5 Healthy Options To Feed Your Bunny And What To Avoid
Here's what your bunny's diet should consist of.
If you’re the parent of a new rabbit, then you’re probably looking for the best of the best food to feed him. But what should a rabbit’s diet look like, and which rabbit food is best to feed your new buddy?
According to Dr. Rich, the best rabbit food for young bunnies is an alfalfa-based pellet and alfalfa hay. For older rabbits, diets should consist of a Timothy hay-based pelleted diet.
What is the best rabbit food?
Though cartoons will tell you that rabbits can survive solely on carrots, in reality, your rabbit needs a much more diverse diet than one consisting of just veggies. And his diet will also be dependent on how old your rabbit is.
“The best diet for rabbits under 10 months of age is an alfalfa-based pelleted diet as well as alfalfa hay,” Dr. Rich told The Dodo. “After 10 months of age, rabbits should be fed a Timothy hay-based pelleted diet.” The fiber content of these pellets should be at least 18 percent, and they should not include coloring, oats, corn or seeds.
“Pellets should be offered at the rate of 1/4 to 1/2 cup per 5 pounds of body weight,” Dr. Rich said. Your vet can help you determine how much pelleted food to feed your rabbit daily and when.
And fresh Timothy hay,or oat or grass hay, must be available for your rabbit to eat at all times every day, Dr. Rich said.
Hay is what keeps a rabbit’s digestive system working great, and it also helps maintain dental health, too. Alfalfa hay is OK for adult bunnies (over 10 months old) to eat once in a while, but it’s higher in sugar and caloric content.
Fruits rabbits can eat
To supplement his hay diet, you can give your adult rabbit a variety of different fruits and vegetables.
“Fruits should not be offered until at least 6 months of age, and never more than 10 percent of the daily intake,” Dr. Rich said.
Berries, including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, are best to feed your rabbit on occasion. And cut-up apples and pears may also be a fun treat.
“Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are not healthy as a daily treat,” Dr. Rich noted. “The natural sugars that form on the surface may cause an intestinal upset.”
Vegetable rabbits can eat
Rabbits love vegetables, too — specifically leafy greens and herbs.
“Vegetables should be kept to a minimum until 10 months of age,” Dr. Rich said. But once your rabbit is old enough, you can slowly introduce him to “freshly washed leafy greens such as kale, red leaf lettuce, bib lettuce, turnip greens, endive, carrot tops, basil [and] cilantro.”
A leaf or a nibble to start is great, then Dr. Rich recommends increasing the number of fresh vegetables to one-half cup or 1 cup daily per 2 to 3 pounds of body weight. Again, your vet can help you figure out the perfect amount for your bunny.
“If stools become moist, back off on vegetables,” Dr. Rich said.
It should be noted that rabbits should not be on a strict vegetable and fruit diet.
“Fruits have too high of a sugar content that will lead to loose stools or diarrhea if eaten daily,” Dr. Rich said. “Green leafy vegetables are fine as a treat, but should never represent the majority of the food intake.”
What foods should rabbits not eat?
Of course, you don’t want to feed your rabbit processed human foods (including bread and pasta), meat, dairy items, or dog and cat food as these foods can do damage to your bunny’s digestive system. But there are also some veggies that you should steer clear of.
“Too much consumption of spinach, kale or parsley may cause bladder problems,” Dr. Rich said. “Bananas, sweet potatoes and avocado are all high in sugar content and can cause obesity if offered routinely.”
Some veggies, like rhubarb, kidney beans, iceberg lettuce and potatoes, are actually poisonous to rabbits, too. And, as Dr. Rich said, “absolute no-nos are chocolate and onions.”
Best rabbit foods you can buy
So which rabbit food is the best? Here are a few options that both Dr. Rich and fellow rabbit parents suggest.
“Oxbow brand pellets are the number one recommended pellet by most small mammal veterinarians,” Dr. Rich said. Made from Timothy hay grass meal, the Oxbow bunny food is specifically formulated to meet all the nutritional needs of adult pet rabbits and contains added vitamins and minerals to boost immunity and aid digestion.
Hay needs to be your rabbit’s main source of fiber and nutrients, so investing in quality Timothy hay is necessary. Rabbit parents love Kaytee’s All Natural Timothy Hay because it’s grown without using pesticides, GMOs or artificial preservatives. It’s fresh and affordable, and rabbits can’t seem to get enough of it.
For young rabbits under 10 months, Oxbow also offers an alfalfa-based pellet food that supports a young rabbit’s energy needs and contains all-natural vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth.
You can pick up a 10-pound bag of Kaytee’s Forti-Diet Pro Health adult rabbit food for under $15. It’s highly rated and is packed with prebiotics and probiotics and natural antioxidants. And the formula comes in larger bites, which encourages bunnies to chew and maintain their dental health.
And if you want to give your bunny an occasional treat other than fresh fruits and veggies, the Kaytee Timothy Biscuits are a favorite among rabbit parents. They’re baked treats that come in both carrot and apple varieties, and the crunchy texture encourages chewing. As pet parents can attest, these treats are a bit addicting and have helped many in training their rabbits.
A rabbit’s diet should be kept simple, and as always, if you have any specific questions about what you should or shouldn’t feed your rabbit, reach out to your vet, who can provide you with personalized answers and suggestions.