What can rabbits eat?

What Bugs a Bunny? © RSPCA

There are many misconceptions about what rabbits should eat including the myths that rabbits need lots of carrots and lettuce as well as regular portions of commercial food. In fact, while carrots are suitable as an occasional treat, rabbits don't actually eat fruit or vegetable in the wild. On the other hand, muesli should never be fed to rabbits as it can cause health problems. A rabbit’s main diet source should actually be hay, to keep their teeth and tummies healthy, and encourages foraging and grazing. To set the record straight, here's our top rabbit diet mythbusters… 

Myth #1 - Rabbits eat carrots

Carrots shouldn’t be main sources of food.


Rabbits don't naturally eat root vegetables/fruit. Carrots/fruit are high in sugar and should only be fed in small amounts as occasional treats.


Rabbits need mainly hay and/or grass, some leafy greens and a small, measured amount of pellets. See rabbit meal planner.


Myth #2 - Hay is just bedding

Hay isn’t just bedding. Fresh, dust–free hay should be their main source of food available at all times.


Read: feeding tips


Myth #3 - Rabbits eat lettuce

Diets shouldn’t be lettuce based.


Rabbits shouldn’t eat some lettuces (e.g. iceberg) as they contain lactucarium which can be harmful in large quantities.


Some lettuce is "worse" than others - light-coloured varieties are high in water and have very little nutritional value, so are not recommended.


Darker, more leafy and fibrous varieties (e.g. romaine lettuce) should be fed, as they are higher in fibre and actual nutrients. Introduce gradually to avoid digestive problems.


Large amounts of lettuce, for a rabbit unused to it, can cause digestive upsets.


Myth #4 - Rabbits should be fed big bowlfuls of commercial food

Eating too much commercial food (pellets/nuggets/muesli) can cause weight gain and prevent eating enough hay and/or grass.


Muesli-style foods shouldn’t be fed as they cause teeth and tummy problems. See: muesli is unhealthy for rabbits and how to gradually move to a healthier diet.

 


Rabbits can be fed small, measured amount of pellets/nuggets each day, ensuring they get all the vitamins and minerals they need. See: meal planner.


Remember hay and/or grass are much more important and should make up the majority of diet. See: feeding tips to ensure rabbits eat plenty of hay.


Eating lots of hay/grass
helps wear down rabbits' constantly growing teeth and keeps tummies healthy.


It allows foraging and grazing; important normal behaviours. If given highly palatable commercial food, rabbits eat quickly, have nothing else to do, so may become bored.


See: make feeding time fun.

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