Popcorn is a great snack that we tend to enjoy whilst watching a movie or as a treat in the day. In fact, if it is plain and made in a certain way it can even be a low-calorie indulgence. But this is for us humans. What about your pet rabbit? Can they eat popcorn and is there anything an owner would need to consider before offering it? Let’s find out!
So, can rabbits eat popcorn? Rabbits should not eat popcorn and you should not be offering it to your pet. Popcorn lacks any real nutritional value for a rabbit and can lead to bloating, trapped wind, weight gain, and discomfort if consumed regularly or in excess.
While the odd piece of plain, salt-free popped corn should not cause any immediate or severe consequences, this can be a dangerous food – especially if given regularly or if pre-popped flavored popcorn is provided (high in sugar, salt, and fat) or unpopped kernels are consumed.
So in other words, the recommended intake of popcorn for rabbits is minimal – if at all.
Less than a couple of times monthly at most.
Let us now look at why popcorn is not the most appropriate food so that you are aware of the risks.
I’ll also be introducing you to some safe and healthy alternatives so be sure to keep reading to the end!
Rabbits And Popcorn
At first, you may be surprised to hear that rabbits should not be eating popcorn.
Popcorn is usually not seen as a dangerous food and would seem okay to feed to animals.
Plain and natural popcorn is actually a good source of fiber, magnesium, and vitamins for us humans.
It mostly depends on how it is prepared and served, but popcorn can actually be a decently healthy snack – being low in calories too.
In fact, popcorn is not a toxic food to rabbits and is not likely to kill if a small amount is eaten.
This leads many people to believe that there is nothing wrong with feeding popcorn to a pet rabbit.
However, it is not likely to provide many benefits to them and can easily lead and cause distress.
Most pre-popped flavored popcorn, like those that you can often buy at the grocery store, can be particularly unhealthy.
This is due to the inclusion of sugar, salt, vegetable oils, flavorings, and preservatives.
This results in a more tasty food – but a lot more than a rabbit should consume and can safely process.
Therefore, when referring to popcorn in this article, it’s important to note that it can be processed and consumed in many different ways.
Generally, the lower the processing, the lower the salt, sugar, fat, etc – the safer it would be for your rabbit. Nonetheless, it is not recommended as a food source or treat for your pet.
There are several reasons for this. Let’s now go into exactly why popcorn should not be fed to a rabbit.
Why Rabbits Should Not Eat Popcorn
Now that you know that you should avoid feeding popcorn to your rabbit, why exactly is this?
There are 4 main reasons why you should not feed popcorn to your rabbit. The reasons I will go over are;
- Unpopped Kernels
- Popcorn Can Cause Bloating
- Weight Gain
- No Nutritional Benefits (For Rabbits)
Making microwave popcorn is bound to result in at least a few unpopped kernels in each bag.
As humans, we know that we should just avoid them and not eat them.
Rabbits, on the other hand, don’t know and they may end up eating them if they happen to be in their serving.
These kernels can be dangerous to rabbits. If a rabbit eats these unpopped kernels it can damage its intestinal tracts since they are very hard and a challenge to pass.
A rabbit does not have the digestive capabilities, strength or system of larger mammals; so breaking kernels down is much harder, and the impact is much more severe as they are larger in relation to the rabbit itself.
Popcorn Can Cause Bloating
Feeding your rabbit a large amount of popcorn at a given time is likely to result in painful bloating.
Bloating may not seem like a huge deal as humans often experience it from time to time.
Rabbits, on the other hand, are much smaller creatures than us.
If a rabbit experience bloating it can be very painful and permanently damage its stomach and other organs.
Rabbits can actually die from severe cases of bloating so you need to be careful and do your utmost to avoid it.
In severe cases, you may even need to contact a vet!
The third reason why you should not feed your rabbit popcorn is that it can easily result in weight gain.
Popcorn is not toxic to rabbits, however, due to the carbohydrate and calorie content compared to other vegetables, it can lead to weight gain.
Weight gain is not good for a rabbit; as it places a lot of extra stress and burden on their smaller bodies and bone structure.
In addition, weight gain can make your rabbit more susceptible to other health conditions – like breathing difficulties.
No Nutritional Benefit
The final reason you should not feed popcorn to your rabbit is that it will not provide any real nutritional benefit for them.
It does not have the properties that hay and vegetables provide and the fiber present is different from what a rabbit needs (mainly cellulose).
It is best to avoid feeding your rabbit popcorn as it will only contribute unnecessary calories to their diet.
Remember, a rabbit needs considerably fewer calories than a human, and they need to get most of their allowance from healthy sources.
By adding popcorn or excessive treats to their diet, it can easily result in weight gain.
As mentioned earlier, this can also cause pain and distress to your rabbit.
Other Healthy Treats For Your Rabbit
So if you shouldn’t feed popcorn to your rabbit, what can you feed them as a nutritious and fun treat?
Everybody loves a treat now and then. You should make sure to only feed your rabbit treats occasionally in order to ensure that they are maintaining a healthy diet.
There are actually quite a few to feed your rabbit which can actually serve their health at the same time.
Some of the best treats you can feed your rabbit are; fruit, herbs, and baked biscuits.
Fruits are a great healthy option to feed to your rabbit as a treat. Your rabbits are also likely to enjoy fruits as they are often nice and sweet.
Make sure not to give your rabbit too much due to the fact that fruits are high in sugar. Again, this can lead to weight gain in excess.
Some fruits you may wish to feed to your rabbit as a treat are;
- Strawberries and Raspberries
- Dried Pineapple
Strawberries and Raspberries
Strawberries and raspberries are a good option- they have a lot of vitamins and minerals while being lower in sugar and overall calories.
Make sure that they are thoroughly washed and cut into tiny pieces. These are usually fruits that most rabbits enjoy.
Banana is a good fruit to give to your rabbit with high amounts of potassium. To serve, simply cut the Banana into tiny edible pieces or even mash this into their other food.
Dried pineapple is a great fruit option, but you should only serve very small amounts since these are very high in sugar.
Dried pineapple is known to contain enzymes that are thought to be great for breaking down ingested fur.
This makes dried pineapple an excellent treat to give to your rabbit especially when they are molting.
Like fruit, herbs are also a healthy option.
You can purchase fresh herb plants from the supermarket and keep them by the windowsill.
Your rabbit will enjoy eating fresh herbs from the plant itself.
Good herb options to give your rabbit are Basil, Parsley, Coriander, Rosemary and Sage.
There are several pet brands that sell packaged treats that are designed and formulated for rabbits and other small animals.
These treats often contain hay and other naturally occurring ingredients that rabbits do best on.
These treats are very versatile and can be easily stored and accessed whenever you want to quickly reward good behavior or provide an incentive for your rabbit to do something (like come inside).
- Supports dental health through natural chewing activity
- Made with sun cured timothy hay and apples
- Great enrichment and foraging for small animals
- Ideal for playtime and bonding with your pet rabbit, hamster, chinchilla, and other small pets that crave the taste of real sun cured timothy hay, apples, and molasses
- The high fiber content of natural timothy grass hay also supports your pet's overall health
Rabbits should not be eating popcorn; regardless of how it is prepared and provided.
Even plain popcorn can cause issues – the kernels, in particular, can be very troublesome.
While some owners may have given their rabbits some popcorn without any issues, it’s important to note that your rabbit might not be so lucky.
It’s not the responsible choice to make as an owner, especially when there are other treats available for them that we know they enjoy and will do well on.
We all want the best for our pets, right?
Rabbits should not eat popcorn kernels. These are particularly hard on the digestive system of a rabbit and can lead to bloating, gas, and damage to their intestinal tracts. It is very important that kernels are never given.
Wondering what else your rabbits can and cannot eat? My following feeding guides below may be of help:
- Can Rabbits Eat Mangetout?
- Can Rabbits Eat Swede?
- Can Rabbits Eat Chocolate?
- Can Rabbits Eat Peanut Butter?
- Can Rabbits Eat Rice?
- Can Rabbits Eat Grass?
- Can Rabbits Eat Pine Cones?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.