feeding: advice on how and what to feed your rabbit
Rabbits in the wild live on grasses, plants, roots, twigs and seeds. Due to these being low in calories a large part of a rabbit's day is spent eating and nibbling.
To keep your bunny healthy, you should try to replicate this diet as best you can.
Your rabbit's diet should consist mainly of hay, with 2-3 handfuls of fresh fruit and veg, and a small amount of dried food. Your rabbit should always have access to fresh water.
Rather than giving them all their food in one sitting, you should aim to split their meals to at least twice a day, morning and evening.
Rabbits are grazers who need to be able to eat small amounts of food throughout the day to keep their digestive systems working properly. The food needs to be low in fat, sugar and protein, but high in fibre, and hay meets all of these requirements. The best type of hay for rabbits is grass or meadow hay, it should be free of dust and slightly green. Alfalfa hay is high in protein and energy, this is great for young bunnies, but should be fazed out as the rabbit gets older if it is also eating dried rabbit food.
Rabbits should eat between 75-100g of hay, and using a hay rack, not only prevents hay becoming soiled, but can help you to monitor how much they eat.
fresh fruit and veg
Fruit and vegetables should not be given to rabbits under 12 weeks old.
Rabbits should be introduced to these gradually, as too many, too soon, can cause your rabbit digestive problems.
Feed between one to two handfuls of veg and half to one handful of fruit per day, depending on the rabbit's size. You should not feed them food that has been frozen, is old, spoilt or deteriorated in anyway.
Rabbits will eat most fruit and veg, by gradually introducing one at a time to their diet you will discover their favourites.
Click here for a list of safe food for your rabbit.
Avoid tomato leaves, rhubarb, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans, these are poisonous
This should be a high quality alfalfa meal-based pellet. These are designed to provide your rabbit with a balanced diet, ensuring it gets all the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Also due to it's pellet form it prevents selective eating (picking out the tasty bits), which can happen with other rabbit mixes.
Dried food should be used to complement hay, fruit and veg, not replace them.
Bunnies under 12 weeks old can be fed as much as they will eat. Once you start introducing fruit and veg to their diet, start reducing the amount of dried food you give.
How much you eventually feed your rabbit can depend on many factors, such as it's size, metabolism, what types of fruit and veg you are feeding (some have far more calories than others). You should look to be feeding about 50g of dried food for an average sized rabbit. If your bunny starts getting overweight, or leaving soft pellets, you are probably feeding too much.
With rabbit being the little pigs they are and us being wrapped around their furry paws, it is only natural you will want to give them treats. Choose ones that are high in fibre and low in sugar so as not to disturb their digestive system. Opt for treats with natural ingredients, avoiding the sugary sweets and sticks.