June 29, 2020

Can Rabbits Eat Bananas?

What are the Risks?

Veterinarian Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Nature designed these cute little guys to eat only plant matter. Your rabbit, regardless of breed or size, is 100% herbivore. In the wild, rabbits mainly eat grasses and seeds. They will also eat leafy green vegetables and fruit when they can find them.

Most bunnies have a sweet tooth and love eating fruit, but leafy greens and fruit make up only a small percentage of a wild rabbit's natural diet. It means that your domesticated little friend shouldn't have too much fruit either. It's always best to mimic what nature designed your bunny to eat.

Can Rabbits Eat Bananas?

Yes, rabbits can eat bananas. Banana is a healthy and nutritious treat for rabbits. Still, follow our feeding instructions and stick to moderation because the sugar may cause obesity, diabetes, and gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea. Organic banana peel is safe for rabbits and healthier than the flesh because it's lower in sugar but high in fiber.

Rabbits are designed to eat high fiber, low sugar diets. Thus, the sugar in bananas can pose some problems, including diarrhea.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Rabbits love the taste of bananas and have a hard time stopping at one bite. It can be so very tempting to give your bunny more and more. Similar to other fruit, banana needs to be fed in moderation.

This fruit isn't known to be toxic to rabbits in any way, so there's no risk of poisoning, but it is high on sugar, so feeding too much is still not a good idea. Too much sugar can cause your bunny to have an upset tummy.

The peel is not toxic to rabbits, but because bananas are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, it's better not to offer your bunny any if the banana you bought is not organic.

Health Benefits: Are Bananas Good for Rabbits?

We've already mentioned that feeding excessive quantities of banana does your bunny no good, but bananas do contain some useful nutrients for your rabbit.

Feeding this fruit in moderation is actually an excellent addition to your pet's diet.

Rich in Vitamin B6

Bananas are a great source of vitamin B6. This is an essential nutrient playing a vital role in maintaining the health of your bunny's nervous system and brain.

Vitamin B6 is necessary for producing serotonin, which regulates the mood. It is also needed in producing norepinephrine, a hormone that helps the body cope with stress.

The body also uses vitamin B6 to manufacture hemoglobin and melatonin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen around the body, while melatonin helps in regulating sleep.

cut fresh bananas

Good Source of Manganese

Manganese is an essential nutrient and is vital to your rabbit's health. It is needed in tiny amounts, but a lack of manganese can cause health problems. This mineral is involved in several bodily functions, including the metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates.

Manganese helps with blood clotting to stop bleeding. It also contributes to bone formation and helps with reducing inflammation. Another helpful task performed by manganese is to lower your bunny's blood sugar. It is especially helpful to rabbits suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The body cannot produce manganese on its own, although it can store it. This means that the mineral must be obtained from your rabbit's diet. Bananas contain manganese and make a good occasional addition to your rabbit's diet.

Bananas Contain Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral and helps several processes in the body. In addition to helping with the regulation of muscle and heart contractions, it's also needed for the nervous system to function properly. Potassium also plays a role in regulating fluid balance in your bunny's body.

A diet rich in potassium may have several health benefits. It could help with preventing kidney stones and osteoporosis. It may also help with reducing blood pressure.

Health Risks: Are Bananas Bad for Rabbits?

Bananas do have some health benefits for your rabbit, but there are a few things to consider. Just as with all fruit, moderation is best. The bulk of a rabbit's diet should always be good quality hay.

High Sugar Content

Being a fruit, bananas contain a lot of sugar. Yes, they taste great (and your bunny probably thinks so too!). But bunnies plus sugar usually equals health problems. Rabbits just weren't designed to eat a high-sugar diet.

Too much sugar in a bunny's diet can upset its digestive system. Rabbits are meant to eat a diet consisting mainly of hay, with leafy greens and fruit coming in second and third. Any excess sugar can upset the balance of bacteria in their gut. This, in turn, can cause diarrhea and lead to more serious health conditions.

Domestic rabbits don't have nearly as much of a chance to exercise as their wild cousins, and so they can be prone to conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Obviously, eating too much sugar doesn't help either of these conditions.

Unhealthy Starch

Rabbits' digestive systems are adapted to digesting high-fiber diets low on sugars, starch, and fat. Starchy foods can cause digestive conditions like diarrhea, constipation, and gastrointestinal stasis in rabbits.

The oversoft stool will also stick to the fur on your rabbit's behind, causing issues with cleanliness. Your rabbit may also become unable to eat cecotropes, which are vital to its health.

As well as sugar, bananas contain a lot of starch. For this reason, it's best to feed them to your bunny only occasionally and in small quantities.

Risk of Pesticides

Another thing to consider when feeding your rabbit bananas is the risk of pesticides. Bananas are among the most popular fruits in the world and are mostly grown commercially. It usually involves the frequent application of pesticides for growers to improve their yields.

Much as banana skins are not known to be toxic to rabbits, they can carry traces of pesticides. If your rabbit has accidentally eaten some of the peel, it probably won't cause any significant problems. As a general rule, though, it's better to peel the skin off and feed your pet the fruit itself if the banana is not organic.

Feeding Guidelines

We already know that bananas should be fed to your rabbit in smaller quantities, and not too frequently. Fed the right way, bananas make a good addition to an otherwise healthy diet for your bunny.

Every few days is plenty to keep your bunny happy but healthy.

Measure By Your Bunny's Weight

How much banana (or other sugary fruit) you can give your bunny depends on its weight. Fruit and treats should make up no more than 20% of your bunny's diet. 

If your bunny is new to eating bananas, you should start very small. Less than a teaspoon is enough. You should then observe your rabbit for the next 24 hours for any signs of diarrhea or other illness. If everything is fine, you can gradually increase the serving size.

Let It Be a Treat

A good rule of thumb is not to give your bunny sweet treats (aka fruit) every single day. Every few days is plenty to keep your bunny happy but healthy. And it's a good idea to mix your fruits up. If you give banana one day, provide some other fruit the next time around.

Related reading: Best Hay for Bunnies

Nutrition Facts

Bananas are relatively high on calories, and the sugar-fiber ratio isn't the greatest. This is why your bunny should only eat bananas as a treat.

Bananas contain some useful nutrients but fall short of being a nutrient-dense food.

High-Calorie, High-Sugar Food

Eating 100 grams of banana will give you a sizeable 89 calories. With only 1.1 grams of protein and 0.3 grams of fat for every 100g, most of this energy comes from carbs. That's 23 grams of them, of which sugar, at 12 grams, makes just over half.

The fiber content is relatively low, standing at 2.9 grams out of 100g. It means that consuming a lot of banana in one go will cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

Good Source of Several B Vitamins

Bananas may not be a super nutrient-dense food, but they do contain several B vitamins: B6 is the highest, with 0.367mg per 100 grams, but riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, and pantothenic acid are present too. [1.]

Each of these vitamins plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy. Together, they are responsible for maintaining good energy levels, cell health, nerve and brain function, and much more. A lack of any of these vitamins can contribute to serious health issues.

Some Useful Minerals

This fruit is not a great source of any particular mineral, but it contains several in smaller amounts. Manganese and potassium are among the most important of these. We already discussed it, but both of these minerals play a vital role in keeping the body healthy.

Copper, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus are present, too, as is copper and zinc. Each of these minerals is necessary to maintain good health in your rabbit. The occasional small helping of banana will help to supplement these nutrients.

Bottom line: Can Rabbits Have Bananas?

Bananas are not toxic to rabbits and are a safe treat. Banana peels are also not known to be poisonous but may carry pesticides, so they are best avoided. Bunnies generally like the taste of banana too and will eat the fruit with gusto.

Being a fruit and high in sugar, banana should be fed in moderation. A teaspoon or so once per week is a safe bet and shouldn't cause any problems. However, rabbits with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes and obesity may be better off without. If you're at all unsure, speak to your vet.

Banana for Rabbits - FAQ

Can rabbits eat banana skin?

Rabbits can eat banana skin. The banana peel is actually less sugary and more fibrous than the flesh of the fruit, making it healthier. However, bananas are heavily sprayed with pesticides, so we recommend only feeding the peel of organic bananas or at least washing the fruit thoroughly. You should also remember that bananas are only healthy when fed as an occasional snack along with an otherwise healthy and balanced diet.

Vet's Comment

Bunnies have very sensitive intestinal systems, so while we all love to treat our fur-babies, we should be careful when it comes to sweet fruits such as a banana.

Rabbits are designed to eat high fiber, low sugar diets. Thus, the sugar in bananas can pose some problems, including diarrhea. This can be a major problem if your bunny can't eat their cecotropes, which they need for a healthy tummy, or the staining of your bunny's fur will attract flies leading to the risk of fly-strike which is painful and can be fatal to your bun.

Sudden fluctuations in your bunny's nutrition can also cause what's called gut stasis; this is essentially when a rabbit's intestine slows or stops moving, which allows the contents to stagnate and dry out. This condition can be fatal for bunnies, so always monitor your bunny when offering new treats and always start with small portions.

- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Dr. Edele Grey Veterinary Surgeon

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Edele Grey
DVM

Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your rabbit’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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