As a new rabbit owner, it is very important to know what to feed your rabbit everyday. There are many myths out there that are accepted by the general population that will negatively affect your bunny’s health. If you want to do things right, make sure you know how to feed your bunny.
If you’re not 100% sure what to do, take a look at the myths involved below to make sure you don’t feed your rabbit junk food. There’s also some tips that will tell you how to correctly feed your precious pet.
Let’s get started.
Rabbit Feeding Myths
Knowing what to feed your rabbit everyday isn’t as easy as it seems. Here’s why you shouldn’t always believe everything you hear without doing your own research or asking an expert…
Myth – Rabbits eat only carrots and lettuce
Rabbits cannot survive if you feed them only carrots and lettuce, in fact, some kinds of lettuce can potentially kill your rabbit. Iceberg lettuce, for example, contains lactucarium which is a compound that can be poisonous in large amounts. Light coloured lettuce also contains a lot of water and not much else making them pointless when it comes to rabbit nutrition.
Dark, fibrous lettuce, like romaine lettuce, is much better and quite nutritious to a bunny. If you decide to feed your rabbit lettuce, make sure to introduce it slowly to avoid digestive upsets. Lettuce should also not be fed as a sole food source but mixed with other fruits and vegetables to create a balanced diet.
Carrots, on the other hand, are root vegetables. Rabbits don’t usually eat root vegetables in the wild and thus carrots should only be fed as a treat. It is also very high in sugar which may cause dental problems if consumed regularly.
Myth – Rabbits only need rabbit pellets as food
If you’re wondering what to feed your rabbit everyday, you can never go wrong with hay. A rabbit’s main diet should be hay. If you feed too many pellets, it can lead to weight gain and digestive problems. Some commercial rabbit food may also contain harmful ingredients.
Muesli should be avoided completely since it causes dental and digestive problems. Rabbits only need pellets for the vitamins and minerals they contain. Pellets and nuggets will also help with wearing down the teeth and will help a sick rabbit to gain some weight.
You cannot feed a rabbit only pellets because they are natural grazers. They need a large amount of hay in their diets to keep their digestive system functioning as it should.
Myth – Hay is only for nesting
Hay is often marketed as animal bedding. While this is true to some extend, rabbits also need it as a food source to stay healthy. Rabbits are grazers and need large amounts of fibre in their diets to stay healthy. Grass hay should be fed daily to provide this fibre and to wear down your rabbit’s teeth.
What To Feed Your Rabbit Everyday
Like you might have noticed, rabbits need more than just carrots and lettuce to stay healthy. They also have very sensitive digestive systems that don’t do well with any sudden changes. Whatever you do, don’t make any major changes to your rabbit’s diet in a short time, introduce new foods over a period of a few days or even weeks to make sure your bunny doesn’t get sick.
Hay – The Most Important Food In Your Rabbit’s Diet
Hay is a rabbit staple. Rabbits are grazers which means they consume large quantities of grass every day. Rabbits should be fed good quality grass hay like timothy hay to keep them healthy.
Hay wears down your rabbit’s continuously growing teeth, provide important vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre that keeps the digestive system healthy. Your bunny needs unlimited access to hay since it makes up around 80 to 90 percent of a healthy rabbit’s diet. Healthy rabbits will usually eat a ball of hay the size of their bodies every day.
The hay you buy should be fresh with no sign of mold and not too much dust. Hay made from legumes like Alfalfa hay also isn’t great for adult rabbits since it is too rich and contains too much protein. Alfalfa hay can occasionally be fed as a treat and it can be fed to rabbits under the age of one year as a staple to help them grow.
Hay can also be used in a litter box to encourage rabbits to use it. This will help with rabbit house training if you have a free roaming bunny.
Vegetables And Herbs
Vegetables and herbs are the second most important component in a rabbit’s diet, especially the leafy greens. Most rabbits favour leafy vegetables when given the choice. Most of the vegetables that you consume are also safe for your rabbit, with a few exceptions of course.
Baby rabbits or rabbits under the age of 6 months should not be fed any vegetables yet. At this stage, their digestive systems are still too immature to deal with the richness of some vegetables.
Adult rabbits, on the other hand, should be fed around two cups of vegetables a day depending on their size. Dwarf breeds should be fed no more than one cup of vegetables per day. It is ideal to feed a variety of two or three different vegetables every day, but keep in mind that vegetables should only make up 10 to 20 percent of your rabbit’s diet.
Make sure to introduce only one vegetable at a time. Start with a small bite-sized piece and wait 24 hours before you feed your rabbit more of this vegetable. If you see no reaction, you can feed larger quantities. To be safe, don’t introduce another vegetable until around 4 weeks have gone past with no side effects to the first vegetable you introduced. Do the same thing every time you introduce a new food.
Vegetables and herbs for daily feeding:
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Carrot tops (the leafy part)
- Romaine lettuce
- Arugula lettuce
- Butter lettuce
- Radish tops (the leafy part)
- Sprouts: alfalfa, radish, clover
Fruits, although nutritious, should not be fed to your rabbit often. They can be used as treats two or three times a week. The reason for this is that they contain a lot of sugar which will lead to dental, digestive and weight problems. Experts suggest only including around 5 to 10 percent fruits in your rabbit’s diet per week. This equates to two tablespoons per 2 kilograms (5 pounds) of body weight per serving.
Most fruits are safe for rabbits to consume if fed in the right quantities. There are some exceptions so make sure to do your research before feeding your rabbit a new fruit. You will also need to follow the same procedure of feeding a small amount and waiting for at least 24 hours to check for any negative reactions. Some rabbits can be allergic to some fruits.
Rabbit safe fruits to try:
- Apple (no seeds)
- Cherries (no seeds)
Pellets are important to make sure your rabbit gets all the minerals and vitamins it needs to stay healthy. It will also help to wear down the teeth. Pellets can potentially lead to weight gain and should thus not be overfed.
It is best to feed timothy hay-based pellets to adult rabbits since alfalfa contains too much protein for them which may lead to kidney damage. Baby rabbits under the age of one year can be fed alfalfa pellets, but only if you’re feeding grass hay. If you’re feeding alfalfa hay, keep to the timothy hay-based pellets.
Rabbits under the age of 8 months can be fed pellets free choice. Adult rabbits on the other hand should not be fed more than 25 grams (0.9 ounces) of pellets per kilogram (2 pounds) of body weight daily.
It is best to avoid pellets that contain dried corn, seeds and nuts since these ingredients may cause digestive problems.
As a quick summary, have a look at this rabbit feeding pyramid to make sure you know what to feed your rabbit everyday.
Can you feed your rabbit carrots?
Yes, but only in small amounts. Rabbits don’t usually eat root vegetables like carrots, but even they neat a sweet treat every now and then.
Can you feed your rabbit celery?
Yes, but make sure to feed the right amount and prepare it correctly. Celery has a tough string that needs to be cut for safety.
Can you feed your rabbit grass clippings?
No, the heat and crushing action of the lawnmower will cause the grass to ferment prematurely. This can cause an upset stomach in some rabbits.