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 diet.
Hay can be expensive, depending on the time of year and how successful a “crop” was managed during the most recent summer. Many of the hay supplied in local pet stores can make it expensive to buy enough for your rabbit, so think about other sources. There are many options online, and you may be lucky enough to find local farmers willing to sell you some hay at a cheaper rate.
Don’t skimp on the quality. It needs to be very good quality hay for your rabbits to get the most benefit from it. The greener the better! And the longer the better too. Some “old” hays, particularly direct from farms, can sometimes be mouldy and dusty. So give it a good shake and a smell before you buy any. You want it to smell sweet – any earthy smells or “fousty” smells should be avoided.
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 your rabbits. Carrots are safe, but should be seen as a treat. Think of it much as chocolate – if you were to eat only chocolate and in large quantities it wouldn’t be long before you were fat & unwell.
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 are giving your rabbit enough access to quality hays.
Pellets, or nuggets, are the best form of dry food as they contain all the fibre & nutrition in the nugget. Meusli, whilst a popular alternative, will often result in selecting feeding, meaning your rabbit may be avoiding some of the nutrients he really needs.
As a guide for feeding, feed your rabbit about an average handful each per day (or an egg-cup full for dwarf/smaller rabbits).
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 and happier lives when they maintain a healthy weight. If you suspect your rabbits are overweight, arrange for a check-up with your vet who will be able to advise you on how to get bunny back to being a healthy weight and active again.
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 perhaps where the association comes from, but not the root.
Of course, many rabbits will enjoy the odd carrot. They love a variety of flavours and will often opt for the sweet stuff, but to have a happy healthy bunny, keep them as a treat! No more than ¼ of a carrot, once a week!