It’s estimated that over 80% of rabbits are not being fed properly. A similarly large percentage of rabbits presented to the vet are obese from being overfed.
Two major contributors to the problem: Rabbit Muesli and Carrots.
Muesli based dried foods generally are lower in key fibre and proteins that other dried foods offer. Rabbits more often than not will also selectively feed from these foods, so the likelihood of them getting the full benefit of the little nutrient value of these is further reduced. They are often much higher in unnecessary sugars that the average rabbit can handle.
We recommend switching to nuggets, such as Burgess Excel. Your rabbit may turn their nose up these at first (mainly due to change) so slowing introduce them into their existing food and use them as foraging treats around their environment to encourage them to start eating them. They are much higher in fibre, and as your rabbit will learn not to selectively eat (its all the same) they will get the nutrients they need from this food.
Bear in mind though that all dried food is only a supplement. A rabbits actual diet should be around 80% hay/grass, 18% fresh veg, fruit or herbs, and only 2% dried food supplement. A rough guide is that your rabbit will eat its own body size in hay every day. However, they will eat less hay if “easier” foods are provided in too great a quantity. So too many nuggets/muesli = less hay = dental and/or gut problems! The correct amount of dried nuggets then is typically only an egg cup size per day.
Carrots should also not form part of a rabbits stable diet, and in fact should only ever be given in very small quantities (less than a carrot each) as an occasional treat. Carrots are high in sugars, and aside from contributing to an overweight rabbit, the additional sugars can ferment in the stomach and cause a series of further gut related problems. We often liken it to chocolate for humans, and whilst your rabbits may love to wolf down those carrots it doesn’t mean that we should allow them to.
We understand that people love their pet rabbits very much, and want to spoil them. But poor diets are a direct contributor to many domesticated rabbits not enjoying a lifespan as long as they could. Research confirmed by the Rabbit Welfare Association has shown that a rabbit fed on an appropriate diet, neutered and given all the other basic needs we’ve covered will live on average between 10 and 12 years. We have many examples of rabbits living in excess of this too. The common perception that rabbits live for 3 or 4 years is largely a result of too many rabbits being poorly fed.
But you can still treat your rabbit. There are lots of healthy treat options you can give them, and its important to offer the opportunity for them to forage for their food, so hide it around their environment and let them find it!
We’ve created this list of Safe & Unsafe foods to help you think of new treats for your rabbit, and keep a good variety in their diet too.
Rabbits have around 17000 taste buds and enjoy a varied diet. There is a huge variety of tasty veg, herbs and forage that you can treat your bunnies to. Check out our Safe foods list for inspiration for new foods to try with your rabbits, and the ones you should avoid.
The most important thing for your rabbit is hay. This is vital to their diet, and they should have a constant supply of if. A rabbit should typically eat it’s own size equivalent in hay each day, and as it is so good for both their digestion and their teeth, it should form their staple …
Hay and PLENTY of it! Read More »
Supplement their hay with fresh fruit & vegetables. Try to stick to greens though – the darker the better. Some fruit & veg is not good for rabbits, so give it some thought and research what they can and can’t eat (see our list below). Carrots are not a good thing to be shovelling into …
Fruit & Vegetables Read More »
This should also be considered as a supplement for your rabbit, and shouldn’t be the main basis of their food intake. In fact, most people would be surprised at how little dry rabbit foods you should be giving your rabbit. Even a lot of the supplier’s suggested feeding levels are far too high if you …
Dry Rabbit Foods Read More »
British vets recently reported that a large percentage of pet rabbits coming in for check-ups are significantly overweight. Being a chubby bunny can cause significant health problems including sore hocks and sore joints. If a rabbit is overweight it makes cleaning themselves very difficult putting them at risk of fly strike. Bunnies will live longer …
Chubby Bunny Read More »
Did you know that carrots actually aren’t very good for rabbits?! They are high in sugar and can cause weight gain, tooth decay and slow down the gut due to an excess of sugars fermenting in the stomach. Wild rabbits would not normally eat carrots. They may go for the leafy green shoots which is …
Bin The Carrots! Read More »