What should I feed my rabbit?
If you’ve ever watched cartoons, rabbits are well-known for chewing on piles of carrots. However, in real life, a rabbit’s diet is a lot more complicated than that and feeding it the wrong type of food can lead to health problems in the future.
Here are some hints and tips as to what you should feed your rabbit, and how to spot a potential diet issue before it becomes serious.
Feed your rabbit little and often
Rabbits only have small stomachs, so it is best to feed them small portions of food more frequently. This helps them to process the food that they eat more efficiently.
Don’t forget the fibre!
Fibre is especially vital to rabbits as it helps maintain a healthy and efficient digestive tract and helps wear down their teeth, so they do not become overgrown.
Help! My rabbit is eating its poo!
Don’t worry if you see your rabbit doing this; it’s perfectly normal!
When a rabbit eats digestible fibre, it is fermented in the body and formed into a sticky ‘caecotroph’. Fermenting food in the rabbit’s body makes the nutrients more accessible, so when the rabbit excretes the caecotroph and eats it again, it gets a nutrient boost.
Rabbits can be fussy eaters
Did you know that rabbits can have a sweet tooth? This means that if you feed them mixed food, they might pick out their favourite things and leave the rest.
This can lead to an unbalanced diet, so if you notice that your rabbit turns their nose up at specific types of food, try and tempt them with different things.
Keep an eye on your rabbit’s droppings
While digestible fibre is fermented and re-eaten, indigestible fibre passes through the digestive system and is excreted as droppings.
Droppings from a healthy rabbit with a balanced diet will be round and hard but keep an eye out in case things change, as this could signify a health issue.
So, what should I feed my rabbit?
Here are some of the best foods to feed your rabbit and ensure they have a healthy, balanced diet.
- Hay and grass – these are a great source of fibre for your bunny friend
- Fresh greens – fresh greens are a great source of fibre and vitamins for your rabbit. We recommend celery, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, watercress, kale and turnips
- Rabbit food – specially formulated rabbit food gives your rabbit the vitamins and nutrients they need at their stage of life. For example, older adult rabbits have different needs to baby rabbits
- Fruit and carrots – fruit (such as apples) and pieces of carrot are great treats for your rabbit, but as they are high in sugar they should only be given occasionally
- Dandelion heads and leaves – for a healthy urinary tract
- Marigolds – help keep your rabbit’s immune system in check
- Fresh water – provide fresh, clean water every day, and top up frequently, especially in hot weather
What should I not feed my rabbit?
There are a lot of things you should not feed your rabbit, including cucumber, potatoes, rhubarb, beans and apple pips.
This is not an exhaustive list, so we would recommend seeking advice from your vet before making any changes to your rabbit’s diet.
Do you need further pet advice?
If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.