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 is very important for a rabbit's digestive system.
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
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
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!
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 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.
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.
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
325°F 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.
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.
Apple - not the seeds*
Beet greens and tops
Broccoli * (can cause gas)
Brussel Sprouts * (can cause gas)
Catnip & Catmint
Parsley (Curly & Italian)
Endive (Belgian and Curly, Chicory)
Grapes* (not the seeds)
Pepper, Green or Red
Kohl Rabi (and tops)
Lettuce (Romaine, Red or Green Leaf but never Iceberg)
Mint (except Pennyroyal as it is toxic)
Pineapple * (fresh only)
Radish Sprouts and tops
Radishes and Tops
Tomato * (no parts of the plant)
Fresh Grasses (wheat, barley, oat)
Everything you ever wanted to know about
rabbits but were afraid to ask ...