What should I feed my house rabbit?
People are often given the wrong information when purchasing a rabbit from pet stores. For starters, you should always try to 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 or rescues so you have no other option than to purchase your rabbit from a pet store. Most of the time employees at pet stores give out the wrong information about what to feed a rabbit, they advise you to just feed them carrots and lettuce, wrong! Most pet stores sell young rabbits, these rabbits are too young and shouldn’t be weaned from their mothers at such a young age. If you do purchase, please take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible 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 timothy hay, water, and vegetables. When a young rabbit is switched to hay, it should be fed alfalfa hay, it will help your baby fatten up and grow healthy. Once they are of age try to switch them timothy hay. There are several varieties of hay, but it is up to your rabbit’s preference, but always have hay available for them to eat. Anything else given to them during the day is a treat and should be limited as they are small and delicate animals.
Diet according to age
One to six-month-old rabbits should be fed as follows
- Birth to 3 weeks of age they should only have 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
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pellets 6 lbs body weight
- 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 is highly recommended, even up to twice a year for geriatric rabbits.
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 Cooper tab of my website.
(You expect me to eat hay?)