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My house rabbit can be rather shy around guests, and I would like to encourage her to be more friendly when people come around. I have explained to my guests that rabbits can be startled easily and they will crouch lower and move slower and quieter when going near her. I'd like to be able to offer my bunny a treat or enticement to reward her for socialising.

What are some positive traits I should look for in a bunny treat?

What shouldn't rabbits be allowed to have as a treat?

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Treats can be a very important part of training your bunny. Like many pets, bunnies can be motivated by attention and/or food rewards, so using treats can be a great training device.

Any high-sugar treat like fruit should be only a small part of bunnies diet, so moderation is important. It has been recommended that fruit is not more than 10% of a bunnies diet.

Carrots (also high in sugar) are recommended to be not more then 15% of the diet.

For my pets, I try and keep the total of all high-sugar treats to not more then 5%; occasionally days will pass without added sugar. This makes the reward more effective and is better for bunny health.

Depending on metabolism and/or proportionate to veggies, you should be limiting the amount of pellets your bunny receives to 1/4 to 1/2 cup pellets per 6 lbs. (2.7 kg) body weight. Part of this daily pellet allowance can be used as a treat, for general behavior, and for training.

For the big events requiring high motivation, I use raisins. They keep well and are small enough that I can give as many as 3 daily for really difficult challenges.

Your rabbit is very trainable so using a keyword when calling your bunny for a treat can be very rewarding for you both.

When calling them, we use the word "quick" followed by their name. You don't need to have a high-sugar treat every time they come on command. Their being unsure if the reward will be high-sugar, providing a pellet or a pet will increase their responsiveness (this is why gambling can be so addictive).

Remember, no amount of treat will entice a bunny into a situation that makes them feel threatened. Socialization of the bunny and moderation of the visitors behavior are both important parts of the interaction, and it sounds like you are doing a great job making this part of your process.

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I've found that my rabbit loves to eat timothy hay, bananas, slightly peeled grapes, mostly stuff that's sweet.

He hates veggies. Tried most kinds of greens that are available in the grocery store. Other than timothy hay, the rabbit will not eat anything green. He even has a preferred brand.

Here is a complete list of dos and don'ts that I've found in terms of food.

  • Try dandelions (flower, stem and greens) and parsley. Both of these are easy for your rabbit to digest, tasty, and help with general balance in their delicate gut. – user9 Oct 10 '13 at 14:38
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I miss our rabbits, they're great pets... as for treats, I found that veggies made them happy, always. We had pellets for them, which tends to make them chubby, but our rabbits much preferred fresh veggies, especially carrot tops (they love the green more than the orange part, so much for Bugs Bunny) and fresh hay.

One thing to really avoid is celery, the strings in the stocks could choke your rabbit. Generally, carrots, dandelion and romaine lettuce were big favourites for our guys and are good for them.

  • Parsley is great. Be careful with lettuce. The lettuce can give a rabbit gas that can be painful and possibly fatal since rabbits lack the ability to effectively pass the gas for relief. – user9 Oct 10 '13 at 14:33
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    Never had a problem with romaine in that respect and I generally avoided the cheap iceberg as a matter of principle. – John Cavan Oct 10 '13 at 14:40
  • I think romaine produces less gas than some other types but it still can produce some. Like anything moderation is going to be key, the more it eats the more gas it has to deal with. – user9 Oct 10 '13 at 14:49
  • @JohnCavan good to note the celery strings +1 – Yvette Colomb Oct 13 '13 at 8:08
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Most fruit tree wood (I have heard mixed reviews on Cherry wood, so I avoid it) is both extra tasty to rabbits and healthy for them to chew on. You could have a special chew stick or branch that (once it has been introduced as a special yummy treat) only comes out when the guests do. You might start with it further away from guests and then move it closer as bunny relaxes more. The weight of fruit at harvest usually brings down some branches and winter is pruning time for fruit trees, so now is a good time to line up some wood to collect.

  • Do Not feed branches from apricot, cherry, peach, plum and redwood trees, listed as toxic by poison centers. For ultimate safety, you might avoid the crabapple just in case. Seems that fruit trees have the most propensity to contain toxins. Also avoid cedar and juniper. I would think other hardwoods such as oak, pecan or walnut would be OK. -answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080811085404AAb3izo – ton.yeung Oct 10 '13 at 14:58

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