Hello everyone! Last week, we discussed some of the major health issues to look out for in your house bunny. This week, we’re shifting over to another topic that is just as critical to your bunny’s health: their diet!
Rabbit’s are not carnivorous, so their diet does not require any meat of any kind. In fact, feeding your rabbit meat can actually negatively affect their health, so even if a rabbit looks interesting in the food you are eating, please do not give your fur-baby any human or meat related food!!
As discussed in the last post, a bunny’s digestive system is incredibly delicate and requires a very specific and balance diet. It’s your job as the owner to make sure they get everything they need to live a long and healthy life!
Even though rabbits are vegetarian, vegetables and fresh greens actually make up a smaller portion of their diet. A bunny’s main go-to meal is hay. And they need LOTS of it! A house bunny must be supplied with constant access to hay and trust me when I say house bunnies are always on the look out for something to eat. Since they have such a high metabolism, bunnies require a large quantity of hay daily. For my own fur-babies, I leave a large pile of hay in the middle of their enclosure and then a handful of hay in both of their litterboxes, which they always seem to vacuum down by the end of the day. If you happen to adopt a baby bunny, under a year old, please keep in mind that they require a more softer hay than an adult bunny. Vets usually recommend alfalfa hay for baby buns since their stomachs are a bit more sensitive to harsher hay.
Although hay should take up around 70% of a bunnies daily diet, they also require fresh greens as well. Many websites recommend giving your bunny at least 1 cup of greens for every 2 pounds of your bunny. For example: both my bunnies weigh around 4 pounds each, so I feed each of them 2 cups of greens a day. In total, I give up 4 cups of greens a day to my fur-babies. Although rabbits are able to eat a large variety of greens, there are some greens that are a no go for bunnies, or some that need to be given out in smaller quantities due to acids that are in the greens. For example, spinach and parsley are tasty treats to buns, but both have large amounts of acid that could prove harmful to bunnies over time. I will add these greens to my rabbit’s salads maybe once a month? Just enough to shake up their dinner, but not enough to cause them harm.
Rabbits are also able to snack on vegetables and fruits, however it should be just that, a snack! Veggies and fruits actually have quite a bit of sugar in them, and if given in large amounts, this sugar can hurt a bunny’s digestive system and could lead to GI stasis. Some websites recommend giving out portions no larger than the size of your thumbnail a day (JUST LIKE GREENS, NOT ALL VEGGIES AND FRUITS ARE SAFE FOR YOUR BUN. DO YOUR RESEARCH!). Me myself, I only feed my bunnies a veggie or fruit treat maybe three times of month but I’m more on the strict side.
Lastly, hay pellets can also be a nice addition to a rabbit’s diet, however keep in mind that they can be high in fiber and sugar which can upset your bunny’s tummy and can lead to obesity. Pellets are like cheeseburgers compared to hay and fresh greens and rabbits definitely love pellets like we love cheeseburgers! My rabbits would choose pellets over their hay any day, and that’s why I have to be a bit more strict when it comes to giving out pellets per day. Vets recommend around 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of pellets per day, depending on the size of your rabbit. Since I like to be on the safe side, I always give them less that 1/4 cup a day.
And this goes without saying, but just like hay, bunnies need a constant source of water! Since rabbits eat dry hay all day, they need water to be able to digest all that fiber properly. I have three water bowls out for my bunnies and trust me, they need all three bowls.
Hopefully this quick discussion on diet is helpful to anyone that has questions on what house bunnies need to eat in order to be happy and healthy. Please remember, unlike dogs and cats, rabbits cannot just be fed the bare minimal and still be healthy. Their diets are a bit on the delicate side and as the owner, research and knowledge can go a long way in making sure your bun remains diet safe.
Below, like always, I have posted some helpful websites that may give more information on bunny diet.
Have a great day!