Do Rabbits Eat Grapes is a part of our healthy eating for pets series. Discover the pros and cons of sharing your grapes with your pet!
Grapes are delicious. Bite-sized, sweet and refreshing, who doesn’t love to pop a fresh grape in their mouth – or a handful of grapes, for that matter!
If you love grapes and enjoy eating them, it is easy to see how you might want to offer grapes to your beloved rabbit as well. Of course, here, the question that must be asked is, “can rabbits eat grapes?”
Well, can they? Can bunnies eat grapes safely? Read on, because that is what we will explore in this article!
What are grapes
Grapes are a delicious fruit that grow on climbing vines that thrive in warmer climates. We use them in cooking and wine making, but they are also a popular table fruit.
There are three different basic types of grapes: wine grapes, dried fruit grapes and table grapes.
As you might imagine, it is the latter two grape types that we will be giving our attention to in this post in terms of answering the question “can you feed rabbits grapes?”
Are grapes good for rabbits
The simple answer to the question “can rabbits have grapes?” is “Yes…in moderation.”
If you are a brand-new rabbit owner, you probably feel like the learning curve for all things rabbit is pretty steep right now!
But when it comes to what to feed your rabbit, all rabbit experts are in agreement: a full 80 to 90 percent of the daily diet should come in the form of hay – alfalfa for the younger set and hay for adults and senior rabbits
As far as the question of can bunnies have grapes, the remaining 10 to 20 percent of your rabbit’s diet should come from rabbit pellets, assorted fresh vegetables and only a very minimal amount of fresh fruit, which can include grapes.
The reason for this is because fruit tends to be high in carbohydrates and sugars, which can turn a lean and healthy rabbit into a plump and less healthy rabbit in short order!
So if you are now wondering how much is “a very minimal amount of grapes,” the answer is between 1 and 2 ounces for every 6 pounds of your rabbit’s weight.
A single ounce is 45 grams or about one-quarter cup, so that works out to be a very few grapes if they are small and perhaps just one or two grapes if they are big.
But can a rabbit eat grapes as a baby or youngster?
According to the House Rabbit Society, the best choice is to hold off on feeding any fruits until your rabbit is at least one year old.
This is because, up until the age of 12 months, ideally your rabbit should still be transitioning from alfalfa to adult hay feed and pellets and may just be starting to eat vegetables, which can be hard on the digestive system right at first.
So adding in fruit of any kind, including grapes, is best avoided until your young rabbit has fully acclimated digestively to his adult daily diet of hay, pellets and vegetables.
Are grapes bad for rabbits
The main reason you might hear a rabbit expert (or even your family veterinarian) answer “no” to the question of can a rabbit eat grapes is if the rabbit in question is already overweight.
Grapes are a high calorie food due to the high sugar content.
This is also why wondering do rabbits eat grapes becomes a non-issue once you’ve seen rabbits eat grapes for the first time. They are sugary and tasty and rabbits, like people, don’t always do a great job of moderating their intake of sweet, tasty things.
Grapes are watery and sugary, which means that if grapes for rabbits are fed in too-large quantities or too frequently, diarrhea, bloating, intestinal gas, disruption of the natural digestive pH and eventual weight gain can result.
Over time, these side effects can lead to more than just occasional discomfort. A rabbit with too-frequent diarrhea can become dehydrated, which can be fatal. An obese rabbit is in danger of developing renal failure in a way quite similar to how the ailment develops in humans.
Are grapes safe for rabbits
Of course, the logical next question then becomes, can rabbits eat red grapes or green grapes or both? Are both equally safe?
The basic answer is that both red and green grapes, of the kind used to make raisins or table grapes, are safe when offered in moderation.
But one thing many rabbit owners do not immediately think about is whether the tasty grapes being offered are grown conventionally (using pesticides, herbicides or insecticides) or organically (without the use of these toxic chemicals).
When a rabbit eat grapes that are conventionally grown, it is possible that they may ingest the chemicals as well. All that to say, if a rabbit is fed conventional grapes (or other produce), it is critical to wash the produce thoroughly, and ideally to also use a vegetable wash recommended by your veterinarian to ensure the toxins are removed from the surface of the produce before your rabbit eats it.
For this reason, it is also always safest to simply choose to buy organically grown grapes – for both you and your pet rabbit. You could also grow your own grapes as an alternative to purchasing them.
The key to figuring out ‘can my rabbit eat grapes’, as you might have guessed, is portion size combined with frequency.
The Humane Society of the United States recommends feeding a portion size of just two or three raisins or one or two grapes per serving, depending on the size of the grapes and the size and weight of the rabbit.
For frequency, feeding these high sugar treats once per week or less is optimal for your rabbit’s overall health and safety.
Can rabbits eat grapes
To sum up what we’ve learned thus far on the topic of do bunnies eat grapes, we know now that bunnies will eagerly eat grapes (green or red) or raisins whenever they are offered.
However, we have also learned that there are some situations where the best answer to can you give rabbits grapes is “no.”
For a rabbit who is younger than one year old, grapes are not advisable, nor is any type of fruit treat.
For a rabbit who is found to be overweight or obese, the high sugar and high calorie content of grapes could be damaging to the rabbit’s health over time. And for any rabbit who is offered grapes as a treat, it is best to strictly control portion size and frequency.
Can rabbits eat grape seeds, leaves, roots or stems
So can rabbits eat grapes with seeds? For that matter, can rabbits eat grape leaves, or vine stems, or roots?
In the wild, rabbits would happily eat any and/or all of the above. (4)
So in captivity, it is generally considered safe for a rabbit, which is a member of the ruminant family (including cows and horses), to eat any parts of the grape plant.
Here, the safety warning is the same as it is for just feeding the fruit: for safety’s sake, be sure that the plants are not being sprayed with conventional pesticides, insecticides or herbicides, or wash them thoroughly to remove these toxins before offering them as treats to your rabbit.
Can rabbits eat raisins
Fresh grapes have 15 grams of sugar per cup. Contrast that with raisins, which pack in 25 grams of sugar per cup.
So when you are contemplating can you give rabbits grapes, you can see how you would be able to offer more fresh grapes to your rabbit than you could offer dried grapes, or raisins.
For general reference purposes, rabbits aged one year and older that are in good health otherwise can eat either fresh grapes or raisins for an occasional treat.
However, for your rabbit’s health and safety (as well as your own peace of mind), you may want to talk with your vet to just make sure your rabbit is within her ideal weight range before you begin offering sugary fruit treats such as raisins and grapes.
You can find some great rabbit treat recipes online for things like bunny biscuits and bunny cookies. But due to the high caloric and sugar content of grapes and raisins, it is best not to add these to baked or mixed rabbit treats, since this makes it much harder to ensure proper portion control.
Rather, try to reserve fresh grapes and dried raisins as an occasional stand-alone treat so you always know exactly how much sugar and calories your bunny is taking in.
Do rabbits eat grapes – summary
Rabbits certainly do eat grapes. Whether they should or not is fairly important. And we understand why you might be tempted to share your favorite fruit with your favorite rabbit.
Whether in the wild or in captivity, bunnies are fascinating and wonderful. Some are big and fluffy and others are small and sleek, and we haven’t yet found a breed of rabbit that isn’t adorably cute!
When you love your bunny to distraction, you can really wrestle with not offering “special treats” you know your rabbit loves. After all, you love him, and he deserves a(nother) treat!
But when it comes to high-sugar, high-calorie treats like fresh grapes and raisins, less is definitely more. The less sugar and the more calorie-controlled your bun’s diet is, the longer she will be with you and the healthier and happier she will be.
Plus, there are so many other great treats you can offer, such as toys, pats, yard time and lower-sugar/lower-calorie food treats that can be offered in greater quantities and more frequently without risk to your bunny’s health.
By exercising restraint when offering fresh grapes and raisins as treats, you can also ensure your bunny truly and fully enjoys and appreciates these special treats when they are offered!