Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Just like humans, we also have our recommended dietary guidelines. See the rabbit food pyramid created by San Diego House Rabbit Society.
Recommended daily feed:
1-2 treats per week
⅛ Cup High quality pellets
<1 Cup Greens
Unlimited Fresh Hay
In this blog post, we’ll talk about the do’s and don’t (and a little bit of extra) for food, snacks, and water. First, there is simply no substitute for hay. As our digestive system is one of the most important in our bodies, this information will help us be healthy and with you for a long time.
We love hay and it's a good thing too because it is the best for us! The benefits are massive, including keeping us busy, preventing boredom, fighting dental diseases, keeping our teeth from becoming overgrown, preventing obesity, and preventing gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. So, we should have unlimited access to fresh hay. It is best to give us different types of hays so we don’t get bored and some of us are really picky. Our owners give us all types of hays, but 2nd cut timothy best meets our needs. Here is some information about different types of hay we eat. See the page where we talk about our experiences with hay here.
Alfalfa, like other legumes (beans are lentils), are high in nutrients, but also high in fat.
Alfalfa Hay: Alfalfa hay has the highest nutrition, so it is great for young rabbits (less than 1 year), pregnant rabbits, and sick rabbits. But otherwise, it is not great for us. Since it has a very high protein value, it can make us fat and provides too much calcium. Obesity harms our digestive system and can lead to shelling out money for an expensive vet visit. High amounts in calcium can cause "sludge" in our urine. These are usually problems for older rabbits (2+ year rabbits). We sometimes get alfalfa as a treat, mixed in our other hay.
Grass Hays: Timothy, Orchard, Oat
These grasses are not high in calories, providing a better balance.
Timothy Hay: 2nd cutting timothy hay has the perfect amount of fiber, protein, and fat. 1st cutting has a high amount of fiber and is harder than 2nd cutting. 3rd cutting has higher levels of protein and fat as it is mostly leaf. 3rd cutting is great for those of us who need to gain weight or for young bunnies needing to grow.
Orchard Grass: Orchard grass is a great alternative to Timothy hay if we or our humans are allergic to Timothy hay. It also gives us an alternative to the same food day in and day out. We like variety!
Oat Hay: We LOVE this delicious hay. With most hays you want to see a green color, but with oat hay, you will see a yellow color. It has high fiber, protein, and fat. If our diet is high in oat hay, the poop we produce will be larger, lighter in color, and will look like sawdust if crushed.
When we get tired of eating our timothy hay, the humans give us herbal blends to make our food more interesting and tasty. They also give us blends of hay or different hay from time to time.
Pellets complete the nutrients we need. So, it is important to make sure you feed high quality pellets to us. We eat Oxbow Young Rabbit Pellets for the first year and Oxbow Rabbit Pellets for the rest. The young formula is alfalfa based, making it perfect for pregnant does and babies to help them grow big and strong. The adult pellets are Timothy based, making them great for adults. For small breeds like lionheads and mini rexes, we eat ⅛ of a cup a day (although pregnant does get more). Too much pellets will make us fat and can harm our digestive system.
Greens and Fruits
As a smaller breed (under 5 pounds), we should only eat a cup of fresh (and pesticide free) veggies per day. In addition, we can only eat a small fruit snack 1-2 times per week max. Fruit contains high amounts of sugar. Always wash your vegetables, flowers, and fruits thoroughly before feeding them to us. Our humans wash them with a bit of vinegar. When trying new veggies or fruit, give us a small amount first to see if we can handle it (i.e., no signs of loose stool or diarrhea). If you see loose stools or diarrhea, simply stop the veggies and greens until we are better. ALWAYS FEED IN MODERATION.
Veggies (can be fed daily):
Beet Greens (tops)
Veggies (can be fed sparingly)
Broccoli (stems and leaves only; eliminate if your rabbit has a tendency to get gassy)
Brussels sprouts (eliminate if your rabbit has a tendency to get gassy)
Carrot & carrot tops (tops can be given with greens, carrot should be given as a treat)
Pea pods (flat edible kind)
Other edibles (Mix with veggies, eat in moderation):
Flowers: calendula, chamomile, daylily, dianthus, dandelion, English daisy, hibiscus, honeysuckle, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, rose
Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme
Lettuces: romaine, green leaf, red leaf, Boston bibb, arugula, butter (no iceberg)
Sprouts: alfalfa, clover
Fruits (1-2 times per week max; remove all seeds):
Orange (remove peel)
Yogurt drops (although companies make them “safe” for rabbits, we do not recommend it because rabbits do not have the bacteria to process dairy, and it contains a high sugar content).
There are many treats that are made for us. Not all of them are good for us. Some of them are harmful. Feeding too many treats leads to obesity and health problems. Sugary treats can give us dental disease and dysbiosis (an intestinal condition where overgrowth of bacteria causes diarrhea and gas).
Many treats contain dried fruits, nuts, seeds, honey, sugar, and yogurt. From our experience, small amounts of dried fruit and honey from time to time are ok. However, do note that over time, all of the mentioned ingredients can lead to long-term health problems and obesity. Dried fruits have concentrated sugars which can lead to dental decay and obesity. They can also give us diarrhea. After doing a lot of research on each item, here is a list of recommended treats:
Water and Water Supplements
Drinking fresh water everyday is very important. We drink our water from a water bowl as it is more natural and less noisy than water bottles. It does mean that the humans need to clean the bowls daily and provide fresh water. They also give us a splash of apple cider vinegar to help with a few things, including: reducing the strong smell from our pee, helping us with breeding, and bettering our digestive system. They also give us Rabbit Vita Drops, which is filled with vitamins (like One-A-Day for rabbits). The vitamins also produce softer fur and give us lots of energy.
-Ru The Ruler