Good Bunny, Bad Bunny: What To Feed Your Bunny
This is possibly the most important section of this series in terms of allowing your rabbit to live long enough for you to make friends with it. Many rabbits die every year because they are cheerfully fed foods that are bad for them by people whose only research into the dietary requirements of rabbits has been in the children's fiction section at the local library, so without further ado, let us learn some facts about the basics of bunny nutrition.
Never feed a bunny lettuce. Lettuce can be very dangerous for rabbits, causing lethal diarrhea. Some authorities disagree and debate one another on this issue, claiming that some types of lettuce are okay, and others are not, but the reality of the situation is that there is simply no need to take the risk. Would you eat food that might kill you but might possibly be okay? Of course not. There are plenty of safe foods and safe treats to feed your rabbit without ever resorting to feeding it lettuce, so keep the lettuce for your own salads and out of the rabbit's food bowl.
Good quality pellets in small amounts and ubiquitous quantities of good quality field hay from the pet store are all your rabbit really needs. Rabbits under two months of age should not be fed anything else at all, as their tummies are very sensitive at this age. Over the age of two months you can start to give your rabbit fresh green grass, dandelion leaves, and slices of carrot and apple as treats. If you are feeding grass, make sure that you do not take grass from where a lawn has been sprayed with fertilizer, weed killer, or any other kind of chemical.
Pineapple juice in small amounts is sometimes recommended as an aid to keeping the digestive tract moving and preventing blockages, so a teaspoon in the molting season may be a welcome addition to your bunny's diet.
These are not the only foods you can feed your rabbit of course, however they foods which are highly unlikely to harm your rabbit in any fashion.
Please note that you should only feed small amounts of these 'treat' foods because changing the rabbit's diet drastically can upset its digestive system and cause it to produce very runny poo, which sticks to the fur and makes a horrific mess.
It's better to avoid the problem all together by only feeding your rabbit very small amounts of treats, or simply sticking to the hay and pellet diet. Rabbits should be free fed hay and allowed to eat as much as they like. Field hay, such as timothy hay is best for this, as alfalfa based hay can make them fat.
Pellets should not contain nuts or crunchy bits that look pretty, but should be good quality pellets low in fat and high in fiber. The minimum standards your pellets should meet are 14% crude fiber, 12% crude protein, and 2 % fat. Ideally pellets should be around 17% fiber, assuming the rabbit is at a healthy weight, if your rabbit is prone to hairballs, or is overweight, pellets containing 22% fiber may be more appropriate.
Of course, it almost goes without saying, your rabbit will need constant access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
Oh, I should also mention the fact that your rabbit will also eat a lot of poo as part of a healthy diet. Rabbits produce two types of poo, one type are small hard balls which are odorless and look a little like large pepper grains, and the others are soft smelly droppings which the rabbit will often eat directly from their own anus. This may sound disgusting to you and I, but it is an essential part of the rabbit's diet, and without it, a rabbit can sicken and die.
Next: Bunny Veterinary Care
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