Are Raisins a Good Rabbit Treat? (Hint: They Love Them!)


Raisins always looked like a great treat for rabbits, they are cheap, store well, and are perfectly sized for a rabbits mouth, but can rabbits eat raisins? I wasn’t sure so I looked into it, here’s what I found out

Rabbits can eat raisins, they are small, easily digestible, and sweet which satisfies a rabbit’s sweet tooth. Raisins are dried grapes that are low in calories but high in natural sugar so should only be given occasionally to avoid health problems.

That’s the short answer, so if you arrived at this page purely to find out if you could feed your own rabbit some tasty raisins, rest assured that you can. However, there are a few things about raisins and other fruits which you might like to know before making your final decision which I’m sharing here below.

Personally, I was never too keen to feed my rabbit treats from the pet store so I started looking for more natural alternatives. I always loved those small raisin boxes as a kid, and I got to thinking, maybe dried fruit would be good for rabbits too? after all, rabbits would definitely be more likely to find a piece of dried fruit in the wild than they would a chocolate drop!

It didn’t take me long to find out that I could give rabbits raisins however none of the information I found gave any more detail than just the straight yes/no answer.

As a cautious rabbit owner I wanted to learn a bit more about them before jumping right in. I was already aware that fiber was the most important aspect of a rabbits diet, sure there is fiber in raisins but I also understood that there was a large amount of sugar in fruits that could be potentially problematic for a rabbits.

Here’s one interesting point that I found out about raisins that really stuck in my head

Its important to remember that when you give a rabbit a couple of small raisins it is eating the same amount of sugar as would be found in two large grapes

Sugars and oxelates in raisins

Moreso in vegetables but occasionally in fruits also there may be harmful chemicals called ‘Oxelates’ (Oxalic Acid) In large amounts oxalic acid can damage a rabbits kidneys (star fruit being one such fruit). Thankfully oxelates are not a concern with raisins.

However, in terms of nutrition, raisins have very high levels of sugar (fructose) which although naturally occurring can still be harmful to a rabbit over a sustained period of time. Just like for us humans, a high sugar diet in rabbits can potentially lead to gastrointestinal issues and obesity.

Do rabbits like raisins?

Rabbits have a sweet tooth and enjoy lots of different fruits, personally, my rabbits all enjoy raisins but every rabbit has its own preferences, as such, there’s no sure way to tell if a particular one will enjoy them until you try.

While some fruits contain seeds, pips, or stones (many of which can be poisonous to rabbits if eaten) raisins are usually made from seedless varieties of grapes so do not have any seeds or pips to worry about.

Remember, rabbits can’t be trusted to stop eating sweet foods on their own and you will need to show necessary restraint on their behalf regardless of how much they beg. 

Rabbit digestive system & introducing raisins

A rabbit’s digestive system is delicately balanced and can be very sensitive to sudden changes that can interrupt the gut flora (bacteria) which play an important role in its digestive process.

When it comes to food anything new has the potential to cause a stomach upset (or worse) so introducing treats like raisins (even those considered safe) should be done carefully under observation.

For raisins this means choosing the smallest one you can find to give before watching the rabbit for a few hours and making sure it remains in good health before offering any more.

If the rabbit experiences any issues (rabbits can experience diarrhea or trapped wind from certain foods) it may be wise not to persist and to try an alternative treat. Always wait till everything seems to be back to normal before trying anything else.

Raisins in particular have a high sugar amount in comparison to their relatively small size.

Raisin availability

Raisins are available all year round however they have a shelf life of around 6 months once opened.  As you will only be giving very small amounts of raisins to a rabbit, buying larger bags specifically for a rabbit would be a waste.

Fortunately raisins are delicious and enjoyed by humans too.  Raisins can be added to all sorts of meals and can make a bland dish more interesting from salads to curries! (Alternatively buy small boxes!).

When buying any fruit or vegetable to give to a rabbit, organic fruit is a wise choice as it will be free of potentially poisonous chemical pesticides. 

Raisins usually come from one of five grape types, Thompson Seedless, Flame, Muscat, Sultana, and Black Corinth, and usually have high scores for pesticide residue.   Before giving your rabbit raisins rinse them thoroughly in cold running water to ensure harmful chemicals are washed off.

Pros and cons of raisins for rabbits

The benefits of introducing raisins into a rabbits diet

  • Low in calories, only 2 calories per raisin
  • Broad level of antioxidants which will help protect a bunnies cells
  • Source of dietary fiber
  • High in calcium to help maintain eye, dental and bone health
  • Low in sodium and contain no cholesterol

The negative effects of introducing raisins into a rabbits diet

  • High in carbohydrates
  • May cause runny poop or diahorrea in some rabbits
  • Deceptively small and easy to overfeed
  • Very addictive and can cause begging!

Preparation of raisins for a rabbit

As mentioned raisins have a high amount of pesticide residue so should be rinsed thoroughly before offering to a rabbit.  Due to the very high concentration of sugar in a raisin you may wish to cut the raisin into halves.

How to store raisins

Once opened raisins can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator.  This will ensure that moisture is regulated and mold will not be able to grow which will keep them fresh as possible for your bunnies.

Raisins left out and exposed to air will lose moisture, harden and be tougher to chew so bunnies will enjoy them more if they have more moisture which can be identified as they appear plump and vibrant in colour.

Dry raisins can be revived by steaming over boiling water for a couple of minutes however always ensure raisins are cooled before giving to a bunny.

Recommended use of raisins in a rabbit diet

Raisins are primarily composed of carbohydrates and just like all high carb foods should be given to your rabbit in moderation as overfeeding will likely cause digestive problems or prevent the rabbit from being interested in his much more important hay!

In normal circumstances fruit should be fed to a rabbit at a ratio of one teaspoon per two pounds of bodyweight however raisins are deceptive as they are essentially grapes that have either been sun or oven dried.

This decreases the size of the grape but the amount of sugar becomes concentrated as the grape dries.  For this reason we recommend only giving raisins occasionally and not every day.  Raisins are a very tasty treat for rabbits however they should be strictly regarded as a treat food.

Two raisins once or twice a week is a safe amount that should not cause your rabbit any long-term health problems.

Read more about rabbit foods and treats here.

Can a young rabbit eat raisins?

If you’re in the process of training a young rabbit, raisins can be cut in halves or quarters and will make a much better training treat than pet shop brought yogurt drops or seed based treats which are high in refined sugars and can be really bad for a rabbit.

The high amount of concentrated sugar in a raisins means you should exercise caution as they can be a little too rich for a young rabbit’s digestive system.  Whatever treat you decide to use for training keep a close eye on the rabbit in case of health issues.

Wrap up

Raisins make delicious natural treats for a rabbit however, remember that a rabbit’s digestive system is very delicate. 

A rabbit’s diet should be mainly fiber-based in order to keep the gut moving and prevent gut stasis.  Aside from water, hay should make up approximately 80% of a rabbit’s diet and an unlimited amount should be provided (a rabbit can eat a ball of hay equivalent to his own size each day).

Above all remember that too much of anything can be bad for a pet. Continuously feeding a rabbit these sugary treats will ultimately be detrimental to its health.

Further Reading

15 Foods That Could Harm Your Rabbit peta.org

Can Rabbits Eat Raisins? rabbits.life

Are raisins bad for bunnies?? Why or why not? binkybunny.com

Darren

Darren is the founder and editor at Bunny Advice and has been caring for rabbits for over a decade. He has a passion for helping animals and sharing his experience and knowledge with others.

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