To coincide with Rabbit Awareness Week (2-10 June), here are some tips for feeding your rabbits.
Grass and hay are vital
80% of a rabbit’s diet should be good quality hay, grass or a mixture of both. Rabbits will spend hours grazing on hay or grass, and the high fibre content keeps their guts and teeth healthy. For indoor rabbits, freshly picked grass is suitable, but avoid grass clippings as they ferment quickly. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and should generally be avoided in adult rabbits.
Move away from muesli
Muesli based diets encourage rabbits to pick out their favourite bits, which tend to be high in sugar and starch, and low in fibre. This predisposes rabbits to dental disease, gut problems and obesity. Rabbits should be fed a small number of pellets daily – about an egg cup full – as they are high in fibre, and provide the necessary nutrient, vitamins and minerals.
Carrot tops, not carrots
Despite what Bugs Bunny may think, carrots are actually not good for rabbits as they are high in sugar, and should only be given occasionally as a treat. Green carrot tops are a more appropriate snack.
Eat your greens
15% of a rabbit’s diet should be made up of a variety of plants and vegetables. Vegetables such as courgettes, spring greens, broccoli and curly kale, herbs such as basil and parsley, and plants such as dandelions and burdock are some good options. Avoid certain lettuces like iceberg which can be dangerous in large quantities. It is important that you offer a variety of leafy greens rather than rely on the same one or two items every time.
Eating their own poo is normal
Rabbits produce two types of faecal pellets. They produce hard round faecal pellets that are passed throughout the day, but they also produce soft faeces called caecotrophs, which contain proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and serve as an additional source of nutrients. They should eat these directly from their bottom. If their diet is not correct, or with conditions such as arthritis or dental disease, there may be a build up of caecotrophs, leading to other health problems, including flystrike.
Remember that we are offering FREE rabbits health checks with our Registered Veterinary Nurses throughout June, so please book an appointment for more advice on your rabbits’ diet, health and general care.