A proper diet is important for healthy and active rabbits. Quality food will help ensure a happier pet rabbit. Your rabbit friend’s diet should mainly consist of fresh hay, high quality pellets, fresh vegetables, and plenty of water.
Rabbits can be fed unlimited amounts of many grass hays. Hay provides essential fiber that helps keep the rabbit’s digestive tract functioning properly. A high fiber diet reduces the occurrence of hairballs and other intestinal blockages. Examples of appropriate fresh grass hays include timothy, oat, coastal, and wheat. Often these can be purchased locally at a nearby farm or feed supply store. Otherwise, there are online websites where hay can be purchased and delivered to your home. Rabbits can be finicky eaters. If your rabbit does not like the current hay selection, then try another type until you find one that your rabbit enjoys eating. Hay from alfalfa or clover contains too much calcium, protein, and calories to be consumed in large quantities. Straw hay offers very few nutrients. Therefore, only provide alfalfa, clover, and straw hays in limited amounts.
Commercial rabbit pellets are popular due to convenience. Plus, quality pellets provide important trace vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Be careful not to feed your rabbit too many pellets since excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and digestive problems. Closely monitor the amount of pellets your rabbit eats by following your veterinarian’s recommendation on serving size. Some rabbits over eat pellets and neglect the fresh food in their diet. If this is happening, slowly reduce the quantity of pellets to encourage your rabbit to eat more hay and other fresh vegetables. When purchasing pellets, be sure that they are fresh and high in fiber.
Fresh vegetables are a good source of moisture for rabbits. Greens help keep your rabbit hydrated which promotes good bowel movements. Purchase a variety of fresh vegetables such as broccoli, dark leaf lettuces, carrots, spinach, and tomatoes. Many herbs are also recommended like parsley, basil, tarragon and cilantro. Offer an assortment to see which greens your rabbit prefers. These fresh vegetables and herbs can be purchased organically from your local grocery store. Alternatively, you may enjoy growing some in your own backyard.
Providing adequate water is very important for a healthy, hydrated rabbit. Your rabbit should have access to clean water at all times. Rabbits that don’t drink appropriate quantities may suffer intestinal problems. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh cool water in a clean container. Each day remember to change the water and wash the container to prevent any unwelcome bacterial growth.
Your rabbit has a sensitive stomach and can become ill easily so choose your rabbit’s diet wisely. Fruits tend to be too sweet and starchy so should only be given in very small amounts just a few times per week. Good fruit choices for your rabbit are apples, bananas, peaches, plum, apricots, and berries. Never feed chocolate, breads, sweets, or processed human foods to your rabbit. Avoid feeding your rabbit spoiled or rotten foods since its digestive system can react poorly. Also, stay away from corn because it is difficult for rabbits to digest.
Adult rabbits can be fed all of the healthy foods mentioned above. However, baby rabbits begin by only drinking their mother’s milk. Starting around three weeks old, a few pellets and hay strands are introduced. The quantity of pellets and hay is slowly increased as your rabbit ages. Vegetables are usually introduced when the rabbit is around four months old. Consult with your veterinarian for proper feeding guidelines according to age.
Remember that your rabbit cannot shop and feed itself so it depends on you to provide a well balanced and nutritious diet. It is very important to feed your rabbit plenty of fresh hay, some quality pellets, fresh vegetables, and ample water. By doing so, your rabbit friend can live a long, healthy life.