New Moon Rabbit Rescue is Registered Charity # 82515 0329 RR0001.
We are a "no-kill" organization dedicated to providing care for rescued domestic rabbits.
Thank you for helping us continue to make a difference in so many rabbits lives.
A rabbit's diet is crucial to good health. Unfortunately, their requirements are still often misunderstood by well-meaning owners. And with good reason. Many pellet manufacturers push their products as the only requirement of a rabbit's diet, while in reality rabbits need very little pellets, if any at all.
HAY SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE MAIN PART OF YOUR RABBIT'S DIET. Daily vegetables, greens and herbs can make up a smaller portion of the diet, while pellets should be looked upon as a supplemental food only and can even be eliminated if you wish. Pellets should not exceed 5% of your rabbit's daily food intake.
Within these three categories, as a responsible rabbit owner, you should be aware of what is and what is not appropriate to feed your rabbit. It is always best to consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about your specific rabbit's diet.
Thank you to Dr. Tracey Poulton, DVM for the up-to-date rabbit nutrition information.
WHAT TYPE OF HAY SHOULD I FEED MY ADULT RABBIT?
Mixed grass and timothy are both great choices for adult rabbits. The higher the fiber, the better! Ensure any hay you purchase is mostly green, fresh smelling and free of any moulds. We recommend Bourne Free Farms and Dunlea Farms hay (both made in Ontario). Oxbow Animal Health also has an array of excellent hay.
WHAT TYPE OF HAY SHOULD I NOT FEED MY ADULT RABBIT?
Do not feed your adult rabbit alfalfa hay, as it is too rich in calcium and protein. Too much calcium can lead to issues of the bladder and urinary tract (bladder stones and "sludge"), while the higher protein intended for young rabbits can cause obesity. Alfalfa can be given as a very occasional treat.
WHAT TYPE OF HAY SHOULD I FEED MY YOUNG RABBIT?
Alfalfa is appropriate for rabbits up to 5-7 months, depending on the breed. A small breed like a Netherland Dwarf requires alfalfa for a shorter period, while you would want to continue feeding a larger breed (such as a New Zealand) alfalfa for longer, as their growth rates vary.
WHY IS HAY SO IMPORTANT?
A rabbit's digestive system is designed to graze on grass and will not function normally in its absence. As pet rabbit owners, we can provide our rabbits with hay to keep their digestive systems healthy and give them what they were meant to eat! A rabbit's teeth are also designed to graze and constantly grow - both incisors and molars alike. Molars will overgrow without a proper percentage of roughage in their diet and even develop points towards the rabbit's cheek or tough. This is not only costly for the owner to recitify (requiring sedation and trimming by a qualified veterinarian), but can also be very painful for the rabbit and lead to infections in the mouth and tooth roots.
HOW MUCH HAY SHOULD I GIVE MY RABBIT DAILY?
Hay should ALWAYS be available to your rabbit in unlimited quantities, regardless of age or size. Hay should comprise AT LEAST 80% of your rabbit's daily diet.
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY RABBIT WON'T EAT HAY?
We see this quite often in rescue rabbits who have been overfed pellets and sugary treats and/or never offered hay. The first thing you can try is changing brands to something more appealing, particularly a fresh farm hay if available in your area. Sometimes, this is all the encouragement they need! If you find that doesn't work, try reducing the amount of pellets given or eliminating them entirely, even if it is just for a short time. Tough love can do wonders for a rabbit that won't eat their hay!
HOW MANY VEGETABLES SHOULD I GIVE MY ADULT RABBIT DAILY?
An average sized rabbit will eat about 2 cups of greens and veggies per day. If feeding less pellets or if your rabbit is losing weight, you can increase this amount. This is only a very rough guideline.
HOW OLD SHOULD MY RABBIT BE WHEN I INTRODUCE VEGETABLES?
Rabbits can be fed greens as early as 3-4 months if introduced slowly. Give only one type of vegetable per day and note if there is any overproduction of cecotrophs. Give smaller amounts than an adult rabbit - make sure your young rabbit is eating his pellets and alfalfa hay - these will help aid in proper growth.
WHAT TYPES OF PELLETS SHOULD I FEED MY ADULT RABBIT?
Adult rabbits should be fed a timothy-based pellet free of alfalfa content. Some examples are Martin Mills Timothy Adult Rabbit Food and Oxbow Bunny Basics/T.
HOW MANY PELLETS SHOULD I GIVE DAILY?
1/8 cup per 5 lbs. of body weight is a good guideline for adult rabbits (1 year and up).
WHAT TYPES OF PELLETS SHOULD I FEED MY YOUNG RABBIT?
Young rabbits should receive an alfalfa-based pellet up to 7 months of age, longer for larger breeds. Some examples are Martin Mills Original Rabbit Food and Oxbow Bunny Basics.
HOW MANY PELLETS SHOULD I GIVE MY YOUNG RABBIT DAILY?
Pellets should be given free choice up to 7 months of age, at which time you can begin to slowly reduce the daily amount.
Regardless of the age or size of your rabbit NEVER give your rabbit pellets containing cereal bits, "muesli," nuts, seeds or corn. These products are made solely with the purpose of being visually appealilng to humans and are never appropriate for rabbits. We have seen many rabbits on these diets suffering from acute gastrointestinal issues, such as GI Stasis, enteritis and blockages. Please do not ever consider any of these unhealthy choices.
HOW MUCH FRUIT SHOULD I GIVE MY ADULT RABBIT?
Fruit should be given as a treat only. Fruit is high in sugar and can lead to an overproduction of cecotrophs and in the long-term, obesity. Please do not exceed reasonable limits and give only (at the very most) for example, a small slice of apple per day. If your rabbit is going through a moult or a slowdown of the GI system (GI Stasis), you may give papaya and/or pineapple to aid digestion, but please consult your veterinarian as to whether this is a good choice for your rabbit and what the amounts should be.
HOW OLD SHOULD MY RABBIT BE WHEN I INTRODUCE FRUIT?
Rabbits should be completely accustomed to vegetables and timothy pellets before introducing fruit. Introduce one type of fruit at a time and again, in limited quantities. It is prudent to wait until 9 months of age to introduce fruit into your rabbit's diet.
SHOULD I FEED "COMMERCIAL" RABBIT TREATS?
You can feed commercial rabbit treats if you wish, but sparingly. AVOID any treats with nuts, seeds or corn. Some treats are completely safe for rabbits, including Martin Mills Hearty Apple Dumplings and Banana Muffins and Oxbow Simple Rewards products. Rescue rabbits love all these products!
WHAT ARE SOME ALTERNATIVES TO COMMERCIAL TREATS?
Steel cut oats, freeze-dried fruit or dehydrated fruit (no sugar added) can all be given in reasonable amounts. Oxbow Animal Health has many freeze dried fruit products available and you may also find them as toddler treats.