If you have decided to have rabbits as new family members, planning the feed is important in addition to setting up the enclosure. Read here what you need to consider when feeding rabbits.
A healthy rabbit diet should be based on the natural food spectrum of wild rabbits. Grasses, herbs, vegetables, and roots are on the daily menu here. Both wild and domestic rabbits eat a very high-fiber diet but consume little fat and protein. The raw fiber-rich feed ensures that the food is transported from the stomach to the intestines.
Hay for rabbits
Feed that is rich in crude fiber is important for rabbits because of the constantly growing molars that are worn down by grinding grass and herbs. In pet-keeping, high-quality hay is, therefore, the main food for rabbits. It contains around 25% crude fiber and must be freely available to the animals. Rabbits eat about 80 small meals a day.
You should pay attention to the following aspects when feeding hay:
- The hay must have a greenish color.
- The hay should smell aromatic.
- Dusty, musty, or yellowish hay should not be fed.
Hay from the first cut contains the most nutrients and crude fiber. It is also usually coarser than second-cut hay and is particularly popular with rabbits. In addition to the hay, small amounts of dried herbs, leaves, and flowers (e.g. dandelion, nettle, buckhorn, etc.) can be fed.
Dry food for rabbits
Opinions vary greatly as to whether rabbits need dry food or not. Some rabbit owners do not give any dry food at all and only feed their animals hay and fresh food (vegetables, fruit, grass, and herbs). This type of feeding is highly recommended for adult, healthy rabbits with a varied diet.
If you do not want to do without dry food, you should offer your long ears small amounts of pellets. This is pressed feed that should consist mainly of grass and herbs and contain at least 17% crude fiber.
The rabbit food should not contain the following components:
Colorful compound feed for rabbits, which is often offered in the trade, contains some of these components and is therefore not species-appropriate!
Snacks for rabbits
From time to time your rabbit can look forward to a few snacks. The most popular rabbit snacks can be found here:
Fresh food for rabbits
In addition to hay and fresh drinking water, fresh food (vegetables, fruit, grass, and herbs) is one of the most important components of healthy rabbit nutrition. Rabbits should be offered fresh food every day. It provides the rabbit:
- important vitamins
- crude protein
Fresh food should really only be fed fresh and never scruffy or rotten. Rabbits unaccustomed to fresh greens or certain types of food will be introduced to their new food slowly.
Caution: Switching between fresh and dry food too quickly often leads to gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and constipation and can be life-threatening. Test carefully which types of fruit, vegetables, and herbs your rabbits like and tolerate well. If you find that one of your rabbits is sensitive to certain types of fresh food, feed them something else.