Despite what you may have heard, there’s a lot more to a rabbit diet than carrots. What your rabbit eats can significantly impact her quality of life, so keeping your bunny happy means feeding her the right foods. Not sure what to feed rabbits? An approved rabbit food list can help make meal planning easier.
Rabbits should be fed a mix of hay, fresh vegetables and commercial pellets.
“Hay and grass should make up much of your rabbit’s diet, as they contain indigestible fiber that’s vital for your rabbit’s gastro-intestinal health,” says Ian Nicholson, a small animal surgery specialist with Calder Vets in England.
A poor rabbit diet can lead to weight problems, indigestion, serious illness and even death.
“We treat a lot of rabbits at Calder Vets, and most of the time, the problems we treat were caused by poor dietary choices,” Nicholson says.
Fruits can be fed in small amounts as treats. Angela Dacombe, VN, a senior vet nurse at Straven Road Veterinary Centre Papanui Vet in Christchurch, New Zealand, recommends feeding fruit only one to two times a week.
It’s important to note that not all fruits and vegetables are safe for your rabbit to eat. In fact, certain fruits and vegetables can be poisonous to your rabbit’s digestive system.
Here’s a list of safe vegetables and fruits for rabbits, followed by those to avoid, to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.
Safe Fruits and Vegetables for Rabbits
Make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables and remove seeds and stems before offering them to your pet rabbit. Some experts recommend buying organic.
Fresh Fruit Options
Dangerous Vegetables and Fruits for Rabbits
While many types of fruits and vegetables are safe and healthy to feed in moderation, others can be poisonous to rabbits.
Poisonous vegetables for rabbits include potatoes, rhubarb, mushrooms, broad beans, kidney beans and iceberg lettuce, Dacombe says.
On the fruit side, avocado is a fatty fruit that contains a fungicidal toxin called persin that can be deadly if ingested by a pet rabbit.
“[Persin] doesn’t affect humans, but is very dangerous to rabbits and other animals,” says Eleanor van Tonder, veterinarian at Pet Doctors. Symptoms can vary from severe illness to death, as bunnies react to the toxic fruit in different ways.
Avoid light-colored lettuce like iceberg that can contain lactucarium, as this is harmful if ingested by your bunny. Light-colored lettuce also is high in water content, offering little nutrition to your pet’s diet.
Chard is another leafy green that your pet rabbit should avoid. Chard and cauliflower can cause colic and bloating in your furry friend, so Dacombe says to stick with high-fiber fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Tips for Adding Fruits and Vegetables to Your Rabbit’s Diet
Remember: Moderation is key. Because rabbits have sensitive stomachs, it’s important to limit how often you mix up their diet. Introduce new fruits and vegetables slowly and in small quantities, and monitor your rabbit for any adverse reactions.
If getting your pet rabbit to eat nutritional foods is challenging, try offering healthy pet chews. Rabbits love to chew, so treats likePeter’s Fruit Salad Bowl—which contains Timothy hay, dehydrated apple and cranberries—can make meal time more fun and get those nutrients into your pet.
Another option is to look for ready-made rabbit snacks that offer additional nutritional value. For example,Oxbow’s Simple Rewards baked treatsare made with real apples and bananas.Higgins Sunburst freeze-dried fruit treatsare made with only two ingredients: freeze-dried cranberries and mangos.
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