Rabbits make great pets, especially for families with young children. They come as a great learning opportunity for kids to learn about responsibility and caring for another living being. When teaching your kids about your rabbit’s diet, knowing what to feed your rabbit is just as important as knowing what not to feed them. Rabbits are very sensitive to quite a few foods, some of which could potentially be lethal to your pet rabbit.
On the other hand, knowing what foods are best for their health and well-being is also very important. After all, part of caring for a rabbit is ensuring that they're given a high-quality rabbit diet.
What You SHOULD Feed Your Rabbit
Rabbits are strictly herbivores, meaning they only can eat plant life. So, let’s start there. The reason rabbits only eat plants is that their digestive tract just wasn’t made to handle meat and high amounts of carbohydrates. Below you will find a brief break down of the food choices that rabbits can eat.
We’ve all seen the iconic Bugs Bunny munching on carrots each time he’s made an appearance on the television. Real-life bunny rabbits also love to eat carrots in addition to a variety of other vegetables. Their digestive tracts require the high amounts of fiber that’s found in most vegetables, especially the leafy green ones. Therefore, the best food for pet rabbits is most definitely vegetables.
When feeding your rabbit vegetables, the safest bet is to stick with the greens. Other types of vegetables can cause some unnecessary problems. Some of the more common leafy greens that rabbits enjoy include herbs such as Basil, Mint, and Cilantro. Rabbits will also enjoy eating some lettuce leaves (the darker ones such as Romaine are the best choice.), celery, watercress, and even some bok choy. You can supplement their vegetable-based meals with pellets and some treats on occasion, but vegetables are a necessary staple in a rabbit’s diet.
Hay is one of the biggest staples in a rabbit’s diet. Not only does it provide them with lots of necessary fiber, but it is also good for their teeth. Rabbits' teeth are constantly growing and need to be worn down. When your rabbit eats hay it does exactly this, keeping their teeth at a healthy length. Hay can even help you to litter box train your rabbit.
Pellets are also good food for rabbits. Rabbit pellets can be purchased at most pet stores that carry a variety of pet food choices. Buying them fresh on a regular basis might be something that you find to be necessary, as bunnies will sometimes put their nose up to pellets that aren’t so fresh.
The best pellets you can get should be high in fiber and low in protein. Since rabbits are herbivores, their digestive systems aren’t built to handle high amounts of protein in their meals. This is especially true as they grow older.
Pellets do contain a small amount of protein in them, so it’s important to limit the number of pellets you give your rabbit at mealtimes as they grow older. The older a rabbit gets, just like with humans, the more fiber they will need in their diets. And less protein in the case of rabbits. Pellets are certainly good food for rabbits in moderation.
Just like dog treats, rabbit treats are another thing you should only give your rabbit in careful moderation. You absolutely should not feed your rabbit any foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as bread or pasta as a treat. Certain fruits are the best way to go if you want to treat your rabbit to something special.
Some fruits that are okay to give to your rabbit in moderation include strawberries, raspberries, and bananas. The reason you should only give fruit as a treat in moderation is because of the high sugar content.
What You SHOULD NOT Feed Your Rabbit
Because of a rabbit's sensitive and specialized digestive tract, there are more foods that they should not eat than there are that they should. Their diet is rather simple, making it easy to remember what you should be feeding them. However, it’s even more important to remember what not to feed them.
Carbohydrate-rich foods are definitely ones to avoid at all costs. Rabbit owners should never feed their rabbit any bread, pasta, or chips. All of these foods can cause them some problems. Foods high in sugar are also to be avoided or given in moderation.
Some pet stores may sell little treats made of yogurt that are labeled for rabbits, but they aren’t always the best choice to treat for your rabbit, especially considering the sugar content. The more natural you can feed them the better.
If you own a rabbit or plan to adopt one, the main thing you need to remember about their diet is that they need their leafy greens and hay. Hay is the most important part of their diet and should always be readily available and fresh.
They enjoy treats of strawberries or bananas on occasion but should not be allowed to overindulge. You can provide your rabbit with a wonderful and happy life by providing them with a simple and healthy diet. If you want to know more about caring for your pet rabbit, check out these tips for wonderful pet rabbit care.