Asked in Care of RabbitsRabbits and HaresRabbit Breeding & Reproduction
What should you give to a rabbit?
April 20, 2012 8:10PM
All rabbits of all ages should have an unlimited supply of timothy hay, at all times. You can also give them oat hay, grass hay (sometimes called orchard grass) and/or straw. Young rabbits will benefit from the additional nutrition of alfalfa hay, but older rabbits should have their quantity of alfalfa hay restricted as it is high in calories and calcium which can cause bladder sludge. It is good as a treat for older rabbits.
If you feed your adult rabbits pellets, you should feed it 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pellets per day for every 6 pounds of body weight. Weaned baby rabbits may be allowed unlimited timothy and alfalfa pellets to help them grow.
Quantities of fruit should be limited as they are high in sugar and calories. Contrary to popular opinion, carrots, though vegetables, are also high in sugar and should be considered more a treat food than a staple food. No more than 1-2 oz. of fruit per 6 pounds of body weight.
Vegetables can be introduced around the 12th week of age, and should be tested one at a time to see how well your rabbit likes them and whether your rabbit has an adverse reaction to each one. There is a suggested veggie list at the House Rabbit Society website. There are some plants that are poisonous to rabbits which should be avoided. (See links below.)
If your rabbit gets bloated or gassy, or seems lethargic after eating pellets, you may want to remove them from its diet or try a different brand. Some rabbits do not do well with pellets, and for them you might want to avoid pellets entirely. If you remove pellets from your rabbit's diet, you will need to compensate by making sure it eats as much hay as possible. Increased vegetable intake is another option, though your rabbit should be monitored to make sure that the increase isn't detrimental to its well-being.
One last tip: Encourage your rabbit to eat as much hay as it wants by giving it fresh hay several times a day.
The bulk of your rabbit's diet should be timothy hay (alfalfa or too much pellet food can cause obesity, so watch out). Pellets should be fed sparingly to adult rabbits, about 1/8 cup per 5 lbs, because they are so high in protein and calories that they can cause obesity and other health and digestive problems. You should also give your adult rabbit about 4 cups of fresh veggies a day, but introduce new foods one at a time in case they cause diarrhea. Don't over do it on the treats (fruits included! they are very high in sugar); in fact, a lot of "rabbit treats," like yogurt drops, are not good for rabbits at all. For a list of good and bad rabbit foods, see links below.
Aside from food, you should give your rabbit:
- A safe and comfortable home - like a large cage or exercise pen with everything the rabbit needs inside
- A safe place to run around, exercise, play, and socialise outside the cage every day
- Lots of love and attention: rabbits are social animals
- Medical and health care! Start at home with daily observations (appearance, behaviour), monthly physical exams, and regular grooming. Bring your bunny to the vet once a year or so, and whenever you notice something is wrong
See the related questions below for more information and helpful links!