Rabbits are herbivores and their digestive system is designed to graze on plant material all day, rather than eating ‘meals’ as we do. Rabbits have a very complex digestive system and therefore very specific dietary requirements. If new foods are introduced too soon, or in the wrong quantities, your pet rabbit’s health could suffer.
What Can Rabbits Eat?
A rabbit’s diet should mostly consist of hay (of fresh grass), some dark leafy greens and a controlled amount of pellets and other vegetables. It is important to ensure that grass hay constitutes a major part of your rabbit’s diet, as the fibre in hay helps keep their teeth and guts healthy. Typically, it is recommended that 85% of a rabbit’s diet is hay, with dark leafy greens making up 10% and pellets only 5% of the food they eat each day. The kind of hay your rabbit should have also depends on their age. Young rabbits can have a high protein and calcium diet with a free choice of alfafa pellets as well as alfafa hay. Alfalfa hay would not be recommended for adult rabbits however, as it can lead to obesity, so change to a regular grass hay at approximately 7 months old.
Pellet intake should be strictly controlled according to your pet rabbits body weight. An approximate recommendation is in between 1/8 cup to ¼ cup per 2.25 kgs of your rabbit’s body weight. Pellets are usually a rabbit’s favourite food, and it is important to control the amount given to avoid serious symptoms such as obesity, soft stools, fly strike, bacterial imbalance and dental problems. It is also very important to feed complete pellets instead of ‘museli’ type rabbit foods. Rabbits will typically eat only the tastiest parts of museli food and leave the rest, making it hard to ensure your bunny gets all the vitamins and minerals they need.
Dark leafy greens should be given to your rabbit every day and include a variety of different plants and herbs. Bok choy, beet greens, carrot tops, cilantro, watercress, basil and broccoli greens are all excellent choices. Head lettuce and iceberg lettuce are low nutrient, high water content vegetables and should be avoided. Vegetables that are high in carbohydrates such as carrots, and fruits like apple and strawberry should by considered as ‘treats’ and only fed infrequently in very small amounts.
Frequency Of Feeding Your Pet Rabbit
Rabbits should always have good quality hay available as they are grazers. Your rabbit should also always have access to fresh water.
What Treats Can My Rabbit Have?
Before trying any other foods, make sure you check with us about what kind of treats your rabbit can have. High calorie treats can lead to your rabbit being obese. Grains, seeds, bread, cookies are all not recommended for your pet rabbit. The high sugar content in fruits means they must be fed in limited quantities and not as part of your rabbit’s daily diet.
What Arrangements Are Required For A Rabbit’s Water Intake?
As advised above, fresh water should always be available to your rabbit. It has been shown that rabbits drink better, and drink a higher volume of water, from a regular shallow bowl compared to a water bottle. It is generally recommended that both a water bottle AND water bowl are provided so that your bunny always has water available and has an alternative water source should one become dirty or empty. Both bottles and bowls require changing daily and maintaining to a high level of hygiene.
Rabbits have a natural urge to chew and it’s good to support this with chew toys and safe options such as hard wooden sticks, blocks and cardboard. Please be aware that rabbits will chew everything in their path, so it is essential both your home and garden are ‘bunny proof’ to ensure they don’t accidentally chew through electrical cables, phone chargers and furniture!
Your Rabbit’s Droppings
Keep an eye on your pet rabbit’s droppings. These are a good indicator of the overall health of your rabbit. Droppings should be small, firm, round pellets and there should be no ‘sticky’ stools either stuck near your rabbit’s bottom or seen around their environment. If this is noticed, please contact your vet immediately.
For any other information or further help you can always get in touch with Amity Vet on WhatsApp or through our website. Amity Vet is rated as one of the best vet clinics in Dubai & Barsha and we strive to provide excellent care to every rabbit we see.