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What you should know about your rabbits' diet


The rabbit diet should consist of water, hay, pellets and greens/vegetables.

Hay
The most important part of the diet is hay, and should be about 80 percent of what rabbits eat. The reason is that hay contains large amounts of fiber which helps the digestive system function optimally. Hay keeps the digestion going and helps prevent gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. In addition, hay-eating is important for wearing down the teeth. If your rabbits do not eat enough hay, teeth problems will probably occur. Hay should therefore always be available to your rabbits. It should be green and smell fresh.


Greens/Vegetables
A varied selection of greens provides rabbits with a variety of nutrients and a variety of diversions. In addition, greens contain water.

Greens, like all new food, should be introduced slowly. Since the stomachs of young rabbits can be very sensitive, one should not start introducing greens until 3-4 months of age.

Rabbits cannot tolerate moldy or rotten food; their tolerance for these things is lower than human tolerance. As a rule of thumb, you should not give your rabbits any greens that you would not serve to formal dinner guests.

In addition to being selective about the condition of the greens you provide your rabbits, you also need to be selective about which greens you give them. Light-colored salad leaves (like iceberg lettuce), cucumber, and cabbage can cause digestive problems and diarrhea. You should also steer away from seeds, nuts, grain, corn, peas, beans, potatoes, bamboo sprouts, all dairy products and raw sugar because they can cause serious digestive problems. Fruit contains a lot of sugar and should therefore be limited to maximum 1-2 tablespoons a day. There might be differences in different rabbits in terms of what their stomachs tolerate, and you should therefore see how each rabbit reacts to a new food in small amounts before you increase it to bigger amounts.

Examples of what you can give your rabbits are celery, green peppers, lollo rosso lettuce, sugar peas, ruccola; and herbs like basil, dill, and lemon balm. Dark salad leaves should be given daily. The recommended amount is 2-4 dl greens a day and 3-6 different types.

Pellets
Pellets are a concentrated source of energy and nutrients. They need to be given adequately but not excessively. Use a pellet formulation specifically designed for rabbits that contains pieces that all look the same. The commonly found so-called "mixes for rabbit and rodents" with different looking pieces and a high seed content are NOT adapted to the rabbits' highly specialized digestive system and can in many cases lead to GI stasis and obesity.

A good pellet formulation is hay-based and contains at least 18% fiber and 12-14% protein. In addition it should contain a maximum of 3% fat/oil and a maximum of 1% calcium.

The recommended amount is 20 grams (0.7 oz) per kilo the rabbit weighs. Some rabbits may need more or less than this so you have to consider the individual rabbit's needs. Young rabbits should NOT get an unlimited amount, but the same amount dictated by their weight as adults get.

Some recommended pellet types:

  • Oxbow Bunny Basics T (av mange sett på som den beste)
  • Supa Rabbit Excel
  • Science Selective
  • Cuni Complete

Treats and vitamin supplements
Treats and candy made for rodents and rabbits that you find in the pet shop are rarely anything but damaging to your rabbits' digestion and should not be given. They often contain grain, corn, yogurt and other unhealthy ingredients. It is much better to give greens, and rabbits love greens just as much.

Vitamin supplements are unnecessary for healthy rabbits. Hay, greens, and pellets should provide your rabbits all the vitamins they need.

Sources:
http://www.medirabbit.com/NO/GI_no/Food/feeding_no.pdf
http://www.rabbit.org
http://www.kanin.org/forum (Norwegian)

Skrevet av: Kaja B. Østerud