03 3489728 Straven Road Vet
03 3525749 Animates Papanui Vet
by Angela Dacombe, VN
Rabbits are herbivores so it is very important to feed your rabbit correctly to ensure that they live a long, happy and healthy life. You should feed your rabbit a good quality rabbit pellet, which is dust free and high in fiber/low in protein. You can pick up some good rabbit food pellets that are commercially made, from most pet shops which provide good nutrition for your rabbit.
Overfeeding pellets can lead to obesity and should be limited. It is important to provide other foods as well to maintain a daily nutritional balance. Good quality hay should be available at all times, and should be the staple part of their diet, as should grass and greens.
Hay is good fiber for them, is good for their digestion and is also used as bedding. Straw can be used as bedding but this is no good to eat as it has no nutritional value in it whatsoever. A good quality meadow hay or lucerne hay can be used, that is not dusty or mouldy as this can lead to respiratory illness.
A good variety of fruit and vegetables should be fed daily also. Make sure they are clean/washed, pesticide free and not contaminated by other animal’s faeces. There are some that you should not feed as they can lead to stomach upsets and some are also toxic to the rabbit. Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli, silverbeet, spinach and brussel sprouts can cause tummy issues like colic and bloat so only feed very small amounts of these and lettuce can cause scours. Some foods can also be high in fat and sugar.
Image source wikimedia commons
Foods you can feed:
Carrots , Carrot tops, Apples, Greens, Grass, Puha, Broccoli, Dandelion leaves & flowers, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Grapes, Kiwifruit, Mandarins, Mango, Nectarine, Orange, Papaya, Pears, Peach, Plums, Pineapple, Raspberries, Raisins, Strawberries, Watermelon, Apple tree leaves, Alfalfa, Basil, Borage, Brussel sprouts, Bok Choy, Clover, Capsicum, Coriander, Chives, Dill, Citrus tree leaves, Celery leaves, Marjoram, Lavender, Fennell, Chicory, Endive, Marigold, Parsley, Radish tops, Rosemary, Watercress, Wheatgrass, Snowpeas, Dock leaves (before they have gone to seed), Celery stalks chopped into small pieces (stops choking on long stringy bits).
Here is a list of other foods to avoid:
Most human foods , Nuts, Crackers, Biscuits/cookies, Chocolate, Cereals, Seeds, Oats, Beans, Milk, Bread, Pasta, Wheat, Corn, Yoghurt drops.
Absolutely do not feed these as they are poisonous to rabbits:
Potatoes, Daffodil, Rhubarb, Lillies, Mushrooms, Avocado, Broad beans, Oak, Sweetpea, Buttercup, Kidney beans, Jasmine, Nightshade, Snowdrop, Privet, Hemlock, Foxglove, Iceberg lettuce, Any leaves from evergreen trees.
Just remember if in doubt, do not feed it to your rabbit! If you suspect your rabbit has eaten something toxic and/or is not well, seek vet treatment ASAP!
As you can see there is a great variety of foods you can feed. Variety is the key. Throw away old, off and rotting food daily as if eaten can cause tummy upsets.
Rabbits love to chew. It also helps relieve boredom and wears down their teeth. Rabbit’s teeth are open rooted and grow continuously so they need hard vegetables/fruit or chew toys/wooden toys to help wear them down. You can get all sorts of safe wooden chew toys from petshops. Wood must be untreated. Willow branches or apple and citrus branches can be great for them to chew on. Have these available at all times.
Treats can be fed to rabbits, although not all the time. Limit to 1-2 times a week.
Rabbits should have access to fresh clean drinking water at all times. This needs to be replaced daily. Bowls can be spilled over so bottles are a good choice. These can be attached to cages easily and prevents wet bedding. Bowls for pellets can also be knocked over so gravity bin feeders are a great way to go, which can be attached to hutches/cages also. Remember when changing a rabbit’s diet; do so gradually as this can cause tummy problems and on rare occasions, death.