Monday, 15 August 2016

Rabbit 101 - Diet

Rabbits have complex dietary needs and complex body system, so feeding your rabbit the correct diet is essential for a healthy rabbit. Unlike the popular cartoon carrots and belief, carrots should not be a huge part of a rabbit’s diet and should be limited, if not fed at all. Unfortunately pet stores and supermarkets also sell many treats that aren’t ideal and could actually cause harm to your bunny/bunnies so please research and check the ingredients and nutritional value on the back of food and treat packets before feeding to your bunny, if unsure you are best to avoid.

Muesli – You will find rabbit muesli and food mixes in most pet food suppliers, these usually include corn, seeds as well as other nuggets and ingredients. These should be avoided, as this is classed as junk food for rabbits and can cause many health issues including: obesity, over grown teeth, lack of nutritional and vitamins leading to other major health issues.

Pellets – If your rabbit is younger than 5 months, they should be allowed an unlimited amount of good quality pellets, if they aren’t eating much hay then you can reduce the amount of pellets you are offering them.
Pellets should only be around 5% of your rabbit’s diet, they should all be similar in size, shape and colour and contain at least 18% fibre and 14% protein, with the main ingredient being some form of hay or grass. You can feed 1 tablespoon per kilogram of rabbit daily.
I would recommend highly recommend Supreme Science Selective for those that have it available to them and Oxbow for those outside of the UK.

Hay – Hay comes in a wide variety with Timothy and Meadow hay being the two most popular and accessible, fresh hay and grass should be at least 80% of your rabbits diet, this helps with their digestive system and keeps their gut moving, it also helps keep their teeth ground down as they are constantly growing. Alfalfa hay is good for younger rabbits under the age of 5 months and those that need to put on weight. *Please do not feed rabbits mowed cuttings, grass that is cut from a strimmer or lawn mower can contain chemicals from the machinery and can ferment quicker.
Hay should ALWAYS be available for your rabbit along with fresh water, bowl or bottle.

Fruit – Fruit should be given sparingly it at all, you should also treat carrots as if you would fruit when feeding to rabbits as it is just as high in sugar. The general rule of giving fruit and carrots to your rabbits, is no more than two tablespoons of fruit or carrot a day and remove all pips, stones and seeds.

Safe Fruits
Apple,
Apricot,
Banana,
Blackberries with leaves,
Blueberries,
Cherries,
Grapes,
Kiwi Fruit,
Mango,
Melon,
Nectarines,
Oranges without peel,
Papaya,
Peaches,
Pears,
Pineapple,
Plums,
Raspberries with leaves,
Strawberries with tops,
Tomatoes without leaves.

Vegetables – Vegetables can slowly be introduced to bunnies around the age of 5 months, but ideally 6 months is the best age to introduce them. It is best to introduce them to a new type of vegetable one at a time and see how your rabbit reacts, by keeping an eye on their behaviour and poop, waiting 24 hours between each new food. If their poop seems less solid and soft/sloppy, it could be that a certain type of vegetable doesn’t agree with them and has caused an upset tummy, wait until their poop returns to normal before feeding anything else new. Some rabbits react badly to vegetables, so you have to judge it by the individual. Those that can have vegetables, 10-15% of their diet is a good amount to feed of feed your bunny, a mix of 4-6 different types, this can also include weeds and herbs, a cup full per 1.8kg of bunny. Dark leafy greens should be the most part of their vegetable intake, Please wash all vegetables before feeding to your rabbits.

Safe Vegetables 
(star*** means limit)
Artichoke leaves,
Asparagus,
Baby Corn (the ONLY corn)
Beetroot***
Broccoli with leaves***
Brussel Sprouts with leaves***
Butternut Squash,
Cabbage***
Carrots***
Cauliflower with leaves,
Celeriac,
Celery with leaves,
Chicory,
Courgette with flowers,
Cucumber***
Curly Kale,
Fennel,
Green beans,
Kohl rabi,
Parsnip,
Peas with the leaves and pods,
Peppers,
Pumpkin,
Radish Tops***
Rocket,
Romaine lettuce,
Spinach***
Spring Greens***
Swede,
Turnip***
Watercress.

Herbs Herbs can also be part of their vegetable mix, they are slightly stronger in smell and taste and can take a few tries before your rabbit takes to even trying them. Bunnies that tend to have a runny bottom after eating vegetables are often more tolerant to herbs, so it is worth a try.

Safe Herbs:
Basil,
Coriander,
Dill,
Mint,
Parsley,
Oregano,
Rosemary,
Sage,
Thyme.

Weeds
Weeds are an ideal source of food for our rabbits, usually easy accessible and a natural source of nutrition. *Please only pick weeds from areas you are aware of that haven’t used chemicals or pesticides that could potentially harm your bunny, washing them will also help make sure they are clean, your bunnies can graze from these naturally in the garden as well. *Please don’t use any weeds that have been cut with a strimmer or mower, these will ferment quicker and may contain chemicals from the machinery.

Safe Weeds
Borage,
Calendula,
Camomile,
Chickweed, 
Clover,
Coltsfoot,
Comfrey,
Dandelion, 
Goosegrass (cleavers) 
Lavender,
Mallow,
Nettle,
Nasturtium,
Shepherd’s purse,
Sow Thistle,
Plantain,
Yarrow.

Human foods – Human processed foods aren’t generally the healthiest for humans and should not be fed to your rabbits.

TOP TIPS:
1) When changing over to a new food (from Muesli to pellets or a certain brand to another) you need to add a little of the new one to the old food, gradually add more and change it over 7-10 days.
2) If your bunny stops eating completely, for over 12 hours and isn't their self, please consult a vet immediately.
3) NO nuts, NO seeds and NO corn (except baby corn)
4) If in doubt - avoid

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