As shown in some cartoons, many people believe rabbits eat only carrots and lettuce. In reality, though, it may not be the same as what you expected. In fact, hay is the number one favorite food of rabbits!
These lovely pets also love fruits and veggies. Aside from natural food, rabbits can eat processed food like pellets and bunny treats.
So, if you want the full monty on what do bunnies eat, read on.
What do rabbits eat, actually?
A rabbit’s natural food is hay and vegetables. It’s quite often the favorite food of pet rabbits. They love to eat grass so much that some owners speculate how these pets take care of their teeth, as they never see them chewing bones or toys like other pets do!
In fact, hay helps in maintaining healthy gums and teeth, which are vital organs when it comes to eating properly. Especially for our sensitive furry friends.
In order to have a happy bunny pet, make sure you give it hay every day, along with fresh veggies and fruits. But make sure to wash the leafy greens and fruits, as they often contain toxic substances which are leftovers from pesticides that might harm the health of your pet.
How much should I feed my rabbit
Like most pets, the amount of food you feed your furry friend will depend on their breed, age, and size.
Here is a breakdown of how much food (in calories) you should feed your bunny:
|Body Weight (lbs)||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10|
Do note that the amount of pellets suggested (per body weight) in ounces are a minimum approximation. You should be able to safely feed your rabbit more than that.
What not to feed rabbits
Rabbits have highly sensitive digestive systems. If they’re fed wrongly, they could go into GI stasis and could easily die.
To avoid having to rush your furry friend to the vet, it’s important that you take note of all the types of food that rabbis can’t eat.
Here is a list of what not to feed rabbits:
- High carb food like crackers, cookies, bread, and pasta
- Processed food like muesli and cereal
- Chocolate (this is an absolute no-no!)
- Peanut butter
- Hamster food
- Meat (because they are herbivores)
Although they’re herbivores, that doesn’t mean they can eat every type of plant or vegetable. Here are some vegetables that rabbits should not eat:
In short, don’t feed them human food, processed food, or dairy products. They also shouldn’t be eating seeds, nuts, and grains (some are safe, but it’s better to avoid them altogether).
Alfalfa hay is generally not recommended for adult rabbits, since it has a very high amount of protein and calcium.
What do baby rabbits eat
Baby rabbits should eat the same things as adult rabbits, except they should be fed less. They also need to be fed more often – every 4 hours instead of every 8-12.
Rabbits are born with no teeth and their first instinct is to drink milk, but by 2-3 weeks old, they start nibbling on hay. By 3-4 weeks of age, rabbits will be eating the same foods as their mother plus drinking her milk at 8-week intervals throughout adulthood.
If the baby rabbit doesn’t have a mother to feed milk from, you can use either kitten milk or goat’s milk to feed it.
One thing you should remember is that they are easy animals to overfeed. So, you’ll have to watch out for that by using a feeding scale or measuring cup to be safe.
What do wild rabbits eat
Rabbits in the wild eat grass, plants, flowers, bark, and tender twigs. When it comes to plants, they prefer eating delicate, leafy foliage rather than dry ones.
When wild rabbits are born they cling to their mother’s belly so she can feed them with milk like a cat would do for its kittens.
After that, the mother rabbit will teach her kits (baby rabbits) where to find herbs and plants that are edible. They will nibble on these herbs and plants first then allowing the baby rabbits to eat them afterward.
Wild rabbits are most active during the dawn and dusk hours. These crepuscular times allow them safe space to graze for food. It’s important in order to live comfortably and safely underground since rabbits are vulnerable prey animals.
5 types of food that rabbits eat
Here’s the list of the best rabbit food that you can give to your pet bunny:
1. Hay: The Must-Have in the Rabbit Diet
Hay is the best food source for rabbits because it contains no toxins and helps to file down their teeth (which never stops growing). They can also easily digest and absorb the nutrients from this natural food.
As a general rule, a rabbit’s daily diet should consist of 70% to 80% of hay.
This long-stemmed fibrous food completes their diet, and they need an unlimited amount of it daily for optimal health. Maybe you are wondering now why do rabbits need an abundant supply of hay, right?
Well, they are naturally grazing animals. Even if they are already full, they would still eat and keep munching away.
Timothy grass and oat hay (both high-quality options) stay fresh longer than other grasses. They also contain vitamins from A to E, which will keep your rabbits healthy.
On the other hand, alfalfa hay is a more appropriate food for infant rabbits. But, feeding them with this hay should be replaced by fresh green grass as they get older.
Find the Best Quality Hay for Your Rabbit
If you’re looking for affordable yet high-quality hay, we have a shortlist of the best hay for rabbits in 2021 here.
2. Fruits and Veggies: The Balanced Diet for Rabbits
But do take note that feeding them should always be done with care. Rabbits have delicate digestive systems, and any food apart from hay can cause diarrhea or other health complications if not given in moderation.
Notes for Veggies:
1. The daily intake of fresh vegetables by adult rabbits should not exceed two cups.
2. One cup of fresh vegetables per day should be given to rabbits under five pounds and dwarf breeds.
3. Ideally, you should have a variety of at least two vegetables.
4. Adding new vegetables one at a time is a good way to ensure that their digestive system is not stressed.
5. The following foods should not be fed to a rabbit because they are unhealthy and difficult for them to digest: potatoes, corn, beans, seeds, or nuts.
Some vegetables can be fed regularly, while others should only be offered once or twice a week. Here’s the list that you can refer to.
Vegetables that can be fed to a rabbit daily:
- Bok choy
- Carrot tops
- Okra leaves
- Radish tops
The same is true with the following:
- Herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme)
- Lettuces (arugula, Boston bibb, butter, green leaf, red leaf, romaine
- Sprouts (alfalfa, Brussels, clover, radish)
Vegetables you can give to a rabbit once or twice a week include the following:
The same is true for the following flowers: calendula, chamomile, daylily, dianthus, English daisy, hibiscus, honeysuckle, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, and rose.
Notes for Fruits:
1. Your rabbit should be fed fruit once or twice a week.
2. Feed them one to two tablespoons of fruit per five pounds of their body weight. Thus, knowing the weight of your pet is important, too.
3. Fruits should also be introduced gradually and one at a time.
Unlike vegetables, rabbits shouldn’t be fed fruits regularly. They should only be offered once or twice a week. Here’s the list that you can refer to.
Vegetables you can give to a rabbit once or twice a week include the following:
- Apple (no seeds)
- Cherries (no seeds)
The same is true for the following berries: blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
3. Pellets: The Good Alternative for Rabbit Food
While rabbits love eating natural food, they can also eat processed food. Timothy hay pellets are a great option for rabbits who need an alternative to grass. Usually, older rabbits are given no more than one-quarter cup per day. On the other hand, alfalfa pellets are better for younger ones.
Moreover, pellets can also be offered to rabbits who suffer from any illness as they are good for digestion. So, if you want to give a healthy nutritional supplement to your pet, pellets are the best option for today.
It’s important to buy rabbit pellets with a high fiber content; the higher is the better. Also, the dried corn and nuts in some brands of food can be very harmful to rabbits!
Get Only the Most Nutritious Pellets for Your Pet Bunny
Pellets are often nutrient-dense and make for an important part of your rabbit’s daily diet. Find the best pellets for rabbits in 2021 here.
4. Treats: The Occasional Food for Rabbits
Just like humans, rabbits love sweets. Giving them treats occasionally will make your rabbit happier. These include small pieces of fresh or freeze-dried fruit, mixed dried flowers and hay, and some treats from the Oxbow brand.
Always read the ingredients list to avoid buying products with added sugars, preservatives, and artificial food colors. These are not only unhealthy but dangerous to your pets’ health.
5. Fresh Water: The Best Liquid Food for Rabbits
Fresh water will help your pet stay hydrated. The easiest way to provide a constant supply of water is to find a good water bottle for rabbits. Some vegetables and fruits that contain liquid can also provide rabbits with fresh water.
Rabbits need to maintain a high level of hydration. In fact, lack of water will cause them to go into shock. Keep in mind that they need fresh water every day. If they don’t have enough water supply, your rabbits might even die.
Rabbits are very sensitive to what they eat and they need fresh food and water. We need to be responsible pet owners by knowing what to give and not to give them. Moreover, healthy food promotes better health for our rabbits. They’ll live longer and happier!
When feeding your bunnies, never forget that moderation is the key. And be mindful of the important types of food that they need (hay) and the list of food that they must avoid at all costs.