Why Rabbits Shouldn’t Eat “Rabbit Food”

Why Rabbits Shouldn't Eat Rabbit Food

Did you know that what we often refer to as “rabbit food” is actually something of a myth? Rabbits can eat carrots and some types of lettuce but these food items shouldn’t form a large part of their diet as they can lead to health issues. This can be confusing for new rabbit owners who aren’t sure what their pet should be eating. Here’s an overview of the foods that should form a key part of your rabbit’s day-to-day diet.

What to Feed Your Rabbit

The bulk of your rabbit’s diet should be grass hay. This is a great source of nutrients such as calcium and vitamin A and D, and is the basis for a healthy digestive system.

The majority of the rest of their diet should be come from fresh foods, particularly leafy green vegetables. These can account for 75 per cent of the fresh component, which works out at roughly 1 cup per 2 lbs of your rabbit’s body weight.

Most leafy green vegetables can be given on a daily basis including kale, red or green lettuce, spring greens, watercress and mint. It can be a good idea to mix these up for variation and nutrition.

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However, some leafy greens shouldn’t be fed this regularly due to the oxalic acid and should therefore be rotated. This includes spinach, parsley, Swiss chard and radish tops. Broccoli and cauliflower can also be given in smaller amounts.

High quality rabbit pellets offer some nutrients too but should only be given in moderation to discourage weight gain.

Foods to Limit for Your Rabbit

Fruit can be given as a treat but the sugar content means that it shouldn’t be a staple of your rabbit’s diet. Kiwis, strawberries, pears, melons, apples and oranges can work well as occasional training treats, for example. Feeding them too regularly can lead to digestive problems though. As a general rule of thumb, you should look to only give your rabbit around 1 teaspoon of fruit per 2 lbs of their body weight.

Carrots shouldn’t be a main source of food for your bunny, despite the myth. This is because they have a reasonably high sugar content and should only be occasional treats.

It’s a similar story with lettuce, which contains laudanum and can actually be dangerous in large enough quantities. Light coloured lettuce is high in water content and doesn’t contain many nutrients, whereas the darker varieties have more fibre in them. If your rabbit doesn’t eat lettuce already, introducing it too quickly can cause digestive issues so it needs to be done on a gradual basis.

Starchy root vegetables should also only form a small part of a rabbit’s diet.

What Not to Feed Your Rabbit

Muesli-style rabbit foods should be avoided. These are linked to health problems, including dental and digestive issues.

Legumes can lead to GI issues, as can grains. Leeks, chives and onions are also not advisable as they can cause anomalies in the blood.