If you have a big-eared little friend, you might wonder what rabbits eat. It’s normal. You want to give your bunny the best food to thrive and grow. And, if you’re a new rabbit parent, you might wonder if your childhood cartoons filled with bunnies eating carrots and cabbage nailed it or not.
That’s what this article is about. You will find out what your bunny’s diet should consist of and what the scientific principles behind its diet are.
Not giving your rabbit the right amounts of food or adding some apparently harmless foods to his daily menu might prove extremely dangerous. Avoid putting your rabbit’s life at risk and read the article below.
Do Rabbits Eat Vegetables?
Yes, rabbits eat vegetables, but:
- Not all veggies are bunny-friendly
- Veggies shouldn’t be their main food source
Let’s talk about two of the most obvious veggies that are represented as rabbits’ favourite foods in books, movies, and commercials:
• Carrots. Bunnies don’t eat root vegetables in the wild. Besides, carrots are packed with sugar, so you should only give bunnies small pieces of carrot as occasional snacks, meaning 1-3 pieces per week, depending on your bunny’s size.
• Lettuce. Rabbits should eat lettuce in moderation, and not all lettuces are good for your bunny. For instance, iceberg lettuce can be toxic, while light-coloured lettuces don’t have enough nutrients. Choose leafy, dark lettuces such as romaine lettuce but start with small quantities to make sure your pet doesn’t experience digestive issues.
What do Rabbits Eat in the Wild?
In the wild rabbits eat:
- Weeds, grass, plants, clover and even wildflowers, during the summer
- Twigs, bark, pine needles, buds, and green grass or plants they can find, during the winter
If the area is scorched, bunnies can actually climb trees to eat their leaves.
What do Rabbits Eat and Drink?
Welcome to the main section of this article. Here is where you will find out exactly what to feed your bunny.
At Least 70% Hay
Your rabbit’s diet should consist mainly of hay. Some sources indicate a proportion of 70% hay and 30% pellets, while other sources go up to 90% hay.
The difference comes from the rabbit’s age. Younger bunnies need more protein because they’re growing, so they need to eat more pellets. Older bunnies need more fibre, and so they should eat up to 90% hay. Besides, consider that rabbits eat only grass and plants in the wild.
Rabbits prefer these types of hay:
- Alfalfa hay (baby rabbits)
- Brome hay
- Oat hay
- Orchardgrass hay
- Timothy hay
- Combination of all the above
Make sure the hay is fresh, with no mould on it.
You can also feed your rabbit alfalfa if he’s still a baby. Don’t give him alfalfa every day, though, because this is legume-type hay, and remember that adult rabbits need grass hay, which is more fibrous.
Maximum 30% Pellets
Your rabbit needs pellets for its high-protein content, but choose only quality pellets, which are rich in fibre, and remember that:
• A dwarf adult rabbit needs 0.12 cups of pellets per day.
• A medium-sized or large adult bunny requires just 0.25 cups of pellets per day.
Choose pellets such as:
- Timothy pellets for adults
- Alfalfa pellets for bunnies under 12 months
Avoid pellets with:
- Dried corn
1-2 Cups of Vegetables
Mix two or three of the vegetables from the list below to give your bunny. Dwarf rabbits can eat a cup of these veggies per day tops, while medium-sized and large adult bunnies can eat up to two cups of them daily:
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Bok choy
- Boston bibb lettuce
- Brussels sprouts
- Butter lettuce
- Carrot tops
- Clover sprouts
- Green leaf lettuce
- Okra leaves
- Radish sprouts
- Radish tops
- Red leaf lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
You can also give your bunny some of the vegetables and flowers below occasionally – maximum two times weekly:
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- English daisy
1-2 Servings of Fruit per Week
The fruit serving your bunny needs is 1.5 tablespoons/ 5 pounds of body weight. You can feed your rabbit the following types of fruit:
- Seedless apple
- Seedless cherries
Plenty of Water
Your rabbit should also have an unlimited supply of fresh, clean water to drink from whenever he chooses to. Although rabbits stay hydrated mainly from the hay they eat all day, they still need unrestricted access to water.
Change the water in the container every day and clean the container twice per week.
AVOID THESE FOODS
Rabbits cannot eat the foods below:
- Corn-based foods
- Iceberg lettuce
- Mustard greens
- Sugar-packed cereal
- Turnip greens
Do Rabbits Eat Their Own Poop?
Yes, rabbits eat their poop.
But rabbit poop is different than human poop because it comes in two types:
- Hard, round and brown faeces
- Soft and dark faeces called cecotropes
Rabbits will eat these cecotropes to metabolise fully all the nutrients they require.
Here’s the thing. Rabbits are foraging herbivores, meaning they eat grass and plants. However, fibres aren’t easy to digest, and so the intestines cannot extract all the nutrients from the grass during the first go.
That’s why rabbits have developed a process called coprophagy, which literally means eating faeces. This process is basically giving their intestines a second chance of extracting all nutrients from the grass, which is why it’s also called hindgut fermentation.
Your rabbit’s diet should consist mostly of hay, with some pellets and a few pieces of vegetables, plus unrestricted access to water.
Remember that when you first give your rabbit veggies and fruit, you should introduce them gradually, meaning one piece of fruit every three days. This method allows you to notice any signs of allergies and to tell your vet exactly which fruit or veggie you suspect of having caused the allergic response.
Baby rabbits don’t need fruit and veggies. Besides, mushy foods like vegetables and fruit can cause severe diarrhoea and dehydration in baby rabbits, so remember to avoid these foods.
Also remember not to give your bunny any kind of human treats, and to spot-clean the cage if your rabbit has dropped food on it.
Hopefully, this article was helpful enough to give you an idea of what rabbits eat and what you should feed your little one. If you have any other questions, the comment section is just below!