Rabbit Nutrition

Posted by Trusty Vet
Trusty Vet
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on Monday, 17 September 2012
in Pet Care Tips

mon146044Information for this blog was obtained from www.veterinarypartner.com.  This is an excellent source for husbandry information for all small mammals.  Rabbits are the third most popular pet behind dogs and cats.  Rabbits require a large percentage of fiber in their diets to maintain gastrointestinal health.  In general, any diet modifications should be made slowly over a period of at least one week.  Oftentimes, rabbit owners make the mistake of overfeeding commercial pellets that are high calorie.  Commercial pellets designed for adult rabbit maintenance should contain 18% or higher fiber, 13-14% protein, and fat content of no more than 3% and should be fed at no more that ¼ cup per 4 pounds of body weight per day.

Two especially important sources of nutrition for rabbits are an unlimited supply of timothy grass hay and fresh leafy greens at a maximum of 1 cup of packed greens for every 2 pounds of body weight.  The timothy hay provides essential fiber necessary for dental and gastrointestinal health as well as proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.  For rabbits that have only been fed commercial pellets, introduce the timothy hay first and once your rabbit is eating the hay well for at least four weeks, add in the leafy greens.  Introduce one green at a time and wait three days before introducing a new one.  Greens should be washed thoroughly to remove pesticides.  Offer three different types of greens including red and green cabbage, carrot tops, parsley, romaine lettuce, endive, radicchio, collard greens, kale, and mustard greens daily once your pet has been introduced appropriately.

Fruits and vegetables are considered “treat” foods and should be fed at a maximum of 1 tablespoon total per 2 pounds of body weight.  Ideal fruits and vegetables include carrots, apples, strawberries, pears, peaches, squash, tomato, papaya, mango, blueberries, and raspberries.  Avoid starchy foods such as bananas, grapes, beans, corn, peas, and potatoes.  Find at least one treat food that your rabbit likes and feed a small amount daily to check on how good your rabbit’s appetite is.  If they will not eat the treat food, there may be something that needs veterinary attention.

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