What should I feed my house rabbit?
A lot of people are given the wrong information when purchasing their rabbit from pet stores, first and foremost always adopt from your local shelters and rescues. There are a lot of rabbits that need homes, so please adopt. I know in some countries there might not be a lot of shelters and rescues so you have no other option than to purchase your rabbit from a pet store. Well the employees of these stores always give out the wrong information about what to feed a rabbit, they advise you to just feed them carrots and lettuce, wrong!! Specially since most of these pet stores sell such young babies, most of these babies shouldn’t be taken away from their mothers at such a young age. If you do purchase take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible to try and find out what their approximate age is. Once you have an idea of how old you rabbit is you’ll know what to feed it.
If your rabbit is still a baby your vet will advise you what to feed it and when to switch him or her to an all hay diet.
A house rabbit’s diet should consist of good quality pellets, fresh hay, water and vegetables. When your baby rabbit is switched to hay you should feed it alfalfa hay as it is riches hay that will help your baby fatten up a bit and grow healthy. Once they are of age you should feed them timothy hay, there are several types of hay sold, basically it is up to your rabbit’s preferences; but you can always just have plenty of timothy hay available for them. Anything else given to them during the day is a treat and should be very limited as they are small and delicate animals. (In past post I have gone into more detail about a rabbit’s healthy portions and treats).
Diet according to age
One to six month old rabbits should be fed as follows:
– Birth to 3 weeks of age they should only eat their mother’s milk
– 3-4 weeks mother’s milk , nibbles of alfalfa hay and pellets
– 4-7 weeks mother’s milk, access to alfalfa hay and pellets
– 7 weeks to seven months – unlimited pellets, unlimited hay
– At 12 weeks introduce vegetables. One at a time at quantities under 1/2 ounce
Feeding young adults ( 7 months to a year old):
– introduce Timothy hay, grass hay and oat hay and decrease alfalfa hay as it is fattening
– decrease pellets to half a cup per 6 lbs. body weight
– increase daily vegetables gradually
– fruits should be given on a daily rotation, but no more than 1 oz. to 2 oz. per 6 lbs. body weight
Feeding mature adults, 1 to 5 years:
– unlimited Timothy, grass hay, oat hay but no alfalfa
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pellets 6 lbs. body weight. Keep in mind their metabolism and or proportionate to veggies intake
– minimum 2 cups of chopped vegetables per 6 lbs. of body weight
– fruit daily rotation no more than 2 oz. per 6 lbs. body weight
Senior rabbits ( 6 years and older):
– if their weight is stable, continue with the adult diet
– if your rabbit is frail he or she may need unrestricted pellets to keep weight up. Alfalfa can be given to underweight rabbits, but only if calcium levels are normal. Annual blood work are highly recommended, even up to twice a year for geriatric rabbits.
- Three to 7 weeks they should still be drinking their mother’s milk, but should have alfalfa hay available to them and towards the end of the seven weeks you should feed them small portions of pellets.
- Seven weeks to 7 months they should be feed unlimited pellets and unlimited hay.
- At 12 weeks you can introduce vegetables but only one at a time and keep it to about half an ounce.
- Pellets need to be decreased to half a cup per body weight.
- You can increase their daily vegetables gradually, if they like them.
- Fruit can be introduce into their diet, no more than 1 to 2 ounces per body weight.
- Older rabbits might be frail and may need unrestricted pellets to keep weight up. If your older rabbit cannot maintain a healthy weight, you can feed them alfalfa hay, but check with your vet as their calcium levels need to be normal.
This information is based on a normal rabbit’s diet, not all rabbits are equal and some might need special care. Like I have mentioned before, Cooper does not eat hay; to read more about his diet go to the About tab of my blog.
( You’re expecting me to eat this hay?)