Many people get rabbits as pets, but before you get one it is important to know what to feed rabbits. According to cartoons, they just eat carrots, but this is not true and your rabbits will not be healthy without proper nutrition. Some food is toxic and poisonous to rabbits, so make sure to read my article on what to avoid feeding them.
Rabbits need clean drinking water, check twice daily, because without water they become quite ill. They need to stay hydrated from all the hay they eat. Monitor the drinking and eating habits of your rabbits. If these habits change or they produce soft droppings that stick to their back end, they could be quite ill.
Make sure rabbit food is always fresh and fresh and free of insects. Different sources will give proportions on how much rabbits should be fed of each food source. Feed rabbits mostly hay and grass, between 50-90%. This amount will vary according to the rabbit’s age, since they need more protein when growing (so pellets would be recommendable) and more fiber when mature.
Wait till your bunnies are three months old before introducing new foods and do it one food at a time. Once they are used to eating different foods, you can combine up to three kinds per day. Fruits are high in sugar, so they should be a sweet treat. Pregnant and nursing rabbits need more food. Do not overfeed your rabbits because this will harm their health.
Wild rabbits eat grass, plants, weeds, clover, wildflowers, twigs, bark, pine needles, and buds. They can even climb trees to get food if needed. As herbivores they graze and they eat constantly. Their digestive systems process food very fast and they poop it out in two types. A curious and perhaps disturbing fact is that rabbits eat their poop.
Hay and Grass
Rabbits eat different types of hay including brome, oat, orchard grass and Timothy. Eating grass is important for them since it wears down their teeth, which grow constantly, keeping them at the correct length. Hay helps maintain the gut function and movement of your rabbits.
Alfalfa should not be given daily, because it is a more legume type of hay and adult rabbits need grass hay which has more fiber. Only feed alfalfa hay to bunnies under seven months old. Do not feed rabbits lawnmower clipping since they can upset their digestive system.
Leafy Greens and Sprouts
You can feed rabbits lettuce, but start with small quantities to make sure they do not experience digestive issues. It is best to pick darker and leafy lettuces. Some types of lettuce, such as iceberg, are toxic for rabbits and light colored lettuces do not have nutrients.
Arugula, Boston bibb lettuce, butter lettuce, endive, bok choy, cabbage, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, radicchio, watercress and wheatgrass are all suitable options to feed daily. Chard, kale and collard greens can also be given up to two times per week. Sprouts that can be fed to rabbits include alfalfa, clover, brussel and radish.
Herbs and Flowers
There are some types of herbs that are suitable to feed rabbits. These include basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, fennel, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Flowers that can be fed to rabbits include calendula, chamomile, daylily, dianthus, hibiscus, English daisy, honeysuckle, marigold, nasturtium, rose, and pansy.
Root and Other Vegetables
Rabbits do not eat carrots in the wild or any other root vegetable. Carrots are also packed with sugar, so this can be given as a snack, perhaps 1-3 pieces per week deepening on the size of the rabbit.
Mix a few vegetables to feed rabbits, these can include cucumber, asparagus, beets (in moderation), celery, peas (in moderation), bell peppers, squash and pumpkin.
You can feed rabbits one or two servings of fruit per week. Calculate 1.5 tablespoons per 5 pounds of body weight.
Fruits that you can feed rabbits include watermelon, pineapple, papaya, melon, mango, banana, apples, pears, oranges, peaches, plums, pomegranate (no seeds), nectarines, and grapes. They also like berries like blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, cherries and strawberries. Do not give them seeds.
I do not feed rabbits pellets since I have a farm so I am able to provide them with food. But people who are raising rabbits at home or have long winters may need to buy pellets. Pellets are also a good way to wean your rabbits, before feeding them fresh grass and hay.
Make sure not feed rabbits more than 30% pellets. This food is a complement to hay for any nutrients that may be lacking. Choose high quality pellets that do not have nuts, seeds, and dried corn. Bunnies under 12 months need more protein and can be feed alfalfa pellets. Adult rabbits can be fed Timothy pellets. A dwarf adult rabbit needs 0.12 cups of pellets, while a mid or large size rabbit needs 0.25 cups of pellet per day.