Bunny Basics: Diet
Bugs Bunny may survive
by constantly munching carrots, but your house rabbit needs a more
varied diet. Pet rabbits should eat hay, salads and a small amount of
pellets—in that order of importance—every day. Pellets
can even be considered optional.
The main part of a
rabbit's diet should be timothy hay, grass hay (like orchard
grass), or a mix of both. Alfalfa hay should be reserved for bunnies
4 months old or younger, unless your veterinarian advises otherwise.
rabbit should have access to hay all day long and most rabbits
appreciate having their hay "freshened up" at least once
a day by simply adding a fresh handful to the top. You can facilitate
your rabbit's use of his litter box by putting hay in only one
end of the box. While it might seem like an overwhelming task to
find hay in the city or many suburbs, it isn't that difficult.
Many large pet supply stores sell bags of timothy hay. Larger
quantities of fresh hay can be purchased online.
salad part of a rabbit's diet should be very fresh (never
offer any greens to a rabbit that you wouldn't eat
yourself) and should contain a minimum of three to five different
greens. The amount of greens varies according to a rabbit's
weight, but usually a dwarf-sized rabbit should have at least 1-2
cups of greens a day. A large rabbit that weights 6-7 pounds could
easily eat 4 to 8 cups of salad per day. Check out the Bunny
Salad List for salad suggestions.
or "rabbit chow" was originally invented for breeders as
an inexpensive, quick way to fatten up their animals. That tells you
almost all you need to know about pellets. They should be doled out
more as a treat than a staple; some veterinarians even advise against
the feeding of any pellets at all. In general, pellets should 17%
fiber (you can find this listing on the back of the bag).
pellets that have added ingredients such as birdseed, dried corn or
peas, or dried fruit. While such "fiesta" or "gourmet"
mixes might look more interesting to humans, they can cause
serious—even fatal—problems for rabbits.
excellent manufacturers make a timothy-based pellet instead of the
more standard alfalfa-based one; timothy-based pellets are usually
the best bet for any adult rabbit. Again, portions depend on a
rabbit's size, but suitable servings vary from 1/8 teaspoon to
2 tablespoons a day—with long-haired rabbits like Angoras and
Jersey Wooleys needing about double that amount.
overindulge your rabbit with pellets no matter how much he begs! And
do not buy "bunny treats" such as yogurt drops (very high
in fat and sugar—they can quickly send a rabbit into GI statis)
or granola-type bars covered with birdseed (rabbits can't
digest birdseed). Instead, treat your rabbit to a handful of fresh
Never feed your rabbit
chocolate, cookies, crackers, bread or breadsticks, nuts, pasta or
other human treats. Also don't give them corn, potatoes or
onions. And don't feed them birdseed, yogurt or cat or dog
food. These items can be poisonous or cause serious—even
Check out the Food Pyramid for Adult Rabbits (PDF file).