What to Feed
your pet rabbit
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Feeding Your Pet Rabbit
You may be considering a pet rabbit and asking yourself things like what do rabbits like to eat, what to feed a pet rabbit, or what not to feed rabbits. Rabbits are herbivores; their bodies can only process plant materials. They graze through the day, eating small amounts continuously rather than separate meals. To understand what to feed rabbits, it’s helpful to review what rabbits in the wild like to eat.
What Do Rabbits Eat in The Wild?
Wild rabbits worldwide survive on a variety of plants, with dry and fresh grasses and leafy greens as the main food source. They also snack on select tree bark, new-growth twigs, and fruits in small portions. Therefore, understanding the natural diet of wild rabbits is helpful when deciding on healthy food options for pet rabbits.
So, what kind of food is best for rabbits? Rabbits need a balanced diet of mainly hay, supplemented with fresh greens, limited fruits and vegetables, and a few tasty treats.
What Can Rabbits Eat: The Basics
The majority of a pet rabbit’s diet must be grass hay. Hay is the most important part of a rabbit’s daily diet and should be offered at all times in unlimited amounts. Choose high-quality grass hay. Mixing or switching hay types is a great way to ensure nutrient variety and enrich your rabbit’s diet. Timothy, orchard, oat, or brome are common options.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are an important part of your pet rabbit’s food options as they provide different textures, tastes, and most importantly, nutrients. They also provide moisture in the diet, important for maintaining healthy kidney and bladder functions.
Fresh water should be available at all times for your rabbit. Rabbits usually prefer water bowls or sipper bottles. Regardless of which type of drinking vessel your rabbit prefers, fill it with clean water daily. If you use a sipper bottle, ensure it works properly and is free of clogs. If your rabbit likes a water bowl, make it a habit to check that it has not spilled, and is feces-free at all times.
What Vegetables Can Rabbits Eat?
Many fresh veggies are a great option to feed your adult rabbit. If you can, buy organic produce. All fresh foods should be washed thoroughly and free of any damaged or rotted spots.
Freshly washed leafy greens are a favorite food for rabbits. The main source (75%) of the fresh fruits and vegetables in your rabbit’s diet should come from green leafy vegetables. Some non-leafy vegetables are great for rabbits but should be offered in moderation, no more than 15% of fresh food. So, what veggies can rabbits eat?
Leafy Vegetables Rabbits Love
- Basil varieties
- Borage leaves
- Bok choy
- Carrot tops
- Cucumber leaves
- Dandelion greens (pesticide-free)
- Dill leaves
- Kale (all types)
- Mint (all varieties)
- Red or green lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Spring greens
- Turnip greens
Rabbit-Safe Non-Leafy Vegetables
- Bell peppers
- Broccoli & broccolini
- Brussel sprouts
- Chinese pea pods
- Edible flowers
- Summer & zucchini squash
Tasty Treats for Your Rabbit – What Fruit Can Rabbits Eat?
Fruit can be fed to your pet rabbit in limited quantities. Wild rabbits would have rare access to fruits, making for a special treat. On an instinctual level, rabbits consider fruit a high value treat, making it an ideal tool for training and even hand feeding to develop bonding.
Fresh fruits are best if organic, with skins left on, and washed thoroughly.
Favorite Fruits for Rabbits
- All Berry Types
- Apples (skin on, but core/stem removed)
- Bananas (in very limited quantities due to high sugar levels)
- Cherries (with pits removed)
- Pineapples (without the skin)
- Plums (with pits removed)
- Melons (peel and seeds are ok)
- Star Fruit
Do not overfeed fruits to your rabbit, as it can lead to health issues. A teaspoon of fruit per every two pounds of your rabbit’s body weight is an ideal daily limit for fruit.
What Not to Feed Rabbits
Rabbit’s bodies can process only vegetables and plant-based foods so never feed your rabbit processed human foods (like bread and pasta).
Hay is a primary food source for pet rabbits but avoid using alfalfa hay regularly for adult rabbits. It is too high in calories and protein for adult rabbits’ nutritional needs.
Do not feed your pet rabbit any meat or dairy items. Also, avoid all dog and cat food, as both have animal-based proteins. Feeding your rabbit meat, dairy, or other animal-based proteins can damage their digestive system. Chocolate and onions are a favorite food for many humans but are toxic to rabbits and should never be fed to them.
If you suspect your pet rabbit may have ingested anything toxic, call the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435 right away. They are available 24/7/365 to help your pet.
What Do Rabbits Like to Eat?
Rabbits like to eat a variety of foods and snacks. They will likely try most things you offer to them. It’s important to remember what foods are rabbit safe, and what foods are unsafe for rabbits.
The Best Meal for your Pet Rabbit
The best meal plan for your pet rabbit is a balanced feed such as Kelley’s Rabbit Feed or Ace Hi Rabbit Feed supplemented with vegetables, herbs, and fruits. These pellet formulas provide a high fiber diet to support digestive and immune system health as well as breeding. They also include pre-biotics for digestive support as well as yucca to help decrease ammonia.
Your primary veterinarian will always be happy to answer questions about what foods you should and shouldn’t feed your rabbit with personalized information. Always consult your veterinarian whenever you make dietary changes for your pet rabbit. View our list of rabbit food and small animal feed brands and find a dealer near you!