Feeding Rabbits

Rabbit Diet

There are multiple ways to feed rabbits, and what each rabbit needs depends on the size of the rabbit, the purpose of the rabbit, the activity level of the rabbit, the age of the rabbit, the condition of the rabbit – and, well, you get the idea.

As a result, I can’t say – “feed your rabbit this and all will be well.”

What I can say is that there are multiple ways to feed rabbits, and you should experiment and figure out what works for your situation.

The easiest way to feed rabbits is to use commercial rabbit pellets.  Plan on 1 ounce of pellets per pound of rabbit.  In other words, an 8 lb rabbit (non pregnant and non lactating rabbit) would eat 8 oz of pellets.  If you are concerned about GMO and non-organic feed, it is possible to find organic rabbit pellets, but they are expensive, and not readily available everywhere.

If you want to avoid using rabbit pellets, it is possible to feed a pellet free diet.  The basis of the diet should be timothy hay.  Rabbits are lagomorphs (not rodents as many people think) and their guts require the fiber in grass in order to function properly.  If you can’t find timothy hay, you can use other kinds of grass hay.  You should feed small amounts of alfalfa hay if you are not using pellets – but do not feed primarily alfalfa hay because it is too high in protein.  Pregnant and lactating does have higher protein needs and can have more alfalfa hay.

In addition to the hay, you need to feed fresh vegetables.

The following information is primarily from Susan Brown, DMV

You should plan a cup of packed mixed leafy greens per 2 pounds of body weight.

Rabbits are sensitive to oaxilic acid and some leafy greens contain moderate to high amounts of that substance.  The following greens have oaxilic acid, and not more than one type of these should be offered in a day.

  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Mustard greens
  • Beet greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Radish tops
  • Sprouts


The following greens can be fed without limitations:

  • Arugula
  • Carrot tops
  • Cucumber leaves
  • Endive
  • Ecarole
  • Frisee Lettuce
  • Kale (all types)
  • Mache
  • Red or green lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Turnip greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Mint (any variety)
  • Basil (any variety)
  • Watercress
  • Wheatgrass
  • Chicory
  • Raspberry leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Radicchio
  • Bok Choy
  • Fennel (the leafy tops as well as the base)
  • Borage leaves
  • Dill leaves
  • Yu choy


You also want to feed about a tablespoon per pound of body weight of non leafy green vegetables that are rabbit safe:

 

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli (leaves and stems)
  • Edible flowers (roses, nasturtiums, pansies, hibiscus)
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers (any color)
  • Chinese pea pods (the flat kind without large peas)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage (any type)
  • Broccolini
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini squash


Some people also feed their rabbits fruit every day.  That is probably okay, but rabbits have serious sweet tooths, so don’t over feed fruit.  They are high in sugars that can upset the bacterial balance in a rabbit’s digestive system and cause bloating and other problems.  Safe fruits are:

 

  • Apple (any variety)
  • Cherries (any variety)
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Berries (any type)
  • Berries (uncooked)
  • Pineapple (remove skin)
  • Banana (remove peel; no more then about 2 1/8 inch slices a day for a 5 lb rabbit…they LOVE this!)
  • Melons (any – can include peel and seeds)
  • Star Fruit
  • Apricot
  • Currants
  • Nectarine


In addition to the above I suggest offering a salt lick – if your rabbit doesn’t need it, she won’t use it.  We also give papaya enzyme tablets to all our rabbits every other day.  We call these bunny candies – they love them, and the papaya helps the bunnies to avoid wool block, which is roughly analogous to hair balls in cats.  And, we offer sunflower seeds to pregnant and lactating does in order to increase the amount of fat in their diets.

Never feed un-sprouted grains, yard clippings which have  been chemically treated, or any yard plant that you don’t absolutely know is safe for rabbits.

 

Leave a Reply