You may want to give your furry friend a delicious treat and wonder…can rabbits eat popcorn?
No, rabbits cannot eat popcorn. There are many reasons for this, but overall, it harms the digestive process and can build up to cause severe problems. Even one kernel may cause unseen issues that can build over time. Rabbits should avoid popcorn altogether.
Can Rabbits Eat Popped Popcorn?
No, rabbits should not eat popped popcorn. Their digestive systems are delicate, and they can’t handle a hard grain such as popcorn, even occasionally as a treat. Serious stomach and digestive issues can result from rabbits eating popcorn.
It’s best to avoid it.
A well-rounded rabbit diet revolves mostly around hay, which includes the high fiber content their bodies need to function correctly. If you’d like to offer a treat, there are better options than popcorn (you’ll find some suggestions at the end of this article).
Ever wonder if sheep can eat popcorn?
Can Rabbits Eat Popcorn Kernels?
Popcorn kernels are just as dangerous, if not more so than popped popcorn kernels. These kernels can cause serious stomach pain and digestive issues that may not resolve independently.
Popcorn is just too high in carbohydrates for rabbits to safely consume it, no matter which forms it takes.
Can Rabbits Eat Any Type of Corn?
All corn is bad for rabbits; they should not consume it. Corn is not digestible for rabbits at a molecular level, so no matter what form it takes, it can cause issues for rabbits and should not be given as food.
Why Shouldn’t You Give Popcorn to a Rabbit?
Popcorn isn’t a safe snack for rabbits for a few reasons. It’s not a natural food for them to eat, so if you want to give them a treat, go for something closer to their natural diet. Besides choking, popcorn can also cause gastrointestinal stasis, bloating, and impaction, among other issues.
Some of these issues may resolve independently, but often, vet intervention is needed.
Gastrointestinal stasis is characterized by food slowing down as it moves through the gastrointestinal tract. A blockage of some sort typically causes this. For rabbits, this can be caused by foods that are high in carbs or protein or foods that are too bulky. Corn, unfortunately, fits this bill.
Corn is an actual grain, a complex carbohydrate that will cause these problems for rabbits. In addition, corn can disrupt the bacteria of rabbits’ intestines, causing a host of other issues as well.
Simply put, rabbits can easily choke on popcorn. Rabbits cannot vomit, and their airways are very small. If a piece of popcorn were to get stuck while eating it, it could become dangerous as it would be difficult to dislodge.
Rabbits cannot easily release gas from their bodies, so it can be uncomfortable when gas builds up. Popcorn isn’t an easy food for them to digest, so it can cause gas buildup that can become painful.
Not just that…
Bloating is also a sign of disrupted bacteria in your rabbit’s gut. This can be a problem as well. Continued bloating can cause further disruptions, such as compressed blood vessels, leading to a rupture if left untreated.
Impaction is similar to gastrointestinal stasis, although it’s characterized by hardened stool in the intestines instead of digestion simply slowing down. It is caused by eating undigestible foods, such as popcorn.
This condition can cause severe constipation as well as gastrointestinal stasis.
Empty Nutritional Value
Rabbits’ digestive systems are built for pulling nutrients from foods, and their natural diet includes a lot of vegetables. Popcorn is the equivalent of eating a bag of chips for a human: they’re empty calories.
Popcorn may not be ‘junk food’ for humans, but it is for rabbits. Especially when coated with butter and salt, which is also toxic (and indigestible) for rabbits.
What to Do if a Rabbit Eats Popcorn
If your rabbit has already eaten some popcorn, what should you do? It depends on what type of popcorn you’ve given them.
Have they consumed a salty, buttery type of microwave popcorn? If that’s the case, start with offering a lot of water. This will help flush the salt out of their body and restore their electrolyte balance.
No matter what type of popcorn they’ve consumed, follow these steps:
- Offer water
- Offer fresh hay (the fiber will help the popcorn pass)
- Add extra fiber into their diet for a few days to encourage all the popcorn to pass.
- Watch closely for any abnormal behavior or signs of discomfort/pain
Symptoms to Watch For
If you’re worried after giving popcorn to your rabbit, here are some symptoms to look out for that may indicate a problem that needs vet intervention:
- Visible bloating
- Grinding teeth
- Loss of appetite
- No feces (or small feces)
- Hunching over
Alternative Treats for Rabbits
What are your options if you want to give your rabbits some special treat? Staying close to their natural diet is a good bet. There are a lot of great options.
Vegetables are a normal part of a rabbit’s diet; they love them, so it’s a treat whenever they get some. Here are some good ones specifically for rabbits:
- Brussels sprouts
- Carrot tops
- Green leaf lettuce
- Radish tops
- Leafy green herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley, etc.)
For an adult rabbit, stick to around two cups of vegetables at a time.
Fruit can be a great treat for rabbits in addition to vegetables and add some variety to their diet. One thing to remember, though, is that rabbits cannot handle a lot of sugar, so fruit should be given in small amounts and not more than one to two times per week.
Here are some to try:
- Apples (no seeds)
While it may sound fun and cute to treat your rabbit to a popcorn treat every once in a while, it’s not worth it, considering the serious digestive issues that lurk around the corner. Instead, choose some fruits or vegetables when you want to splurge for a special treat.
Unlike rabbits, mice can eat popcorn!