Best Natural & Healthy Rabbit Treats For Your Bunnies

by Lindsay Pereira
Best rabbit treats

If you’re the proud parent of a rabbit, then you already know they make fantastic pets that are wholly and solely devoted to their keepers. With a fluffy little tail, large, limpid eyes, delightfully long ears, and a twitchy nose that’s just too cute for words, these hippity-hoppity animals are also surprisingly easy to care for.

For those of you who have yet to fall in love with these quiet creatures, I dare you to give one of them a treat and watch them eat. Within mere minutes, you’ll certainly become entranced by their nibbley ways, where everything that goes into their mouths is speedily chewed with true zeal and love for food. In record time, meals and treats will disappear, and you’ll be left smiling at how adorable a sight they make!

While they are inquisitive creatures that stick their nose into every nook and cranny, under every root and bush – a foraging instinct learned in the wild – this can get them into trouble with food. Of course, it’s nice that they’re willing to try a bit of this or that to see if they like it, but – as with a young child – you need to ensure your bunny gets only good, wholesome food. That also includes snacks and special occasion niblets, as only the best, all-natural, healthy rabbit treats will ensure your pet stays healthy and happy.

The good thing is, we’ll help you figure out what’s okay – and what’s not okay – to feed your furry friends at treat time.

Limiting how many treats they eat – even if it’s healthy

Before we get into the specifics of what rabbit treats are acceptable and which ones you should steer clear of, it’s essential to highlight the importance of limiting their treat intake. Overfeeding them not only cuts into their meal rations but it also puts in place an unhealthy eating regimen.

Additionally, there are several foods that cannot be digested by rabbits, so be careful with your choice of rabbit treats. Always give these yummy tidbits in moderation. In no way should snacks such as fruits make up the bulk of your bunny’s diet.

What about commercial rabbit treats?

Pet stores sell a vast assortment of colorful, savory morsels, each described as the perfect treat for your rabbit. However, none of these options offer an advantage over a diet of healthy pellets, fresh hay, and nutritious fruits, greens, and veggies.

So, what’s the big deal about feeding your bunny commercially manufactured treats? Well, there are several reasons, in fact. First and foremost, however, they simply lack the necessary nutrition required – some brands even omit nutritional ingredients altogether! But mostly, these foods provide excess amounts of fats and starches, encased in sugary sweetness.

What are the best rabbit treats for your bunny

The majority of rabbits have a really sensitive digestive system. As such, if you want to give an extra niblet to your pet, then it’s imperative to understand what you can – and cannot – offer them as a treat.

Rabbit enjoying their veggie treats

Many rabbit treats can be natural and grown quite simply in your garden. Chances are, you have some tasty treats that your bunny can eat in your kitchen already. Start with one niblet at a time, adding something new once you’ve assured there has been no adverse reaction like diarrhea, vomiting or excessive digestion noises. Slowly, continue to add new treats one at a time to be able to identify those your rabbit may not tolerate.

Vegetables

Bunnies love their greens, which is great because it’s super healthy for them!

Daily: combine at least 3 of the following foods, in a minimum total amount of 1 heaping cups per 2 lbs. (1 kg) of body weight. According to our local exotic animal vet, there’s no limit on vegetables or lettuce.

  • cabbage leaves
  • carrots and their tops
  • beet tops
  • collards
  • chicory
  • dandelion greens (make sure they are pesticide and herbicide free)
  • dark leaf lettuce
  • broccoli (all parts)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • tomato (without the leaves – they’re toxic to rabbits!)
  • escarole
  • endive
  • radicchio
  • wheatgrass
  • bell peppers
  • parsnip
  • squash
  • clover
  • parsley

Avoid iceberg lettuce, starchy vegetables, and legumes such beans, peas, corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Fruit

With the sweet taste of ambrosia, fresh fruit will quickly become a favorite natural, healthy treat for your beloved pet.

Daily: can be fed with restriction. Limit the fruits to 1-2 tablespoons per 5 lbs. (2.3 kg) body weight daily. When choosing fruits, it’s best to select those that are high in fiber.

  • apples
  • pears
  • peaches
  • papaya
  • pineapple
  • strawberries

Sugary fruits such as bananas and grapes should be offered in small quantities.

A note on sweet fruits treats and elder bun care

While discussing rabbit feeding and treats with my sister – a pet parent to her dwarf rabbit, Cody, who’s a 7-year-old elder bun – she told me about her vet’s advice to cut fruit out of her bunny’s diet entirely two years ago. In short, since rabbit intestinal tracts are extremely sensitive, high-sugar foods like fruit can ferment in their lower tract, resulting in bloody urine. One of the issues is, rabbits do not possess the ability to vomit, so whatever goes in, must come out “the back way.” As the problem manifested several times, their vet deemed it a prudent idea to cut out fruits altogether.

Now, the only treat Cody gets is a few baby carrots every day or so. Since it’s high in sugar – though not as much as most fruits – it makes for a delicious morsel, one that replaces the 1-2 tbsps. of fruit she was getting every day. In doing so, they’ve successfully eliminated the recurrence of blood in the urine.

Plants and herbs

Dandelion as a rabbit treat

Check your garden – you may have a few treats hiding!

  • rosemary
  • dill
  • oregano
  • mint
  • thyme
  • sage
  • clover
  • dandelion

If you are unsure of what a particular plant or herb is, never feed it to your rabbit as it could be dangerous. Also, if you believe a plant or herb has been treated with a toxic chemical, do not give it to your bunny, even after washing it.

Foods that must be avoided

Foods that shouldn't be given to rabbits as treats

Toxic plants

These plant leaves are considered toxic for rabbits:

  • potato leaves
  • tomato leaves
  • rhubarb leaves

Processed cereal kibble

Ranging from “Crunchy Puffs” to shaped products designed to be a substitution for pellets, processed kibble is low in fiber and high in fat – an unhealthy combination for bunnies. Some store-bought kibble options contain expensive extras that serve no benefit to your pet, such as freeze-dried bacteria or plant and herbal extracts.

Cereal/veggie blends

These are grain products, supplemented with dehydrated vegetables, and formed into a shape that resembles a vegetable product. There is, in fact, no advantage whatsoever to feeding these fake cereal/veggie blends over real vegetables.

Muesli

The main ingredients in these mixes are carbohydrate and fat-rich seeds and grains. Common ingredients are oats, corn, peas, sunflower seeds, potatoes, peanuts, puffed corn, cornflakes, popcorn, and dried fruits. Some of these products come in stick form, held together with honey and other sugars. Typically, they’re marketed as energy boosters that reflect a bunny’s “normal” diet in the wild – which is completely untrue.

Candies/sugars

High sugar content is the culprit with so-called “pet-safe” candies. These include everything from sweetened papaya tablets to yogurt drops. The truth is, excessive sugar intake can lead to bacterial imbalance and GI stasis. Without exception, avoid feeding your rabbit simple sugars.

Vitamin and mineral supplements

For the most part, these are largely unnecessary for a healthy rabbit, unless otherwise prescribed by a veterinarian.

Grains

Avoid grains such as breakfast cereal, wheat, oats, crackers, bread, and pasta.

Nuts and dried fruit

While they may sound like a healthy nibble, nuts are very fatty and bed for a bunny’s digestive system, while dried fruits tend to be high in sugar and can cause problems in a rabbit’s system.

Human goodies

Also, never feed human treats to your buddies, including candy bars, chocolates, gummy treats or processed food items.

Hay should make the majority of your rabbit’s diet

One of the most essential aspects of a rabbit’s diet is grass and hay. According to animal experts and nutritionists, both grass and hay should comprise 80% of a rabbit’s diet.

Bunnies can (and do!) eat hay and grass all day. Therefore, always make sure that fresh hay is accessible to them. In milder months, you can keep your rabbits in a pen that you move around the garden, so they have access to fresh patches of grass to feed on.

But of course, even though they love all that glorious hay, a nice, scrumptious treat – something out of the ordinary – can really perk them up! What’s more, by giving them healthy treats, you not only make your rabbits happy as you spend time bonding with them, but you also provide them with an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.

Use rabbit treats for training!

Aside from a tasty morsel every now and then as a pleasant surprise, you can use these niblets as training aids. Believe it or not, your fluffy little bunny can be trained in the same manner as dogs and cats. And, by giving them treats during training, they tend to learn quicker.

Try calling your rabbit’s name as you offer them the treat. Eventually, they’ll start to pay attention to the moments when you’re approaching, seeking you out for a tasty treat. Remember, rabbits are naturally timid creatures, so adding some healthy treats to their diet can really help you bond with your pet and allows them to become more confident.

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There we have it, some of the best treats for bunnies that you can grow at home or purchase at the grocery store right now.

Which treats do your rabbits prefer? We would love to know!

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7 comments

Deborah Luther November 14, 2018 - 3:07 pm

My rabbits love rose petals and, since I have roses, they are free!

Reply
Monika November 15, 2018 - 7:30 am

Yeah, rose petals are great for bunnies. But make sure the roses you buy are not treated with pesticides or dyed 🙂

Reply
Shirley Graves February 10, 2019 - 6:53 pm

My bunny refuses to eat hay, so I give him rabbit kibble and lots of fresh veggies and greens. He eats romaine, carrots, snap peas, broccoli, fresh dandelions when available (not now – we have 2 ft of snow). And he loves apples and gets a quarter of one a day. The temp is in the teens overnight and 30s during the day. He is in an outside hutch with some weather protection and seems to be doing fine. Any advice?

Reply
Monika February 11, 2019 - 9:46 am

Hi, that’s very unusual, a rabbit who doesn’t like hay. Have you tried with various hay brands? Also, if you haven’t already, you might want to try with different types of grass hay if they don’t like Timothy… For example, they might enjoy Oaten, Wheaten, Pasture, Paddock, Meadow or Ryegrass hay.

I’m not sure what you mean by rabbit kibble? Are you referring to rabbit pellets? Generally, pellets shouldn’t make the majority of a rabbit’s diet because it can lead to obesity, a lack of teeth wear, and other medical conditions. So, if I were you, I would try to offer different kinds of grass hay and, hopefully, your bunny will like at least one of them.

Reply
Jennifer October 21, 2019 - 2:02 pm

My rabbit was a wild domestic (yes sounds weird but people dump them near our house) that we found at about 4 weeks old, awesome little guy we’ve had for 2 years now but he wont eat hay either besides a tiny nibble here and there I’ve tried everything I can but he still won’t eat it. Our vet says he is very healthy although his teeth do need trimmings, I often wonder if its because it was not part of his diet when he was learning from his mom outside? He does get healthy greens and a non additive pellet from the vets that is timothy hay they reccomend for us with minerals to help.

Reply
Monika October 22, 2019 - 2:17 pm

Bunnies sometimes prefer the taste of pellets over hay so they stick to eating pellets only. If your bunny gets his belly full from his daily amount of pellets, it might also be a reason why he doesn’t eat hay. It could be many reasons really… The best thing to do is to listen to the vet. After all, they should know best 🙂 You can also try offering your rabbit different types of hay (except Alfalfa), as I wrote in my previous answer to Shirley. Your rabbit might like the taste of a different kind of hay.

Reply
Jamey Terneus June 7, 2020 - 4:48 pm

I thought my rabbit hated hay as well. Until our vet said no more fruit. All of a sudden he loves it. The vet said there stomach is not big fruit makes them feel full and so they will not or may not eat hay which is very important for their digestion. I was very apprehensive about when he told me to try it. He was right and my bunny is loving it now.
Hope this helps

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