Diet is an essential part of pet rabbit care. Rabbits need variety in their diet to get a range of nutrients plus to keep them interested throughout the day. So, what do rabbits eat?
Let’s start with the basics:
- Rabbits are herbivores which mean they only eat plants.
- Bunnies have delicate stomachs and need time to get used to food. Introduce new foods slowly and watch for any changes to her poops, particularly diarrhea which is an indication of an upset stomach.
- All animals must have a constant supply of fresh water. Fresh means changed daily!
70% : Hay – the foundation of your rabbit’s diet.
Hay is a key source of fibre and roughage and needs to be available to your rabbit to munch throughout the day. 70% of your rabbit’s diet should be made up of hay. But why is it so key?
- Hay is vital for keeping the digestive system working. This is particularly good for long haired rabbits such as Angora who need the additional roughage to ensure loose ingested hair is passed through their system.
- Chomping on hay is a pleasurable activity for your rabbit and can help to relieve boredom during the day.
- Chewing hay stalks naturally wears down your rabbit’s teeth which is essential as they grown continuously.
- It isn’t fattening so it’s an ideal food for overweight rabbits.
- Hay helps with the fermentation process in the rabbit’s stomach so helps to grow the good bacteria a rabbit needs
25% : Green Veges
The next 25% of your rabbit’s daily diet should be made up of 1-3 cupfuls (roughly 1 cup per 3 pounds) of greens and vegetables such as carrot tops, celery, cilantro/coriander, dandelion leaves and flowers, green peppers, kale (samll amounts), parsley, spinach, watercress, beet greens, green peppers and dark leafed lettuce.
The key here is variety. Think about how you feed your own family. With your bun, a good rule of thumb is to feed at least 3 different types of greens per day (more if you can) so that your rabbit gets a range of nutrients.
Some greens/vegetables are definitely no-no such as: raw potatoes, leeks, eggplant, beans, cabbage, tomato leaves, green tomatoes and rhubarb.
5% : Sometimes treats
There are certain foods that your bunny should only have in moderation such as foods that are high in natural sugars such as carrots, apples (no pips), melons, kiwifruit, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries etc. Feed as treats (no more than 5% of daily diet) and remember that a bunny-sized portion is about one tablespoon.
Big no-nos are anything processed such as cakes, sweets, chocolate. Rabbits simply do not need human treats and some can be downright dangerous to them.
So, Where Do Pellets Fit In?
Many, if not most, rabbit owners prefer to feed their rabbits with commercial pellets however there is a move back to feeding a more natural diet, one that your bunny would have in the wild.
In the end the decision is yours. It’s really up to you what you feel works best for you and your rabbit.