What Do Rabbits Eat?

It is important you know the answer to the question, “What Do Rabbits Eat?”

Rabbits are herbivores with a very unique digestive system. This makes it very important to feed them the proper types of foods so they thrive. It doesn't take much to disrupt a rabbit's digestive system, so pay close attention to what you feed your pet.

Rabbit Pellets

Rabbit pellets are made primarily of alfalfa or timothy hay. They are milled to contain a balanced diet for your rabbit that has just the right amount of each vitamin and mineral they may need.

Rabbits that are growing wool, competing at shows or growing litters should be on an 18% protein alfalfa pellet. Less active rabbits do well on a lower protein alfalfa pellet or a timothy pellet.

Rabbit pellets can be purchased at feed stores, pet stores, or online. Only buy rabbit pellets that have been freshly milled or appear a nice green color. As the pellets age, they lose nutrients and the green will fade.

Rabbit pellets can be stored in a closed bin or frozen if they need to be stored over a long length of time. Some rabbit pellets also contain yucca to help reduce the odor of the urine.

Hay

Hay is a good supplement to a diet of rabbit pellets. Orchard grass, Bermuda or timothy hay is an excellent choice that provides fiber to the diet. If you can get second cutting, you'll get a better quality of hay because there is usually more leaves in the second cutting; the first cutting has more stems.

If your rabbit is eating alfalfa pellets, don't give them alfalfa hay. This could raise their protein levels too high. If your rabbit is eating timothy pellets, a little alfalfa hay is fine. Hay should be a fresh green, smell good and be free of unknown weeds, thorns and mold. Store your hay in a covered area where the sun can't hit it. It should also be kept where it can't get damp.

Hay also provides entertainment for your rabbit. They love to chew on things. Chewing relieves stress, keeps their teeth worn down and it gives them something to do. You can stuff the hay into a hay rack on the outside of the cage so your rabbit must pull it through the cage wall to eat it. You can also stuff it into an empty toilet paper tube so your rabbit can enjoy digging it out.

Herbs

Herbs are an excellent addition to your rabbit's diet. Parsley, rosemary, mint, lavender, comfrey and other herbs are delicious and provide extra nutrition without a lot of extra moisture.

Wild herbs like unsprayed dandelion leaves, plantain leaves (the weed, not the banana) and red clover are adored by rabbits and they provide a lot of extra nutrition.

Herbs have the extra quality of being a gentle way to medicate your pet when he or she suffers from specific problems. An upset stomach can often be relieved with a few fresh blackberry leaves, for instance.

Mint will dry up a doe's milk if she loses her litter or if the litter has just been weaned. Rabbits also enjoy chewing on a stick from willow or apple trees, providing they have not been sprayed with any chemicals.

Grains

Some people like to give grains to their rabbits. Stay away from the sweet horse feed... rabbits love it, but it is very rich and can upset their digestive system. Grains should be given only in moderation. One teaspoon of whole oats per day, for example, is fine. Corn is not recommended for rabbits.

Vegetables, Fruits and Garden Scraps

Carrot tops are much appreciated by rabbits. A leaf of kale or spinach per day is fine. If you have some extra fruit, don't overfeed it. Fruit is full of sugar that can easily upset a rabbit's system. One strawberry, an apple slice, or a couple raisins are fine. Don't overdo the treats or your rabbit will stop eating their pellets in favor of the treats. This is like giving your child a diet of candy. Keep the treats to a minimum.

What to Avoid

Don't feed your rabbits anything that has been sprayed with insecticides or fertilized with chemicals. Stay away from potatoes, green beans, head lettuce, rhubarb leaves, avocados and anything that has been grown from a bulb.

Water

Give your pet plenty of fresh water every day. Rabbits adapt well to either a crock or a water bottle. Crocks are easy to clean, but they can get tipped over. Bottles can't be spilled easily, but they are harder to clean.

While we may have left out a few details, this is a pretty comprehensive answer to the question of “What Do Rabbits Eat?

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