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Rabbits - Diet

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Many common problems in pet rabbits are caused by incorrect diet. Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously and need to be worn down by coarse, fibrous food. They are not mini humans and should not be fed muesli type foods ad lib. These allow selective feeding and result in the consumption of the rabbit’s daily calorie requirement in about ten minutes, leaving teeth idle (and growing!) for the rest of the day. It is also essential that obesity is avoided as fat rabbits cannot reach round to recycle droppings, a process which is vital for proper digestion.

Fresh hay must be available at all times and is the most important part of the diet. Preferably, Timothy or mixed grass hay should be given, as Alfalfa hay can contain too much calcium.

These should be a complete food, consisting of a single type of pellet. This avoids selective feeding, which inevitably creates an imbalanced diet. (Imagine feeding children a huge finger buffet!) The chosen diet should have a minimum of 18% fibre and no more than 40g per kg of rabbit should be fed. Both food and rabbit should be weighed to ensure accuracy. Overweight rabbits should be fed for their estimated lean bodyweight. The idea is to feed a basic amount thus ensuring that your rabbit has to turn to hay for the remainder of its requirements. You are not being a bad owner by doing this!
Burgess Supa Excel  is recommended.

Try to select tough, fibrous greens, which will help tooth wear and provide a range of nutrients. Give a variety and at least three types daily. Remember white, flaccid or pale leaves, such as iceberg lettuce and white cabbage, are useless. You can include spinach, kale, carrot and beet tops, dandelion leaves, broccoli, mustard greens, sprouts, parsley, green cabbage leaves, grass and many other weeds. Raspberry canes are a particular favourite.
One large cupful for every 2kg of rabbit is recommended.

We all deserve a wee treat every now and again but these should not end up being the main part of the diet. A tablespoon per 2kg rabbit is adequate. Avoid sugary foods, even though rabbits have a sweet tooth, like grapes, bananas and chocolate. Do not give pasta, bread crackers and grainfoods. High fibre fruits such as pears, apples, peaches, pineapples and strawberries are great. Root or non-leafy vegetables including carrots, pea pods, courgettes, green peppers etc are also fine.
Don’t overdo them and don’t leave them lying uneaten getting mouldy!

Dietary Requirements of Rabbits






Growing rabbits
















Rabbits are becoming increasingly popular pets so it is important to understand their environmental and nutritional requirements rather than just expecting them to fit in to an artificial situation.

Most rabbits live between 5 and 8 years. Most are kept in outdoor hutches, although many are now kept as house pets. Hutches should have a dry and draught free nesting area and a larger open area for exercise, bedding should always be provided with paper, wood shavings, or straw.

Note: Information on Anaesthetics, Neutering and Diet, can be obtained on the Downloads page.

Adult pet rabbits should be fed primarily on grass or hay which should be freely available, no more than 1/4 cup of commercial rabbit pellets per 5lb bodyweight daily should be offered in order to try and prevent obesity. The rabbit is a herbivore, the plant material ingested is broken down in the caecum in the large intestine by several different types of micro-organisms which produce essential proteins, vitamins and fatty acids to be absorbed by the rabbit. The rabbit does this by reingesting some of the material once it has passed through its bowels. A generous amount of fibre is required within the diet (18-24% crude fibre) to promote good, regular intestinal movement and minimise intestinal disease. Diets low in fibre can cause an increased incidence of intestinal problems, and high starch diets will allow the proliferation of toxic bacteria. A dietary supply of vitamins A, D, and E is essential. Bacteria in the gut synthesise vitamin K and the B vitamins in sufficient quantities. Rabbits fed on grain or hay should be provided with a trace mineral salt lick. Sudden changes of diet should be avoided.