Feeding Your Pet Rabbits

Just as with any other pet, feeding your rabbits the right food is important for their health. There are many different types of food that you can feed your rabbits, but not all of them are good for them. In this article, we will discuss what types of food are good for your pet rabbits and what foods to avoid.

What Should I Feed My Pet Rabbit?

Rabbits’ daily diets should consist mostly of hay, with a little number of fresh vegetables and a few pellets. Pellets are meant to be fed in moderation only.

Hay should make up the largest part of your pet rabbit’s diet. The hay will help provide lots of fiber that is important for your rabbit’s digestive system. Their teeth continually grow throughout their lives, so they need something hard enough to wear them down. Hay also helps keep their digestive systems running smoothly.

Fresh vegetables are also a good source of nutrients for your pet rabbits but should make up only about one-third to one-half of their diets. Some good choices include leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard), carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers. It is important to only give your rabbit a small amount of these vegetables each day,

Pellets provide a good source of nutrients, including protein and nutrients such as vitamins. However, they should only be given as a supplement and not as a meal. Pellets can become lodged in your rabbit’s throat, resulting in serious health problems.

The bulk of rabbits’ meals should consist of high-quality hay and/or grass that is constantly accessible. If using pellets, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Larger amounts may be required for growing/pregnant/nursing/underweight rabbits.

Avoid muesli-style meals since they have been linked to health issues. The same applies to homemade diets, which may not have the right nutritional balance.

Hay

Hay accounts for 80 to 90 percent of a rabbit’s diet and would be found at the bottom of a rabbit food pyramid. Hay should be the mainstay of a diet for any rabbit and is necessary to keep their teeth trim. The most important factor in hay is that it be Timothy hay, as opposed to alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay has more protein and calcium, which can lead to obesity and other health problems in rabbits.

Rabbits, like grazing animals, need an endless supply of new hay on a daily basis. A shortage of hay can cause serious health problems, so it is important to always have plenty available.

Baby rabbits should be started on alfalfa hay and introduced to grass hays by 6 to 7 months, with alfalfa being progressively reduced until the rabbit is completely on grass hays by 1 year.

Vegetables

The second tier of a rabbit food pyramid would be vegetables, which should make up about 10 percent of their diet. Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet for rabbits and should be offered in small quantities every day.

Most supermarket greens are okay for rabbits, but there are several exceptions and limits. Some greens are high in calcium, which can lead to bladder stones. These include spinach and collard greens.

Other vegetables that contain significant amounts of oxalic acid should be fed sparingly or not at all, since oxalic acid binds with calcium to create an insoluble salt, resulting in bladder problems. These include beet greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale.

Some vegetables are high in sugar and should only be given in very small quantities, including carrots, corn, and peas.

Rabbits have such fragile digestive systems, so it’s important to introduce new vegetables one at a time and monitor for any indications of loose stool or diarrhea. Some veggies may be fed daily, while others should only be given once or twice a week at the most, depending on the age of the pet.

Pellets

Timothy hay pellets can be given to bunnies in small quantities. The pellets should not be the main part of the diet, but they are a good source of nutrients, including protein and vitamins. The pellets should only be given as a supplement and not as a meal. Pellets can become lodged in your rabbit’s throat, resulting in serious health problems.

An average-sized (6-10 pounds) adult rabbit only needs a one-quarter cup of pellets daily. Larger rabbits may need a half cup, and smaller rabbits should get only a quarter cup.

If your bunny refuses to eat hay or grass, pellets may be the next best thing. A lack of hay and grass is one of the biggest factors in the development of health problems for pet rabbits.

Alfalfa pellets may be offered to rabbits under the age of one year.  After that, they should be switched over to Timothy’s hay pellets. Choose pellets with a high fiber content; the greater the fiber content, the better. Do not purchase rabbit pellets that include dried maize, nuts, or seeds, since these foods may be very dangerous to rabbits.

Fruit

Your rabbit should be fed fruit at least once or twice a week. It is important not to overfeed fruit, however, as it can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Feed your rabbit small pieces of fruit that are low in sugar, including apple, banana, blackberry, blueberry, cantaloupe, cherry, grape, honeydew, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, nectarine, peach, pear, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry.

Do not give your rabbit grapes or raisins; these can be lethal.

The appropriate serving is one to two tablespoons of fruit (either one kind or a mixture) per five pounds of body weight. A 10-pound rabbit should get no more than two tablespoons of fruit per day.

Fruit should be introduced one at a time, much like veggies. Monitor your rabbit for any signs of loose stool or diarrhea after introducing a new fruit.

Can I Offer My Rabbit Treats?

Many rabbits, like many humans, like sweets. Treats are high on the food pyramid for rabbits and should be provided sparingly.

Look for treats that contain no sugar or seeds. These include cheerios, graham crackers (plain), carrots (no seed coating), and small pieces of fruit without sugar added (grapes are too sugary).

Small bits of fresh or freeze-dried fruit, natural, unprocessed blends of hay and dried flowers, and specially made rabbit treats are all good choices for treats.

The appropriate serving size for a treat is one or two pieces per day. Never offer your rabbit snacks that have extra sugar, preservatives, or artificial colors. These can be harmful to your rabbit’s health.

Foods to Avoid Giving a Rabbit

While many fruits and vegetables are acceptable and healthful to serve in moderation to rabbits, some may be deadly. Do not feed your rabbits any of the following foods:

Avocado may cause fatal heart failure; has a high-fat content and can lead to other health problems.

Alcohol, even in small amounts could be harmful or fatal.

Anything high in salt or fat. Rabbits should not eat any kind of junk food at all!

There are a number of foods that you should never give your rabbit, including chocolate, bread, rice, pasta, and any processed or sugary food.

Foods of the onion family, such as leeks, chives, and onions, should be avoided since they may induce blood irregularities. 

Feeding your rabbit treats with seeds, nuts, or dried fruit can lead to intestinal blockages, which are potentially fatal.

Foods that are acidic should be avoided. This includes foods like soda and citrus fruits.

Avoid eating light-colored lettuce, such as iceberg, since it contains lactucarium, which may be hazardous to your rabbit if consumed.

Avoid feeding your rabbit food that contains dyes, preservatives, artificial flavoring, or sugar.

How Many Times Does a Rabbit Need to Be Fed a Day?

A healthy adult rabbit can be fed one cup of pellets per day. This should be supplemented with unlimited hay and two to four cups of vegetables daily. A small amount of fruit (one to two tablespoons per five pounds of body weight) can also be given daily. Treats should only be given once or twice a day, in very small amounts. Remember, too many treats lead to obesity and other serious health problems.

What to Do If Your Rabbit Isn’t Eating?

There are a number of things you can try to get them interested in their food again.

– Try different types of hay. Some rabbits may not like Timothy hay, so go with something different, such as alfalfa or oat.

– If your rabbit is not eating plain pellets, try mixing some fresh fruit or vegetables in with them or offer larger pieces of hay to eat first.

– Offer treats that are wholesome; natural dried fruits and veggies are good choices for your rabbit.

If your rabbit is not eating, you should take him or her to the vet immediately. A dietary problem could be an underlying health issue.

FAQ

Can bunnies go a day without food?

Yes, but it is not recommended. Your bunny needs to eat hay and pellets daily.


How much pellets should you feed a rabbit a day?

One cup per day is the recommended amount.


Can you give a rabbit watermelon?

No, watermelon is high in sugar and not good for rabbits. Stick to healthy treats like fresh or freeze-dried fruit.


Can you overfeed a rabbit pellets?

Yes, too many pellets can cause obesity and other health problems. Stick to a one-cup serving for a healthy, adult rabbit.


When should you feed rabbits?

A rabbit should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and again later in the evening.


Do rabbits stop eating when they are full?

Rabbits can eat until they burst; there is no off switch. They should be fed the appropriate amount of food and hay for their age and weight.


What kind of lettuce can I give my rabbit?

Only dark, leafy greens like Romaine or Bibb lettuce should be given to rabbits. Iceberg lettuce is high in lactucarium, which can be harmful to rabbits.


Can I give my rabbit a piece of candy?

No, do not give your rabbit any kind of junk food. Only healthy treats should be given in very small amounts.


Can rabbits eat broccoli?

Yes, dark leafy greens like broccoli and carrots are high in nutrients and make a great treat. Make sure it’s fresh and not drenched in pesticides.