Pet rabbits are one of our favorites at Animal Care Center of Castle Pines.
We love the gentle demeanor and soft fur of these lovely creatures. Kids and adults love them, and the rabbits generally respond positively to all the attention they get. When it comes to rabbit care, a common question we get from new rabbit owners is: "what should rabbits eat?"
A rabbit's diet should consist mainly of unlimited amounts of Timothy or Meadow hay. The goal of feeding rabbits is trying to provide the diet they would naturally eat in the wild. Good quality hay is the foundation of a healthy diet for bunnies. Hay is good for their digestive tract and will keep their ever-growing teeth trimmed down. There are many varieties of hay-trying a mixture will let you know which your rabbit prefers.
Fresh vegetables are a great source of nutrition for rabbits. Greens are especially important, but they will enjoy a wide variety of other vegetables. They like carrots but also enjoy broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, kale, and other dark leafy greens. Gardeners know they also like green beans, peas, and peppers.
As a guideline, give one cup of vegetables per four pounds of body weight daily. It is vitally important that you wash the vegetables thoroughly to remove all pesticide residues. When you introduce a new food to your bunny, do it slowly and watch to see how it responds. If their stool is soft, that is a sign that your rabbit doesn't digest it well. Let the digestive system return to normal before trying another food.
Herbs are also a good treat for bunnies. They enjoy parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, and oregano. In the wild, they forage for these herbs, so hiding them in the hay is a great idea.
Bunnies have a sweet tooth, which is one reason they may be associated with candy at Easter. But please, don't let them eat candy! It will upset their gut bacteria and lead to obesity and early death. They do enjoy fruit, however. Suitable fruit as a treat would include apple and pear chunks, berries, peaches, plums, grapes, and bananas. Because fruit is high in sugar, it should be considered a treat. Limit fruit to two tablespoons per day, and be sure to remove the seeds and pits.
Rabbits should have access to fresh water all day, every day. There is no such thing as too much water.
So, what should rabbits eat? To sum it all up, they should eat hay, vegetables, herbs, and fruit! Introduce new foods slowly and watch for the rabbit's reaction. Animal Care Center of Castle Pines is ready to answer any questions you might have about the care and feeding of pet rabbits. We are here for emergencies as well as regular exams and vaccinations. When you bring your bunny in for checkups, bring your questions, too. See you soon!