Diet 

A rabbit’s diet should ultimately be 80-90% hay.  Many large national pet shops supply own brand hay, which is ok hay, however, bunnies can be fussy things at times, and I have found that with farmed bales of hay my bunnies will eat it consistently.  Many small independent pet shops will be able to break up a bale and sell it to you in bags.  Rabbits should be given access to fresh hay at least once a day, although it is better to offer it twice or more during the day, the amount given should be around the size of the rabbit.

The high percentage of hay in the diet is partly due to the rabbits teeth constantly growing through their life.  Hay eating provides the grinding action with prevents the bunny’s teeth from becoming overgrown and requiring veterinary treatment.  However, overgrown teeth can be genetic too, and no amount of hay eating will help this, and often requires regular vet treatment to make the rabbit comfortable and allow him to eat properly.  This will be further discussed in another section.

Rabbits are dedicated herbivores.  This means they will only ever eat plant material.  In the wild rabbits will tend to stick to grasses and wild plants and herbs such as plantain and dandelion.  They are also known for striping the bark of trees as a source of nutrition during periods of scarce food, more likely to be winter time when snow has covered plant life. 


 There are many rabbit pellet diets already on the market, providing a balanced and nutritious compliment to your bunnies diet.  However, this is to compliment a mainly hay based diet.  Muesli type mixes are not recommended as bunnies will eat the nice bits with little nutritional value and leave the piece which are actually good for them.  Pellets give a more balanced approach to this.  It is recommended that you follow manufacturer’s guidelines in feeding pellets, but anything between a egg cup and half a mugful per rabbit is normal. Some people feed a more natural diet, with very few pellets or complimentary food, this encourages more hay eating and is said to reduce the risk of over grown teeth and costly vet visits.

Treats and additional food

Rabbits can also be fed a small amount of fruit and vegetables, but unlike the carrot snacking Bugs Bunny, carrots are actually quite harmful to a rabbit when given in large quantities.  This is because carrots, and apples both contain high natural sugars which impact on a rabbit’s good gut bacteria.

When feeding a rabbit vegetables for the first time, it must be done slowly and on a regular basis, over a few days.  Baby rabbits under 6 months old should avoid being given vegetables and fruits, as their gut flora is still developing and should not be disturbed.  For rabbits you don’t know the history of, fruit and veg should be introduced by giving him about 1 inch square of the food, alone with nothing else new.  This should be repeated  over 3-4 days to see if the bun has any reaction to it.  Reactions can include gurgly tummy and excess cecotropes ,also known as cecals ( which are a softer stool, normally re-ingested for nutrition, which are not normally seen by owners), these look like tiny bunches of grapes.

Foraging

Foraging is the collecting of wild foods for eating.  I will say it here and now that if you are in doubt of the identification of plants, please don't feed them to your rabbits.  If in doubt, leave it out.  Wrongly identifying foraged foods, could leave your rabbit sick, or worse.  Lots of people will feed dandelions to their bunnies but I want to show that there is a world of free food out there, that will not only help reduce your bunnies food bills, but will also add interest, stimulation and entertainment and ultimately enrichment to your rabbits life.

Wild Foods for Rabbits


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