Supper Time! What Should You Feed Your Pet Rabbit?
One of the most important aspects of properly caring for a pet rabbit is providing him with a healthy, satisfying, and well-balanced diet.
Fortunately, doing so is relatively easy, since there is general consensus about what is good for rabbits and a wide range of great food pellet options. Rabbits can also eat many of the fruits and veggies that you probably have on your dinner table every night (see below for recommendations and portions).
Rabbit pellets, available at your local pet store, on the internet, or through mail-order, can be a backbone of your pet’s diet. They provide many nutrients in a dense fashion, and they make your job as a feeder so easy. However, you don’t need pellets to keep your rabbit healthy.
Hay, veggies and the occasional treat of fruits can be an equally or even more effective diet. After all, rabbits in the wild subsist on hay, grass, and veggies … why should domestic rabbits be any different? On the other hand, pellets are easy and widely available. The choice is really up to you.
If you do decide to feed your rabbit pellets, alfalfa pellets are recommended, as are the excellent rabbit pellets offered by Oxbow (Bunny Basics), Purina or Manna Pro. Feed your rabbit a small amount twice daily (morning and night).
Purchase in small bags if possible (not jumbo size) to ensure that they are as fresh as possible by the time your bunny actually gets to eat them.
Pet rabbits are widely known as picky eaters who respond badly to sudden changes in diet, and they may balk if you try to feed them pellets that are spoiled or that have gone rancid or stale.
Pellets are a great starting point, but they are only a portion of an overall balanced diet. Rabbits also love to consume vegetables, and many vets recommend giving pet bunnies a small amount of a variety of veggies each day.
Here are some veggies rabbits love:
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Brussels sprouts
- Green peppers
- Peppermint leaves
- Radish tops
- Wheat grass
While you may have seen bunnies crunching down on carrot sticks in the cartoons, it’s important not to give only carrots or to overfeed too many carrots to your pet. Carrots contain vitamin A, and too much of it can cause problems. On the other hands, vitamin A is essential to good nutrition, so aim for one item that contains it per day. Besides carrots, some veggies that contain vitamin A are:
- Beet tops
- Romaine leaves
- Dandelion greens
Be careful not to give your rabbit too many vegetables, as they are high in water content and can cause diarrhea or loose stools. If this happens, reduce or eliminate veggies from the diet.
Moreover, don’t give your bunny rabbit so many veggies that he starts to eat them only and neglect his pellets. Veggies should be a supplement, not a main dietary staple.
While you should give your rabbit more veggies than fruits, some fruits can be a nice treat for your pet. Only give him fresh fruit, never canned (which often has added sugar). Again, give only small amounts, as too much can cause watery stools.
Rabbits tend to like apples, bananas, kiwi, and strawberry. Papaya and pineapple are also great choices, as they both contain papain, which is an enzyme that helps to keep rabbit hairballs at bay.
Rabbits tend to be quite sensitive when it comes to changes in their diet or feeding schedule. In fact, if there is a sudden change or interruption, a rabbit may lose his appetite or become ill.
Therefore, it’s important to maintain consistency. Establish a feeding routine that is easy for you to stick to each and every day. Set your timer and fix the feeding schedule into your own everyday routine. Make sure you have enough rabbit food (whether hay, pellets, veggies, etc.) on hand so that you don’t run out unexpectedly.
Feeding your rabbit a consistent, balanced and healthy diet is one of the best ways to ensure that your pet rabbit has a long and happy life as your prized companion.