Rabbits have a unique digestive system that is specially designed to have a fibre rich diet, the majority of their diet depends on a high amount of hay and grass, with a small proportion of nutritious nuggets to provide the minerals and vitamins their bodies need to grow.
Rabbits need two kinds of fibre in their diet; digestible and indigestible, together we call this ‘beneficial fibre’. Beneficial fibre is important for:
- Digestive health – keeps the gut moving, helps to stimulate the rabbits appetite, maintains the health balance of the gut
- Dental health – helps to teeth to wear down
- Psychological health – encourages the rabbit to search or ‘forage’ for food. Most of the rabbit’s time in the wild is spent looking for grass, hay, plants and herbs to eat. This keeps the rabbit busy, stimulated and exercised, which is why the right diet is key to the emotional wellbeing and it keeps their teeth healthy.
Your rabbits diet sould provide good dental, digestive and emotional health. Rabbits can’t get all the beneficial fibre, vitamins and minerals they need from one food alone. We recommend feeding your rabbit a healthy diet based on a range of 4 complementary foods.
1. Hay & Grass
Premium quality hay (herbage) and grass (forage) should form most of a rabbit’s diet. Hay/grass is good for dental health as the gnawing action needed by the rabbit to eat them helps to wear down teeth. Rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing and overgrown teeth can be the cause of potentially fatal problems. Hay also plays a vital role in digestive and emotional health as they provide the bulk of the diets’ indigestible fibre and encourage foraging.
Good quality hay should be given to rabbits daily, you can judge the quality by the feel, smell and appearance. Always make sure the hay is not dusty or mouldy.
If given the choice a rabbit will eat high-energy diets or large amounts of vegetables and fruits over hay and grass any time! By giving them different hays it will provide that variety, making sure they are satisfied whilst spending more time eating. Hay needs to be replaced daily, and it can be provided using a hayrack or in the corner of the litter tray.
Premium quality nuggets are high in beneficial fibre, vitamins, minerals and prebiotics to help with healthy eyes, skin and coat. Always check the feeding amounts on the back of packaging to ensure you do not under or over feed your rabbit. If you are in any doubt as to how much to feed please book a FREE of charge appointments with one of our nurses to discuss. Call Thrapston on 01832 732632 or Oundle 01832 273521.
Please remember if you decide to change the type or make of hard feed you give your rabbits to change the feed slowly over a period of 14-28 days.
3. Fresh Greens.
Rabbits can be fed fresh greens to give additional nutrients and to provide some variety, but you do need to be careful about what you feed them and how much.
Fruit and Vegetables - Both fruits and vegetables can be fed to your rabbit and are a great source of extra nutrients. Fruits should only be fed in small amouts as they can be very high in sugar which can affect your rabbits digestive health. If in doubt please call to speak to one of our qualified veterinary nurses.
Click here of a list of fruits and vegetables that are suitable for your rabbit to eat.
Twigs and Branches - Rabbits love twigs and branches to help wear their teeth down, make sure you avoid trees that have fruit with stones, such as cherry or plum as these are toxic. Safe options are rowan, pine, aspen and birch trees. Twigs from apple and pear trees are safe, as well as branches and leaves from currant, raspberry and blackcurrant that are tasty and safe to offer. Avoid anything that grows from bulbs, or has been treated with insecticides, fungicides or other toxic products.
Plants and shrubs from the garden can also be dangerous and so should be avoided. Click here for more information on poisonous plants and shrubs
4. Fresh Water.
A plentiful supply of fresh, clean water must always be available. Rabbits have a high water intake due to their high fibre diet.
We recomment providing your rabbit with water in a bowl as opposed to a water bottle wherever possible, as they will often tend to drink more from a bowl. Water should be changed daily and in the winter make sure it hasn't frozen.
Obesity is a growing concern in the pet rabbit population for more information click here.