Diet Essentials for Rabbits

Pellets: Pellets are most important in the younger stages of rabbit development because they are highly concentrated in nutrients, helping to ensure proper weight gain. A quality pelleted food should be high in fiber (18% minimum) and nutritionally balanced. As a rabbit reaches maturity, however, pellets should make up less of the diet   replaced with higher quantities of hay and vegetables. Overfeeding pellets in mature rabbits can lead to obesity and other medical conditions.

Hay: Rabbits should have fresh hay available 24 hours a day. Rabbits less than 7 months old may have alfalfa hay, but older rabbits should have grass hays such as timothy or oat hay. Hay is essential to a rabbit's good health, providing the roughage that helps reduce the danger of hairballs and other blockages.

Water: Fresh water should be available to your pet around the clock, as well. Each day, change the water in the dish or water bottle with fresh water. On a weekly basis, sanitize the water dish/bottle with a mild dish detergent and rinse thoroughly before adding drinking water.

Vegetables: Vegetables provide valuable roughage, as well as essential vitamins. As early as 3 months of age, you can begin to offer vegetables. Introduce new vegetables one at a time. This way, if a digestive upset occurs, you will know which food may be the culprit. Eliminate those that cause soft stools or diarrhea. Continue to add new varieties, including both dark leafy vegetables and root vegetables, and serve vegetables of different colours. Once your rabbit is used to several vegetables, feed him or her at least three different kinds daily for a mix of nutrients.

What are the basics of a good house rabbit diet?

A rabbit’s diet should be made up of good quality pellets, fresh hay (timothy or other grass hays), oat hay, water and fresh vegetables. Anything beyond that is a “treat” and should be given in limited quantities.

 

What makes a good pellet?

Pellets should be fresh, and should be relatively high in fibre(18% minimum fibre). Do not purchase more than 6 weeks worth of feed at a time, as it will become spoiled. Pellets should make up less of a rabbit’s diet as he or she grows older, and hay should be available 24 hours a day. Alfalfa pellets are fine for younger rabbits but timothy pellets are preferred for older rabbits.

 

What kinds of veggies should I feed my rabbit?

When shopping for vegetables, look for a selection of different veggies–look for both dark leafy veggies and root vegetables, and try to get different colours. Stay away from beans and rhubarb. Introduce new veggies slowly.

 

Is feeding hay important?

Hay is essential to a rabbit’s good health, providing roughage which reduces the danger of hairballs and other blockages. Apple tree twigs also provide good roughage.

 

What quantities of food should I feed babies and “teenagers”?

  • Birth to 3 weeks–mother’s milk
  • 3 to 4 weeks–mother’s milk, nibbles of alfalfa and pellets
  • 4 to 7 weeks–mother’s milk, access to alfalfa and pellets
  • 7 weeks to 7 months–unlimited pellets, unlimited hay (plus see 12 weeks below)
  • 12 weeks–introduce vegetables (one at a time, quantities under 1/2 oz.)

What quantities of food should I feed young adults? (7 months to 1 year)

  • introduce timothy hay, grass hay, oat hay, and other hays; decrease alfalfa
  • decrease pellets to 1/2 cup per 6 lbs. body weight
  • increase daily vegetables gradually; make sure your rabbit can tolerate
  • fruit daily ration no more than 1 oz. to 2 oz. per 6 lbs. body weight (because of calories)

What quantities of food should I feed mature adults? (1 to 5 years)

  • Unlimited timothy, grass hay, oat hay, other hays including brome, Bermuda, etc.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup pellets per 6 lbs. body weight (depending on metabolism and/or proportionate to veggies)
  • Minimum 2 cups chopped vegetables per 6 lbs. body weight; always introduce vegetables and greens slowly to make sure your rabbit can tolerate
  • fruit daily ration no more than 2 oz. (2 TBL) per 6 lbs. body weight.

What quantities of food should I feed senior rabbits? (Over 6 years)

  • If sufficient weight is maintained, continue adult diet
  • Frail, older rabbits may need unrestricted pellets to keep weight up. Alfalfa can be given to underweight rabbits, only if calcium levels are normal. Annual blood workups are highly recommended for geriatric rabbits.

If I feed fewer pellets, how do I compensate?

When you feed a lower quantity of pellets, you must replace the nutritional value without the calories, which is done by increasing the vegetables. Also, a variety of hay must be encouraged all day long, we do this by offering fresh hay a couple of times a day.

 

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