Feed your bunny
(305) 666- BUNN
by Susan Horton, DVM
What should I feed my bunny?
Plenty of exercise and a proper diet will
help keep your rabbit happy and healthy for life!
A rabbit is a lagomorph, not a rodent. His or her digestive
tract is physiologically more similar to that of a horse than to
any other animal. Here
are the most important dietary items.
Click here to see what
healthy stool looks like
as Timothy or Orchard grass
The single most
important item of the rabbit diet is grass hay and it should be
fed in unlimited quantities to both adults and baby rabbits.
This is because a rabbit fed only commercial rabbit
pellets does not get enough fiber to keep the digestive tract
(intestine, cecum, colon) in good working order.
The fibers in the hay ensure good gut motility.
They also aid in cecal digestion by maintaining a good
cecal pH and providing surface area for the cecal bacteria to
attach to. This
helps prevent intestinal impactions, which are actually a
symptom of slowed gut motility.
This condition is known as GI stasis (ileus).
It is very common in poorly fed rabbits, and can be
life-threatening if left untreated!
It also serves as forage material to prevent boredom and
behavioral problems such as fur chewing.
Dental exercise and optimal dental wear are provided by
good grass hay diets.
When we say
pellets, we mean pellets – NOT those dangerous
seed/nut/pellet/fruit “gourmet” and “treat” mix products
which can eventually KILL YOUR RABBIT.
A food quality rabbit pellet should have at least 20%
crude fiber, no more than 14% protein, and no more than 2% fat.
Check the label on the rabbit pellets before you buy.
Baby rabbits should be fed unlimited pellet, but by the
age of eight months, feed no more than ¼ cup per day for every
five pounds of rabbit to avoid obesity and avoidance of hay.
For adult rabbits, we recommend a timothy hay based
These are as
important as hay in maintaining a healthy intestine.
Try Romaine lettuce, parsley, carrots (with tops!), endive,
escarole, dill, basil, mint, cilantro, cilantro, tomato, and any
other dark green leafy herb that appeals to you and you bunny.
Experiment and see which types your rabbit likes best!
Baby rabbits should start receiving greens very gradually
at the age of about three months.
Add one item at a time, and if you see no intestinal upset,
add another. A
five pound adult rabbit should receive at least four heaping
cups of fresh, varied vegetables per day.
Serving them wet adds important liquid to the diet, which
helps keep intestinal contents well hydrated and moving easily.
- FRESH FRUIT
considered treats, and should be fed in very limited quantities
(no more than one tablespoons a day for a five pound
rabbit!). Good choices are apple, apricot, banana (rare
treat!), cherries, mango, peach, plum, papaya, pineapple, berries…just
about any fruit you would like is okay for your bunny. Just
don’t overdo it, as this can cause an imbalance of the cecal
flora and runny stool.
OF FRESH, CLEAN WATER
This may be the
most important, yet most commonly overlooked item in the rabbit’s
diet. Keeping the intestinal contents well hydrated ensures
that they do not become impacted, and helps the intestinal muscles
push food through at a healthy rate. A rabbit can drink from
a sipper bottle, but will usually drink more if offered water in a
heavy ceramic crock. Be sure to wash and change the bowl
…but don’t feed these potentially dangerous treats!
NEVER feed your
rabbit commercial “gourmet” or “treat” mixes filled with
dried fruit nuts and seeds. These may be safe for a bird or
hamster ---BUT THEY ARE NOT PROPER FOODS FOR A RABBIT!!!
Unlike a human or a rodent (rat or hamster), a rabbit is a
strict herbivore. The
high fat and simple carbohydrate content of these “gourmet”
products will give your rabbit fatty liver disease and can
contribute to severe intestinal disorders.
The sole function is to lighten your wallet:
the manufacturers of these terrible products have no
knowledge about or interest in your rabbit’s health and
longevity. Don’t be
iceberg lettuce, cruciferous vegetables, cookies, crackers, nuts,
seeds, sugary snacks, breakfast cereals, (including oatmeal or any
other “high fiber” cereal – they are not high fiber to a
rabbit!) or other
starchy snacks. These
promote obesity and liver disease.
Love your companion rabbit.
Feed her a proper diet and she will reward you with good
health and love.
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