Rabbits can be curious creatures, and if you’re eating a bag of popcorn around one, she might try and stick her little nose in. And you may be tempted to let her have a nibble. After all, it’s only one piece of popcorn. What harm could it do?
Rabbits should not be allowed to eat popcorn. It is in fact very dangerous for them, and can lead to all kinds of intestinal problems. In fact, rabbits should stay away from all corn products in general, because they’re detrimental to the rabbit’s health.
It’s easy to hand your rabbit a tiny piece of popcorn and not really think about it. However, rabbits don’t have a diet like humans, and a great deal of care needs to be taken to ensure your rabbit stays as healthy as possible. In this guide, we explain to you the problems that can occur if your rabbit gets hold of popcorn.
Can rabbits eat popcorn?
A rabbit is likely to eat popcorn if it’s offered to them. However, you should never feed your rabbit popcorn. It can lead to gastrointestinal problems, and it offers them no nutritional value.
Popcorn is corn, and rabbits should avoid all forms of corn. Whether it’s fresh from the packet, or cooked and covered in seasoning, rabbits should not be eating corn. That means nachos, another popular cinema snack, also have to be avoided. If you want to snuggle down and watch a movie with your bunny, then give them some green peppers as a treat.
Why can’t rabbits eat popcorn?
Popcorn is dangerous because rabbits can’t digest it. They’re also unable to vomit, which means that anything bad they eat simply has to sit in the stomach, and hopefully pass through. If it doesn’t safely pass, this can cause blockages, leading to problems.
Rabbits have a digestive system designed specifically for the food they find in the wild. This means a lot of grass, some hay, and a few vegetables. Corn is a grain, which is something that their stomachs are not designed to handle.
Popcorn isn’t toxic, so it isn’t a poisoning risk for your rabbit. If your bunny does eat some popcorn, they probably won’t need to be rushed to the vet. However, it does present some other serious problems.
One of the immediate problems that popcorn presents is choking. This is something you especially need to be aware of with smaller rabbits. Popcorn kernels can be quite hard, and they’re very different to the foods typically found in a rabbit’s diet.
Kernels can get stuck in the throat, leading to suffocation. If you think your rabbit has eaten popcorn, then the first thing to do is to monitor them for choking. If they aren’t breathing properly, you should immediately get them to the vet.
For people, popcorn has gotten some buzz lately for being a healthier alternative to potato chips. That might lead to you thinking it could be a good health food for your bunny. This is wrong. For rabbits, popcorn is essentially just calories, with no nutritional value.
Rabbits and humans have incredibly different digestive tracts. One of the advantages of popcorn is the amount of fiber it contains, but rabbits don’t extract fiber from their food in the same way. Popcorn is not a healthy food for a rabbit, and they’ll be perfectly happy with just their normal diet.
One of the greatest dangers presented to rabbits if they eat popcorn is gastrointestinal stasis. This is what happens when food matter moves slowly through the digestive tract. It can be caused by a blockage or obstruction, as the food sits and decays. It can also be brought about by an imbalance in the bacteria of the gut. Popcorn can lead to both of these issues.
Corn kernels don’t get broken down, and the rabbit’s stomach won’t process them. Although the popcorn may pass through, it can also stagnate, leading to a blockage. Regularly eating popcorn can also upset the delicate flora in the rabbit’s gut.
Gastrointestinal stasis often leads to a lack of appetite in a rabbit. As they aren’t eating, no more food is coming into the gut, so the digestive tract stops moving. This can be fatal.
Plain popcorn on its own is bad for rabbits, but you need to be extra careful if you’re feeding them flavored popcorn. As well as potentially leading to weight gain, it can also cause stomach imbalances.
Sugar, salt, and oil are all common toppings for popcorn, and they shouldn’t be a part of the rabbit’s diet. Chocolate is also a popcorn topping, and it’s highly dangerous for rabbits. If your bunny eats chocolate coated popcorn, then they need to be taken to the vet. Similarly, if they eat yogurt coated popcorn, or cheese popcorn, contact your vet.
What to do if your rabbit has eaten popcorn?
Popcorn is dangerous, but it isn’t poisonous. If your rabbit has nibbled at a few pieces from the floor, and it isn’t choking, you probably don’t need to panic. Over the next few days, make sure that the kernels have passed through the rabbit by checking its stool. Feed them extra grass hay and make sure they drink lots of water, as this will keep the digestion track moving.
- Monitor your rabbit to check that they’re breathing correctly. If they seem to be having issues, take them to the vet.
- Remove any leftover popcorn from the area.
- Over the next few days, feed the rabbit more grass hay and extra water. This will keep the gastrointestinal tract moving, to help pass the corn.
- Monitor their fecal pellets, to see if the popcorn has passed.
- Stay aware of the signs of gastrointestinal stasis: loss of appetite, teeth grinding as an indicator of pain, small or no fecal pellets, bloating, and lethargy.
If you want to give your rabbit a healthy treat, then popcorn is not the right option. Try herbs, or some Brussels sprouts instead.