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What is a healthy food diet for pet rabbits?

Fresh, clean drinking water and good quality hay and grass should make up the majority of your rabbits' diet. A rabbit's digestive system needs hay or grass to function properly so a healthy supply is extremely important. You can supplement with leafy greens and a small amount of pellets. Root vegetables such as carrots or fruit, should only be given in small portions as a treat, as rabbits don't naturally eat these type of foods. Always avoid muesli-style food, as  these are unhealthy for rabbits and has a number of associated health problems.

Rabbits need:

  • Fresh clean drinking water continuously, checked twice daily. Ensure water doesn't freeze in winter. Without water rabbits become seriously ill.
  • Good quality hay and/or grass, always available, should constitute the majority of rabbits' diets.

    - Rabbits graze, naturally eating grass/other plants for long periods, mainly at dawn and dusk.

    - Rabbits' digestive systems need grass and/or hay to function properly.

    - Read meal planner and feeding tips.

  • Hay and/or grass as they're much more important than commercial rabbit pellets ('nuggets').

    - If giving pellets, follow manufacturer's instructions.

    - Don't top the bowl up as rabbits might stop eating enough hay and/or grass.

    - Growing/pregnant/nursing/underweight rabbits may need larger portions.

  • Healthy diets. Avoid muesli-style foods as they are associated with health problems. See muesli is unhealthy for rabbits for advice on transferring rabbits to healthier diets. Contact your vet for dietary advice.

    - Rabbits' teeth grow continuously, needing wearing down and keeping at the correct length/shape by eating grass/hay/leafy green plants.

    - Not eating the right diet results in serious dental disease.

  • Root vegetables (e.g. carrots) or fruit only in small amounts as treats. Don't feed other treats as they may harm your rabbits.

    - Rabbits don't naturally eat cereals/root vegetables/fruit.

  • Safe, washed leafy green vegetables/herbs/weeds daily. Take care - some plants are poisonous.

    - Avoid sudden changes in diets and do not feed lawnmower clippings as both these upset rabbits' digestive systems causing illness.

  • Feeding quantities adjusted to prevent them from becoming underweight/overweight.

    - Quantities rabbits need to eat depend on age/lifestyle/general health.

    - Rabbits become overweight and may suffer if eating more food than needed.

  • The amount they eat and drink monitoring. If these habits change, droppings gets less/stop, or soft droppings stick to their back end, talk to your vet immediately as they could be seriously ill.

    - Rabbits produce two dropping types - hard dry pellets, and softer moist pellets they eat directly from their bottom and are dietary essentials. View the rabbit poo infographic to see why.

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