When you think about “rabbit food” you think lettuce, carrots and cucumber, right? Wrong! Unfortunately there are many malnourished domestic rabbits in the world for this exact reason – there is a huge misconception about proper rabbit nutrition, so allow us to set the record straight.
A rabbits diet should actually consist of 80% hay – this should be a fresh grass hay variety such as Oaten hay. To put this in perspective, a 2kg rabbit should be consuming an entire cat’s litter tray worth of hay DAILY.
🐇 Why so much hay?
-A rabbit’s complex digestive system means they need to constantly snack on hay to keep things moving inside, and help prevent blockages from things like fur ingested during grooming. Blockages can often be fatal so if a rabbit doesn’t eat enough hay then this can slow down their intestinal functions and cause serious problems such as Gi Stasis which if not treated quickly is fatal.
-Rabbits and guinea pigs have a strange anatomical quirk – their teeth never stop growing. For this reason, they need constant access to high quality hay to help them naturally wear their teeth down to a healthy length through the repetitive chewing. If this is not provided, they are at risk of their teeth over growing and/or developing painful dental disease.
🐇 What vegetables can they eat?
The other 15% of their diet should be made up by appropriate fresh vegetables and herbs – greenery with high nutritional value, such as Bok choy, kale, spinach, rocket, coriander, carrot tops (the green part!) celery leaves, parsley and mint, basil, watercress and cucumber. Do not feed rabbits iceberg lettuce, as this contains a chemical compound harmful to rabbits in large quantities. Having a rabbit is a great excuse to start your very own veggie/herb garden so you can produce your very own fantastic rabbit food.
🐇 What pallets should they eat
The other 5% of their diet should be made up of a good high fibre pellet mix (one tablespoon per rabbit per day). Not all rabbit pellets are made equally, just as not all cat/dog kibbles are the same quality, so it is important to research and purchase a nutritionally appropriate pellet. We recommend and use Oxbow which is available at all good pet stores.
🐇 What treats can you give rabbits?
Of course rabbits should also have some yummy treats, but this again should only make up 5% of their diet. Some great treats for rabbits are yummy fruits and colourful veggies such as banana, apples, watermelon, grapes, capsicum, fennel, carrots, sultanas and even rose petals.
🐇 What foods to avoid.
There are some big no-no foods for rabbits and seeds are one of them as they can cause problems internally. Another one is, as aforementioned, the very innocent looking iceberg lettuce, but other foods you should never feed for bunny are alliums (garlic, onion etc) peas, beans, lentils, bread, corn, tomato, avocado and rhubarb. If in doubt, research first before feeding it to your bunny. Better to be safe than sorry!
🐇 Keeping your rabbit hydrated
Rabbits, just like all pets, should have constant access to fresh, clean water. We recommend a heavy bottomed/ceramic water bowl to prevent tipping to ensure they always have water available.