Just about anyone who has a pet rabbit knows that rabbits go crazy for their favorite treat, whether that be small piece of banana or a crispy, crunchy bunny cookie. The higher the caloric content it seems, the more that they crave it.
It reminds me of a two year old human child once they discover sweets. The classic childhood raiding of the cookie jar may just be part of growing up, but for a rabbit it is a part of their genetic make-up.
When rabbits were still wild creatures living in nature, the bunny who ate the most calories the quickest was the one who was also back to safety inside the burrow the fastest. Over time, natural selection or evolution coded that trait directly into a rabbit’s genes.
While you may think that your bunny is the only bunny who is absolutely in need of a 12 step program for his banana habits, actually it is inherent to the species. The key thing to remember is that given a choice, virtually all bunnies will chose the highest calorie food available to them at the time.
To explain in detail, if given a choice between pellets and hay, most bunnies will chose pellets. If given the choice between fruit and pellets, most bunnies will select fruit, first. Bunnies are fairly predictable that way and it is what makes a rabbit a rabbit.
What you need to know is that, just like raising a child, you cannot allow them to make important choices for themselves such as about their diet. We know that if given a choice between a breakfast of oatmeal or ice cream that virtually all children will choose the sweet treat. Bunnies are hard-wired to be the same way.
This is why as a bunny-savvy owner, we must make the correct choices for them and it is better to never introduce some of the sweeter treats such as fruit or sugary treats. A treat CAN be as simple as a sprig of fresh parsley or dill or even basil. I try and find healthy treat alternatives for my bunnies such as willow wreathes with the leaves attached, fresh apple sticks with leaves when possible, timothy hay cubes, treats where the main ingredient is hay, not flour and anything fresh from my garden including roses, leaves, stems, thorns and all.
My bunnies used to get some fruit every day, but since I took it away from them years ago, they have not missed it. They did for a few months but now they beg for different treats that I don’t feel so guilty giving them.
Rabbits are expert beggars, so whatever you do, don’t fall into the “treat trap”. They will learn how to make you squeal with delight as they push your “buttons” to get another treat. All kinds of special postures and dances will be done for your benefit to get that next one and mine do this all day long. If you cave in every time they do a dance, soon they will be dancing all day long and slowly gaining weight. Pretty soon, they learn how to get those treats without the dance and just guilt us into giving them.
What most folks forget is that the life expectancy of an overweight rabbit is dramatically lower than a slim and trim one. They hefty bunny will end up in the vet office constantly for GI stasis issues and worse. It is so important to keep your bunny trim and healthy. If you truly love him or her, you will deeply consider what I am telling you. Less is more when it comes to loving your bunny.