Rabbit and bag of popcorn

Can rabbits eat popcorn?

Find out why popcorn is not a good food to give to your rabbit. A full breakdown of all the issues involved in feeding popcorn to bunnies.

I love going to the cinema for a new blockbuster. Some films need to be seen on the big screen. And many of us will treat ourselves to a bag or tub of popcorn (salty is my favourite, but others prefer toffee). Sometimes we recreate the experience at home, settling down on the sofa with a bag of popcorn to watch the latest movie. But can you feed popcorn to rabbits? Should you worry if you spill some popcorn and your bunny starts munching it? Can it be a treat for them as well? Find all the answers you need below.

Should you feed popcorn to rabbits?

You should not feed popcorn to rabbits. Although popcorn is not poisonous to rabbits, it is entirely unsuitable nutritionally for rabbits’ delicate digestive system. Popcorn is high in carbohydrates, and usually sugars, salt and fat. Eating too much popcorn could lead to serious stomach problems for a bunny such as GI stasis. Rabbits need low fat, high fibre diets based around hay.

Why popcorn is bad for rabbits – nutritional breakdown

Here’s a comparison table of the nutrition in popcorn (without anything added) and what rabbits need in their diets.

IngredientPopcorn per 100gRabbit daily nutritional requirements per 100g of feedComments
Energy387 kcalPopcorn is high in calories. Rabbits need to watch their weight, too. High energy foods like this don’t help.
Protein12.9 g12-17 gThis value is OK.
Fat4.54 g2.5-5 gAir-popped popcorn is low in fat, which is good. But some snacks are covered in butter, which will add lots of fat.
Fibre14.5 g14-25 gRabbits need a lot of fibre in their diets. Popcorn does have some fibre.
Carbohydrates77.8 g< 20 gRabbits need a relatively low carbohydrate diet. Popcorn is really high in carbohydrates (and if you like it sweet, you’re adding more carbohydrates with the sugar).
Calcium7 mg500 mgIt doesn’t contain too much calcium.
Sodium8 mg100 mgPopcorn doesn’t have too much salt – unless it’s been added to the snack, in which case it will probably be too salty for rabbits.
Iron3.19 mg30-400 mgIt only provides a little of the iron that rabbits need.
Phosphorus358 mg400 mgPopcorn does provide an appropriate amount of phosophorus for a healthy rabbit diet.
Potassium329 mg6,000 mgA small contribution to the potassium that rabbits need each day.
Vitamin A196 IU1,000-1,200 IUIt provides a little of the vitamin A that rabbits need.
Vitamin CNoneNoneRabbits don’t need any (their bodies make vitamin C).
Vitamin E0.29 mg5-16 mgPopcorn doesn’t provide much.
Vitamin DNone80-100 IUPopcorn provides none of the vitamin D that rabbits need.
Vitamin B complex22 mgNoneRabbits don’t need vitamin B complex. Their bodies make all that they need.
Zinc3.08 mg5-15 mgPopcorn provides nearly the right amount of zinc.
SeleniumNone0.005-0.032 mgIt provides none of the selenium that rabbits need.
Popcorn nutrition taken from USDA based on air-popped, unsalted

Popcorn is a bad food for rabbits because it is much too high in carbohydrates, as you can see from the table above. Any additions to popcorn such as butter, salt, sugar or toffee only add more ingredients that are unhealthy for bunnies.

If rabbits have too much carbohydrate, it upsets the delicate balance in their digestive system. Unhealthy bacteria can start growing inside the gut, leading to the release of gases which are painful for the rabbit. Rabbits can’t relieve the pressure by burping, and any blockages mean that the gases just build up.

It can also lead to further dietary problems, such as GI stasis, where rabbits have trouble transporting food through their intestinal systems. Essentially, their digestive system blocks up.

GI stasis is a serious condition, which can prove fatal. If you suspect your bunny may be suffering from this, contact a vet straight away.

Are popcorn kernels safe for rabbits?

Popcorn kernels are more dangerous for rabbits than popped corn. Nutritionally, kernels are pretty much identical (it’s just that the starch hasn’t ‘popped’). However, the hard kernel is extremely difficult for the rabbit’s intestines to digest. This means that the kernels can accumulate inside the rabbit digestive system, again leading to serious and even fatal problems. You can hope that the kernels will just pass through the intestines, but there is no guarantee.

There is a report of an autopsy on a pet rabbit that found loads of unpopped kernels in the rabbit’s stomach. The owner hadn’t deliberately fed them kernels; these had simply built up over time and never passed through, until finally they caused a fatal problem.

A further reason why popcorn is a bad treat for rabbits

Popcorn is a food that’s relatively easy to choke on, because it is large and puffed up. That’s not normally an issue for humans, but rabbits can have more difficulties if they start choking. Rabbits don’t have a vomit reflex, and can’t communicate their distress easily if they are choking.

I always compare feeding food to a rabbit to feeding food to a toddler. If I thought a toddler might choke on it, I wouldn’t give that portion size or food to a rabbit.

What are alternatives to popcorn as treats for rabbits?

If you want to treat your bunny, give them some slices of cut-up fruit, such as apple or banana. You can find a list of suitable, safe fruit and appropriate portion size in our article here.

Fruit works well in small amounts as a treat because rabbits can digest the sugars (fructose) in fruit, whereas their digestive systems are not designed to process other types of sugar such as sucrose. In the wild, rabbits do occasionally come across apples or other fruit, and will enjoy nibbling them. Replicating this behaviour at home is a good idea.

Help! My rabbit ate some popcorn – what should I do?

If your bunny has just nibbled a bit of popcorn, don’t panic. Popcorn isn’t poisonous, so this is the equivalent of us having a really unhealthy snack.

However, if your rabbit has had a much larger amount, keep an eye on them for the next 24 hours to make sure they’re OK. In particular, make sure that they are eating and drinking normally, moving around normally and pooping as usual.

If you have any concerns about your rabbit at all, contact a vet straight away.

Chocolate popcorn is dangerous for rabbits

Occasionally, people like chocolate sauce on their popcorn. Chocolate is dangerous for most pets, including rabbits. If your bunny eats any of the chocolate sauce, consult a vet straight away.

What diet should rabbits have?

Rabbits need a diet which mimics what they would get in the wild. This means that rabbits need plenty of hay (preferably Timothy); you can’t feed too much hay to a rabbit. Bunnies also need lots of fresh water available. These are the basics.

Beyond this, you can give about an egg-cupful of rabbit nuggets each day, along with a handful of greens and a small, appropriate treat such as a slice of banana. This diet will help keep your rabbit’s digestive system in tip-top shape, and help keep their teeth healthy too (read here to find more about rabbits’ teeth)


Popcorn is a great treat for humans, but a rubbish treat for bunnies. It doesn’t match their nutritional needs, and too much can cause rabbits serious problems with their guts. Keep popcorn for your movie nights, and find a better treat for your bunny.

Check out these other posts

For more information on rabbit nutritional needs, check out our posts on the vitamins and minerals bunnies need.

Interested in how rabbits digest their food? Read more here.

We have posts detailing which fruit and which herbs you can safely give to your bunnies.

Have you insured your rabbit? If you’re UK based, you can compare the different providers here.

Want to make sure your bunny doesn’t get bored? Have a look at our list of top 10 toys for rabbits.

Posted by Jonathan