Feeding

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As herbivores, rabbits need a diet consisting almost entirely of vegetable matter. In the wild rabbits are essentially grazers, eating large volumes of grass, which is high in fibre, and low in protein and fats. Sadly, commercial rabbit diets are often too low in fibre and too high in protein and fat. Feeding a concentrated diet can therefore lead to a wide range of digestive disturbances, including diarrhoea. The energy requirements of a rabbit are also met very rapidly on a concentrate diet, compared with the situation in the wild, where most of the animal’s time above ground is spent grazing. As such, feeding a concentrate diet can also lead to dental disease owing to lack of wear on the teeth, obesity and boredom-associated problems.

The best diet for a rabbit is grass and good quality hay, with a small amount of a good quality high-fibre (approx. 20%) commercial diet, with protein levels around 15%. Fresh vegetables and small amounts of fruit can also be provided, but fruits high in sugars should be avoided. Mixes should not be fed ad libitum, as this leads to selective feeding and obesity, but hay should always be available, together with fresh water.

The following vegetables, plants and weeds are all good sources of nutrition for rabbits:

Basil
Brambles
Broccoli (including leaves)
Brussel Sprouts
Carrots and carrot tops
Cauliflower leaves
Celery
Chickweed
Clover
Coriander
Dandelion greens and flowers
Docks
Escarole
Green peppers
Ground elder
Groundsel
Mint
Parsley
Pea pods
Plantain
Radish tops
Raspberry leaves

Romaine lettuce
(NOT Iceberg or light coloured leaf)

Sow thistle
Spinach and kale – in small quantities
Spring greens
Watercress

Fruits have to be fed to rabbits with a little more restraint and circumspection than greens and vegetables but those listed below will make a good addition to a rabbit’s diet, as long as you observe the following dictate: one serving daily, fresh or dried, one tablespoon per 2kg bodyweight.

Apple
Banana
Melon
Peach
Pear
Pineapple
Strawberries