We see it all the time. Someone brought their cute, little bunny home from the Pet Store and had no idea what to feed it. We’ve had bunnies who were eating exclusively pellets, or bunnies who were fed only carrots. After all, that’s what Buggs Bunny eats, right? Once, we had a bunny who had lived on gerbil food, chicken nuggets and a Peep over the course of a year.
Feeding your rabbit a proper diet is more important than just good nutrition. Rabbits have unusually sensitive digestive systems, and eating a high fiber diet of pellets and hay can prevent their digestive system from slowing, or worse, stopping entirely. Gastrointestinal stasis is extremely dangerous for rabbits and can be caused by insufficient fiber in your bunny’s diet. Not only that, but grinding hay helps keep their teeth from getting too long. Luckily, knowing the right food for your bunny can help.
Ohio House Rabbit Rescue recommends that your bunny’s main diet include three things; limited timothy pellets, unlimited timothy hay and a daily fresh green salad. Pellets are high in calories and therefore are used as a supplement. We recommend feeding 1/8 of a cup of high quality pellets (such as Oxbow Essentials Adult Rabbit Food or Small Pet Select Premium Rabbit Food Pellets) per 4lbs of bunny, although many bunnies are OK with less.
The salad is where your bunny’s most important nutrients are coming from. Almost all leafy greens are suitable, and that includes things that people might not normally eat, like beet greens or carrot tops. Be careful of spinach, mustard greens and kale, as they’re high in calcium, and never feed your rabbit iceberg lettuce because it has no nutritional value. The perfect salad includes a lettuce base (like green leaf, romaine or butter lettuce) and a few other herbs or greens depending on what your rabbit likes. Cilantro, radicchio, mint, parsley or basil are all great choices, and your bunny will let you know what he likes!
The most important part of your rabbits diet is hay. Hay is high in fiber so it will help keep your bunny’s digestive system moving and it will keep their teeth in shape. Ohio House Rabbit Rescue feeds our bunnies Oxbow Timothy Hay, but you can also use orchard grass and/or oat hay depending on your bunny’s preferences. You can even order fresh hay online through online retailers like Bingaling Bunnybox or Small Pet Select! We also stock a variety of hay in the OHRR Hop Shop.
Also, all bunnies need to know that they’re adored, so feel free to give your bun an occasional treat. In fact, it’s good to know your bunny’s favorite treat in case you ever need to give them medicine (particularly Metacam), which can be “disguised” by mixing it with a treat. Raisins or Crasins, baby carrots, small banana slices or strawberries make great treats for bunnies. But be careful not to over do it; too much sugar is not good! One baby carrot or slice of a banana per day is plenty!