The Best Treats and Snacks for Rabbits
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Since we don't train and educate rabbits in the same way as we do dogs, many people think bunnies don't need treats. This couldn't be further from the truth. Not only do treats reward rabbits for good behavior, they can be used to both calm them down when they are scared and simply provide them with the happiness they deserve. Furthermore, if we provide our rabbits with the right treats and snacks, we can supplement their diet in the right way. This is vital for their physical health as much as it is their mental well-being.
In this AnimalWised article, we provide you with our complete list of the best treats and snacks for rabbits. We also show you how to give treats to your rabbit properly and provide some ideas on homemade snacks you can give your bunny.
Types of treats for rabbits
As the popularity of rabbits as pets grows, so too does the commercial availability of accessories for our bunnies. Pet stores and online markets have a wide range of treats and snacks suitable for rabbits, but not all are as good quality as each other. They should be made from quality ingredients of food rabbits eat, but which aren't present in their main diet of hay and rabbit feed.
Later, we will show you how to make homemade snacks for rabbits. First, we can look at what types of rabbit treats are commercially available:
- Standard treats: these are the equivalent of a dog biscuit. They are usually heavily processed, but often very delicious for the rabbit.
- Treat bars: these are made with different ingredients which often both act as a treat and a way to maintain their teeth to avoid abnormal growth.
- Hay treats: since so much of a rabbit's diet is made up of hay, various treats can be found with this as a main ingredient. Often it is compacted or turned into a toy of some kind.
- Vegetable and fruit chips: often mixed in with some type of cereal.
- Rabbit feed: comes in various kinds and is of varying quality.
How to choose the best treats for rabbits
A common problem with the treats and snacks we can buy at the store is that we cannot guarantee their quality. Not all will even have ingredients, but it is important to check those that do. When we loo at them, if they have any sugars or high salt contents, it means they are unsuitable for rabbits. Other ingredients aren't forbidden for rabbits, but they are unsuitable in large amounts.
Another point to consider when choosing bunny treats and snacks is that we need to vary their diet. If we provide them with treats which are the same as their regular feed (such as treats made from hay for rabbits), then they do not have much diversity in their diet.
We should also choose treats and snacks which the rabbit will enjoy. While the food might be one of the rabbit's favorite, you can also choose treats which double as either toys or chew toys. This means they both stimulate the rabbit mentally and prevent abnormal teeth growth. Rabbit treats and snacks need to be used for positive reinforcement and as a way to ensure they have an enriched environment.
How to make homemade treats for rabbits
The best treats for baby or adult rabbits don't have to be bought. Luckily, there are a lot of foods that work as treats and snacks which can be made from what we have in the kitchen. They don't even require much preparation if we are using fruits and vegetables suitable for rabbits.
Although they should only be used in moderation, there are some fruits which rabbits can happily eat:
The following foods can also serve as treats and snacks for bunnies:
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Cereals such as rolled oats or barley
- Legumes like peas or broad beans
All these foods should always be offered raw and without salt or sugar.
In the same way, the following vegetables and leafy greens serve as treats for rabbits:
- Bell pepper
- Radish leaves
Among the herbs suitable for rabbits, we can find basil, coriander, dill, spearmint, fennel leaves, chamomile, lemon balm, mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, dandelion or nettle.
Another option for a homemade treat that is highly appreciated by some rabbits are branches from fruit trees such as apple, orange or pear. Even poplar or willow can work. This allows the rabbit to nibble to keep their teeth in condition. However, we need to ensure we don't use any which have been treated with any chemicals.
In general, always stay away from cooked food, especially anything with sugar, salt or spices. They cannot handle sugars except the natural ones from fruit, but even they need to be given in moderation. Rabbits are herbivorous and cannot eat animal products.
How to give treats and snacks to a rabbit
Even the best treats for rabbits can become detrimental if not offered properly. First of all, we must never lose sight of the fact that, although we introduce rewards in their diet, said diet still needs to remain balanced. Hay will still make up the majority of their food intake, along with their rabbit feed. Take a look at our video below to know more about what and how often to feed and rabbit.
For these reasons, the amount of treats and snacks you give a rabbit need to be limited. As a general rule, we should give a rabbit half an almond per kilogram of their weight per day. When giving the rabbit fruit, the high sugar content means we should reduce this total amount by about a third. Also, if the rabbit has any dietary problems such as obesity, then we need to reduce the overall amount or withhold treats in general.
Rewards can be used, in addition to increasing the variety of nutrients and stimuli, as an incentive to repeat desired behaviors or to learn certain commands. But if we want the rabbit to understand why they are being congratulated, we must give them the prize just at the moment in which he acts as we wish. Finally, if the rabbit is underweight, the treats can also help him gain weight, although in this case it is best to follow the veterinarian's instructions.
If you want to read similar articles to The Best Treats and Snacks for Rabbits, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.
- Gallego, M. (2015). Feeding the rabbit. Ateuves, ,8, 32-38.