Food For Rabbits

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A good diet is important for rabbit health and well-being, as is providing a nutritious diet that meets the individual needs of your rabbits. Here at Rabbit Food Direct we have worked tirelessly to create the perfect rabbit food; high in fibre, low in protein and with no added sugar or salt. You can expect to find a variety of flavours with not only hay content but also fruit and vegetables such as carrots, apples & blueberries, all natural ingredients that are beneficial for the health of your rabbits. Shop our range today!

Food For Rabbits

Cupid the white rabbit eating some lettuce

What should pet bunnies eat? Contrary to popular belief, rabbits need to eat more than just carrots and lettuce. They require a balanced diet of hay, fresh veggies and fruit, and a few pellets. Rabbits have very sensitive digestive tracts, so the transition to hay or pellets, or the introduction of new fruits and vegetables, must be done gradually to allow the rabbit’s system to adjust.

Hay: The staple of a rabbit’s diet

The bottom of a rabbit food pyramid would contain long-stemmed fiber, in the form of hay, which makes up 80 to 90 percent of a rabbit’s diet. As grazing animals, rabbits need to have an unlimited supply of fresh hay daily.

You’ll want to feed your rabbit grass hays. Good types of grass hay for bunnies are timothy, orchard grass, brome and oat hay. You can feed your bunnies either one type or a mixture of different grass hays. Buy the freshest hay possible and check for the presence of mold or dust, which could make your rabbit sick.

Alfalfa hay is not a good choice for an adult rabbit, since it’s a legume, not a grass, and as such is too rich to be fed on a daily basis. Alfalfa can be given to rabbits once in awhile as a treat. Rabbits under one year of age can be fed alfalfa hay, but as they get older they should be switched to grass hay, especially if they are also being fed alfalfa pellets.

Pellets: Feed a bunny small quantities

Timothy hay pellets can be given to bunnies in small quantities. An average-sized (6-10 pounds) adult rabbit only needs one-quarter cup of pellets daily. If your rabbit is under five pounds, feed just one-eighth of a cup. Rabbits larger than 10 pounds do not need more than a quarter of a cup, since it’s not a crucial part of a bunny’s diet.

Rabbits under one year old can be fed alfalfa pellets. Be sure to feed grass hay (rather than alfalfa) if you are feeding your young rabbit alfalfa pellets. Look for pellets with a high fiber content — the higher the better. Do not buy the rabbit pellets that have dried corn, nuts and seeds added, because those foods can potentially be very harmful for rabbits.

Vegetables: A rabbit’s favorite foods

Rabbits count vegetables and herbs among their favorite foods. Most greens found in a supermarket are safe for rabbits, with a few limitations and exceptions. (See the list of foods to avoid below.)

No more than two cups daily of fresh vegetables should be given to adult rabbits. Dwarf breeds and rabbits under five pounds should get just one cup of fresh veggies per day. A variety of two or three vegetables is ideal. Add one new vegetable at a time, and watch for signs of loose stool or diarrhea because, as mentioned above, bunnies have delicate digestive systems. Certain vegetables can be given every day, while others should be fed sparingly, one or two times a week.

Do not feed your rabbit potatoes, corn, beans, seeds or nuts. These foods are difficult for rabbits to digest and can cause serious digestive problems.

Vegetables that can be fed to a rabbit daily:

  • Bell peppers
  • Bok choy
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrot tops
  • Cucumber
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Fennel
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Lettuces: romaine, green leaf, red leaf, Boston bibb, arugula, butter
  • Okra leaves
  • Radicchio
  • Radish tops
  • Sprouts: alfalfa, radish, clover
  • Watercress
  • Wheatgrass
  • Zucchini

Vegetables and plants to give sparingly (one or two times a week) to a bunny:

  • Broccoli (stems and leaves only)
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Clover
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens (pesticide-free)
  • Flowers: calendula, chamomile, daylily, dianthus, English daisy, hibiscus, honeysuckle, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, rose
  • Kale
  • Spinach

Fruit: Give to a bunny once or twice per week

Fruit should be given to your bunny one or two times a week. The appropriate serving is one to two tablespoons of fruit (either one kind or a mixture) per five pounds of body weight. As with vegetables, fruit should be introduced slowly and one at a time.

Fruit to feed your rabbit (one or two times a week):

  • Apple (no seeds)
  • Banana
  • Berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries
  • Cherries (no seeds)
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Watermelon

Treats: Feed to a rabbit sparingly

Like lots of people, many rabbits have a sweet tooth. As with humans, treats are at the top of the food pyramid for bunnies and therefore should be fed sparingly. Healthy treats for your bunny include small pieces of fresh or freeze-dried fruit (the approved fruits listed above); natural, unprocessed mixes that include hay and dried flowers (the approved flowers listed above); and Oxbow brand rabbit treats.

Always read the ingredient list on store-bought treats because not all of them are safe for bunnies. Avoid treats that include added sugar, preservatives and artificial coloring, and never give your rabbit human treats.

Foods to avoid giving a rabbit

Some foods are not good for rabbits under any circumstances because they can make rabbits extremely sick. Here are foods to avoid giving your bunny completely:

  • All human treats
  • Beans
  • Beet greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cereal
  • Chocolate
  • Corn or corn-cob treats
  • Crackers
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Legumes
  • Mustard greens
  • Nuts
  • Pasta
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • Seeds
  • Sugar  
  • Turnip greens
  • Yogurt

Vegetables and Fruits for a Rabbit Diet

Hay Is The Most Important Rabbit Food

The majority of the house rabbit diet should be composed of grass hay (any variety). Grass hay is rich in Vitamin A and D as well as calcium, protein and other nutrients. Eating hay promotes healthy teeth and gastrointestinal tract and should be available to your rabbit at all times. Varying the type of grass hay or mixing hays is a great idea (such as timothy, orchard, oat hay, brome, etc). Avoid the use of alfalfa hay as the primary source of hay due to the fact it is very high in calories and protein, far more than the average house rabbit needs. Alfalfa is not a grass, but rather a legume (in the pea and bean family).

Fresh foods are also an important part of your rabbit’s diet and they provide additional nutrients as well as different textures and tastes, which are enriching for your friend as well. Fresh foods also provide more moisture in the diet, which is good for kidney and bladder function. The bulk of fresh foods should be made up of leafy greens (about 75% of the fresh part of the diet). Any leafy green that is safe for a human or a horse to eat is safe for a rabbit to consume.

An approximate amount to feed would be around 1 cup of greens for 2 lbs of rabbit body weight once a day or divided into multiple feedings a day.

fresh hay for a rabbit to eat

List of Possible Fruits and Vegetables

NOTE: It is always preferable to buy organic produce if at all possible. If collecting wild foods such as dandelion greens, make sure they are from a pesticide-free area. All fresh foods regardless of the source should be washed or scrubbed (in the case of hard vegetables) before serving them to your rabbit.

fresh green vegetables that are good for a rabbit to eat in their diet

Leafy Greens

These foods should make up about 75% of the fresh portion of your rabbit’s diet (about 1 packed cup per 2 lbs of body weight per day).

Leafy Greens I

(need to be rotated due to oxalic acid content and only 1 out of three varieties of greens a day should be from this list)

  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Mustard greens
  • Beet greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Radish tops
  • Sprouts (from 1 to 6 days after sprouting, sprouts have higher levels of alkaloids)

Leafy Greens II 
(low in oxalic acid)

  • Arugula
  • Carrot tops
  • Cucumber leaves
  • Endive
  • Ecarole
  • Frisee Lettuce
  • Kale (all types)
  • Mache
  • Red or green lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spring greens
  • 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

Non-leafy Vegetables

Non-leafy vegetables should be no more than about 15 % of the diet (About 1 tablespoon per 2 lbs of body weight per day).

  • 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

Fruits

These should be no more than 10% of the diet (about 1 teaspoon per 2 lbs of body weight per day). NOTE: unless otherwise stated it is more nutritious to leave the skin on the fruit (particularly if organic), just wash thoroughly. IF you are in doubt about the source of the fruit and you are concerned about chemicals in the skin, then remove it.

  • Apple (any variety, without stem and seeds)
  • Cherries (any variety, without the pits)
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Plum (without the pits)
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Berries (any type)
  • Berries (uncooked)
  • Pineapple (remove skin)
  • Banana (remove peel; no more than 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
  • Nectarine4

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