The old saying that ‘you are what you eat’ applies just as much to our pets as it does to us. So if you’re introducing a pet rabbit to your family and wondering how you can give him the best possible care, rabbit food and diet are obviously going to be two very important considerations.
But do you know what constitutes the right diet for your pet rabbit? What food does your adorable little furball need to grow into a healthy and happy family pet? If not, check out our top five tips for feeding your fluffy pet:
- Grass and hay. Rabbits are herbivores and need a balanced diet in order to stay in the best possible condition. The most important ingredient in your pet rabbit’s diet is good-quality fresh grass or hay — Timothy, oat, rye, barley, paddock and meadow are all acceptable, but lucerne and clover hays contain too much protein and calcium. Store your rabbit’s hay in a cool, dry place and ensure that it makes up around 80 or 85 percent of what your bunny eats. The right diet is perhaps the most crucial factor in keeping your pet rabbit healthy, so base his diet on a constant supply of fresh grass or hay and you’ll be on the right track.
- Not just carrots. When it comes to widely held misconceptions about the right diet for pet rabbits, Bugs Bunny has a lot to answer for. That ‘wascally wabbit’ was rarely seen chomping on anything other than a big juicy carrot, so many first-time rabbit owners automatically assume that carrots form an important part of a pet rabbit’s diet. In reality, carrots can only be given as very occasional treats, with leafy green vegetables next on your pet rabbit’s diet wish list. Provide at least three different varieties of leafy greens each day — as a rough guide, two cups of greens per kilogram of body weight is about right. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach leaves, bok choy, endive, parsley, coriander and a range of green-leafed lettuce varieties can all be beneficial for your pet.
- Picking pellets. Many new rabbit owners are surprised to learn that commercial rabbit pellets should only be given in quite small quantities. You should make sure that pellets don’t make up any more than 10 per cent of your pet’s diet, while it’s also essential to feed a high-quality pellet with a fibre content of at least 18 per cent. Pellets based on grass hays should be fed, so avoid alfalfa hay and any pellet products that also contain seeds, nuts or dried fruits.
- Treat time. We all love to spoil our furry friends every now and then, so what makes the perfect tasty treat for your pet rabbit? A rabbit’s definition of a treat is actually quite different to what we might give ourselves as a treat, with fruit and some other varieties of vegetable making up the list of the top rabbit treats. As well as the aforementioned carrots, your bunny can benefit from apples, cherries, blueberries, mangoes, peaches, pears, sweet potato, capsicum and a wide range of other fruit and vegies. Just remember that moderation is the key when it comes to treats, so don’t give your rabbit any more than one or two tablespoons of these delicious snacks each day.
- Foods to avoid. Now that you know exactly what you can feed your pet rabbit, it’s time to take a look at the foods you should avoid under all circumstances. Never give your pet rabbit anything high in starch or sugar, as they can result in soft stools and some very upset little rabbit stomachs. Make sure to avoid cereals, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, corn, bananas, bread, chocolate and rolled oats among others. This is far from an exhaustive list of the foods you should never give to your pet rabbit, so ask your vet if you’re unsure about whether any particular food is okay to give to your fluffy friend.
These five simple tips explain all the basics about what you should and shouldn’t feed your pet rabbit, so now you’re ready to welcome your new pet home and give him the diet he needs to grow up in perfect health.