The Pet Directory Aquarium Article - DIET: The Key to Healthy Rabbits
The Pet Directory Small Animal Article - DIET: The Key to Healthy Rabbits

by Michelle Marquardt - BVSc(Hons) MRCVS
Sydney Animal Hospital - Newtown
As published in The Pet Directory QLD, NT & WA Edition

A good diet is the single best thing that you can do to ensure your rabbit stays fit and healthy. There are a lot of different foods, mixes and treats out there, but unfortunately a lot of them really aren’t the best thing for your bunny. Rabbits need a high percentage of fibre in their diet, and this should be the most important factor when choosing feed. The fibre in food is essential in maintaining normal gastrointestinal movement. Inadequate fibre means that your rabbit’s intestines will move food through more slowly, increasing the chance of intestinal bacterial overgrowth and subsequent gut problems.

As a general rule, rabbit diets should include grass hay, pellets, raw vegetables and a little bit of fruit as treats. The feeding guide below is based around giving your rabbit enough fibre for a healthy gastrointestinal tract while still providing the balance of nutrients he or she needs.

The Pet Directory Aquarium Article - DIET: The Key to Healthy Rabbits

Hay is one of the best fibre sources available. Feed unlimited mixed grass hay or timothy hay. Fresh grass is good too. Lucerne and alfalfa hay is fine for young rabbits but has too much calcium for adults. Rabbits secrete excess calcium into their urine, so a high calcium diet can lead to urinary tract stones.

Feed approximately one quarter of a cup of pellets per 2kg body weight. Try to get pellets with the highest fibre content possible. Most pellets range from 16-18% fibre. 20-27% is optimal in a non-breeding rabbit. Pellets are high in fat, protein and carbohydrates, which makes them tasty, fattening and, if eaten in large quantities, dangerous to the balance of healthy bacteria in the intestines. If given the opportunity, some rabbits will eat only pellets and ignore their hay or vegetables. For this reason it’s important that only limited pellets are provided.

The Pet Directory Aquarium Article - DIET: The Key to Healthy Rabbits

Rabbits should eat at least 1 cup of vegetables per 2kg body weight each day. Select at least three different types. If you’re not currently feeding many vegetables, increase the amount in your rabbit’s diet slowly to avoid diarrhoea. Suitable vegetables include:

• alfalfa sprouts
• basil
• beet greens
• raddichio
• broccoli leaves
• brussel sprouts
• carrots & carrot tops
• parsely
• green peppers
• dandelion leaves
• romaine lettuce
• outer cabbage leaves
• squash
• pea pods (not the peas)

A small amount of fruit can be fed each day. High fibre fruits are best and amounts shouldn’t exceed 2 level tablespoons per 2kg body weight each day.
Appropriate fruits include:

• apple
• peach
• plum
• pear
• melon
• pineapple
• raspberry
• papaya
• blueberry
• blackberry
• strawberry
Avoid sugary fruits such as grapes and bananas.

Information supplied by:
Michelle Marquardt - BVSc(Hons) MRCVS
Sydney Animal Hospital - Newtown

Sydney Animal Hospitals - Caring for all your family

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