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Rabbit Nutrition 101: A Guide to Providing a Balanced Diet for Your Bunny

Caring for a rabbit means providing it with the right food and drink. Getting the balance right can make a major difference to the long-term well-being of your furry friend. But exactly what does proper nutrition look like for a rabbit?

Hay

The majority of a rabbit’s diet should come from feeding hay for rabbits and small animals, which contains most of the fibre and protein a rabbit needs to thrive. It also helps to stimulate the animal mentally, and encourages the kinds of foraging behaviour that a rabbit is naturally adapted to enjoy.

Hay comes in many different types. Timothy is the most popular, and should constitute the majority of the hay your rabbit eats. It contains more fibre than the other varieties, which means that it will help to keep your rabbit’s digestive system in good working order.

On top of Timothy, there are several other varieties of grass hay to look for. These include Orchard, Oat, Meadow, Herbal and Marsh. Alfalfa hay is slightly different, as it’s not a grass, but a legume. It’s generally not advisable for adult rabbits, and may contribute to kidney stones.

Store your hay in a dry location, topping up your supply regularly to avoid waste.

Fresh Vegetables

Fresh vegetables will help to round out your rabbit’s diet, and ensure that they’re getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need. Fresh leafy greens should constitute around 10% of your rabbit’s daily caloric intake. Bell peppers, carrots, and other vegetables are rich in sugars, and so should be provided sparingly.

Iceberg lettuce is the only exception. It contains very little in the way of nutrients, but your rabbit can easily fill up on it. It also contains lactucarium, which can lead to gut problems for your rabbit.

Occasional Treats

You can provide your rabbit with the occasional treat in the form of a piece of fruit or a herb. Thyme, sage, oregano and raspberry leaves can all be safely given to your rabbit. Other foods, like rhubarb leaves, ragwort, and potato tops, should be avoided.

Shop-bought pellets can be used to top up your rabbit’s diet. They should ideally constitute around 5% of your rabbit’s diet. Avoid the colourful pellets; they tend to be high in sugar, and bad for your rabbit.

Hydration

Rabbits should be given as much fresh water as they can drink. Replenish the bottle, or bowl on a daily basis. Check that there’s no mould or dirt anywhere near the supply, and clean the hutch regularly. Rabbits will drink as much as they need, which can vary depending on their size and the time of year. Remember that lots of food contains plenty of water, too.

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