According to guidelines posted by the House Rabbit Society, sugar (from fruits, etc) intake should be limited for rabbits. A comment in a question about rabbit diet suggested that bunnies that are more active could have a higher percentage of sugar in their diet than less active rabbits.

Can you safely increase the sugary foods given to a rabbit if they are more active? If so, how do you define what the activity level to sugar ratio is?

1 Answer 1


With respect to fruit and other items in your link the answer is "no", the more active rabbit is not likely to be consuming a significantly larger proportion of hay to make it correspond to that of a rabbit with a larger body size. Moreover, the rabbit's intestinal track is the same diameter of other buns his size, and thus a larger sugar intake could create a disruptive pocket of undesirable flora around the sugar bolus.

Sugar can destabilizing a rabbits GI flora, which for a rabbit, can be deadly. As such, before trying to add the extra sugar to the buns diet, you might want to ask: "Is really worth risking your rabbits health just to get her to beg for an extra half of cherry?"

Further, there is a gowning number of scientific studies that seem to indicate sugar is actually toxic to all animals, and that sugar addiction is real and can be on par with that of cocaine. While this explains why your rabbit tries to crawl into your mouth to find the rest of that banana you ate, it should also leave you concerned. Thus, erring on the low side of sugar intake is the best choice for a concerned owner.

With that said, the single teaspoon of sugary foods per 2 lbs of rabbit is only a guideline, and not all fruit is equal. Papaya, for instance, contains enzymes that help your bun digest, so a little extra isn't bad (but the less sugary tablets are preferred). Further, the difference in sugar content from an just edible banana, to an almost over ripe one can be close to double. Thus, you bun might be fine with some variation.

Occasionally, I feed up to 2 teaspoons of just barley ripe banana to my 2 pounder and haven't had any issues. However, as the banana ripens, leaves behind string like pieces that I use in-place of breaking off a chunks as the strings provide prolonged interaction and extra opportunities to teach your bun new tricks.

Yet beware, overweight buns, and buns with GI problems tend to consume less hay than their more fit counterparts, and therefore should exclude sugary foods that could irritate their GI track and increase their overall caloric intake.

Aside from fruits and sugary vegetables, pellet food is another way rabbits obtain sugars in their diet. The sugar in pellet food, is more dispersed and thus much less likely to cause GI floral issues. Because of this, and the larger portion that pellets take up in a rabbit's diet, you might consider slightly increasing pellet intake for extremely active buns.

The HRS recommends no more than a 1/4 cup per 3 lbs of rabbit. This recommendation is for normal activity levels and assumes the weight of the rabbit correlates with the number of calories required to sustain it and thus it's overall hay intake.

Smaller rabbits, such as dwarfs are generally more active than normal and large rabbits, but tend to maintain the overall hay intake to weight ratio. This is because, the bigger they get, the more energy they need to move. Thus, it's not advisable to correlate high activity in smaller buns to higher caloric need.

However, if you happen to have a large rabbit that is highly active, he will increase his hay intake in-order to make up for lost calories. This increase in the amount of hay he's consuming means that your might also proportionally increase his pellet intake.

  • Sugar is not bad because it makes them fat, it bad because it kills them via GI upset. Many of the key points are in this answer. I have so far not found anything about activity changing the sugar limits. Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 11:35
  • If you read all of my post, you'll see that I mention that "Sugar can destabilize a rabbits GI flora, which for a rabbit, can be deadly" Moreover, if total caloric intake exceeds that of the metabolism that will make your bunny fat. Consuming sugar is a highly effective way to increase ones calorie intake and is like cocaine; buns will eat it even if they are full, thus feeding a bun sugar, especially one that already is eating more calories than it burns will indeed make it fat.
    – virtualxtc
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 12:44
  • A teaspoon of sugar is a lot when taken from rabbit safe fruits. A whole carrot contains less than a teaspoon. By these standards you could feed the average 6 lb bunny a whole banana every day. I would not recommend that much even for active rabbits. Mostly because the sugary food will take up gut space better used for hay and pellets.
    – user9
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 14:54
  • thanks for catching that typo, the limit is for "sugary food" and thus would be 1 teaspoon of carrot. I'm actually currently editing this post to include the gut space theory.
    – virtualxtc
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 15:20
  • Answer is looking much better with the new edits. You may want to read rabbit.org/journal/3-3/digestibility.html which implies the types of sugars are also important. My research for this answer indicates that an apple may contain as much "bad" sugar as a carrot. The bad sugar then ends up in the cecum where it causes problems. I am still researching, so not sure what the whole picture is. Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:50

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