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What to Feed Rabbits to Keep Them Healthy

Updated on November 14, 2016

What Can Rabbits Eat?

It is important to provide your pet rabbit with food that is healthy, so that your pet can live a long and happy life.

But what do rabbits eat exactly? I created this page to help others learn what the proper foods are for feeding rabbits.

Did you know rabbits are herbivores? Appropriate rabbit food consists of fresh hay (timothy hay, oat hay, grass hay), good quality pellets and fresh veggies.

Fruit can be given as a treat, but in limited quantities.

Once you know the right foods to feed your rabbit, you can keep a list handy on your fridge. This allows you to provide your pet rabbit with a variety of foods to maintain a nutritional balance.

For what to feed baby rabbits younger than 7-months old, you can click here for What to Feed Baby Rabbits

Hay is Important

Hay is very important for a rabbit's health. While wild rabbits have access to fresh grass, pet rabbits must be given hay (dried grass).

Hay is important because it provides roughage, which reduces the danger of hairballs (rabbits can't vomit hair balls like cats can, so they are at risk for blockage) and other blockages.

Hay also prevents overgrown teeth (rabbit teeth never stop growing), obesity, dental disease, diarrhea, and boredom.

  • Young adult rabbits (between 7-months to 1-year of age) should be weaned off of the alfalfa hay type to be given a choice of unlimited timothy hay, grass hay, oat hay, and/or straw.
  • Adult rabbits (1 to 5 years old) and senior rabbits (6+ years old) should receive a choice of unlimited timothy hay, grass hay, oat hay, and/or straw.

If your senior rabbit is underweight, alfalfa hay can be given, only if calcium levels are normal (to be checked by a Vet).

Fresh water should be available at all times - either from a sturdy dish or water bottle.

Variety of Greens

Provide your rabbit with a variety of fresh vegetables, so it receives the necessary nutrients.

  • Feed young adult rabbits (7-months to 1-year of age) 1/2 ounce to 2 cups (depending on age) chopped veggies daily.
  • Feed adult rabbits (1 to 5 years old) and senior rabbits (6+ years old) a minimum of 2 cups chopped veggies daily, per 6 pounds of body weight.

Select at least 2 veggies from this list daily:

  • Alfalfa, Radish & Clover Sprouts
  • Basil
  • Bok Choy
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cilantro
  • Clover
  • Escarole
  • Green Peppers
  • Mint
  • Peppermint Leaves
  • Radicchio
  • Radish Tops
  • Raspberry Leaves
  • Wheat Grass

Add 1 veggie from this list daily, for its source of Vitamin A:

  • Beet Greens (tops)
  • Broccoli (mostly leaves/stems)
  • Carrots incl. tops
  • Collared Greens
  • Dandelion Greens & Flowers (no pesticides)
  • Endives
  • Parsley
  • Pea Pods (the flat edible kind)
  • Romaine Lettuce (no iceberg or light-colored leaf)
  • Watercress
  • *Kale
  • *Mustard Greens
  • *Spinach

* Max. 1-3 times per week due to toxicity over time

Do not introduce veggies to baby rabbits until they are 12-weeks of age, then gradually introduce different veggies.

Contrary to popular belief, only feed carrots to rabbits occasionally. They are high in sugar and are not healthy for rabbits.

Quality Pellets

Rabbits also eat pellets, but not as much as pet stores have you believe. The bulk of the rabbit diet is made up of grass/hay actually.

Good quality pellets consist of high fiber content (18-25%), with no more than 12-14% protein and less than 1% calcium.

Avoid pellets that have seeds, nuts, corn, and dried fruit. These are not healthy foods for your rabbit.

  • Young adult rabbits (7-months to 1-year of age) should be given 1/2 cup of pellets daily, per 6 pounds of body weight.
  • Adult rabbits (1 to 5 years old) should be given 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pellets daily, per 6 pounds of body weight.
  • Senior rabbits (6+ years old) should be given 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pellets daily. An underweight rabbit may need unlimited pellets to increase its weight.

When you feed a lower quantity of pellets, you must replace the nutritional value without the calories by increasing the amount of veggies.

What about treats for rabbits? Fruit is the best choice.

Fruit for Treats

Who wouldn't want to shower their pet rabbit with love, by feeding it treats? However, not all treats are made equal.

Fruit should be given to your rabbit as a treat, and not as a regular part of their nutritional diet.

Most treats sold in pet stores are the nutritional equivalent of McDonald's, unfortunately. Thus, it's better to give your rabbit a piece of fruit instead.

You can choose from the following and provide small quantities.

  • Blueberries
  • Melon
  • Orange (without the peel)
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • *Apples (remove stems & seeds)
  • *Bananas
  • *Grapes

*sparingly, too sugary

  • Young adult rabbits (7-months to 1-year of age) can be given 1 to 2 ounces of fruit daily, per 6 pounds of body weight.
  • Adult rabbits (1 to 5 years old) and senior rabbits (6+ years old) can be given 2 ounces of fruit daily, per 6 pounds of body weight.

Giving your rabbit a treat is good for positive reinforcement of a particular behavior ex. litter box training, standing on hind legs to give a kiss, coming to you when called

Caution

Never change a rabbit's diet suddenly!

Introduce new foods slowly and observe.

Rabbits have a sensitive digestive system.

Watch for diarrhea when giving new foods.

If your rabbit stops eating, it's an emergency! See a Vet immediately.

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