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Food

Lagomorphs (the fancy pants term for rabbits) are vegans.  They should not eat any meat or animal by-products.  That includes milk, yogurt, eggs, etc.  You will sometimes see pet stores carry yogurt drops or teats with seeds and corn.  These are not good for your rabbit.

Here is a food pyramid for your adult rabbit (young rabbits differ slightly).  We'll discuss each component further:

Hay

Hay is very important for a rabbit's digestive system.  They are unable to regurgitate so hay gives them the fiber they need to deal with hairballs, diarrhea, etc. and keep their delicate gastrointestinal tract moving.  Blockages and other GI problems can result in death.  Alfalfa, which looks like little branches, is only a treat for older bunnies, younger bunnies under a year can eat Alfalfa.  Hay you buy from farms in bales often has some alfalfa in it, as well as dandelion and the bunnies LOVE those!  You do not need to pick dandelion out, your bunny can have them.  

 

I buy my hay from either of two farms.  One sells hay for $6 for a huge bale that just fits into a 175L Rubbermaid container.  That's a lot of hay - see the picture of the bunny beside the bale below!  The bunnies love it and the farmer has won awards for his hay.  The other farm sells organic hay with very little alfalfa content and they are only $2.75 for bales just slightly bigger than the first farm.  I found the first farm by word of mouth and the second simply by driving by and seeing their sign.  Farmers selling hay do not always advertise on the internet so it can be difficult to find them.  Taking a drive in the countryside and stopping to ask locals can yield results.  Finding a farm source for hay can make a huge difference in your monthly pet food bill.

Hay needs air circulation and must stay dry.  If mold develops it will be toxic for your rabbit.  If you have it in a large container like I do with my Rubbermaid, make sure to leave the lid off slightly so the air can get at it.  One bale can last me for at least a month with several rabbits.

A few pet stores and the Bulk Barn offer bagged mixed grasses.  Below is Living World's Fresh Meadow Hay, available at Super Pet.  These are usually around $8-$10 but won't last very long for multiple rabbit families.  Oxbow Hay is a very good brand but a bit pricey, especially if you get used to paying for farm hay.

 

Below is a hay dispenser I built.  I used storage cube panels (the mesh type) and cable ties.  You need to raise the floor of it up to reach the top of the litterbox and angle it so the hay slides down towards the front.  With the floor raised you can put it right up to the litterbox and your bunnies will sit inside to eat.  You want that because bunnies like to poop and eat at the same time.  This puts them right where you want to them to be doing that.  They will also like to climb inside.  Our Angora does this and comes out with enough hay stuck in her fur to feed her for a week!

Veggies

Vegetables are the next biggest part of your rabbits diet.  Dark green leafy vegetables such as romaine, red or green leaf lettuce, and dandelion are favourites of my bunnies, but do not feed them iceberg lettuce.  If you have a cottage or place you can pick fresh dandelion with no chance of pesticide contamination, you can feed your bunnies those and they will love you for it!  They also love organic mixed greens which you can get in 1lb clear plastic containers.  Make sure you wash them well first regardless if it says pre-washed.  There have been some cases of E-Coli in ready to eat salad mixes.  Also be aware of veggies with higher calcium levels such as collard, broccoli, kale, spinach and brussel sprouts.  Too much calcium can cause gas and abnormally white urine.  Your bunny can still have them but sparingly, not as a staple.  My bunnies also like cauliflower, celery and of course carrots but keep those in moderation.  Everyone thinks of a bunny like Bugs eating carrots all the time but they should really only have a couple of baby carrots or a small whole one because of the high sugar content.  Carrot tops are fine to feed them and often grocery stores will let you take the ones people have ripped off the bunches.  You may look a little silly go through the cash and having to explain one bunch of carrots and 15 bunches of carrot tops but c'mon, its for the bunnies!  When I explain it I usually get a lot of smiles from the cashier and the people lined up.  Bunnies also love fresh herbs.  Get them nice aromatic ones like parsley whether Italian or curly, dill, basil, mint, and cilantro.  Belgian endive is much appreciated by anybunny.  I tried growing my own herbs and that didn't work out too well.  I put them out on a nice sunny day for a few hours and the squirrels got in them.  I'll try it again.

Pellets

Pellets are a smaller part of their diet.  Give them about 1/4 cup daily for a 5lb bunny.  One of the best is Martin Mills Less Active which is what I feed my rabbits.  However, be aware if you feed them this and try a sneaky switch back to the generic stuff, they may toss their food bowls around in protest!  You'll usually be able to find Martins at Pet Value.  Oxbow pellets is also a good brand.

 

Treats

And treats.  Oh boy, do they love their treats!  They are shameless beggars and will try to swipe whatever they can.  One of our bunns took off with a whole slice of pizza with my husband in pursuit.  If you have a little one, beware the Cheerios!  Its not just toddlers that love them!  Bunnies should not eat cereal and even the treats they can eat should be kept in moderation.  My bunnies love Ocean Spray's Craisons.  Look for them in the baking and sometimes produce section of your local supermarket, and you can also find the generic ones at the Bulk Food Store.  They're dried cranberries and come in a variety of flavours.  But keep it to no more than 2-3 per day because of the sugar they contain.  Same goes for fruit, they love apples, bananas, melon, watermelon, grapes, papaya (you can give them Swiss Formula Papaya Supplements, sparingly).  They also enjoy alfalfa cubes, oat groats, and many types of fruit baby food (no sugar added).

Chocolate is a no-no and every bunny we've had has tried to steal some of that from our son at Halloween, Easter or other occasions.  Its tough when you have a young child leaving bits and pieces everywhere but try not to let your bunny get hold of it.

Don't worry if your bunny eats some of its fecal pellets.  This is natural.  They have some that are called cecotropes.  These differ from the usual fecal pellets in that they are moist, often mucous covered and full of nutrients and beneficial bacteria.  They produce these specifically to eat them, often at certain times of the day when you won't necessarily see them do it which is why they're sometimes called "night droppings".

If you have them free roam they can drink out of a water dish but they may fling it around if they get ticked off about something.  We've found the Catit Water Dome is perfect for rabbits.  We bought another one to use with our foster rabbits.  Its a good angle for them to get at the water, as it comes down over the dome.  Plus it keeps the water running fresh and cold, and you don't have to refill it as much as a water dish.  It even comes with a protective covering for the cord so they can't chew it.  I think they marketed this for the wrong animals, it should have been for rabbits instead of cats!

I make bunny cookies and just the smell of them baking has all the rabbits in the house going nuts.

Bunny Cookies

1/4 cup baby food your bunny likes, eg. apple, carrot, blueberry (or puree fresh fruit/veggie)
1 small banana, mashed.
2 tbsp of honey
1/2 cup finely ground rabbit pellets
1/2 cup finely ground rolled oats

Mix together the wet ingredients first and then add the dry pellets and rolled oats which you have ground finely in a blender or coffee grinder.  You can add a bit more of the pellet/oat mixture if you need to, so that you get a dough-like consistency.  Putting the dough in the fridge or freezer can help as well.  Use cookie cutters (I use small bunny shaped ones) and bake on a parchment paper or foil covered cookie pan (because you may want to use the pan for people again!).  Bake at about 325F for half an hour but watch them closely because they can burn easily.  You can also create your own variations by adding different herbs, oat groats, cranberries, raisons, etc.

Mint Raspberry Drops

1/3 cup frozen raspberry, thawed
1/2 tbsp dried mint
1/3 cup ground rabbit pellets
3 Tbsp ground oats

Knead and form little balls. Bake at 325F for about 20 minutes, check for browning, should be hard on the outside when done and not mushy when you press them.

 

Cat Grass

I found "cat grass" at a pet store.  The cat wanted nothing to do with it but the bunnies whipped themselves into a frenzy over the stuff.  The seed package I buy (above) contains oat, barley or wheat seeds which are easy to digest for bunnies.  Plant them in a pot with potting or seeding soil, put them in the windowsill and water everyday.  I had to make several pots because my bunnies love them!  Best of all, they are free of chemicals and pesticides.  As long as the roots remain, they should re-sprout and within a few days you'll have more.

Foods Rabbits can Eat

The following is a partial list of foods you can feed your rabbit.  Some contain more calcium which is not good.  You will notice white urine stains if your bunny is getting too much calcium.  Also, foods with higher sugar content should be given in small quantities as it can be dangerous for a rabbit's delicate digestive system.

All foods marked with * should be given in limited quantities.

 

Alfalfa*
Apple - not the seeds*
Apricot*
Arugula
Basil
Beet greens and tops
Blueberry*
Bok Choy
Borage
Broccoli * (can cause gas)
Brussel Sprouts * (can cause gas)
Carrot Tops
Carrots *
Catnip & Catmint
Cauliflower *
Celery
Chinese Broccoli
Cilantro
Clover
Collard Greens*
Comfrey
Parsley (Curly & Italian)
Dandelion Greens

 

Dill
Endive (Belgian and Curly, Chicory)
Escarole
Fennel
Grapes* (not the seeds)
Pepper, Green or Red
Kale*
Kohl Rabi (and tops)
Lemon Balm
Lemon Grass
Lettuce (Romaine, Red or Green Leaf but never Iceberg)
Lollo Rosso
Lovage
Melon *
Mint (except Pennyroyal as it is toxic)
Mizuna Greens
Mustard Greens*
Nasturtium
Orange *
Oregano
Papaya *
Parsel
Parsnip *
Pea Pods
Peach *
Pears *
Peppermint leaves
Pineapple * (fresh only)
Plums *
Raddicchio
Radish Sprouts and tops
Radishes and Tops
Rapini
Raspberries *
Red Chard
Rocket
Rutabegas
Spinach*
Strawberries *
Sweet marjoram
Thyme
Tomato * (no parts of the plant)
Turnips
Watercress
Fresh Grasses (wheat, barley, oat)

 

  • Martin Mills Rabbit Food - arguably one of the best on the market.  Our fosters and our own bunny love it.

  • Canadian Pet Connection - this Oakville based store carries Oxbow products, hay and meadow grasses.

  • Catit Water Dome - made by Hagen, its perfect for Rabbits.

  • Everything you ever wanted to know about rabbits but were afraid to ask ...