General

Can rabbits eat grapes?

Can rabbits eat grapes?

On a hot summer’s day, there’s little better than biting into a sweet, delicious, refreshing grape, and the explosion of flavour in your mouth. But can your bunny share in this pleasure? Can rabbits eat grapes safely?

Is it safe for rabbits to eat grapes?

Rabbits can eat grapes safely, but with precautions and in moderation. A medium sized bunny can have a handful of grapes a day as a treat, including seeds. Grapes must be cut in half first, to avoid a choking hazard. Grapes provide some useful nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, copper and vitamin A. But grapes also contain fruit sugars, so too much can upset rabbits’ stomachs, leading to problems including diarrhoea. The main diet for a rabbit should be plenty of hay and water.

Can rabbits choke on grapes?

Yes, rabbits can choke on whole grapes.

You should cut all grapes into half or smaller before giving them to a rabbit (just like nurseries do before giving grapes to toddlers). Whole grapes can become stuck in the throat, preventing breathing.

Sadly, there have been a few reports of bunnies choking to death on grapes that hadn’t been cut up. Although uncommon, it is not a risk worth taking for a few seconds chopping up fruit.

Here is further information on rabbits choking, and what to do.

What are the nutritional benefits of grapes for rabbits?

Grapes are mostly water and fruit sugars, but they do provide some nutrients to rabbits. Here’s a table outlining which nutrients grapes provide:

IngredientGrapes per 100gRabbit daily nutritional requirements per 100g of feedComments
Water79.9 g
Energy80 kcal
Protein0.9 g12-17 gGrapes are low in protein compared to what rabbits need.
Fat0.23 g2.5-5 gGrapes, as you would expect, are low in fat, which is good as bunnies thrive on a low fat diet.
Fibre0.38 g14-25 gRabbits need a lot of fibre in their diets to keep food moving through their digestive system. Without fibre, it all blocks up and creates problems. Grapes don’t provide enough fibre. Rabbits need hay, which is high in fibre, with grapes as an occasional treat.
Carbohydrates18.6 g< 20 gRabbits need a relatively low carbohydrate diet. Grapes are not low in carbohydrates, and most these carbohydrates are sugar (glucose and fructose). Too much sugar can play havoc with the delicate digestive system of rabbits, allowing bad bacteria to build up and painful gases causing GI stasis.
Calcium10 mg500 mgRabbits need a low calcium diet, as they are prone to developing extremely painful kidney stones. Grapes are low in calcium, so are fine.
Iron0.2 mg30-400 mgGrapes don’t provide the iron that rabbits need in their diets.
Magnesium7.1 mg30-300mgGrapes provide low levels of magnesium for rabbits.
Phosphorus22 mg400 mgGrapes provide little of the phosphorus needed by rabbits.
Potassium218 mg6,000 mgGrapes can contribute a little to the potassium that rabbits need each day.
Vitamin A100 IU1,000-1,200 IUGrapes provide some of the vitamin A which rabbits need.
Vitamin C3 mgNoneRabbits don’t need vitamin C (their bodies make vitamin C).
Vitamin DNone80-100 IUGrapes provide none of the vitamin D that rabbits need.
Zinc0.03 mg5-15 mgGrapes don’t provide enough zinc.
Copper0.05 mg0.5-2 mgGrapes provide a little of the copper that bunnies need.
Table of nutrients of fresh grapes compared with rabbits’ nutritional requirements. Grape nutrition taken from USDA (copper levels from this research)

As you can see, grapes provide a little towards the copper and potassium required by rabbits, but mostly they are water and fruit sugars.

What are the dangers of grapes for rabbits?

These are the potential dangers of grapes for rabbits, and how to lower the risk:

  • Choking (see above). Lower the risk by chopping up grapes in half or smaller.
  • Diarrhoea from excess fruit sugars. Lower the risk by only giving grapes as a treat in small quantities (no more than a few grapes a day).
  • Gastro-intestinal stasis (GI stasis). This is a form of constipation that could be caused by the excess sugars in the gut. It is extremely dangerous – if you suspect your rabbit has GI stasis, consult a vet at once. Lower the risk by only giving a few grapes a day to your bunny as a treat, and making sure that their main diet is hay and water.

What is a suitable portion of grapes for a rabbit?

A suitable portion of grapes for an adult rabbit (eg about 6lb) would be up to 10 grapes maximum, but I’d err on the side of caution and give fewer. Remember to chop them up first.

You can include the woody grape vine – this is safe for rabbits to eat. If you are worried about pesticides, also wash the grapes first.

Can you give grapes to baby rabbits?

You should not give grapes to baby rabbits. Their intestines are extremely delicate and still developing. Wait until they are adults before feeding fruit treats.

Can you give raisins to rabbits?

You can safely give raisins as a treat to rabbits. But only give a few raisins – only as many raisins as you would give grapes. There is as much sugar in a small raisin as in a plump grape, so you can only give as many raisins as you would grapes.

Can you give frozen grapes to bunnies in summer?

Yes you can give a few frozen grapes (cut in half) to rabbits on hot summer’s days. It is the equivalent of an ice-cream for them, and many bunnies will appreciate this as a treat.

Grapes for rabbits with cats and dogs in the same house

Be careful if you have both rabbits and cats or dogs in your house. While grapes are safe for rabbits, they can be poisonous to cats and dogs (so can raisins). So either don’t feed your bunny grapes, or make sure that your other pets can’t get anywhere near the rabbit food.

What should rabbits mainly eat?

Rabbits should mainly eat hay and water, with a handful of fresh greens and an eggcup-ful of rabbit nuggets each day. Fruit like grapes can be given as an occasional treat.

Conclusion

Many rabbits will enjoy grapes as a sweet, refreshing treat (just like we do). Just make sure that you only give a few at a time to adult rabbits, and cut up the grapes before you give them.

Check here what other fruit rabbits can safely eat.

This post gives full information about rabbit nutrition.

Find out more about rabbits’ digestive systems here.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Pet rabbit industry statistics (UK)

Pet rabbit industry statistics (UK)

I have gathered the statistics for the pet rabbit industry in the UK from a variety of sources. As I discover new statistics, I’ll keep adding to this page.

How many pet rabbits are there in the UK?

There are currently about 900,000 pet rabbits in the UK.

These figures are from May 2021. Source.

How have pet rabbit numbers changed over time?

YearNumber of pet rabbits
20111,669,000
20121,700,000
20131,000,000 (no reason given for drop in numbers)
20141,300,000 (no reason given for increase in numbers)
20151,200,000
20161,500,000
20171,100,000
20181,000,000
2019900,000
20201,000,000
2021900,000
Change in pet rabbit numbers for the UK

It is unclear why numbers vary so much from year to year. Source.

How many adults own a pet rabbit in the UK?

2% of UK adults own a pet rabbit.

These figures are from May 2021. Source.

Where do people get their pet rabbit from?

According to the Paw Report 2021:

Where owners get their rabbits fromPercentage
Pet shop or garden centre34%
Rescue home or rehoming centre19%
Rehomed from family, friend or neighbour13%
Where do owners get pet rabbits in the UK?

A different methodology from 2014 (England only) gave these results:

Where owners get their rabbits fromPercentage
Pet shop or garden centre39.1%
Rescue home or rehoming centre17.6%
Breeder15.8%
Rehomed from family, friend or neighbour15%
Advert4%
Found as stray2.1%
Where do owners get pet rabbits in England?

How many rabbits live alone?

In May 2021, 48% of rabbits live alone.

This is important because rabbits are sociable animals, who usually require companionship from other rabbits.

This has changed over time. In general, there has been a decrease (which is good). But during lockdown from COVID there was an increase.

YearPercent of rabbits living alone
201167%
2012
201365%
2014
201557%
201652%
201756%
201854%
201949%
202042%
202148%
Change in pet rabbit numbers for the UK

Source.

Why do owners only have one rabbit?

Reason for only having one rabbitPercentage
Previous companion has passed away34%
Don’t want to own more than one27%
Rabbit does not get on with other rabbits14%
Have never thought about getting another rabbit13%
Have not got around to getting a second rabbit9%
Can only afford one rabbit6%
Why do owners only have one pet rabbit?

These figures are from May 2021. Source.

What percentage of rabbits get neutered?

63% of rabbits are neutered in the UK (May 2021). This is an increase from 57% in February 2020.

Neutering improves rabbits’ health, behaviour and life expectancy. Read here on what to expect when your rabbit is neutered (spayed).

How long do pet rabbits live on average?

Pet rabbits in England live on average for 5.6 years, with a range of 1 month to 12 years.

These figures are from 2014. Source. Note – these are England figures, not UK.

How much do pet rabbit owners spend each year?

The total spend of pet rabbit owners in the UK is about £672 million.

The average rabbit owner spends £94 per month (£1,128 per year) over the lifetime of a rabbit.

These figures are for 2018-19. Source.

Do owners keep rabbits outside or inside?

Where do pet rabbits live?Percentage
Outside (or mainly outside)59.5%
Inside (or mainly inside) (house rabbit)27.6%
Shed, garage or outside building12%
Do pet rabbits live outside or inside?

Of the respondents, 19.5% said that the location varied with season.

These figures are for 2014. Source. These are England figures, not UK.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Can rabbits eat guinea pig food?

Can rabbits eat guinea pig food?

Perhaps you are a proud rabbit owner who is also a proud guinea pig owner. Or perhaps you’ve run out of rabbit pellets (also called rabbit nuggets) and the local supermarket only has guinea pig pellets. Either way, you need to know whether you can safely give food designed for guinea pigs to your rabbit if you need to (or if your bunny steals food from your guinea pig – some bunnies are quite mischievous…). So here’s a complete answer, beginning with a short summary for those who want the key points.

Is guinea pig food safe for rabbits to eat?

Rabbits can safely eat guinea pig food, including guinea pig pellets and snacks. Their diets are extremely similar, both being mainly based on hay. The main difference is that guinea pig pellets have extra vitamin C added, which bunnies don’t need but guinea pigs do. Because of this, guinea pig pellets are safe for rabbits in an emergency or for a short period of time, but switch back to pellets formulated for rabbits when you can.

What foods do guinea pigs eat?

Guinea pigs are herbivores who need high quantities of fibre. The best diet for guinea pigs is lots of fresh hay (preferably timothy hay) or grass (about 90% of their diet). Roughly, you need to give them each day a quantity of hay about equal to their body size. You can then supplement this with some fresh vegetables or herbs, and about a tablespoon of guinea pig pellets. Small quantities of fruit can be given as a treat. And don’t forget fresh water. Check out more details here.

What foods do rabbits eat?

You will notice the similarity with guinea pigs. Rabbits are also herbivores who need lots of fibre in their diets. Like guinea pigs, rabbits also need mostly fresh hay or grass, and again about the size of their body each day. A handful of green vegetables or herbs can be given in addition. And rabbits can have about an egg-cupful of rabbit pellets each day. Just like guinea pigs, small quantities of fruit make a tasty treat for bunnies. And rabbits drink lots of water.

What is the difference between rabbit pellets and guinea pig pellets?

If you look at the ingredients on rabbit pellets and guinea pig pellets, they are almost identical. The only significant difference is that the makers add vitamin C to guinea pig pellets.

This is because guinea pigs can’t make vitamin C in their bodies – they need it in their diets. Rabbits are different. Rabbits do make vitamin C in their bodies, and so don’t need it added to pellets or in their diets (find out more about what vitamins and minerals rabbits need).

Here’s a table comparing the ingredients of guinea pig pellets and rabbit pellets from the same manufacturer (Burgess). As you can see, the biggest difference is how much vitamin C is in the pellets, with guinea pigs getting an order of magnitude more.

IngredientGuinea pig pelletsRabbit pellets
Beneficial fibre31 %39%
Crude protein17 %13%
Crude oils and fats4 %4%
Crude fibre17 %19%
Crude ash6.5 %6.5%
Vitamin A25,000 IU/kg25,000 IU/kg
Vitamin D32,000 IU/kg2,000 IU/kg
Vitamin E125 mg/kg155 mg/kg
Vitamin C1,050 mg/kg70 mg/kg
Copper sulphate pentahydrate28 mg/kg28 mg/kg
Calcium iodate anhydrous2.34 mg/kg2.34 mg/kg
Sodium selenite0.22 mg/kg0.55 mg/kg
Ferrous sulphate monohydrate133 mg/kg133 mg/kg
Manganese oxide16.1 mg/kg16.1 mg/kg
Zinc oxide139 mg/kg139 mg/kg
Table comparing guinea pig pellet ingredients with rabbit pellet ingredients. Manufacturer is Burgess.

Is the extra vitamin C in guinea pig pellets dangerous to rabbits?

The amount of vitamin C in guinea pig pellets is not dangerous for rabbits. While a gigantic excess of vitamin C is bad for rabbits (a gigantic excess of pretty much anything is never healthy), the levels in guinea pig food are fine. The safe limit for vitamin C in rabbit food is double what you find in guinea pig pellets (check out more about rabbit nutrition here).

Can you feed your rabbit guinea pig treats?

Any treat that is sold by a reputable manufacturer as being suitable for guinea pigs is also almost certainly suitable for rabbits, because their diets are so similar.

However, by the same token, just as you can get some treats that are unhealthy for guinea pigs, so these will also be unhealthy for rabbits.

But a good rule of thumb is, if guinea pigs can eat it, so can bunnies.

How much guinea pig food should you feed your rabbit?

You should feed your rabbit their normal amounts if substituting guinea pig food. Of course, hay is the same for both guinea pigs and rabbits. If you need to use guinea pig pellets, give your bunny about an egg-cupful of pellets a day, just as you would with rabbit pellets.

Conclusion

If you need to feed guinea pig pellets to your rabbit, or if your rabbit steals some guinea pig pellets, you can relax. Guinea pigs and rabbits have pretty much the same diet, and the pellets are extremely similar in composition. The only significant difference is that guinea pig pellets have additional vitamin C, which rabbits don’t need, but the vitamin C won’t cause your rabbit any harm.

If you want to find out more about your bunny’s diet and health, check out these posts:

We have an article on the vitamins and minerals that rabbits need.

This article explains which fruit (and how much) you can give your bunny.

Not all herbs are safe for rabbits. Find out more here.

Explore how rabbits digest their food.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Can rabbits eat peas?

Can rabbits eat peas?

For some, peas are our favourite vegetable; little bright spheres of taste to enliven a plate of food. I’m not actually in that camp – I’ve never liked them, from childhood. I’m more like Lola, who declares to her older brother Charlie, ‘Don’t even think about giving me a pea… …they are too small and too green’ (you can find the delightful Charlie and Lola children’s books here). But I’m unusual. Most kids and adults wolf them down. But what about your fluff-ball pet bunny? Can they also wolf down peas safely? (If you’re wondering about mange-tout, look here)

Is it safe to give peas to rabbits?

Rabbits can eat fresh, green peas safely in small quantities. Like other legumes, giving too many peas to a rabbit could lead to stomach problems including gastro-intestinal stasis. A portion size of peas for an adult rabbit would be no more than a couple of tablespoons a day.

The nutritional benefits of peas for rabbits

Peas do provide some important nutrients for rabbits (though they can also get these through other foods). However, as the table below shows, peas aren’t suitable as the major food for bunnies, which should always be hay.

IngredientPeas per 100gRabbit daily nutritional requirements per 100g of feedComments
Water78.9 g
Energy81 kcal
Protein5.42 g12-17 gPeas are low in protein compared to what rabbits need. This is one reason why it shouldn’t be the main food for bunnies.
Fat0.4 g2.5-5 gPeas are low in fat, which is good as bunnies thrive on a low fat diet.
Fibre5.7 g14-25 gRabbits need a lot of fibre in their diets to keep food moving through their digestive system. Without fibre, it all blocks up and creates problems. Peas don’t provide enough fibre. Rabbits need hay, which is high in fibre, with some greens like peas as additions.
Carbohydrates14.4 g< 20 gRabbits need a relatively low carbohydrate diet. Peas are not particularly low in carbohydrates, and over a third of these carbohydrates are in the form of sucrose (sugar). Too much sugar can play havoc with the delicate digestive system of rabbits, allowing bad bacteria to build up and painful gases causing GI stasis.
Calcium25 mg500 mgRabbits need a low calcium diet, as they are prone to developing extremely painful kidney stones. Peas are lower in calcium than Timothy hay, their main food source, so are fine.
Iron1.5 mg30-400 mgPeas only provide a little of the iron that rabbits need in their diets.
Magnesium33 mg30-300mgPeas provide good levels of magnesium for rabbits.
Phosphorus108 mg400 mgPeas can provide some of the phosphorus needed by rabbits.
Potassium244 mg6,000 mgPeas can contribute a little to the potassium that rabbits need each day.
Vitamin A765 IU1,000-1,200 IUPeas are quite good for vitamin A, which rabbits need.
Vitamin C40 mgNoneRabbits don’t need vitamin C (their bodies make vitamin C). The vitamin C in peas won’t harm them, but it won’t help them either.
Vitamin E0.13 mg5-16 mgPeas don’t provide much vitamin E for rabbits.
Vitamin DNone80-100 IUPeas provide none of the vitamin D that rabbits need.
Vitamin B complex2.76 mgNonePeas provide some vitamin B, but rabbits don’t need vitamin B. Their bodies make all that they need.
Zinc1.24 mg5-15 mgPeas provide some zinc.
Selenium0.0018 mg0.005-0.032 mgPeas provide a little of the selenium that bunnies need.
Table of nutrients of fresh raw peas compared with rabbits’ nutritional requirements. Pea nutrition taken from USDA

As you can see from the table, peas aren’t suitable as the main diet for rabbits. They don’t provide enough fibre, and are too high in sugars. But in small quantities they do provide some of the other nutrients that rabbits need, like vitamin A and magnesium.

What are the dangers of peas as the main food for rabbits?

What might happen if you fed too many peas (or, even worse, only peas) to your rabbit? Your bunny could develop a range of problems:

  • Although peas have some fibre, rabbits need lots of fibre. The fibre helps food to move through their intestines. Put simple, if there’s no fibre, the food blocks up (gastro-intestinal stasis, or GI stasis). This is extremely dangerous for rabbits: if you suspect your rabbit has GI stasis, consult a vet at once. Rabbits need their main food to be high in fibre, like hay.
  • Peas are high in sugar. Too much sugar upsets the delicate balance of the digestive system (find out more here). It encourages bad bacteria to grow in the intestines, particularly the caecum. This in turn means that food isn’t digested properly, and causes gases to build up, which rabbits find extremely painful. In turn, this can also lead to GI stasis. This is why, even if peas aren’t the main food you give rabbits, you still need to be cautious in the quantities and not give too much.
  • Peas are low in protein. If you tried to feed rabbits mainly with peas, they wouldn’t have enough protein to build and maintain their muscles.

What is a suitable portion of peas for a rabbit?

A safe portion daily of peas for a rabbit is about 1 tablespoon for every 2lb (1kg) your rabbit weighs. A rabbit like a minilop typically weighs anywhere from 4-6 lb as an adult, so a safe portion size is no more than 2 or 3 tablespoons of peas.

Do rabbits like peas?

Rabbits are like humans – different from one another! Just as I don’t like peas, but other members of my family love them, so some rabbits will gobble up peas, and others will sniff, turn their noses up and hop away.

Can rabbits eat dried peas or cooked peas?

Don’t feed dried peas to rabbits, as this can increase the danger of GI stasis. Rabbits can eat cooked peas, but they won’t be as good for them as fresh raw peas.

Can baby rabbits eat peas?

You need to be careful with young rabbits with every new food. For the first six weeks, baby rabbits should be depending on their mother’s milk. After this, they transfer to hay (and a few pellets). Only later can other foods be introduced, and it is best to do this a little at a time, and one new food at a time. This is because young rabbits have extremely delicate digestive systems that can be easily upset.

Can you feed peas to rabbits every day?

It is best to include variety in the food you give rabbits. The best diet for rabbits is one based on unlimited availability of hay and water, with up to an eggcup-full of rabbit pellets, and a handful of fresh greens (such as herbs like thyme or other green vegetables) every day. In addition, they can have a small treat (eg a small portion of fruit) each day.

Conclusion – can rabbits eat peas?

Rabbits can eat peas safely in small quantities. A suitable portion is about 2 tablespoons of peas for an adult rabbit. If rabbits eat too many peas, it could lead to dangerous intestinal problems.

Check out these other posts

Find out more about rabbit nutrition here.

We have a post on the digestive system of bunnies here – take a look!

Herbs can make a great addition to your rabbit’s diet – check out which herbs are safe for rabbits here.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Do rabbits yawn?

Do rabbits yawn?

You know what it’s like. You get to the end of a long day, you feel a little tired, you stretch out and yawn. It’s so natural to us that we usually don’t even notice (we even yawn in the womb). But do our bunnies also yawn? Here’s a quick summary, but do read on for more detailed information.

Rabbits do yawn. Just like humans and many other animals, rabbits yawn when they are feeling sleepy. Yawning may help increase blood flow to the brain, and help regulate the temperature of the brain for better physiological performance. This also increases the arousal level of the rabbit when they are tired. Yawning may also reduce anxiety in rabbits.

Reasons why rabbits yawn

Sleepy rabbits yawn

Rabbits get tired, lazy or sleepy just like us humans. And just like us humans, when they are tired they are more likely to yawn. You are most likely to notice your bunny yawning as they settle down to go to sleep, or as they’re waking up. In slightly more scientific terms, rabbits yawn when transitioning between being awake and asleep.

The reason sleepy rabbits yawn may be to maintain or increase their arousal levels. Particularly when waking up, an animal needs to become alert as soon as possible. Yawning may be one of the ways that animals ensure this.

Yawning helps to increase blood flow to the rabbit’s brain

One of the effects of yawning may be to increase blood flow to the brain. The way this works is complex, but involves the stretching in yawning affecting vagus nerves resulting in more flow of highly oxygenated blood to the brain. This in turn helps with arousal levels. In particular, yawning appears to create cortical arousal

Yawning helps rabbits to regulate the temperature of their brain

Yawning also helps rabbits (and other animals) to control or regulate the temperature of their brain. This is known as the thermoregulatory theory of yawning. This is backed up by research showing that yawning is controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which also controls the regulation of temperature.

How this works is also complicated, involving cooling arteries that supply the brain and other effects. But it seems to work.

This has been confirmed by experiments on rats – yawning helped lower their brain temperature by up to 0.5oC.

So when your bunny yawns, they are helping to make sure that their brains are not getting too hot or too cold.

Yawning may reduce anxiety in rabbits

Despite what we may expect, we are more likely to yawn before a stressful event (so don’t be surprised if you find yourself yawning before an important public speech or competition).

Animals also yawn when facing stressful situations. Why would they (and we) do this? Because stress heats up our brains. And yawning helps control that heating effect, keeping our brains from getting too warm.

So your bunny won’t only yawn when they’re waking up or going to sleep, but also when they are feeling stressed out by a situation. Yawning is one way of your rabbit keeping in control.

Yawning isn’t about increasing oxygen levels for rabbits

A popular myth about yawning is that it increases oxygen levels and decreases carbon dioxide levels, as it is a massive intake of breath. However, scientific tests haven’t backed this theory up, at least in humans. They’ve tried increasing carbon dioxide levels, with no increased yawning (their breathing changed in other ways). And subjects who breathed pure oxygen didn’t show a decrease in yawning. Similar results have been found in experiments with rats.

How do rabbits yawn?

A rabbit is about to yawn will usually settle down, putting out their front feet, before lifting their head back to be able to open their mouths as widely as possible and stretch for the yawn.

Here’s a few live action yawns:

Are yawns contagious in rabbits?

Yawns are contagious in quite a few animals, not just humans. We develop the habit of yawning when other people yawn around the age of 5 years old, which suggests it has a social function alongside the physical effects. The animals where scientists have observed contagious yawning (in some cases in response to human yawning) include dogs, sheep, elephants, wolves, chimpanzees and even lions. These are all animals who live in social groups.

In lions, yawning together seemed to help coordinate them as a group and engage in cohesive action (you can check out the study here).

However, no-one appears to have studied rabbits yet.

As rabbits are extremely sociable, it would not be surprising if yawning was contagious in rabbits. But we don’t know for certain yet.

If anyone is an aspiring scientist or vet, and has multiple bunnies, perhaps you could do the research? The world needs to know!

Conclusion

Rabbits yawn, just like us humans. They yawn when they’re going to sleep and when they’re waking up, and also if they are facing a stressful situation. Yawning increases their alertness levels and helps them regulate their temperature.

You may also like:

You can find out more about when and how rabbits sleep here.

Ever wondered whether or not rabbits are nocturnal?

Explore how rabbits hear the world.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Can rabbits eat popcorn?

Can rabbits eat popcorn?

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)

Conclusion

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 in General
Can rabbits eat peanut butter?

Can rabbits eat peanut butter?

Peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly (if you’re American), peanut butter and bananas. Many of us love it, smooth or crunchy, and will happily spread it on toast or combine it with other foods. But can rabbits eat peanut butter? Should you panic if they do? Find out more.

Is peanut butter safe for rabbits?

You should not feed peanut butter to rabbits. Although peanut butter is not poisonous to rabbits, as a food it is entirely unsuited to rabbits’ complex and delicate digestive system. Peanut butter is extremely high in fats. Eating too much peanut butter may cause stomach problems including GI stasis for rabbits, which need low fat and high fibre diets based on hay.

Why peanut butter is bad for rabbits – nutritional breakdown

Peanut butter may be a tasty topping for humans, but it is a bad food for bunnies. This table shows how peanut butter doesn’t provide the nutrients that rabbits need, and also provides too much of nutrients that rabbits don’t need and that are bad for them.

IngredientPeanut butter per 100gRabbit daily nutritional requirements per 100g of feedComments
Energy598 kcalPeanut butter is high in calories. Just like humans, rabbits need to watch their weight. High energy foods like this don’t help.
Protein22.2 g12-17 gPeanut butter is high in proteins. You might think that this is a good thing, but the higher concentration of proteins in the rabbit gut could cause problems, upsetting the balance of bacteria inside the rabbit intestinal system.
Fat51.4 g2.5-5 gPeanut butter is much too high in fat for rabbits. This can create short term problems in the gut, and longer term issues over rabbits becoming overweight. This is a major concern for peanut butter as part of the diet.
Fibre5 g14-25 gRabbits need a lot of fibre in their diets to keep food moving through their digestive system. Without fibre, it all blocks up and creates problems. Peanut butter doesn’t provide much fibre.
Carbohydrates22.3 g< 20 gRabbits need a relatively low carbohydrate diet. Peanut butter is high in carbohydrates (including sugars).
Calcium49 mg500 mgIt doesn’t contain too much calcium. Rabbits need a low calcium diet, as they are prone to developing extremely painful kidney stones.
Sodium426 mg100 mgPeanut butter has way too much sodium for rabbits (because of the salt). Just like too much salt is bad for us, so too much salt is not good for rabbits.
Iron1.74 mg30-400 mgPeanut butter only provides a little of the iron that rabbits need in their diets.
Phosphorus335 mg400 mgPeanut butter does provide an appropriate amount of phosophorus for a healthy rabbit diet.
Potassium558 mg6,000 mgPeanut butter can contribute a bit to the potassium that rabbits need each day.
Vitamin ANone1,000-1,200 IUIt provides none of the vitamin A that rabbits need.
Vitamin CNoneNoneRabbits don’t need any (their bodies make vitamin C).
Vitamin E9.1 mg5-16 mgPeanut butter does provide an appropriate amount of vitamin E for rabbits.
Vitamin DNone80-100 IUPeanut butter provides none of the vitamin D that rabbits need.
Vitamin B complex78 mgNoneRabbits don’t need vitamin B complex. Their bodies make all that they need.
Zinc2.51 mg5-15 mgPeanut butter is OK on the amount of zinc.
Selenium0.004 mg0.005-0.032 mgPeanut butter provides an appropriate amount of the selenium that rabbits need.
Peanut butter nutrition taken from USDA

As the table shows, peanut butter is much too high in fats (over 50% of peanut butter is fats). Rabbits are designed to live off grass and other vegetation which is high in fibre and very low in fat. Wild rabbits rarely get to eat anything so fatty, so their digestive systems haven’t evolved to cope with high amounts of fat.

If rabbits have too much peanut butter, their digestive system has to cope with way more fat than it is designed for. Part of the digestive system is the caecum. This part digests the fibre. If too much fat is in the caecum, it encourages the growth of unhealthy bacteria. In turn, this causes problems with gas and diarrhoea.

While indigestion is just inconvenient to us, it is dangerous to rabbits. The rabbit digestive system needs to keep food moving, with large amounts of fibre essential to this. If a rabbit does develop stomach problems, this can lead to GI stasis (gastro-intestinal stasis). The rabbit may become constipated, and stop feeding.

If you suspect that your bunny has GI stasis, consult a vet straight away, as it can prove deadly for rabbits.

Another problem with peanut butter is the high calorie count. Each little portion packs quite a big energy punch. Eating high calorie food like this on a regular basis could easily lead to your bunny being overweight. This in turn can cause other health problems for your rabbit.

And most peanut butter is also high in salt. Too much salt is also bad for bunnies.

Peanut butter isn’t toxic to rabbits. It is not poisonous. But it is unhealthy, and best avoided as a snack.

Can you add peanut butter to other foods for rabbits?

You should not add peanut butter to other foods for rabbits. Whilst peanut butter is not toxic, all you are doing is adding unhealthy fats to a food. You might also be conditioning your bunny to be getting used to food that is too high in fat and salt.

What are alternatives to peanut butter as treats for rabbits?

The best treat for bunnies is small, cut up pieces of fruit such as bananas. You can find a list of which fruit you can safely give to rabbits in our article here (including appropriate portion size, and debunking some of the myths you find in some areas of the internet).

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

If your bunny has nibbled a little bit of peanut butter, then there’s no need to panic. It is the equivalent of us having a really unhealthy snack. It’s not done them any good, but it is unlikely to do them any harm.

If you’re at worried, monitor your rabbit over the next 24 hours, and make sure that they keep on moving about, eating, drinking water and pooping as normal.

If you’re in any doubt or have any concerns over your rabbit’s health, consult a vet straight away.

What diet should rabbits have?

The best diet for rabbits is lots of hay (preferably Timothy) with lots of fresh water. Rabbits don’t really need anything else. You can’t overfeed hay to rabbits. It provides the nutrients they need in the right balance, and helps keep both their bowels and their teeth in the best condition.

However, you can also give rabbits about an egg-cupful of rabbit nuggets each day, and a handful of fresh greens each day. And you can also give your rabbits a small treat each day, like a piece of fruit.

Conclusion

Peanut butter is not a good food for rabbits, and you should not feed peanut butter to bunnies. It is too high in fats and salts. Too much peanut butter could upset rabbits’ delicate digestive system, and lead to serious intestinal problems.

Check out these other posts

Find out more about rabbit nutrition here.

This post goes into more detail on the rabbit digestive system.

Fruit is a better snack than peanut butter. Check out which fruit and how much to give your bunny.

Herbs make a great addition to your rabbit’s diet – check here which herbs are safe for bunnies.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Can rabbits eat pak choi (bok choy)?

Can rabbits eat pak choi (bok choy)?

Over the last few decades, food tastes in Britain have become more adventurous, and more international. So the other day we found ourselves cooking pak choi (cut in half lengthways, quickly fry, add a splash of water to the pan, cover and cook for a couple more minutes – lovely). For those unfamiliar, pak choi is a type of chinese cabbage, and is common in Asia and Australasia (and also known as bok choy or pok choi). But we had more than we needed. So my partner asked – ‘can our rabbits eat pak choi’? If you’re in a similar position, here’s the answer, with a quick summary followed by more detailed information.

Can rabbits eat pak choi (bok choy) safely?

Rabbits can eat pak choi (bok choy) safely as part of a varied diet based mainly on hay and water. A suitable portion of pak choi for an adult rabbit is about a handful. Bunnies can eat both the green leafy part and the crunchier base of pak choi safely. Pak choi provides helfpul nutrients for rabbits, in particular vitamin A, magnesium and potassium.

Pak choi (bok choy) nutrition and rabbit requirements

IngredientPak choi per 100gRabbit daily nutritional requirements per 100g of feedComments
Water95.3 gMost of pak choi is water. This is fine – bunnies need water, and get it through either their food or their water bowl. But the high water content means that it’s not the main food that rabbits should be getting.
Energy13 kcalPak choi doesn’t provide much energy for rabbits. This is another reason why pak choi should be a supplement for a main diet of hay for rabbits, rather than their only or main food.
Protein1.5 g12-17 gPak choi is low in protein. As rabbits need more protein, this is yet another reason why the main food for rabbits should be hay, with pak choi as an additional item.
Fat0.2 g2.5-5 gPak choi is low in fat, which is good as bunnies thrive on a low fat diet.
Fibre1 g14-25 gRabbits need a lot of fibre in their diets to keep food moving through their digestive system. Without fibre, it all blocks up and creates problems. Pak choi doesn’t provide enough fibre. Rabbits need hay, which is high in fibre, with some greens like pak choi as additions.
Carbohydrates2.18 g< 20 gRabbits need a relatively low carbohydrate diet. Pak choi is low in carbohydrates.
Calcium105 mg500 mgRabbits need a low calcium diet, as they are prone to developing extremely painful kidney stones. Pak choi is lower in calcium than Timothy hay, their main food source, so it is fine.
Iron0.8 mg30-400 mgPak choi only provide a little of the iron that rabbits need in their diets.
Magnesium19 mg30-300mgPak choi provides good levels of magnesium for rabbits.
Phosphorus37 mg400 mgPak choi only provides a little of the phosphorus needed by rabbits.
Potassium252 mg6,000 mgPak choi can contribute a little to the potassium that rabbits need each day.
Vitamin A4,479 IU1,000-1,200 IUPak choi is great for vitamin A, which rabbits need.
Vitamin C45 mgNoneRabbits don’t need vitamin C (their bodies make vitamin C). The vitamin C in pak choi won’t harm them, but it won’t help them either.
Vitamin E0.09 mg5-16 mgPak choi doesn’t provide much vitamin E for rabbits.
Vitamin DNone80-100 IUPak choi provides none of the vitamin D that rabbits need.
Vitamin B complex0.96 mgNonePak choi doesn’t provide much vitamin B, but in any case rabbits don’t need vitamin B complex. Their bodies make all that they need.
Zinc0.19 mg5-15 mgPak choi doesn’t provide much zinc.
Selenium0.0005 mg0.005-0.032 mgPak choi provides just a little of the selenium that bunnies need.
Table of nutrients of pak choi or bok choy compared with rabbits’ nutritional requirements. Pak choi nutrition taken from USDA

As the information in the table shows, the main benefits of pak choi are some of the nutrients it can provide, in particular vitamin A, magnesium and potassium.

The information also shows why it is good to provide your bunny with a varied diet. Other greens will provide some of the other nutrients lacking in pak choi.

What are the dangers of pak choi (bok choy)as the main food for rabbits?

If you feed your rabbit too much pak choi (bok choy),or even worse, only pak choi, then your rabbit could develop a range of problems.

  • Pak choi is mostly water. If this is the only food the rabbit is getting, this might lead to diarrhoea.
  • Pak choi does not contain much fibre. If this is the only food your bunny eats, then they will develop intestinal problems. Rabbits’ digestive systems are designed to use high quantities of fibre which help keep everything moving inside. Without this fibre, rabbits can develop gastro-intestinal stasis (GI stasis) – a type of constipation which can be extremely dangerous for rabbits. Additionally, rabbits depend on high fibre food to wear down their teeth (which never stop growing). If a rabbit’s teeth grow too long, it can cause all sorts of medical issues.
  • Pak choi is low in protein. If this is the only food your bunny gets, they won’t have enough protein to build or maintain their muscles.
  • Some rabbits develop gas if they have too much food from the cabbage family. Again, this can be serious in rabbits.

If you ever have any health concerns about your rabbit, consult a vet as soon as possible.

The list above can seem a little frightening, but this only applies if you feed your rabbits lots of pak choi and little of anything else. If you stick to a healthy, varied diet based mainly on hay, then pak choi is a healthy part of that variety.

Do rabbits like pak choi (bok choy)?

Rabbits are like humans – some of us like pak choi, others don’t. Some bunnies love pak choi; others will turn their noses up at it.

Having said that, most rabbits do seem to like pak choi, and for some bunnies it will become their favourite treat.

Our rabbits all like pak choi. They don’t get it very often, but that’s only because we don’t have it frequently. Rabbits in Asia, Australia and New Zealand are more likely to have portions, as pak choi is much more readily available.

Can you feed cooked pak choi to rabbits?

You can feed cooked pak choi to rabbits so long as you haven’t cooked the pak choi with anything else that might affect the rabbits. The cooked pak choi won’t be quite as healthy for the rabbits as the raw pak choi (and they might not enjoy it as much). But it will be fine for them.

Can baby rabbits eat pak choi (bok choy)?

With young rabbits, you need to be careful with every new food. For the first six weeks, baby rabbits should be depending on their mother’s milk. After this, they transfer to hay (and a few pellets). Only later can other foods be introduced, and it is best to do this a little at a time, and one new food at a time. This is because young rabbits have extremely delicate digestive systems that can be easily upset.

Can rabbits eat pak choi every day?

It is best if rabbits don’t eat pak choi every day, but have some variety in their diets. The best diet for rabbits is one based on unlimited availability of hay and water, with up to an eggcup-full of rabbit pellets, and a handful of fresh greens (such as pak choi, but also herbs such as thyme or other green vegetables) every day. In addition, they can have a small treat (eg a small portion of fruit) each day.

Conclusion

Rabbits can eat pak choi safely, as long as it is part of a healthy varied diet. Pak choi provides some helpful nutrients for rabbits. But you couldn’t just feed a rabbit pak choi – that would lead to problems for your bunny.

Find out more about rabbit nutrition here.

We have a post on the digestive system of bunnies here – take a look!

Herbs can make a great addition to your rabbit’s diet – check out which herbs are safe for rabbits here.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Are rabbits nocturnal?

Are rabbits nocturnal?

Ever wondered when rabbits are most active? Is it at night? Perhaps you’ve a pet bunny (or two or three…) and want to know more, or maybe you’re just interested in finding out more about wild rabbits. Either way, there’s a simple answer to ‘are rabbits nocturnal’, and a more complicated (but interesting!) answer. Next up is the quick, simple answer.

Are rabbits nocturnal?

Rabbits are mainly crepuscular, being active around the times of dawn and dusk. However, some species of rabbits, such as Dice’s Cottontail, are nocturnal, mainly active at night. Additionally, rabbits are adaptable, and in certain habitats may change their active times to avoid predators and give greatest access to food. This means that pet rabbits may be able to adapt to fit the routine of their owner.

What do nocturnal, diurnal and crepuscular mean?

First, some quick definitions.

Nocturnal – being active mainly during the night

Diurnal – being active mainly during daylight

Crepuscular – being active mainly at dawn and dusk

Rabbits are crepuscular

Rabbits prefer being mainly active during dawn and dusk. Bunnies are more likely to have a nap during the middle of the day or the middle of the night (you can find out more about how and when rabbits sleep here).

This is one of the reasons that many people find rabbits make great pets. If you’re out at work during the day (and asleep at night), your bunnies are most active just when you’re around the home to play with them.

How do we know that rabbits are crepuscular? The research

We know that rabbits are crepuscular in a couple of different ways. First of all, there’s a wealth of experience from owners from all over the world. But secondly, we know from science. Scientists have done surveys of wild rabbits, and noted when they’re active and when they’re not.

One example is a study carried out on wild rabbits in Spain (you can find it here). Within a fixed area, scientists counted how many rabbits were active (that is, not in their burrows but in the open air) at different times of the day (and different times of the year, too).

You may wonder how they counted them, whether it was some high-tech satellite thermal imaging device. No. I don’t think there’s enough money in wild rabbit research for fancy technology.

The researchers basically drove slowly (15 kmh, or about 10 mph) 137 separate times along a 13 km (about 8 mile) route in some scrubland in south-west Spain. As they drove, they counted how many rabbits they could see (presumably not the driver doing the counting). At night, they used a powerful spotlight. The drives were conducted four times a day for three days running each time: once at sunrise; once at midday; once at sunset and once at midnight.

Once they had done this, the researchers considered a whole range of different variables that might affect the numbers: time of day; month in year; wind; moonlight; temperature; and so on.

The research showed, for these rabbits in Spain:

Rabbit activity and time of day – research results

  • The rabbits were most active at dusk.
  • The rabbits were also active at dawn in the summer months, but less so in winter.
  • The rabbits were also quite active at night, particularly in winter.
  • The rabbits were least active at midday, but were a bit more active in the winter than the summer.

Rabbit activity and other factors – research results

  • Rabbits were less active when it was windy.
  • Rabbits were more active after it had been raining in the previous days (in the scrubland environment, this is when plants grow).
  • Rabbits were more active when the moon was out.
  • Rabbits were less active in extreme temperatures (so less active at midday in the summer and dawn in the winter)

So far, so good. And also, this makes sense from thinking about rabbits and their need to survive and thrive. They want to avoid extremes of temperature, just like we do. We don’t like getting too hot or cold, and neither do rabbits (though their version of ‘too cold’ is much colder than ours – check out this article). In particular, rabbits find it difficult to regulate their bodies if it’s too hot, so they avoid the midday sun (though in Britain that’s quite a rare event anyway).

But rabbits need to think about, not just their temperature, but also any predators, including birds of prey.

And rabbits have potentially lots of predators. Some of these predators will be diurnal (around during the daytime) and others will be nocturnal (around during the nighttime). Being active at dawn and dusk is a good trade-off; rabbits have pretty good vision (find out more here), being better able to see in dim light conditions than diurnal predators, but without full night, where nocturnal predators may be able to see better.

But what happens if most of the predators are diurnal, that is, around during the day?

Are rabbits always crepuscular?

Rabbits are not always crepuscular. In some conditions, rabbits are nocturnal after all. They adapt to their circumstances.

A nocturnal rabbit

We know this because of a couple of other scientific studies. One study (find it here) looked at predators and prey in Costa Rica. This study had a bit more technology (they needed it, as they were studying in forests with lots of potential cover rather than fairly open scrubland). The researchers set up cameras in a variety of locations, that were triggered by the animals using an infra-red sensor. In this way, they could see when animals were most active. It was a large study: they found 8 predator species and 16 different prey species.

One of the prey species studied by the researchers was a rabbit – Dice’s Cottontail. This is a smallish (typically about 3lb for an adult), black and brown rabbit native to Costa Rica.

The researchers found that Dice’s Cottontail was nocturnal. Nearly all (96%) of its recorded activity took place at night.

In other words, some species of rabbit are nocturnal. Another example of a nocturnal species (which lives in a similar type of habitat) is the rarest rabbit of all, the Annamite striped rabbit.

Nocturnal rabbits changing to crepuscular

The second study, published in 2021 (find it here), goes back to the rabbits in Spain. In this experiment, researchers moved a group of rabbits from one location to two new one.s The new locations had different predators. Researchers compared the activity patterns (using camera traps) of the three groups.

In their original location, the rabbits were mostly nocturnal, with predators including red foxes and Egyptian mongeese (who are diurnal – mostly around during the day).

In one location (a fenced area where the main predators were mongeese, around during daylight), the rabbits remained nocturnal.

However, in another location (an unfenced area with a variety of predators) the rabbits became mostly active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular).

In other words, the same species of rabbit can be nocturnal in one context, and crepuscular in a different one.

How adaptable are rabbits to different routines?

Although in the wild, rabbits often revert to crepuscular activity, rabbits turn out to be adaptable to a wide range of different daily activity patterns.

Again, scientists have done the work, this time with rabbits in laboratories. The research was carried out in 1991, in this paper: ‘The rabbit: a diurnal or a nocturnal animal?‘.

The researchers tried out four separate conditions:

  • ‘Normal’ conditions – an environment with lots of background noise during the time the lab had lights on.
  • ‘Sound-isloated’ conditions – an environment where there was no background sound.
  • ‘Constant light’ conditions – an environment where a light was constantly on at the same strength.
  • ‘Food-restricted’ conditions – food was only available for four hours each day, during the lit period.

The researchers found:

  • In the normal conditions the rabbits varied when they were active; some individuals were diurnal, others nocturnal, and others had no preference.
  • In the sound-isolated conditions the rabbits became nocturnal.
  • In the constant light conditions the rabbits ended up with a daily pattern a bit longer than 24 hours (this is typical of nocturnal animals).
  • In the food-restricted conditions, most of the rabbits’ activity was when food was available.

In other words, the routine for rabbits can be set by the external conditions, including when it’s light, how noisy it is, and when there’s food around. Rabbits are adaptable to different routines.

Rabbit owners can relax a bit about routines

The research means that owners don’t have to worry too much about what a rabbit routine should be. Although rabbits may be crepuscular, if you’re only around at a different time of day, they will happily adapt to that. This adaptability makes rabbits flexible pets for owners.

Conclusion

Rabbits are usually crepuscular, but sensibly they will adapt their routines and activity to avoid predators and be around when food is plentiful. This means that some species of rabbit are nocturnal, and in some contexts rabbits may become mainly nocturnal. Pet owners of bunnies may find that their rabbits adapt to the routine that their owner gives them.

You may also like:

Find out more about when and how rabbits sleep

Explore how rabbits see the world

Ever wondered how high bunnies can jump?

Your bunny zooms really fast. But how fast? Find out

How cold is too cold for rabbits?

14 amazing facts about rabbit teeth

Posted by Jonathan in General
Can rabbits eat almonds?

Can rabbits eat almonds?

Many of us love to munch away on almonds as a healthy snack. These nuts are jam-packed with nutrients, including the good kind of unsaturated fats. And they’re tasty – what’s not to like? But what about our pet rabbits – can we give almonds to rabbits, how healthy are almonds for bunnies, and should we worry if our bunny does eat an almond?

Can rabbits eat almonds – summary

You should not feed almonds to rabbits. While almonds are not toxic to bunnies, they provide the wrong balance of nutrients for rabbits. Almonds are extremely high in fats. Eating too many almonds may cause stomach problems including GI stasis for rabbits, which need low fat and high fibre diets based on hay.

Why almonds are bad for rabbits

Almonds may be good for humans, but they’re not so good for rabbits. This table gives the nutrition inside almonds, and compares it to what rabbits need.

IngredientAlmonds per 100gRabbit daily nutritional requirements per 100g of feedComments
Energy579 kcalAlmonds are high in calories. Just like humans, rabbits need to watch their weight.
Protein21.2 g12-17 gAlmonds are high in proteins. You might think that this is a good thing, but the higher concentration of proteins in the rabbit gut could cause problems, upsetting the balance of bacteria inside the rabbit intestinal system.
Fat49.9 g2.5-5 gAlmonds are much too high in fat for rabbits. This can create short term problems in the gut, and longer term issues over rabbits becoming overweight.
Fibre12.5 g14-25 gRabbits need a lot of fibre in their diets to keep food moving through their digestive system. Without fibre, it all blocks up and creates problems. Almonds aren’t too bad in this regard, though still not providing the amount of fibre that rabbits require.
Carbohydrates21.6 g< 20 gRabbits need a relatively low carbohydrate diet. Almonds are high in carbohydrates.
Calcium269 mg500 mgAlmonds contain calcium. Rabbits need a low calcium diet, as they are prone to developing extremely painful kidney stones.
Iron3.71 mg30-400 mgAlmonds only provide a little of the iron that rabbits need in their diets.
Phosphorus481 mg400 mgAlmonds are slightly higher in phosphorus for a healthy rabbit diet.
Potassium733 mg6,000 mgAlmonds can contribute to the potassium that rabbits need each day.
Vitamin ANone1,000-1,200 IUAlmonds provide none of the vitamin A that rabbits need.
Vitamin CNoneNoneAlmonds don’t contain vitamin C, and rabbits don’t need any (their bodies make vitamin C).
Vitamin E25.6 mg5-16 mgAlmonds provide a little too much vitamin E for rabbits.
Vitamin DNone80-100 IUAlmonds provide none of the vitamin D that rabbits need.
Vitamin B complex58 mgNoneRabbits don’t need vitamin B complex. Their bodies make all that they need.
Zinc3.12 mg5-15 mgAlmonds are OK on the amount of zinc.
Selenium0.004 mg0.005-0.032 mgAlmonds are OK on the amount of selenium that rabbits need.
Almond nutrition taken from USDA

As you can see from the table, the main problem with almonds is that they are so high in fats (almost 50% fat). Rabbits have evolved to live off vegetation, including grass, which is high in fibre and with little or no fat. In the wild, rabbits rarely get to eat nuts, so their digestive system is not geared up for them.

If rabbits have too many almonds, their digestive system has to cope with much more fat than it is designed for. Part of the digestive system is the caecum, which digests the fibre. If too much fat is in the caecum, it can encourage the growth of unhealthy bacteria. In turn, this causes problems with gas and diarrhoea.

While indigestion is usually just inconvenient to us, it is far more dangerous to rabbits. The rabbit digestive system needs to keep food moving, helped by all the fibre in their usual diet. If a rabbit does develop stomach problems, this can become GI stasis (gastro-intestinal stasis). The rabbit may become constipated, and stop feeding.

If you suspect that your bunny has GI stasis, consult a vet straight away, as it can prove fatal for rabbits.

Another problem with almonds is their high calorie count. Each little nut packs quite a big energy punch. Eating high calorie food like almonds on a regular basis could easily lead to your bunny being overweight. This in turn can cause other health problems for your rabbit.

Almonds aren’t toxic to rabbits. They are not poisonous. But they are unhealthy, and best avoided as a snack.

Help! My bunny ate some almonds – what should I do?

If your bunny just found one or two almonds on the floor – don’t worry. They have effectively had an unhealthy snack. If they usually have a good diet, your rabbit should have no problems.

If your rabbit has eaten lots of almonds, make sure to keep a careful eye on them over the next 12 to 24 hours. Check that they are poo-ing and eating as usual. If you have any concerns at all, consult a vet straight away.

What diet should rabbits have?

Rabbits should have a diet that is based mainly on hay and fresh water. These provide practically all that rabbits need nutritionally. Basically, you can’t give your rabbit too much hay. You can supplement hay (preferably Timothy hay) with an egg-cupful of rabbit nuggets and a handful of fresh greens each day. You can also give a small snack like a slice of fruit.

Conclusion

Rabbits should not be given almonds. Although not toxic to rabbits, almonds are extremely high in fats, which could upset the rabbit digestive system if eaten in sufficient quantities. Rabbits should eat mainly hay, and if you want to give your bunny a snack, a slice of fruit is a better alternative.

Check out these other posts

Find out more about rabbit nutrition here.

The Rabbit Digestive SystemThis post goes into more detail on the rabbit digestive system.

Fruit is a better snack than nuts. Check out which fruit and how much to give your bunny.

Posted by Jonathan in General
Can rabbits eat honey?

Can rabbits eat honey?

Like many people, I love honey. It is both sweet, and a natural food; what’s not to like? My favourite is the thicker type, but we also use runny honey in cooking. But is it safe to give to rabbits? Would honey make a nice treat for bunnies?

Is honey safe for rabbits?

You should not feed rabbits with honey. Although honey is not poisonous to rabbits, as a food it is entirely unsuited to rabbits’ complex and delicate digestive system. Because all honey, whether raw or processed, is a combination of pure sugars, giving a rabbit too much honey may result in diarrhoea and other intestinal problems, and in the longer term contributing to obesity, which also results in health problems for rabbits.

Why honey is bad for rabbits

Honey is a bad choice to give bunnies because it is mainly a combination of sugars:

IngredientAmount per 100g
Energy304 kcal
Water17.1g
Sucrose0.89g
Glucose35.8g
Fructose40.9g
Galactose3.1g
Maltose1.44g
Information from USDA

As you can see, honey is mainly glucose and fructose. It contains practically no fibre or protein. But the intestines of rabbits are designed to process food heavy in fibre (for example, hay typically is about 17-18% fibre). The fibre is vital, as it helps the food move through the intestines.

Without enough fibre, rabbits may quickly develop GI stasis (an extremely dangerous form of constipation). They stop pooing, and stop eating. If you suspect your bunny may have this, contact a vet straight away.

But even if your bunny is getting some fibre, having a high quantity of honey is still likely to cause problems with their gut.

In particular, rabbits’ digestive systems have developed to be able to cope with fructose (which is the main sugar found in fruit) but not other types of sugar, in particular glucose [source here]. As the table shows, honey has a large amount of glucose as an ingredient.

Bacteria in the rabbit’s gut (in particular their coecum) will feed off the glucose, and the wrong bacteria are likely to grow and multiply. The growth of the toxic bacteria then makes the rabbit sick. This can lead to diarrhoea. Again, if diarrhoea develops, contact a vet straight away.

You can find out more about rabbits’ delicate digestive systems here.

Honey is also unhealthy because (just like it is for us) it adds calories to a diet. If you give 20g of a banana to a rabbit, you are giving them about 18 kcal. If you give 20g of honey to a rabbit, you are giving them 61 kcal – over three times as many calories.

Can you add honey to other foods for rabbits?

You should not add honey to other foods for rabbits. Whilst honey is not toxic, all you are doing is adding unhealthy sugar to a food. You might also be conditioning your bunny to be getting used to food that is too sweet.

Some commercial snacks for rabbits occasionally have honey in them. If you only very occasionally give your rabbit one of these as a treat, you are not unlikely to be doing any harm to your bunny. Just be aware that they are an unhealthy snack, and so should only be given rarely if you choose to use them.

What are alternatives to honey as a treat for rabbits?

Rather than give honey, small pieces of fruit make a great treat for rabbits. Fruit still has some sweetness (most fruit contain some of the sugar fructose).

You need to be careful, though – although most fruit are fine to give rabbits, there are a couple that can be dangerous. Find out which fruits you can give your bunny here.

What is the best diet for rabbits?

The best diet for rabbits is to feed them mainly hay (preferably timothy hay) and fresh water. Hay should make up most of a rabbit’s diet.

Alongside the hay, you can also give them each day about an eggcup-full of rabbit nuggets, a handful of fresh greens (here’s information on which herbs are safe to give bunnies) and a small treat.

Conclusion

Honey is great as a treat for humans, but don’t feed it to rabbits. It can mess with their guts, and lead to them being sick.

If you’re interested in what’s good for rabbits, check out our post on what vitamins and minerals rabbits need.

Posted by Jonathan in General
14 Amazing Facts about Rabbit teeth

14 Amazing Facts about Rabbit teeth

Rabbits are great pets. There’s something so cute about the way they hop around, or break out into a zoom around the room or garden. But they’re also extraordinary. Even rabbits’ teeth are amazing. Read on for 14 amazing facts about bunnies’ teeth.

1. Rabbit teeth never stop growing

Your teeth and mine grow when we’re young, and then stop. But rabbits are different. Their teeth just keep on growing through their lives.

In fact, they grow between 3-5 inches (7.5-13cm) every year.

How come you don’t see your rabbit with really long teeth? Rabbit teeth are designed to be worn down by the rough food they eat, like hay and grass. The tough fibres wear away the teeth as they grow, so they are always the same length.

The technical term for this phenomemon where teeth keep growing is elodont.

Rabbit teeth are elodont – they never stop growing

While we’re on technical terms, rabbit teeth are also aradicular – their teeth have open roots – and hypsodont – they have a long crown (the visible part of the tooth) compared to the root (the part of the tooth below the gumline).

In other words, most of the tooth is visible rather than hidden in the gum.

Because rabbit teeth do keep growing, it is vital that they eat food that wears away their teeth – otherwise problems result. See lower down the list for both the problems, and what a healthy diet looks like.

2. Rabbits have 28 teeth

Adult humans have 32 teeth, but rabbits only have 28 teeth. One reason is that we have canine teeth (the sharper, pointy teeth to the side of the front incisor teeth), but bunnies don’t have canine teeth.

Instead, rabbits have three types of teeth:

  • Incisors – these are the sharp teeth at the front of the mouth. Rabbits have 6 incisors in total. Bunnies use these for slicing through grass and other vegetation. Rabbits have 4 upper incisors and 2 incisors on the lower part of their jaws. They have two large, central upper incisors, and then two smaller incisors either side. These smaller ones are also called peg teeth.
  • Premolars – these are near the back of the mouth, and are used for grinding. Rabbits have 10 premolars in total. Rabbits have 6 premolars on their upper jaw (three each side) and 4 on their lower jaw (two each side)
  • Molars – these are also near the back of the mouth, and are used for grinding. Rabbits have 10 molars in total. Rabbits have 6 molars on their upper jaw (three each side) and 6 on their lower jaw (three each side)

The premolars and molars look nearly identical, and together are called cheek teeth.

3. Rabbits have baby teeth, just like us, which they lose as they get older

Baby rabbits have baby teeth, just like children have baby teeth. But while we lose our baby teeth from around the age of 6 years, it’s a lot quicker for bunnies. They lose their baby teeth soon after they are born, and get their adult teeth from around week 5.

Baby rabbits also have fewer teeth than adult rabbits. Baby rabbits have 16 teeth compared with adult rabbits who have 28 teeth. The difference is that baby rabbits do not have any molars. They have 6 incisors and 10 premolars.

The technical term for animals like rabbits and humans who have two sets of teeth is duplicidentata. Now you know!

4. Rabbit teeth grow curved

As the teeth of rabbits grow, they curve. The longer the tooth, the more it will be curved. Incisors curve into the mouth; upper cheek teeth curve outwards (buccally), and lower cheek teeth curve inwards (lingually).

If a tooth becomes too long, it may start to cause problems. The incisors (front teeth) may stick out of the mouth, and catch on things. The cheek teeth (back teeth) won’t be as visible, but if too long can cause a range of serious problems.

The best way to protect rabbit teeth from growing too long is the right diet – see below.

5. Rabbit’s upper incisor teeth have a groove on them

The teeth at the front of rabbits’ mouths are incisors. The two large upper incisor teeth of bunnies have a groove running all the way down them.

6. Rabbits use their incisor teeth for cutting through food

The front teeth of rabbits, called incisors, are sharp. This is so that bunnies can cut through tough food, like twigs or leaves. It also means that they can chop up long grass or hay easily. Once the food has been chopped up by the incisors, it is the turn of the cheek teeth.

7. Rabbits use their cheek teeth for grinding up their food

Once the rabbit’s incisors have chopped and sliced up their food, rabbits use their cheek teeth to grind it up ready for swallowing. Bunnies grind their teeth together in crescent-shaped movements.

Bonus fact – bunnies can only chew on one side of their mouth at a time.

8. Rabbit upper incisor teeth only have enamel on one side – to sharpen them up

Rabbit teeth are made up of four components:

  • dentine
  • cementum
  • pulp
  • enamel

Dentine makes up the bulk of teeth in both rabbits and humans. It is a hard tissue, full of calcium apatite (also called hydroxyapatite). The levels of calcium is why it is also sometimes called a calcified tissue. Dentine is harder than bone, but softer than enamel.

Cementum is another calcified, hard tissue that sticks (cements) the tooth to the bone so it doesn’t fall out.

Pulp is the central part of teeth where you find blood vessels and connective tissue.

Enamel is the hardest substance. It contains even more calcium apatite than dentine, and is nearly all (96%) mineral. Enamel forms a thin surface on teeth, to protect them and make them hard enough to cut and chew food.

In rabbits, their upper incisors only develop enamel on one side (the outside, technically called the labial side, as it is the side closest to the lips).

This means that the front of their upper teeth are harder than the back. The softer back part of the teeth, only having dentine rather than the protective enamel, wears away quicker. The result is that the edge of the teeth become sharper. This means they can slice through food even more effectively.

You get a similar effect with the cheek teeth. Here, enamel surrounds the whole tooth, but the middle is made up of softer cementum and dentine. This wears away quicker, leaving a ridge around the tooth of harder enamel.

Again, this means that the cheek teeth have sharp ridges for grinding up tough, fibrous food like hay.

9. There’s a big gap between rabbit incisors and cheek teeth

We generally don’t have big gaps between our teeth. But rabbits are different. For a start, they have no canine teeth. But also, they separate out their front incisors from their cheek teeth. The incisors are at the front of their mouth, and the cheek teeth are set towards the back of the mouth.

The gap between the front incisors and the rear cheek teeth is called the diastema.

10. Rabbits don’t have many nerves in the visible part of their teeth

Rabbits have far fewer nerves in their teeth than we do. If there’s a small gap in our enamel, eating ice cream can turn from pleasure into agony, because the cold reaches nerves in our teeth.

But bunnies are different. They only have a few nerves (which help to tell them how hard they are pressing, for instance). Given how much tough food they have to eat, and that they continually wear away their teeth, you can see that it makes sense.

11. Rabbits chew lots – up to 120 movements of their jaws each minute

Bunnies love to chew. This can include hay, twigs, leaves, and anything you might leave around. Rabbits are designed to chew lots because they need to break down the hard, fibrous food they rely on. So their jaws can chew both up and down and side to side, to cut up and grind down the cellulose and other fibrous food.

They can also chew fast. Rabbits can chew with up to 120 different jaw movements each minute. That would give me jaw-ache.

12. You don’t need to brush your rabbit’s teeth

Some pets need their teeth brushing regularly, even daily. But not so for rabbits.

Rabbits do not need to have their teeth brushed. You should not brush the teeth of your bunnies. Bunnies will be better off just having the correct diet.

Cats’ teeth and dogs’ teeth are similar to ours, and regular brushing of their teeth helps their dental health. However, because rabbits are lagomorphs, their teeth are very different. As they grow continually, there is not the same requirement for daily brushing. Instead, chewing on hay is what will keep rabbit teeth healthy.

13. Good dental health is vital for rabbits

When rabbits have healthy teeth, everything works well. But when there are rabbit dental problems, they can affect bunnies in all sorts of ways (even their eyes).

Vets grade the health of rabbit teeth, with grade 1 being the best. Here’s a quick summary:

Grade 1

Everything normal 🙂

Grade 2

The teeth are starting to get a bit too long, but there may be no symptoms.

Grade 3

Acquired malocclusion – the teeth end up going the wrong way or are the wrong size, and it starts affecting the rabbit visibly. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • they find it harder to groom themselves. This in turn can lead to other conditions like flystrike.
  • their cheek teeth can develop sharp points, causing cuts inside the mouth. In turn, this can lead to a rabbit losing appetite, producing lots of saliva, and being in pain.
  • the nasolacrymal ducts can get blocked or affected. These are ducts connecting the nose and the eyes. The blockages can cause bacterial infections, leading to eye problems such as dacryocystitis (inflammation of the tear ducts).
  • rabbits may develop abscesses in their cheeks.
  • loose teeth, with tooth infections possible as well.
  • Vegetation can get stuck in the teeth.

Grade 4

The tooth stops growing. In cases like this, the rabbit may need to be given soft food.

Grade 5

Rabbits can end up with infections in their bones or abcesses, leading to more severe symptoms.

There are two main causes of acquired malocclusion in pet rabbits. Both relate to their diet. The two causes are:

  • not having food that’s rough (abrasive) enough.
  • not having food with the right minerals (including the right level of calcium).

Of course, just like humans, sometimes rabbits just bite on something hard and damage a tooth. And sometimes teeth problems are biological in origin. But it’s good to know that, at least for the two main causes, us owners can make sure that our rabbits have the best possible chance for healthy teeth.

If you think that your rabbit might be having any problems with their teeth, check them out with a vet.

14. Rabbits need a healthy diet for healthy teeth

The best, easiest way to make sure that your pet rabbit has healthy teeth is to give them a healthy diet.

For rabbits, a healthy diet means hay and water. The proper hay (preferably timothy hay – find out why here) has nearly all the nutrients that rabbits need. That includes the right amount of calcium for healthy teeth.

But hay also is full of tough, hard to chew fibre. As bunnies cut and grind hay up, it wears away their teeth as fast as they are growing. Eating hay means that the teeth never get too long.

You can feed your bunny other food as well, like an eggcup size portion of rabbit nuggets, a handful of fresh herbs and greens, and a little fruit as a treat.

But if you just feed your rabbit on nuggets, for instance, although they will get all the nutrients they need, their teeth won’t be worn down enough, and could grow too long, creating all sorts of problems.

So, for a healthy bunny, lots of hay and water.

Conclusion

Rabbits are amazing, with bodies designed to make the best possible use of grass and other vegetation. And that means their teeth are amazing, with teeth that constantly grow and sharpen themselves on the food.

Some of the sources used

This resource is aimed at vets, but is full of detailed, technical facts.

This journal article also has some useful facts.

More about rabbits and their amazing bodies…

Find out about how rabbits see the world – it’s not the same as us!

Rabbits have great hearing – see if you can hear sounds as high-pitched as rabbits can

Rabbits are speedy little creatures – find out just how fast

How high can rabbits hop?

Rabbits like the cold weather much more than we do – find out more

Learn how rabbits digest their food

Find out what minerals and vitamins rabbits need for a healthy life

Are rabbits nocturnal? Find out

Find out how many people own rabbits in the UK, and a host of other facts.

Posted by Jonathan in General