Hills Veterinary Clinic boys and rabbits

Feeding Rabbits

Many common health problems in pet rabbits are caused by an incorrect diet.

Rabbits are designed to eat grass and a variety of tree bark & weeds, which they come across in the wild. We should try & mimic this diet as much as possible to keep our pets healthy.

The main part of any rabbit’s diet should be good quality hay. Timothy hay is particularly good and hays containing a lot of alfalfa or lucerne should be avoided. Most rabbits will eat about their body size in hay every day. If your rabbit soils his hay it may be worth trying a hay rack.

We recommend a pelleted food such as Oxbow Bunny Basics rather than a rabbit mix (looks like muesli) as each pellet has the same composition and so your rabbit cant pick out the bits he likes best & leave the rest.

The Oxbow diet is also very high in fiber and so is very close to a rabbit’s natural diet. A small amount of concentrate food should be fed daily. A guide would be 25g of food per kg of body weight- i.e. a 2kg rabbit could have 50g of pellets daily.

Rabbits should also be fed a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. We recommend between 1.5 & 2.5 cups of fresh veg daily for a 2.5kg rabbit. Fruit can be offered as well but in much smaller amounts- up to two tablespoons a day. Fruit has a high sugar content (as have carrots) so too many can lead to obesity & dental problems. The same type of vegetables should be fed consistently so your rabbit becomes used to them.

When introducing new foods do it slowly to avoid digestive upsets. Only introduce 1 new food at a time and wait 24 hours. If it isn’t well tolerated withdraw & try something else once everything has returned to normal.

Avoid high fat or carbohydrate foods completely such as commercial treats, beans, peas, corn, bread, breakfast cereal, nuts, seeds and chocolate as these frequently lead to upset stomachs.

Rabbits being fed on a balanced diet should not need mineral supplements or salt licks.

Never change your rabbit's diet suddenly. Abrupt changes can trigger fatal digestive upsets. Take 1-2 weeks to change over and feed lots of hay during this period.