We all know and love rabbits for their soft furry bodies and their cute long ears. These mammals are part of the Leporidae family which also includes the hare and pika. In total, there are 305 different breeds of domestic rabbit species and 13 wild rabbit species.
All of these rabbit species do however share the same basic diet.
All rabbit species are herbivores and as such only eat plant matter. They do eat a huge variety of food types. Here is a quick look at the best foods to offer rabbits:
Many people believe that hay in rabbit cages are simply for bedding. The truth is that rabbits love to graze on natural grass. Grass and hay are one of the best foods to offer them because this is a food that wild rabbits naturally eat. They love to eat soft green leaves and grass stems but are also happy to feed on dried grass.
You can offer your bunny all sorts of grass types including some fresh leaves from your lawn. They eat grass varieties such as timothy, orchard grass, meadow fescue, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and many others.
Rabbits also naturally feed on leafy weeds. They love to nibble on all sorts of weeds they find in the garden such as dandelions, clover, nettle, thistle, chickweed, blackberry leaves, bramble leaves, and many others.
You can also offer your pet bunny commercial foods. Commercial rabbit food is usually in pellet form and is a very nutritious meal since it includes a balanced amount of vitamins and minerals. These feeds often include ingredients like grains, plant proteins, feeding hay, and many other products.
Rabbet pellets are very nutritious but these foods can also cause obesity if bunnies do not get enough exercise or if they overindulge in pellets. Ideally, your pet rabbit should get a precise amount of pellets per day and it should be offered other fresh foods or hay in addition to pellets.
Bunnies love leafy greens. They are happy to eat a variety of leafy greens you may offer them such as kale, salad, carrot greens, beet greens, fresh herbs, mustard greens, bok Choy, watercress, broccoli greens, cilantro, and lettuce.
Unlike common belief, bunnies typically avoid root plants such as carrots. They will occasionally eat these foods but prefer leafy greens. To introduce variety, you can offer your rabbit vegetables such as bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, carrot tops, cucumbers, and tomato tops. Ideally, vegetables should be offered as a snack and not as a full meal.
Bunnies also eat fruits but fruits can contain a lot of sugar which can make these foods unhealthy. If you want to give your bunny an occasional snack, you can offer it fruits such as strawberries, cherries, berries, watermelon, apples, bananas, grapes, nectarines, and oranges.
Pet bunnies can grow accustomed to human foods and may try to eat various foods that might not be healthy for them. A good example is a tea. Some bunnies love to sip cooled tea. Others may try to eat sweet foods such as cooked sweet potato, chocolate, or jelly sweets. It is important not to offer your bunny these foods even though it seems to enjoy these treats. The excessive sugar isn’t healthy for your pet bunny at all and some ingredients such as salt can be toxic to rabbits.
Rabbets love to munch. In the first half an hour, they feed quite aggressively and will munch anything they find. After 30 minutes, they slow down and feed more selectively.
Ideally, your rabbit should get a variety of food to eat per day. It is also important not to offer too much or your rabbit might become overweight.
The best way to feed your rabbit is by offering it a specific amount of pellets per day, lots of hay to graze on, and about half a cup of fresh leafy greens per day.
Rabbits are perfectly happy to feed on a bowl so you can simply leave the food out for them and they will come to feed.
Your rabbit should also have access to freshwater every day.
Bunnies are mammals and need milk to survive. Baby bunnies are called kits and rely on their mother’s milk for the first few weeks. Orphaned bunnies can also be kept on specific formula milk and are usually fed via a syringe.
Bunnies will start to graze and taste foods when they are about two to three weeks old. By six weeks old, they are fully weaned and feed on only plant matter or pellets.
An average 6 – 10-pound bunny needs about one quarter cup pellets per day. For bunnies that are a little bit smaller, you can feed less, and bunnies that are larger than 10 pounds will also need more than a one-quarter cup of food per day.
In addition to this, you can also offer your rabbit as much hay as it wants as well as fresh food such as leafy greens and grass.
You can also offer treats to your rabbit every few days. Treats should include foods like vegetables and fruits and not candy.
Your rabbit should be fed pellets and fresh leafy plants twice per day but they need unlimited access to hay or grass so they can munch whenever they feel like it. If bunnies do not have hay to chew on, their front teeth can grow too long and feeding can become difficult.
In the wild, rabbits and hares prefer to graze on natural foliage such as grass, leafy weeds, hay, and other plants they might find in their natural surroundings.
Bunnies can bite if they feel threatened. They are much more likely to simply kick and run away but it is entirely possible for them to lash out and bite if you grab them.
Bunnies do eat carrots but this is hardly their favorite food. Too much carrot is also unhealthy because carrots contain a lot of sugar. Ideally, you should only offer your bunny some carrot tops.