A Healthy Diet for your Rabbit
17 - 25th of June 2017 is Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) - this year the focus is on a healthy diet.
Rabbits are herbivores and their diet should consist of fresh hay, grass, vegetables and pellets. A good quality balanced diet is essential for keeping rabbits healthy and can help to avoid many diet related health issues throughout life.
Fibre is the most important part of a rabbit’s diet and fresh hay and grass should make up 80% of their daily intake. A rabbit will eat their body size in hay each day so it is important that fresh good quality hay is provided. Rabbits feed frequently and fibre is important to maintain healthy digestion and gastrointestinal tract motility and function. Other forms of fibre that rabbits can eat are grass, readigrass, bark/twigs/leaves from apple, pear or willow trees.
Dried concentrates (pellets) can be fed daily but should make up no more than 5% of their daily feed intake – rabbits should not have free access to dried pellets as this can lead to obesity. A good quality pellet such as Burgess Excel rabbit food or Supreme Selective rabbit can help provide the appropriate vitamins and minerals required for a balanced diet and contain high fibre (around 20%). A feeding guideline would be 1 tablespoon per kilogram of bodyweight (approximately an egg cup full for a 2.5kg rabbit). Muesli food should be avoided as rabbits will selectively feed which can lead to dental, gastrointestinal and urinary system disease.
Scatter feeding dry food can help to encourage a more natural feeding behaviour rather than feeding from a bowl - feeding in this way will also encourage exercise, foraging and provide environmental enrichment.
Your rabbit will appreciate a portion of fresh vegetables each day and this should make up approximately 15% of their daily food intake. To help prevent obesity fruit and vegetables that are high in sugars are best avoided or given sparingly (for example, carrots, apples, strawberries and bananas). Iceberg and light coloured lettuce should be avoided as it can cause diarrhoea and even death.
Wild weeds can be given to your rabbit including dandelion, clover, and nettle. Here is a list of vegetables which are a good source of vitamins and fibre:
- Brussel sprouts
- Spring greens
- Carrot tops
- Cauliflower florets and leaves
- Herbs-parsley, coriander, basil etc
- Green beans
- Radish tops
- Baby sweetcorn
Rabbits should always have access to fresh water in a bowl or water bottle depending on what they prefer. A rabbit will drink approximately 50-100ml per kilogram of bodyweight daily.
During Rabbit Awareness Week we will be offering free health checks for your rabbit. Please contact your local branch to book.