Have you ever asked yourself, “what do rabbits eat?”. Well, rabbits are herbivores. That means that they feed on grass and other types of plant.
You should never be tempted to give your pet rabbit some of the foods that you eat, such as crisps or biscuits. It’s also important to know that not all plants are good for rabbits to eat. Some are very dangerous to give to your pet.
If you’re wondering what rabbits eat – both in the wild and as pets – we’re going to take a look. It’s interesting to see the differences and similarities between pet rabbits and wild rabbits.
It’s also important to know what you should and shouldn’t feed your pet rabbit.
What do rabbits eat in the wild?
What do wild rabbits eat? No matter where in the world they live: wild rabbits eat the plants that grow close by. This means that they mostly exist on a diet of different types of grass and foliage.
This isn’t all wild rabbits eat though. They also love tree bark, twigs, fruit and seeds; although they eat these items in smaller amounts.
Some of the food that wild rabbits love to eat is also good to include in the diet of a pet rabbit.
What do rabbits eat as pets?
So, what do rabbits eat when they are kept as pets? Let’s find out…
Just like their wild cousins, pet rabbits should eat grass hay in their diet; in fact about 80% of what your rabbit eats should be hay. Hay is packed full of nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D and calcium, and it’s really good for bunnies. It doesn’t matter what type of hay you feed to your rabbit. Though it’s a good idea to change type to add a little variety.
It’s also a good idea to include some pellets in your rabbit’s diet. However, you should not use the mixed pellet and fruit foods, as these are formulated to look good but are not especially healthy for your rabbit to eat.
Young rabbits should be fed high fibre, medium protein pellets and feeding doesn’t need to be restricted. Adult rabbits should be fed around one quarter of a cup of high fibre, low protein pellets per five pounds of rabbit, each day.
Rabbits also love to eat fresh leafy greens. This type of food adds moisture to your pet’s diet and is good for their kidneys and bladder.
If you’re wondering how many leafy greens to feed to your rabbit’s diet, you should stick to around one cup of greens for every two pounds of weight on your rabbit. The bigger the bunny the more greens they should have. It’s a good idea to split the greens up so that your rabbit gets a small amount several times a day.
You shouldn’t feed your pet too many greens that are high in oxalic acid, like spinach. Rabbits don’t have a very tolerance to this acid which can be poisonous if too much is eaten. Remember to swap greens around so your bunny doesn’t start to get bored.
What can’t rabbits eat?
We’ve taken a look at what you should give your rabbit to eat. But when you’re thinking “what do rabbits eat”, it’s just as important to consider foods that are dangerous. There are some foods and plants that you should never give to your rabbit to eat. We’re going to take a look at some of these foods and plants.
Remember, just because we don’t mention a food or plant doesn’t mean it’s safe. There are plenty of others that can be dangerous. If you aren’t sure about feeding something to your rabbit then it’s always better not to.
Here are some of the foods and plants you should always avoid:
- Pips in fruits such as apples and pears; they contain small amounts of cyanide
- Pits in plums, peaches and apricots which also contain cyanide compounds
- Avocado which contains persin, a compound that can kill a rabbit
- Cherry tree bark and twigs
- Rhubarb and spinach which have high oxalate levels
- Tomato plants
- Mustard plants
- Chocolate or any food that contains caffeine
- Grapes and raisins
- Onion, garlic and chive
Don’t forget, this isn’t the whole list of foods that can be harmful to a rabbit. These are some of the more common ones. If you think that your pet has eaten something it shouldn’t have it’s always best to see a vet for advice. Just because your rabbit doesn’t seem sick doesn’t mean they aren’t. Sometimes it takes a few days for a rabbit to become ill after it has eaten something that doesn’t agree with it.
Can rabbits eat fruit?
One thing you need to be very careful of, when feeding your rabbit, is their gastro intestinal (GI) tract. Foods that are high in starch and sugar can be a real problem. This includes foods like beans, peas and even fruit.
If you are going to give your rabbit fruit it should only be a tiny part of their overall diet and you should always make sure they have been eating hay for at least two weeks before you give them any fruit. This helps to get the GI tract working as it should. This makes fruit ideal as a training treat or as a way of encouraging bonding with your bunny; just don’t overdo it.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your rabbit’s droppings. If they become soft after your pet has eaten a particular fruit then it’s a good idea not to feed them that fruit again.
Rabbit food summary
You can see that the most important part of your rabbit’s diet is hay. You should also include pellets and leafy greens in smaller amounts. Fruit and vegetables should be given as a small part of your pet’s diet as treats. Most importantly, if you are ever not sure about whether to feed something to your rabbit then don’t. It’s not worth the risk.