In this day and age, with all of the good-quality hay and specially-crafted feeds available, it is relatively easy to ensure that your rabbits have all of the vitamins and minerals they need. The bulk of your rabbits’ diets should be hay, supplemented by dry pellets and fresh food. It’s very important to give your rabbits a balanced diet each day to help them maintain their activity levels and dental health. For help and advice on meeting all your rabbits’ catering needs, read on.
Once you know how, it's not difficult to provide your rabbit with all the foodstuffs they need
This section contains help and advice on meeting your rabbits’ basic dietary requirements, providing food for juvenile rabbits, introducing your rabbits to a new diet, and, perhaps most importantly, understanding what your pets can and can’t eat. If you’re in any doubt, it’s best to keep it away from your pets. Rabbits have a very different digestive system to ours, and so it’s preferable to be very cautious and not to risk anything you’re not too sure about.
What Do Rabbits Eat?
Although rabbits have relatively simple needs, they require three key food types in order to stay healthy. In no particular order, these are:
- Dry food
- Fresh food
They will also need an unlimited supply of clean, fresh water, and would benefit from a salt lick, and a chew.
Meadow hay should form the main staple of your pets’ diet. Wild rabbits get almost all of their nutrition from the grass that they eat, and so it’s good to mimic this when keeping pet rabbits in captivity. Not only this, but it helps keep their teeth at a manageable level. Most importantly, without hay, rabbits’ digestive systems struggle to function properly. It really is an essential part of their diet.
Dry foods are crucial in making sure that your rabbits have all the necessary vitamins and minerals. They’ve been specially formulated so that they contain lots of different essential nutrients, so they are a really important part of any pet rabbit’s diet. We sell an excellent dry pellet option at online and instore.
Fresh foods are important too. Fresh (not frozen or damp) leafy foods should be provided to your pets on a daily basis. Be a little careful about which you offer, however, as some fruits and vegetables can do more harm than good. Have a look at our Rabbit Food List below for more information.
It is worth mentioning that if you are bringing your rabbits home for the first time, then it’s really crucial that you ask who you’re buying them from for some of the food that they’re currently being kept on. Altering a rabbit’s diet needs to be done slowly and gradually so that they can get used to any changes that you make. Doing so too quickly can cause serious stomach upsets, so keep a close eye on your rabbits during this time.
Baby Rabbit Food
Your pet rabbits are mammals, which means that their mothers will provide them with milk containing all that they need to grow and thrive. That is, until they are about seven weeks old - at this point, she’ll stop suckling them and they will transition onto solid foods. This can be quite a tricky process, and during this time it’s best to be careful and not too adventurous with your young rabbits’ diets.
It's wise to be very careful when introducing new foods to rabbits - especially young ones
Once baby rabbits are about three weeks old, they may try to eat tiny amounts of the pellet feed their mother eats. By the time they have been weaned, this, alongside hay, should be all that they are eating. Introducing fresh food should be done very gradually, and with small amounts at first. Many people recommend that you don’t start introducing fresh foods to a baby rabbit's diet until they are at least three months old.
Rabbit Dry Foods
There are a wide variety of rabbit food options, from pellets to mixes. Dry foods are important parts of a rabbit’s diet as they supplement both hay and fresh food, providing a lot of nutrition and helping to ensure your rabbits’ bodies have all they need.
One of the most important things to remember about purchasing dry foods is to get one that is specially tailored to rabbits’ needs. This will have the vitamins and minerals necessary for this species to thrive. Purchasing something meant for another animal can be dangerous, as what is right for one may not be right for another, and even could be harmful! There are plenty of good rabbit-focussed options to choose from, so it’s best to make your selection from one of these.
Another thing to remember about dry foods is that if you want to try your rabbit on something new, you’ll need to do so extremely gradually, as quick transitions can cause digestive upsets. This caution needs to be exercised throughout a pets’ life, but perhaps most stringently when they are first brought to your home. Whatever they have been fed beforehand, you’ll need a good supply of it so that you can gradually wean them off of the old, slowly enough so that they can adjust to the new.
Rabbit Food List
Rabbits have quite sensitive digestive systems, so it’s wise to stick to a few select foods when judging what to feed them. Although this list is not comprehensive, it should give you a good, general idea - it could also be a useful page to print out and keep somewhere in your kitchen.
Rabbits love their food and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet. The main part of a rabbit’s diet should be unlimited amounts of fresh hay (preferably Timothy or Meadow Hay), grass, and plenty of clean water available.
When introducing any new food, always do so slowly over a few weeks to avoid digestive upsets. Rabbits, like humans are all different and as such some may be unable to tolerate certain foods. Only give a small amount and wait for 24 hours, if your rabbit produces soft poo, withdraw the food and try with something else after everything has settled back to normal. Allow 5 - 7 days before making any other additions. Always wash food first and don't feed plants from roadsides or that contain pesticides.
Rabbits have quite sensitive digestive systems, so it’s wise to stick to a few select foods when judging what to feed them. This list is pretty comprehensive, it should give you a good idea of what to and NOT to feed out to keep your bunny happy and safe - it could also be a useful page to print out and keep somewhere in your kitchen.
The following list was taken from the RWAF website.
Rabbits can eat a number of different foods, but be sure to introduce anything that is new very slowly
- Unlimited Water
- Rabbit Salt Lick
- Grass (be careful of the weeds and plants that come along with this, and do not feed them clippings, as this can cause stomach problems)
- Unlimited Hay
- Dry Food (pellets)
Which Fruits Can Rabbits Eat?
Fruits should be fed in moderation due to sugar content (up to 2 tablespoons worth per day). Do not feed the pips, stones, plants etc of fruits unless otherwise stated, as most of the time they are poisonous! Rabbits love sugary fruit and will eat too much of it, which is bad for them. Therefore it's up to you to limit it!
- Apple (not the pips - they are poisonous!)
- Banana (high in potassium)
- Blackberries (and leaves – excellent astringent properties)
- Cherries (not the pits and plant - they contain cyanide and are therefore poisonous!)
- Kiwi Fruit
- Raspberries (and leaves – excellent astringent properties)
- Strawberries (and leaves)
- Tomatoes (NOT the leaves)
Which Vegetables Can Rabbits Eat?
A good guideline is to feed a minimum of 1 cup of vegetables for each 4 lbs of body weight per day.
- Artichoke leaves
- Baby Sweetcorn (but not full size ones)
- Beetroot (care with leafy tops as high levels of oxalic acid) - can cause gas so limit
- Broccoli (and its leaves, including purple sprouting varieties) - can cause gas so limit
- Brussel Sprouts (leaves and sprouts) - can cause gas so limit
- Cabbage (can sometimes cause digestive upsets) - can cause gas so limit
- Carrots (& carrot tops) – not the roots as they are high in sugars. Carrots should be limited due to high sugar content.
- Cauliflower (and the leaves)
- Celery leaves
- Courgette (and flowers)
- Curly Kale
- Green beans
- Kohl rabi
- Peas (including the leaves and pods)
- Peppers (red, green and yellow)
- Radish Tops - can cause gas so limit
- Rocket (also known as Arugula)
- Romaine lettuce (not Iceberg or light coloured leaf)
- Spinach (only occasional)
- Spring Greens
- Squash (e.g. Butternut)
- Turnip (only occasional)
Safe Herbs for Rabbits
They can taste very strong so offer a little to start with to get your bunnies used to them.
- Coriander (also known as Cilantro
- Mint (peppermint)
- Parsley - not too much as high in calcium
Wild Garden Herbs, Weeds and Flowers for Rabbits
If you are going to give your rabbits wild greens, they can’t have been sprayed by any pesticides, weedkillers, or fertilisers as these can be harmful. Double-check which plants are in your garden before letting your bunnies loose!
- Chickweed (astringent)
- Clover (leaves and flowers)
- Dandelion (diuretic properties)
- Goosegrass (cleavers) but may stick to coat!
- Nasturtium (leaves and flowers)
- Shepherd’s purse
- Sow Thistle
There is a very long list of wild greens that rabbits should avoid, so if you’re unsure of your plant identification skills, it’s best to leave it out.
Rabbit Food Bowl
Rabbit foodbowls are extremely useful accessories for your pets’ enclosure. They prevent rabbit pellets and rabbit fresh food from scattering all over the floor, and they make it significantly easier to prevent your pets from becoming ill from spoiled food. If you scatter food in their enclosure rather than depositing it in bowls, it’s a little harder to remove before it spoils, and a lot of it can get wasted.
Another benefit of bowls is that is makes cleaning a little easier. Whilst scattering food around the run can be a fun diversion for your pets, it’s best to only do this once in a while, as it increases the likelihood of pieces of food being missed when you come to clean. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of attracting unwanted guests! Rats and mice both love to eat rabbit food, especially old bits and pieces that you may not realise have been lying around for a time.
All Eglu units come free with several items, including these bowls
The best rabbit food bowls are those that are a little weighty, so that your rabbit won’t constantly tip them over. Metal bowls, or low earthenware ones are the best, as these are difficult to displace. Their plastic counterparts may be a little cheaper, but the heavier options are likely to save you a lot of time and effort.
Rabbit Food Dispensers
Although rabbits need fresh food and unlimited hay each day, their pellet needs can be met by a timed food dispenser. These may be a little big for most hutches, but house rabbits may be able to use them.
We strongly recommend putting your rabbit’s hay in a hay dispenser. Although this sounds complicated, in reality it often simply takes the form of a little rack that sits in your rabbits’ hutch, one which you keep topped up with plenty of tasty hay. Dispensers make sure that the hay your rabbits are eating is nice and clean – it stops them eating their bedding, which not only what they use to keep warm, but could have been used as a rabbit toilet! Putting hay in the dispenser ensures that it’s kept clean.
It's often useful to store your rabbits' hay provisions in a special dispenser
Dispensers are especially useful if you want to use specialty hay options, such as nutritionally-fortified hay. Putting this material in the dispenser ensures that it’s kept separate from the bedding hay, allowing you to bypass it easily when you come to clean, and ensuring that your rabbits won’t get it dirty.
Rabbit Water Bottles
Water bottles are a vital piece of any pet owner’s equipment. Fresh, clean water should be readily available to your rabbits at all times – they’ll need an unlimited supply in order to stay hydrated. Although rabbits can gain a significant supply of water from their diets, you would be surprised at how much a pet rabbit needs.
The best rabbit water bottles are those that stand upright, and are gravity fed. Those owners who opt for a water bowl will find that cleaning them is a chore that requires frequent attention – all sort of fluff, hay, food debris and waste gets caught in water bowls, and sprightly rabbits will often overturn them when running around their enclosure. It’s for these reasons that a gravity fed rabbit water bottle is the best choice. This item comes free with the Eglu Go Hutch our modern alternatives to the traditional hutch.
An unlimited supply of fresh water is essential to your rabbits
The bottle should be cleaned out at least once a week, and should be checked to ensure that it is working properly each day. Happily, this is extraordinarily simple to do. Just pass your finger over the ball in the spout – if any water comes out, it’s working fine. If this doesn’t happen, then the water bottle is broken and will need to be replaced immediately, as your rabbit won’t be able to drink out of it. A water bowl might be useful in the interim, until you can get a new water bottle.