What to Feed Your Rabbit – Diet Tips
5 August, 2014
Hay needs to be available at all times
Your rabbit should have a generous amount of hay available at all times. It’s nutritious and a necessary source of fiber. Hay encourages good potty habits and digestion. Commonly found hays are timothy, oat, oat/barley, and alfalfa. Alfalfa is good for growing rabbits up to one year’s old, but is too high in calcium and fats for adult rabbits. You can often find fresher and cheaper hay at a feed and tack store that carries it by the bale. Keep it cool and dry in a trash can or storage container stored where it won’t get wet or moldy. Never feed moldy hay to a rabbit, it can sicken them and even cause death. (Don’t worry, your rabbit is smart enough not to eat where he has soiled, but be sure to clean up that hay daily).
Rabbit pellets are the basic staple of your rabbit’s diet
Try to buy fresh pellets without too many combinations of corn, nuts and seeds. Rabbits aren’t built to process the high doses of fats and proteins contained in these mixes. These foods lack the proper nutrients needed by your rabbit and can cause serious health problems resulting in obesity, compromised organ function and ultimately a shortened lifespan. It’s the health equivalent of raising your child on a diet of nothing but fast food and you would never want to do that!
Fresh greens – yes, just like us humans
A daily serving of fresh veggies can aid to the diet and digestion of our rabbits. Always rinse produce before feeding as you would for yourself. Start by feeding only one small serving of each veggie at a time, adding more over a period of weeks. This will not only lessen the chances of loose stools from the introduction of fresh food to the diet, but will also tell you what your rabbit prefers and what might upset his tummy.
The current guidelines to feed your rabbit recommend three different veggies per day, alternating combinations weekly to ensure a good coverage of vitamins. Opinions differ on carrots and fruits as they contain a lot of sugar. Do not feed them iceberg or other light-leaf lettuce, potato or potato peels, rhubarb, raw beans or corn. Just think of this way: if you wouldn’t eat the food, than you shouldn’t feed it to your rabbit.
Water is essential in your rabbit’s diet
Always have clean, cool fresh water available for your rabbit. Use a heavy crock or a sipper bottle or both. Don’t allow your rabbit to drink water with algae in it. Check the sipper bottle each time you refill it to make sure it’s delivering fresh water properly.
Fruit can be fed to your rabbit in moderation
You can feed your rabbit the following fruit, but only in moderation: banana, mango, pineapple, peaches, apples, cherries, cantaloupe, berries, oranges and other citrus fruits, and papaya. Obviously, no seeds or pits that will be difficult for your rabbit to digest.
Treats for your rabbits
Most treats sold for rabbits are largely sugar based treats that should be avoided. Try sticking to dried fruits that don’t have the extra sugar or fillers.
Each rabbit is different and will tolerate some food more than others. Start with the basics and you can then experiment with a little fruit and dark vegetables daily to see how it suits your rabbit’s digestion. As always, if you have a question regarding your rabbit’s diet, make sure to contact your veterinarian.