A healthy diet for pet rabbits should consist of hay, fresh vegetables, and a small amount of pellets. Here are some guidelines for each of these:
- Hay: A constant supply of hay is essential for rabbits. Timothy hay is the most commonly recommended type, but other types of grass hay can be used as well. Hay aids in digestion, helps wear down their teeth, and provides necessary roughage. Rabbits should have access to hay at all times.
- Fresh Vegetables: Fresh vegetables are an important part of a rabbit’s diet and should be offered daily. Some good options include leafy greens like kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce, as well as carrots, celery, and bell peppers. Introduce vegetables gradually and in small quantities to avoid digestive upset.
- Pellets: Pellets should make up a small portion of a rabbit’s diet and should be high in fiber and low in protein. Adult rabbits should have around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pellets per day, depending on their size and activity level.
It’s important to note that rabbits should not be fed sugary or starchy foods like fruit, bread, or crackers, as these can upset their digestive system and lead to health problems. Additionally, make sure your rabbit has access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Fiber is vital to the normal function of the digestive system in rabbits.1 Fresh grass hay and vegetables should make up the bulk of the diet for house rabbits. Feeding a diet consisting mainly of pellets may result in obesity and increase the likelihood of digestive problems for your pet rabbit.2
While there is some fiber in pellets, it is finely ground and does not appear to stimulate intestinal function as well as the fiber found in grass hays. The addition of some pellets does add some balance to the diet, however, if your rabbit is a picky eater.
Anything other than hay, vegetables, and pellets is considered a treat and should be feed in strict moderation. The number of pellets should be restricted, especially in overweight rabbits, but any reduction in pellets should be made up with a variety of fresh vegetables and unlimited access to hay.