Scientists and Veterinarians have determined percentages for different components for a balanced diet. These include: 

Crude Fibre

>18%

Vitamin A

10,000- 18,000 IU/kg

Indigestible Fiber

>12.5%

Vitamin D

800-1200 IU/kg

Crude Protein

12-16%

Vitamin E

40-70 mg/kg

Fat

1-4%

Magnesium

0.3%

Calcium

0.6-1%

Zinc

0.5%

Phophurus

0.4-0.8%

Potassium

0.6-0.7%

Ca:P ratio

1.2-2:1

 

 

Although these figures may be confusing alone, the point is that rabbits have feeding requirements, and their diet is a vital factor for maintaining health,. Pet shops quite often supply and feed rabbits commercially mixed pellets which were originally designed to feed laboratory rabbits in the 1950s. Pellets and grain sold by pet shops are often very concentrated and don’t contain enough fibre. They are unbalanced and can lead to obesity, intestinal problems and diarrhoea.

Changing the diet of your new rabbit

The nutritional requirements of rabbits can be met best through supplying little or no pellets, unlimited  hay or grass and around 2 cups (approximately 250g) of fresh mixed green vegetables (per kg of body weight) a day.

There are different types of fresh hay available, but generally the best types are alfalfa, meadow, timothy, oaten, ryegrass or pasture. Do not give lucern hay, clover hay, or straw as part of their diet. Fresh hay or grass provides a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals for the rabbit, and fresh grass or hay should be provided at all times. Hay also promotes chewing which is important as rabbit teeth grow constantly and chewing helps grind them down.

Vegetables are important and generally should be leafy and green. It is best to give your rabbit some variety (about 3 different types a day). Examples of vegetables that are good include: 

Broccoli

Celery

Cabbage

Brussel sprouts

Beet/ carrot tops

Endive

Spinach leaves

Bok choy

Other asian greens

Dark leaved lettuce varieties

(e.g. rocket)

Herbs (danellion, parsley, coriander, basil)

Mustard greens

What about water?

Remember to always provide water- although rabbits obtain much of their water through their feed, they still require water at all times. The average water consumption of an adult rabbit is 120ml per kg of body weight. Having a ‘sippy’ bottle is useful to be able to monitor how much they have been drinking.

Strategies to encourage your new rabbit to eat healthier!

It is important to remember that diet should be changed gradually (slowly). The introduction of new vegetables should be done by providing a little bit over a  couple of weeks because new feed can sometimes “upset the stomach”. It is also important to monitor the droppings- if feeding certain types of vegetables cause diarrhoea or abnormally shaped fecal balls, then you may discontinue using it. Also remember that rabbits are ‘coprophagic’, which means that they eat some of their own droppings. This is normal and helps them keep their digestive tract healthy.

Treats should only be given at limited amounts! You should only give 1-2 tablespoons a day, and include things like fruit. You should not give fatty foods, grain, cereals or sweets such as breads and biscuits. Feeding limited amounts of treats promotes healthy eating and should be done consistently. Salt licks sold by pet shops aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be given. Treats to chew on are often a good idea to help your rabbit’s teeth! These include wooden chew blocks and old telephone books.        

For more information please visit:

www.exoticsvet.com.au