Nutrition

How does my rabbit digest food?

A rabbit’s digestive system is specifically designed to eat grass. The teeth grow constantly throughout life, and are worn down continuously by chewing. The rabbit digests its food twice. First they eat the food and then pass soft faeces. They then eat the soft faeces and digest it a second time, before passing firm faeces.

It is important to monitor your rabbit’s food intake and toilet as disorders of digestion can be very serious.

How should I feed my rabbit?

Clean fresh water should be available at all times and bottles are preferable to bowls to keep the water clean.

Hay and grass

The majority of the diet, around 80%, should be hay and grass, because hay and grass:

  • Wears the teeth down, preventing overgrowth and dental disease.
  • Stimulates healthy digestion, preventing upsets.
  • Stimulates eating of soft faeces, preventing mucky bottoms and maggots.
  • Are low in sugars and fat, reducing chances of obesity.

Your rabbit must have ad lib fresh hay at all times and grass if possible. The best hay is good quality meadow hay – avoid alfalfa, as it is too high in calcium.

You can hand pick grass but remove any not eaten daily before it ferments, and don’t feed mown grass as it rapidly ferments, which could cause the rabbit to bloat which is very serious.

Greens

Ideally rabbits should have “five-a-day”, handpicked safe weeds and safe vegetables. Rabbits can also have some fruit, but as fruit has high sugar content, this should be moderate amounts.

Dry food

Once your rabbit is fully grown they should eat no more than one egg cupful of pellets twice daily. The rabbit should run out of food in between meals, so they will make the effort of eating hay or grazing. The best dry food is a high fibre pellets eg Burgess Supa Rabbit Excel. Avoid mix or muesli type foods as rabbits will often only eat their favourite bits resulting in an unbalanced diet.

Chews

Branches from trees bearing edible fruit are safe and allow gnawing to wear the front teeth down.

Treats

Avoid treats based on human food eg yoghurt or chocolate drops, fruit and grain based treats. High fibre treats best eg Burgess Herb Snacks.

Supplements

If your rabbit is fed on a predominantly hay and grass with greens and dry food diet, this will be a complete and balanced so supplements are unnecessary.

How can the Healthy Pet Club help with nutrition?

Our Healthy Pet Club gives you a significant discount on the cost of the year’s vaccine, flystrike treatment, and includes food and some hay. It also allows you to spread the cost into monthly payments.