What to Feed Your Rabbit – Vegetables and Hay to Start!
4 March, 2015
If you have just adopted or brought a rabbit into your home, you will need to find the right cage, a good quiet spot for your rabbit and the correct diet. Rabbits are herbivores, so the majority of their diet should be composed of grass hay, which is rich in Vitamins A & D as well as calcium, protein and other nutrients. Hay promotes health and should be available at all times. Additionally, pelleted rabbit food and a variety of dark green leafy vegetables are an important part of your rabbit’s complete and balanced diet.
Daily water is a must for our rabbits
Fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water must be constantly available, especially during warmer weather, as rabbits are susceptible to heat stroke. Depending on the size of your rabbit, water intake should be about 10 ounces daily. Rinse your rabbit’s water bottle out daily and clean with hot water and a bottle brush weekly.
The recommended food for your rabbits are the following:
1. Hay is the most important for your rabbit
Rabbits require hay which has the specific fiber to aid in digestion and hay must be available at all times. Chewing on hay also helps to wear down your rabbit’s teeth, which grow continuously. Always purchase fresh, high-quality, clean hay that is dry, sweet-smelling and free of mold. There are different types of grass hay mixtures to choose from, depending on your rabbit’s age and specific needs. Timothy hay is a great high-quality choice for adult rabbits, while a high-quality alfalfa blend is ideal for rabbits under seven months of age.
2. Pellets provide balanced nutrition for your rabbit
Commercial rabbit food is specially formulated to provide balanced nutrition with the ideal dosage of essential nutrients, including much-needed fiber. Choose pelleted food that is fresh and has been veterinarian-tested and approved, and follow the feeding instructions on the packaging as a guide. Consult your veterinarian if you have a baby rabbit or a senior rabbit, as they have unique needs.
3. Fresh vegetables are a good addition to your rabbit’s diet
Provide your rabbit with a variety of dark green leafy vegetables and herbs—such as kale, turnip greens, arugula, carrot tops, romaine lettuce, parsley, and collard greens. Many vegetables are ideal for your rabbit, however, some should only be provided occasionally and some should be avoided. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine which vegetables you should feed your rabbit. Wash all produce thoroughly to remove dirt and traces of harmful pesticides. In addition, it’s important to discard produce that has not been eaten within several hours.
4. Fruits are treats and should be given to your rabbit on a minimal basis
Fruits should be given to your rabbits on a minimal basis since they are higher in sugar. Small, bite-sized portions (minus the seeds or pits) served occasionally will delight your rabbit. Choose from apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, bananas, kiwis, apricots, papayas, plums, raspberries and peaches. Again, thoroughly wash all fruits before serving them to your rabbit, and avoid serving produce cold.
5. Treats also should be given as only a small portion of your rabbit’s diet
Treats (including fruit) should not exceed 10 percent of your rabbit’s total diet. Bite-sized pieces of fresh vegetables such as bell peppers, pumpkin or zucchini squash can be served as a treat. There are all kinds of healthy, all-natural treats made especially for rabbits to nibble on and enjoy.
6. Chews help your rabbit’s teeth
Since your rabbit’s teeth grow continuously, you should also provide a variety of fun chews, including sticks, toys, balls, blocks and treats that are made for rabbits and other small animals. These toys and treats are fun for your rabbit to chew on and encourage his natural foraging instincts. They also help to relieve boredom while preventing overgrowth of teeth. Another treat option is a small animal salt lick, which is a rich source of healthy minerals and is a healthy way to satisfy your rabbit’s desire for salt.
Foods to avoid feeding your rabbit
The foods to avoid feeding your rabbit include chocolate, iceberg lettuce (due to its low nutritional content), beans, rhubarb, fresh corn, potatoes, dairy products, bread and meat. You should never offer your rabbit any plants, flowers or grass from your yard or garden as they may contain pesticides or other hazards; many houseplants are toxic, so always supervise your little pet when he’s out of his habitat.
As always, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your rabbit is getting the proper nutrition needed for a long, healthy life. With proper care and diet, your rabbit will thrive and can live up to ten years old. Of course, a daily dose of exercise is important for your rabbit and he or she should not be cooped up in cage all day.