The majority of rabbit vet visits are related to improper diet, so the importance of a good diet cannot be over-emphasised.
Rabbits are herbivores (vegans). Their digestive tracts are not equipped to handle anything but a plant based diet. Rabbits have a special digestive system designed to eat low energy food. Somehow they can turn dry grass and weeds into enough energy to be the vibrant active little beasts they are!
Rabbit staple diet
The main food source for your rabbits should be good quality grass or hay. Your rabbit should be allowed to eat as much of this hay as they like.
Grass and leafy green vegetables are also important and should be given daily: approximately one cup of veggies per kilo of rabbit a day.
Remember to start new foods slowly, and for leafy green veggies start from around 12 weeks of age. Hay can be provided as bedding and many owners find that using hay in the litter box helps with toilet training as bunnies often poo where they are eating. Clean fresh hay needs to be provided daily.
Some suggested veggies include:
- Beet tops
- Bok choy
- Broccoli (mostly the leaves)
- Brussel sprouts
- Carrot tops
- Endive radicchio
- Strawberry and raspberry leaves. (i.e. a small handful of the strawberry hulls)
- Radish tops
- Peppermint and other herb leaves such as parsley, mint and basil
- Many grasses and weeds. (i.e. Dandelions, most lawn grasses, dock leaves)
- Dandelion flowers and leaves
- Swiss chard
- Wheat grass
Never give iceberg lettuce, beans, corn, rhubarb, cauliflower or potato peels to your rabbit.
Rabbit sweet treats
The majority of your rabbit’s diet should be made up of hay and the vegetables listed above. However, some healthy things are great for training or just for a treat.
Some examples are apple, banana, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, carrots, mango, peach or pear. All of these should be fed in SMALL amounts.
A rabbit’s low energy food diet makes them very easy and cheap to feed, but also makes them very easy to spoil. Rabbits have a sweet tooth and will actively seek out sweet foods, including chocolate and sweet drinks. Do not feed them these!
There are lots of rabbit pellets and rabbit mixes on the market but many of these are very unhealthy, especially when fed in large amounts. We recommend using Excel or Oxbow pellets, which are much higher in fibre and do not contain grains like mixes do. Pellets help to prevent selective feeding. Even these need to be fed in limited amounts.
All diet changes MUST be done SLOWLY and we strongly recommend discussing this with one of our vets or nurses first.