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What Can I Feed My Rabbit?


Feeding your rabbit a proper diet is the most essential thing you can do to maintain their health, avoid illness, and enhance their mental and emotional wellbeing. A balanced diet should consist of a good quality pellet, a constant supply of hay, a variety of fresh vegetables, and clean water. Treats and supplements can be included in limited amounts.

Rabbits are crepuscular, which means that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Many caregivers find that feeding their rabbits at these times fits well with their work schedule, but all rabbits, and people, are different. Some rabbits eat only pellets in the morning and vegetables in the evening; others graze throughout the day. Your rabbit's individual needs and your lifestyle will dictate their feeding schedule. However, rabbits should never go more than 24 hours without eating. (If your rabbit stops eating, consider it a medical emergency and seek professional veterinary assistance immediately.)



Almost all rabbits require a high-quality extruded pellet unless they are elderly or cannot tolerate alfalfa. Most pellets are alfalfa-based, but there are also timothy-based pellets that are a good alternative for rabbits that are trying to cut back on calcium and/or calories.

Choose a major brand to ensure consistency in ingredients and portions, and because they are more stringently and regularly tested for quality control. Pellets should contain 16-20% crude fiber and 14-16% protein. Commercial pellets were originally intended for breeding rabbits or those raised for meat or fur, so they are loaded with calcium and calories. House rabbits are generally living longer and just don't have the same nutritional requirements as breeding rabbits, so care must be taken to feed them for longevity.

Bunnies should be able to eat all the pellets they want up to eight months of age, then pellets should be rationed. How much you feed your rabbit daily depends on their size and ideal weight:

1-2kg = 1/8 cup

3-4kg = 1/4 cup

4-5kg = 1/2 cup

5-6kg = 3/4 cup

Rabbits who are trying to lose weight or who have special needs may require different amounts. For example, rabbits that get regular exercise may tolerate extra calories; a rabbit with a disability that cannot burn off the calories as quickly would need fewer pellets.

If you change brands, mix the new pellets with the old for a gradual change over 3-4 weeks. Avoid the so-called "gourmet" pellets containing dried fruits, nuts, or vegetables. This is nothing but junk food and can cause fatty liver and kidney disease. If pellets become mouldy, bug-infested, or stale, discard them. 



The importance of eating hay cannot be emphasised enough. Rabbits have long digestive tracts that slowly break down and process cellulose in the form of tough, woody stems and fibrous vegetation. Their systems function best when they have something with which to work. Therefore, the key to keeping rabbits alive and happy longer is to make sure their digestive tracts stay viable and motile while balancing between indigestible fibre and nutrition.

Timothy hay can be fed in unlimited quantities. Alfalfa is high in calcium and calories and should be fed sparingly. Some people liken the taste difference between alfalfa and timothy to chocolate versus lettuce. Most rabbits love alfalfa. Hay is cheap and readily available at most feed stores or farms or can be ordered online.



Rabbits should always have access to a supply of fresh, clean water. Some prefer to drink from bottles; others like to lap it up from a bowl. Either utensil should be washed at least once a week. Bottles should hold no less than 500ml of water per rabbit. Any less and they may run dry while you're at work, and any more will sit stagnant before it is consumed.


Vegetables and Fruits

Daily vegetables are a vital source of nutrition for bunnies. Amounts fed will vary by the rabbit's size, weight, and preference. The average 3kg house rabbit probably consumes about four cups daily. Some people feed veggies both in the morning and evening; others alternate meals of pellets and vegetables. Some caregivers mix a variety of veggies like a salad; some feed one vegetable at a time.

Rabbits have taste preferences as unique as their personalities. You will quickly learn what and how often to provide vegetables to your bunny.

Vegetables should be introduced one at a time if your rabbit is young. Monitor their droppings to make sure that they can tolerate what they are eating. If you notice any changes, discontinue feeding that vegetable.

Make sure bunny's vegetables are always fresh. If it smells "off" or if you wouldn't eat it yourself, throw it out. Whatever you choose, be sure to wash it thoroughly and pick it over for bugs. A great variety of vegetables exist and most can be found in your local grocery store.

Dark, leafy greens should be fed at least once a day. Carrot tops, watercress, radish leaves, red and green leaf lettuce, and endive are some of the most popular.

Other veggies such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes (without stems), sugar peas, and fennel will be welcomed by your pet. Rabbits especially like fragrant and tasty herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, arugula (rocket), and mint. Kale, spinach contains oxalates that can be toxic over time. These vegetables should be fed only occasionally.

Finally, carrots are a nice, occasional treat for your rabbit. Although considered health food to humans, carrots have high sugar content and are like candy for rabbits. Despite the popular myth, carrots are not appropriate to feed every day.

Never feed rabbits iceberg lettuce, rhubarb, raw beans, apple seeds, peach pits, potatoes, or corn. These items can cause illness and even death. Likewise, never feed anything that you are uncertain about.

Most rabbits love fruit, but it must be offered in small amounts due to the high sugar content. Peaches, nectarines, pineapple, apple, grapes (and raisins), pear, banana, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, and strawberries are some of the most popular fruits. A 2cm slice of banana, or two blackberries, is plenty (although the rabbit will try to convince you otherwise). Be sure to remove any seeds as they may be poisonous.



Rabbits adore treats and they are fun to hand out, but be very conservative in what and how much you feed. Rabbits can and do "pig out", so it is up to you as their caregiver to limit their intake of treats. An overload of sugar can be very harmful to rabbits.

Oats are a popular treat. Choose rolled oats, not instant, and give only 1 teaspoon per kg of body weight. Raisins, or a small amount of any fruit, is also considered a treat. Avoid packaged "honey sticks" and other treats that contain dried fruits, seeds, or nuts. These are void of nutrition and extremely fattening.

Feed your rabbit a variety of healthy vegetables for longevity and happiness. Choose only the freshest, highest-quality pellets and hay. Make sure they have access to clean water at all times. And provide an occasional treat with extra petting. A well-rounded, nutritious, and high-fibre diet will ensure your rabbit's health and happiness.


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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

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142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033