cones, In the wild, rabbits eat a variety of coarse materials to help wear down their teeth. Pine cones are one their favorites!  Rabbit’s teeth grow continually. Instinctively, they will nibble and chew on just about anything. For those that have house rabbits that are not in a hutch, this can be a real problem. Without challenging activities (a companion and “approved” chew toys) your rabbit will get bored and this often leads to destructive behavior.  Rabbits can be very playful creatures and many enjoy toys to provide rabbits with an outlet for energy and curiosity and chewing. Providing them with safe chewable pine cones can help wear down their front teeth and possibly distract them from gnawing on their feeders, cages, wood furniture and baseboards. Overgrown teeth can cause painful dental problems and health issues. Untreated, dental problems can be fatal to a rabbit. Pine Cones are “nature’s toothbrush” for rabbits and a healthy natural chew toy. Dried and cleaned pine cones are recommended by the House Rabbit Society and many others.

    Use freshly picked or just dropped from the tree (not old, weathered, wet or moldy), or buy carefully dried, cleaned, and pesticide-free pine cones as they provide an ideal cost effective toy and an abrasive material your rabbit needs to condition their teeth.

                                                                     


Fruit as treats?After An occasional treat can be given, but only in small quantities. Some treats sold in stores may make you feel good but they may not make your rabbit feel good or be healthy for it.  Our Rabbitry has small breeds and they have very different dietary requirements than larger breeds.
 

That cute little whiskered face is so hard to ignore, especially when your bun sits up and looks so deserving of that special treat. Everybody loves a treat now and then, but to ensure your rabbits health they should be given only occasionally. Do not feed your rabbit items high in carbohydrates like breads, crackers, pasta, pretzels, cookies, chips, or cereal. Although branded for rabbits, many commercially-sold bunny treats are high in fat and sugar, such as yogurt chips, and should not be given. Never give chocolate as it is toxic to rabbits.

Fruit is the best option for a treat, but again you should give it only in small amounts because of the sugar content. We try to purchase organic fruits that we know are free of pesticides. Like vegetables, be sure that they are thoroughly washed.  Any quantity larger than a baby carrot is too much at one time.  Treats should be given once per week or less.  Bunnies under the age of 4 months should NOT be given any fruits or vegetables.

Some fruits that rabbits enjoy include:

Try only one new food per week.  These fruits can be tried after 4 months of age:

  • Bananas
  • Apples (no seeds as they are poisonous to rabbits!)
  • Apple Branches (no leaves)

Try only one new food per week.  These fruits can be tried after 6 months of age:

  • Fresh Pineapple (One chunk only per week)
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Fresh Papaya
  • Watermelon 

The crunchier the better for the sake of their teeth ... But go easy on sweet foods. For more information about the types and amounts of food you should provide your bunny as he/she matures from birth into old age, see the House Rabbit Society's on this topic http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/diet.html.

Vegetables as treats

WARNING: Bunnies under the age of 3 months should NOT be given any fruits or vegetables (also see warning below about not providing Willow). Fluffy Bunny Rabbitry will not recommend that you feed a "Dwarf" or "small" rabbit vegetables because...  There are too many people that will "over dose" their rabbit with vegetables or provide the wrong part of the plant and cause mild to severe digestive issues that can make make your rabbit sick or cause a fatality. If you choose to feed your rabbit vegetables ... noted below is the information you will find in your research.  Please note that some of the "rabbit safe" foods you find on the internet are "not ok" for small rabbit breeds.  Here at Fluffy Bunny Rabbitry all of our rabbits are small dwarf rabbit breeds.

A varied assortment of vegetables can be a part of your rabbit's daily diet. When choosing vegetables look for something fresh and free of pesticides. Always wash your vegetables thoroughly before feeding them to your rabbit. Feed new vegetables in small quantities only once per week until you can judge if your rabbit reacts well to them. Please stay consistent with their diet as rabbits do not do well with change.  Do not feed rabbits the leaves from houseplants as many are poisonous to rabbits. 

I have not personally tried any of the following vegetables with my rabbits(see why below).   Your rabbit may tolerate some of the following vegetables after they are 6 months of age:

  • Basil
  • Bok choy
  • Carrot, tops only (carrots are high in calcium and should be given sparingly)
  • Cilantro
  • Clover
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion, leaves only!!!
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Mustard greens
  • Water cress
  • No! No! ... No Lettuce - DO NOT FEED SMALL or DWARF RABBITS LETTUCE!!!

Certain greens are welcome treats but be very careful not to overdo it for fear of the onset of diarrhea. Be cautious of foods that give you gas! It does the same thing to your bunny! OUCH! Dark green leafy vegetables are high in oxylates that can lead to bladder sludge and stones so if you feel you must feed greens, do it sparingly!

I do not feed my rabbits ANY green vegetables and they are happy, healthy and live long lives. The only greens they get are timothy hay, pine cones and apple branches. I believe that the vegetable diets promoted by many rescue groups and even vets are the cause of the growing number of cases of GI Stasis. When rabbits become bloated with gas the gut loses motility and shut down follows.  In our effort to keep our rabbits healthy folks often tend to over do it and cause more problems than pleasure.  Giving your rabbit certain treats may make you happy but it may not make your rabbit happy :o)
Just remember, all things in moderation!

Caution about WillowToys, archways and balls made with "willow" could harm your bunny as Asprin medications are made from willow bark.  I have found research on the dosage of willow for cows and goats but not for rabbits so we do not know how much they can eat and how often.  Willow products that are being sold at pet stores are a huge problem as they are advertised as safe for rabbits.  If rabbits are left with a large willow archway in their cage ... they will eat it.  The rabbit could overdose and become very ill and in most cases die from liver or another type of failure.  Pet Stores are now also selling hay carrots and other hay structures that are internally supported by willow.  If you buy a willow toy for your rabbit please use it as a toy and do not leave your rabbit alone with it to eat.


Disclaimer: All the comments and opinions you will find here are based on my experience, personal study, research, and raising my rabbits. What works for me may not work for others.  The information here is based on my experience with my herd of Lionheads, Holland Lops and Netherland Dwarf rabbits which are all dwarf breeds. I have NO experience with larger giant breeds and am not addressing them here as they may have very different dietary requirements.