Rabbits love many different kinds of food including some that aren’t that healthy. Most rabbits love to eat and like many pets, they especially enjoy sweet foods and treats. If they had free access to treats some rabbits would eat treats all day even if it wasn’t the most balanced diet. It is important to learn about proper nutrition for pet rabbits before choosing what to give your bunny for treats and meals.
What is a Rabbit’s Favorite Food?
Pet shops often sell some treats that are targeted to rabbits but aren’t that healthy. If you see a product that claims to be a chocolate treat for rabbits or milk drops for bunnies, be sure to check the label. While this kind of treats won’t contain real chocolate and most rabbits love rabbit candy, they are often very high in sugar and low in other nutrients. These may be favorite foods for rabbits but your rabbit will probably eat much healthier and more natural goodies if they are provided.
Do Rabbits Really Like Hay?
Rabbits do like hay and they will naturally gravitate toward it if fresh hay is provided. It is actually the most important component in rabbit diets and should also be included in your bunny nutrition plan. Hay is an important source of fiber which keeps the digestive tract working correctly. Rabbits should have frequent bowel movements that are firm but not rock-hard and hay, as well as other fiber, will help ensure bowel health. Fresh hays like Timothy, Barley, coastal Bermuda, and varied oat hays are ideal for rabbits since they are nutrient-dense grass hays but not as rich as the more leafy hays. Young rabbits can still have some of these higher calories hay types such as alfalfa, but they shouldn’t get too much of this. The high calcium in alfalfa can lead to kidney issues and weight problems in older rabbits. If you have a rabbit that has trouble keeping weight on or is a senior rabbit they may need to return to higher calorie hays but check with your veterinarian so that kidney and liver tests can be run.
How Does Rabbit Digestion Work?
Rabbits are amazing creatures. Since they have to eat so much fiber to be healthy, it takes work for their bodies to digest the roughage they take in. The very saliva in their mouths is the first key since proteins are present that begin to break down foods while they chew. Digestion continues in the stomach where enzymes and acids aid in breaking food down further before it enters the intestines. Once the food passes out of the stomach the nutrients are absorbed slowly into the body. The bulky fiber is indigestible and it helps to finish the digestive process. The bacteria in the digestive system must remain balanced to keep your rabbit healthy.
Do Rabbits Really Like Carrots?
Just like you may see in cartoons, most rabbits do love carrots. If fed only as occasional treats carrots can be a supplement since they have beta-carotene and vitamin A, biotin, vitamin K, potassium and vitamin B6. Unfortunately, carrots are also very high in sugar and how low amounts of fat and protein so they are less nutritious than some other foods.
Can Rabbits Eat Vegetables?
Rabbits can eat a variety of fresh vegetables. High-quality vegetables can help balance your rabbit’s diet. If you are using vegetables as a staple for your bunny you want to be sure and feed at least 3 different kinds of vegetables a day to guarantee that they are getting a blend of good nutrients. At least one vegetable should contain vitamin A. Carrots have A but are very sweet, Spinach and kale are also high in A but may cause your rabbit to get too much calcium. Some of the better choices for A might be varieties of squash or supplements made for rabbits. Rabbits can also have many other vegetables including some of their favorites like asparagus, brussels sprouts, clover, organic dandelions, eggplants, parsley, radish tops, watercress and lettuces like romaine, boston, and arugula. There are many other vegetables rabbits can have but these are some common ones. Check with your veterinarian or a rabbit nutritionist if you aren’t sure about a particular vegetable.
Most rabbits love the sweetness of fruit and they will readily eat it. The sugars in fruit can cause weight gain, blood sugar issues, and digestive problems. Your rabbit can still have fruit as treats but keep it to smaller quantities, perhaps a couple of spoonfuls a day. Some good choices might be pears, apples, banana, and dried pineapple. Some bunnies do very well with supplemental pineapple as it has enzymes that may help with digestion, but the sugar is still high in pineapples so keep it limited.
Can Rabbits Eat Flowers?
Rabbits can have some flowers as treats but you want to be sure to use organic flowers with no pesticides, waxes or other treatments. They enjoy dandelions, marigolds, chamomile, and Nasturtium flowers. All of these foods should be fed in limited quantities. since fiber and hay need to make up the bulk of your rabbit’s daily diet.
Can Rabbits Eat Herbs?
Rabbits can have many common herbs. Some are items we keep in our own kitchens although rabbits tend to like theirs fresh instead of dried and crushed or powdered. Rabbits enjoy herbs as treats and they are usually pretty safe eating basic, cilantro, dill, peppermint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Ideally, you might consider planting these herbs in pots or in your garden. Your rabbit will be healthiest with access to the freshest herbs and if you grow your own you will know that they haven’t been treated with any harmful chemicals.
Are Pellets the Best Food For Rabbits?
New rabbit owners often find rabbit pellets in the pet store and assume that these are the best possible diet for their pets. Pellets were actually originally created by those who were raising rabbits for meat. Those pellets were intended to promote rabbit growth and some weight gain. They weren’t necessarily for optimum nutrition. Nowadays there are some pellet-based diets that are formulated for pet rabbits, but be sure to check out a food carefully before you choose it. Rabbits need a high-fiber diet and they don’t need excess fat and very high amounts of protein. Rabbits have delicate digestive systems and some will not do well on a pellet diet. In some cases, high-fiber pellets along make good supplements or emergency backup foods but they are rarely ideal as the basis for your rabbit’s entire diet. Even if pellets are used as a secondary source of food it is important to provide fresh hay as often as possible.
What Kind of Food Do Small Bunnies Eat?
Baby rabbits need more protein than adults. Adult rabbits only need about 12-14% protein whereas small bunnies need around 16%. You can purchase high protein commercial foods that are intended for young rabbits. Some people believe in feeding only commercial diets to baby rabbits but this should really depend on what your bunny has been eating. If the breeder was feeding a pelleted diet and you immediately switch to lots of raw vegetables and grasses, your small rabbit may have problems with digestive upset. If your bunny hasn’t been eating fresh foods, start out by keeping their diet the same until they have adjusted to your home. Once they have adjusted you can add in small amounts of fresh food to get them used to it. For nutrient purposes, you may want to feed a mix of mild hay, commercial baby-rabbit food, and treat-quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables.
How Much Fiber Do Bunnies Need?
Rabbits need a great deal of indigestible food content which is called fiber. Most rabbits get the majority of their fiber through hay although there are some commercial pelleted foods with high fiber content. This still usually comes from chopped hay that is in the pellets themselves. You can also purchase hay in compressed squares. Rabbits that don’t get enough fiber are in danger since their food can stop moving through the digestive system. This can cause constipation, impaction or even full gastrointestinal stasis. A rabbit that is constipated may do fine if given some additional hay but if the problem persists, take them to a rabbit veterinarian. Once a rabbit gets an impaction in the digestive tract or gets GI Stasis this can lead to severe illness. It is considered an emergency situation. Untreated GI Stasis in rabbits is fatal.
Can Young Rabbits Eat a Fresh-Food Diet?
In the wild young rabbits would begin to eat fresh foods as they are weaned. You wouldn’t want to transition a baby rabbit from its mother’s milk straight to a diet that is completely different or to foods that are too low in fiber and high in sugar. New rabbits owners may overfeed foods like carrots to young rabbits and then run into trouble right away. Ask your breeder what they fed the babies and the mother. If the mother was on a strict pellet diet your young rabbit may not have any experience with fresh hay and vegetables. Go slowly with any changes.
How do you Transition a Rabbit from a Baby Diet to an Adult Diet?
You should introduce good grass hay and fresh vegetables slowly, especially after your rabbit is over 6 months of age. You can slowly introduce one or two new foods at a time. You will want to start with just vegetables and avoid sugary fruits at first. Once your young rabbit is eating hay and vegetables regularly you can begin to transition toward an adult diet. By the age of one year, your rabbit can eat a normal adult diet of hay, fresh vegetables, pellets as supplements if desired and some treats.
Can Grown-Up Rabbits Eat Small Rabbit Food?
If you are feeding a commercial diet for baby rabbits, you don’t want to give that same food to the mother or to other adult rabbits. Commercial food for small rabbits is high in protein and a bit higher in fat to encourage growth. These foods are too rich for adult rabbits.
How Can I Tell if my Rabbit is Digesting Food Well?
One of the easiest ways to monitor your rabbit’s digestion is to take note of their stools. Rabbits should produce lots of feces. They should be round like peas and of a uniform size and shape. If your rabbit is eating but is producing small amounts of feces this could be a medical crisis. If the feces seems normal but has hair in it, this is similar to the type of hairballs that are found in cats. You can purchase a rabbit-safe hairball remedy or get something from your veterinarian. If your rabbit has loose or runny stools and it does not clear up quickly, see a veterinarian.
Would Wild Rabbits Like To Eat Human Food?
Wild rabbits typically eat grasses, grains, flowers, weeds, and other vegetable matter. A wild rabbit who finds a farmer’s field or garden will readily eat vegetables and fruits that drop from trees or grow in fields. In this sense, wild rabbits will naturally eat many foods that we might think of us “human food.” They like the same foods that we might eat for a salad or a fruit snack. The biggest thing to remember about human foods and that humans don’t eat as much fiber as rabbits do. Wild rabbits will naturally eat large quantities of fresh and dried grasses which provides them with plenty of fiber. While they enjoy “people food” they should only be given the type of human foods that they would eat in the wild anyway. They must be given high-fiber foods like hay or pellets in addition. While rabbits can eat many foods that humans also enjoy, they shouldn’t be given junk food or foods that aren’t compatible with rabbit digestion. Rabbits may enjoy some human foods that are not good for them. While we can share our lettuce and some veggies, general table scraps aren’t suitable for wild or domestic rabbits.
Would Pet Rabbit Eat WIld Food?
Pet rabbits naturally gravitate toward the same foods as their wild cousins. To answer this question, though, one has to know what the pet rabbit has been eating. If a pet rabbit has been raised on pellets and transitioned to pellets or pellets and hay, they aren’t used to many of the foods that wild rabbits eat. You shouldn’t take a pellet-fed rabbit and immediately give it large amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, and other raw foods. This will be a disaster for their digestive systems. If they are transitioned slowly, though, rabbits can all eat any good quality diet that is high in fiber and has adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals.
What Food Is a Bad Idea To Give To Rabbits?
Some rabbit owners have a very hard time with this, offering rabbits anything that they might want to eat isn’t always a good idea. Bread, cereal, and crackers are some good examples. Rabbits often eat these things readily but they do not need any of these foods. The extra carbohydrates just turn into sugar and cause weight gain or illness. Rabbits can share many of our vegetables, but they should not have certain specific ones. Avocados and iceberg lettuce are examples of vegetables that should not be fed to rabbits. They can cause an imbalance in the digestive tract or even be toxic. If you aren’t sure about a particular vegetable, don’t give it to your rabbit until you confirm that it is safe. Nuts, peanut butter, and chocolate should never be given to bunnies. They can be extremely dangerous to your pet. Most pet owners are probably aware that rabbits are strict herbivores which means that they only eat plant matter. Children may not always be aware of this, though, so make sure that they know that rabbits cannot be fed any kind of dairy, meat or fish.
How Often Do Rabbits Eat?
Rabbits can be fed an unlimited amount of hay, so hay can be fed free choice and is a great option to keep your rabbit busy and healthy. Other foods should be given in limited quantities. If you use a commercial pellet diet you can measure it according to the label and your rabbit’s weight. If you feed your own mix of vegetables and other plant matter you can use a scale to determine how much to give your rabbit according to its age and size. Rabbits can be fed their high-nutrient pellets or plant mix twice a day.
Do Rabbits Eat Large Portion of Food?
Treats such as fruit should only be given in small amounts. Pellets or vegetables are not given in very large portions either since this can cause weight gain or tummy issues for bunnies. Only hay is usually given in larger portions and most rabbits eat their preferred amount of hay without trouble. If your rabbit begins to gain too much weight then you can ask your veterinarian for advice on portion control of hay.
What Happen If You Interrupt an Eating Rabbit?
Rabbit behavior varies according to how much the bunny has been handled and socialized and what kind of life situations they have been through. Some rabbits are fine if they are touched or interrupted during eating. Some rabbits become anxious if they are bothered during their feeding period. If your rabbit is or was feral it may become combative if interrupted during feeding. Unless you have a good reason to interrupt a feeding rabbit it is best to let them eat in peace. Anxiety can cause them to have trouble with digestion.
Are Rabbits Aggressive When Eating?
Wild rabbits or feral domestic rabbits are very territorial and can be protective of their food and even aggressive if bothered while eating. This is even more true with fertile male rabbits or pregnant females. Food aggression is less common in domestic rabbits, especially if they have been handled routinely. Rabbits may see other rabbits or humans as threats and they may try to stop anyone from reaching toward them when they are eating. There are some techniques you can use to reduce food aggression if it is severe. You can get rabbits accustomed to accepting treats by first letting them see the food in your hand and then putting it on the floor for them to eat. This helps them learn to associate your hand with a good thing and they are less likely to try to defend themselves when you are nearby. You can work up to giving rabbits treats by hand. Some rabbits will only be aggressive if they are eating in a space that is “theirs” such as their cage or a specific feeding spot. You may want to move the food to different locations to help them understand that they do not need to defend the territory where they are fed.
Can Rabbits Get Obese?
Rabbits can definitely gain weight and can even become so overweight that they are considered obese. Rabbits can get obese if they are caged so much that they cannot exercise enough. You can tell your rabbit is obese If you cannot find the ribs when you feel around the rib area. A rabbit is considered obese when it is more than 20% overweight.
What Food Can Cause Obesity?
Carbohydrates can cause obesity in rabbits. If your rabbit is fed too many breads or sugars they will gain weight. If this isn’t controlled it can lead to obesity. This is especially true for sedate rabbits who are older and cannot move well or who are caged much of the time. Avoid feeding bread and crackers at all. Keep sugary treats to a minimum. Read the labels on any commercial treats that you buy and take note of the sugar content and be cautious of sugary vegetables and fruits such as carrots or apples.