Can Rabbits Eat Grapes?
Adult rabbits can eat one or two grapes very occasionally as a treat.
Grapes contain small quantities of fiber and vitamins which are good for rabbits, but also large amounts of water and sugar which can cause digestive upset and obesity.
Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of grapes for rabbits.
Rabbits and grapes
You need to know, can rabbits eat grapes? After all, they like plant-based foods. However, bunnies have a really specialized digestive system. So, you don’t want to make a mistake.
And rabbits are so cute, you just want to give them everything their heart desires, right? That’s how I feel about my little bunny, anyway.
So let’s look a little at rabbit diets and fruits, and find out if it’s truly safe for you to provide your pet with grapes.
Before we go into more detail about the question “can rabbits eat grapes”, let’s look at the history of the rabbit.
Wild rabbits, of the order Lagomorpha, evolved in the Iberian Peninsula and spread to other regions of the Mediterranean. Now they can be found all over the world.
Rabbits were spread around the around as a ready protein source for sailors. They were kept first by the Phoenicians and Romans. Later, they were hunted by Europeans and bred by 16th century monks for meat.
The European rabbit was the only species that yielded to domestication; all laboratory rabbits and pet species are descended from this rabbit.
Much of the research done on rabbit diet was done to keep the animal healthy within the context of laboratory settings, where they were popular lab animals, or as food.
But because of this research, we know a lot about how to properly take care of rabbits as pets.
Today, you can find many different breeds and strains of domestic rabbit. So can rabbits eat grapes as part of their natural diet?
What is a Natural Rabbit Diet?
Rabbits are naturally herbivorous, with diets that include vegetables, fruits, grains, plants and grasses.
Their energy requirements are linked to temperature. This means that the amount of food they take in depends on their environment. Their life stage is also a factor. Growing rabbits need more, and so do females, or does, during pregnancy.
In the wild, rabbits eat different grasses that help to keep the gut in balance, maintain dental health, provide nutrition, and satisfy their natural chewing urges.
For domestic rabbits, grass hays perform these functions. The House Rabbit Society recommends that a pet rabbit’s proper diet consists of 80 percent grass hay.
Additionally, rabbits need protein, fiber, and amino acids such as arginine, lysine, and phenylalanine. They also require balanced amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, and sodium, plus vitamins such as A,D,E,K, C, and B.
Where to find these nutrients
They can usually get these from a diet of commercially-available rabbit food pellets, supplemented with fresh vegetables.
Veterinarians and rabbit experts recommend you feed 80 percent hay, 20 percent high fiber pellets, 5-15 percent green vegetables (a diverse variety is best), and 0-5 percent treats.
Treats include sugary fruits, such as grapes. So rabbits cam eat grapes as an occasional luxury!
What Are Grapes?
Basically, grapes are berries that grow on a vine. They are full of phytonutrients, which are good for those who eat plant-based foods, and antioxidants.
Grapes are also a good source of vitamin K, copper, fiber, and B vitamins. They have polyphenols, which are good for heart health.
If you want to get the most out of grapes, the seeds and skin are the most nutritious.
More than 72 million tons of grapes are grown around the world each year, but only about 12 percent are table grapes. The rest are turned into wine.
Grapes come in red, black, purple, blue, green, pink and yellow colors. You can also find selectively-bred new varieties of grapes. These include Cotton Candy grapes from the company International Fruit Genetics in California, which often show up seasonally.
Are Grapes Good for Rabbits?
So, we know rabbits can eat grapes. But are they actually good for our bunnies? Grapes do have some important nutrients that rabbits need, such as B vitamins, fiber, and vitamin K.
However, they also have a lot of water and sugar, which can lead to issues for bunnies.
Rabbits love sugary treats, but like humans, they should not have too many! They will eat them instead of their more healthful options.
Don’t give them more than 1-2 ounces per 6 pounds of your rabbit’s weight. That means just 1-2 grapes for a larger rabbit!
Rabbits can eat grape seeds, leaves, and stems as well.
Are Grapes Bad for Rabbits?
If they eat too many too often, grapes can indeed be bad for bunnies. Grapes have carbohydrates and plenty of sugar, which can lead to obesity.
Plus, because rabbits like them so much, they may ignore their regular food and just eat any grapes you give them.
They may also show intestinal distress and get diarrhea, bloating, and disruption of their natural digestion. Too much of this can lead to more serious issues, such as dehydration or liver failure.
One of the most worrisome conditions for a rabbit owner is gastrointestinal tract stasis, which can be fatal if not treated immediately, so watching what a rabbit eats is really important.
What about baby rabbits?
Everything so far has applied to adult rabbits. So, can rabbits eat grapes when they are babies?
Baby rabbits should not have grapes. Wait until a bunny is at least a year old before feeding fruits.
The House Rabbit Society says this is because rabbits must acclimate to their adult diet of hay, pellets and vegetables, and adding fruits might be too much for their digestive systems at first.
Not all fruit is good fruit
Remember also that grapes are grown in different conditions, and some will have been grown in conventional ways with pesticides and other chemicals added.
So, if you feed grapes to your bun, make sure to wash them thoroughly to remove any toxins.
You may wish to purchase organic fruits instead, in order to ensure safety.
What Fruits Can Rabbits Eat?
Can rabbits eat grapes as a treat? Bunnies love their fruits, so you’re definitely going to want to treat your lagomorph loves once in a while.
Just remember to stick to small amounts as occasional treats.
Rabbits can have moderate quantities of these:
- Apples (no seeds)
- Apricots (fruit only)
- Cherries (no stem)
- Oranges (no peel)
- Plums (no pits)
- Tomatoes (no leaves)
Bananas and grapes should only be fed sparingly.
How about greens
In general, leafy greens are good – romaine lettuce is an excellent option.
Kale is a bit controversial, but I can tell you that removing kale from my bunny’s diet, at a veterinarian’s recommendation, helped resolve her poopy bottom issues.
Spinach is another safe leafy green for your rabbit.
Keep vegetables that cause gas, such as broccoli and beetroot, to a minimum.
Which Fruit Is Toxic to Rabbits?
There are some foods that you should definitely avoid giving your rabbit because they simply aren’t safe. These include both fruits and vegetables.
- Light-colored lettuces (like iceberg)
You should also know that carrots have a high sugar content, too, and should be fed only occasionally as well.
Avoid grains and nuts and junk food. Rabbits cannot digest animal products such as meat and eggs or dairy products.
Do Rabbits Like Grapes?
Rabbits definitely have a sweet tooth. So the answer is yes, rabbits like fruit. Like humans, they respond to the sugar and carbs in a positive way.
In fact, they like it so much they’ll eat whatever they can get.
This may mean that they aren’t getting enough of the more balanced diet they need to stay healthy and happy.
They need hay for digestion, and the pellet food you provide in small, controlled amounts helps give them complete, balanced nutrition.
This is why it’s so important for you to limit how much fruit they are getting. A small amount once or twice a week is probably enough!
Can rabbits eat grapes?
The answer is yes, adult rabbits can eat grapes. But only in moderation! If your bunny loves grapes, it’s okay to give a little bit once or twice a week.
We know you want to give your bunny everything her heart desires because she’s so adorable and sweet. Your bunny will likely love grapes to distraction.
Should you feed your rabbit grapes?
Well, they have plenty of carbs, calories, and sugar, which isn’t so good for your bunny. So keep feeding fruit treats like grapes to a minimum so that you don’t risk his health.
We recommend cutting large grapes in half, or into slices, so your rabbit is not getting too much at one time.
Remember to keep fruits of any kind to less than 5 percent of your rabbit’s diet. And don’t forget to wash them thoroughly!
Does your bunny love grapes? Tell us about it in the comments below!
References and Resources
- Ramnaraine, A. (2017). The importance of hay. The House Rabbit Society.
- House Rabbit Society, Suggested Fruits.
- House Rabbit Society, Feeding the Proper Diet.
- International Fruit Genetics, Homepage.
- Fox, R. R. (1974). Taxonomy and Genetics in The Biology of the Laboratory Rabbit (Eds. Weisbroth, S. H., Flatt, R. E. and Kraus, L.).
- Szalay, J. Grapes: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts, LiveScience.
- F. Lebas et al (1997). The Rabbit – Husbandry, health, and production. FAO Animal Production and Health Series No. 21, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.