The Short Answer: Yes, rabbits can eat bananas, but they should be limited to 1-2 tablespoons for every five pounds of body weight. Instead, rabbits should mostly eat hay, and their diet should be supplemented with pellets and vegetables. Fruits should be considered treats and given in moderation.
For more about rabbits and bananas, read on.
What Are Bananas?
First, let’s look at what bananas are so that we can better understand the role they play in rabbits’ diets.
Bananas are fruits from the family Musaceae, which are known for their delicious taste, bright yellow skins, and their ability to help ease muscle cramps.
Bananas, believe it or not, are technically berries which are fruits that have three different layers, have more than one seed, do not have pits or stones, and come from one flower that has only one ovary.
Whew. Those are some very specific requirements just to be called a berry!
The reason that bananas being considered berries is important is that normally the seeds of berries are poisonous to rabbits (such as tomato and watermelon seeds). However, there are some exceptions (such as grape seeds).
The great thing about bananas is that the modern variety available at supermarkets (called Cavendish bananas) are seedless!
This is because commercial bananas are grown using the process of vegetative propagation where a plant is grown from only one parent plant, and the offspring is genetically identical to the parent plant.
So, modern bananas are clones (meaning they are genetically identical) and are not grown utilizing seeds. Therefore, modern bananas do NOT have potentially toxic seeds that need to be removed.
You can feed rabbits all parts of the banana (including the peel), but you should cut up both the flesh and the peel to help prevent choking.
Benefits of Bananas for Rabbits
There are some benefits to feeding rabbits bananas (other than their delicious taste).
Bananas, like most fruits, are high in water (they are around 75% water) which helps keep rabbits hydrated. They are also high in electrolytes, which are minerals that have an electric charge (like magnesium, sodium, and potassium).
Electrolytes are important because they help regulate fluids in the body, and they also help with muscle contractions.
Most people associate bananas with easing muscle cramps. The reason they help so much is due to their high electrolyte content (especially their high potassium content).
Potassium is also important in helping to prevent hypokalemia, which is where there very low levels of potassium in the bloodstream. Symptoms of hypokalemia are weight loss, muscle weakness, and stunted growth.
Another important electrolyte that bananas are high in is magnesium. Not only does it help regulate fluids, but magnesium also helps prevent bladder sludge in rabbits (which is where they ingest too much calcium, and it builds up in their urine).
Bladder sludge often occurs because, unlike other mammals, rabbits absorb all the calcium that they ingest (as opposed to only what they need). The only way that they can get rid of excess calcium is through urination.
Increased magnesium is believed to help with rabbits who are prone to bladder sludge. Not only bananas but also cranberries and watermelon are high in magnesium.
Bananas are also high in vitamin B6, which is important for rabbits’ brains, nervous systems, immune systems, and metabolisms.
Another benefit of bananas is that they have a low Glycemic Index, which is a ranking of the carbohydrates in food based on how they affect blood sugar.
Since bananas have a low GI number (less than 55), this means that their sugar is more slowly absorbed and digested, which in turn, means they have a less drastic impact on blood sugar levels.
However, even though their low GI number makes them a better fruit option than high GI fruits (like cantaloupes and watermelons), keep in mind that rabbits are not able to tolerate as much sugar as humans can.
Cons of Bananas for Rabbits
The main con of bananas is that they are high in sugar for what rabbits require.
Rabbits have a specialized digestive system that requires a high fiber, low sugar diet.
This is because rabbits do not have constant stomach movement (known as peristalsis) to help them digest their food. Instead, they rely on fiber to help aid them with digestion.
If foods are high in sugar, then they are difficult for rabbits to digest. And If eaten in excess, high sugar foods can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Not fun times at all!
Not only that but feeding rabbits too much sugary food can also lead to obesity and dental disease. Therefore, you should limit the amount of fruits (aka treats) that you feed your rabbit.
You should feed rabbits no more than 1-2 tablespoons of banana for every five pounds of body weight.
Also, always introduce new foods slowly in case they cause stomach issues. The most common side effect from a high sugar diet is loose stool, so always check your rabbit’s poo daily.
Bananas (like strawberries) seem to be especially tasty to rabbits. If you need a pick me up, just search YouTube for videos of rabbits eating bananas!
For your viewing pleasure: rabbit ASMR.
Unfortunately, bananas also seem to be very addicting, and rabbits that are fed excessive amounts of bananas will often refuse to eat their hay (this is also true of other fruits, but strawberries and bananas seem to be rabbits’ kryptonite).
Always feed rabbits bananas after they have eaten their hay.
So even though bananas are healthier than other fruits due to their low GI number, they should still be fed in moderation because of their high sugar content.
In fact, fruits (including bananas) should make up no more than 10% of rabbits’ diets.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while banana peels are okay for rabbits to eat, they may have a waxy coating or be sprayed with chemicals depending on where you purchase your bananas.
Always wash bananas thoroughly before feeding them to rabbits.
Yes, rabbits can eat bananas, but they should be limited to 1-2 tablespoons of banana per five pounds of body weight.
Instead, rabbits should mostly eat hay, and their diet should be supplemented with pellets and vegetables. Fruits should be considered treats and given in moderation.
There are some benefits to feeding rabbits bananas: they are high in water, high in electrolytes (especially potassium and magnesium), high in vitamin B6, and have a low GI number (less than 55).
There are some cons to feeding rabbits bananas: they are high in sugar for what rabbits require and can be addicting for rabbits.
Some reminders when feeding rabbits bananas:
- You can feed rabbits all parts of the banana (including the peel), but you should cut up both the flesh and the peel to help prevent choking.
- You should feed rabbits no more than 1-2 tablespoons of banana for every five pounds of body weight.
- Always introduce bananas into rabbits’ diets slowly in case they cause runny stool.
- Always feed rabbits bananas after they have eaten their hay.
- Fruits (including bananas) should make up no more than 10% of rabbits’ diets.
- Always wash bananas thoroughly to remove wax or chemicals.