If you have a pet rabbit, chances are you are wondering what makes up the best diet to feed your rabbit. Rabbits, like most animals, need a variety of different nutrients in order to be happy and healthy. In addition to giving your rabbit plenty of fresh water each day, there are certain types of rabbit food that will keep your rabbit at its optimal weight and healthy. Follow the guidelines below to ensure that your rabbit is getting the right food, and the right proportions of food to suit their needs.
Hay is a rabbit’s favorite food, and is very good for them as well. Rabbits are natural grazers, so ample hay should be provided at all times in your rabbit’s cage. They will snack and chew on the hay as they please. Baby rabbits should initially be fed alfalfa hay because it is high in nutrients that will help the rabbit grow. Some rabbits don’t automatically begin grazing on hay, so introducing just a couple of handles of hay every day or so will encourage the rabbit to eat the hay. As a rabbit grows older (around 6 months), you can gradually begin to switch from alfalfa hay to grass hays, such as timothy grass. The switch to grass hays can take a few months. It’s important to make this switch because alfalfa is too high in protein for adult rabbits. A steady diet of alfalfa for an adult rabbit will lead to obesity.
Pellets are a staple in any rabbit’s diet because they contain many nutrients that rabbit’s need. However, pellets are also high in calories, which can lead to obesity in adult rabbits. Pellets are also just not as naturally healthy for your rabbit since they are a man-made product. You should feed your rabbit limited quantities of pellets and supplement their diet with hay and fresh vegetables. Rabbits that are fed only pellets will have considerably more health issues than rabbits that are fed pellets, vegetables and hay. Pellets for your rabbit should be fresh and contain a good percentage of fiber and protein. See rabbit health guidelines to determine the quantity of pellets that should be given each day as determined by your rabbit’s weight and age.
In addition to a large amount of hay, you’ll also want to make sure that your rabbit has plenty of fresh vegetables after it is about 3 months old. Vegetables will fill your rabbit up, and also provide it with vital plant nutrients. As with any change in diet, introduction of any new vegetable should be done slowly over time. Just like humans, rabbits have different preferences and also react differently to new foods. To prevent diarrhea or sickness, give small portions of vegetables to rabbits over the course of a few weeks before replacing a large portion of pellets with vegetables in their diet. Recommended vegetables for rabbits include carrots, parsley, broccoli, leafy green lettuce and turnip greens. Wash vegetables well to remove any traces of contamination.