The problem with rabbits is they have sensitive tummies and complex teeth that need to be looked after. If they do not eat something that makes them grind their teeth together they will often develop spurs. These are sharp bits of tooth that grow at an angle and cut into their cheeks or gums and cause ulceration and infection. Imagine having a large thorn stuck in your gum 24/7 (ouch!). People are often surprised to hear that rabbits have 28 teeth (not 4) that never stop growing. In fact, there are 6 incisors at the front the other two are behind the top incisors. Leaving 22 at the back of that little mouth that’s all cheek and gum. So even the smallest spur can cause a huge amount of pain.
Okay, so back to diet.
-LOTS AND LOTS OF HAY
The RWAF suggest
- 80% Hay/Grass
- 15% Leafy Greens (not spinach)
- 5% Pellets (which is usually about an egg cup, depending on the size of your rabbit), we feed Science Selective Grain Free.
- Fresh Water at all times
Some people prefer no greens, some prefer no pellets or grain free pellets. But hay &/or grass is essential to grinding those teeth and for good digestion. Saving on stress, pain and vet bills.
However, this is not to say Rabbits wants to eat their hay, particularly if they have been on a different diet (this you must wean them off first, along with giving the hay), but that is simply down to why us humans want to eat all the bad stuff too, that is not good for our teeth and tummies. But they depend on us to give them the correct diet. And just like us, they do not want to eat something tasteless, dry and full of dust. This means finding a good quality hay. We order hay from Timothy Hay which is beautifully fresh and fragrant, keeps well, next day delivery and at a fair price. I find it is still a good idea to mix things up to keep them interested, see if your local farm does some hay they can try, buy some readigrass (sold in equine shops) or mix in some fresh herbs or dried forage.
Rabbits rarely eat all the hay put down for them, they pick their favourite bits and go back to it. Sometimes shuffling it about can attract new interest. Putting some in reach of their litter tray as they like to ‘poo & chew’. If your rabbit has paid no attention to it, move it to another area or put it in a box or hay rack to make it more fun. I always put fresh out every day and old stuff in their beds, this is important even if it looks like they haven’t touched it the day before. It can be frustrating and costly but its essential and will eventually pay off.
But don’t give up, think of those teeth, those tummies and those vet bills. Cut back any other foods a little a day. Grow some grass trays outside in litter trays to gain their interest in something similar.
NEVER GIVE MUESLI TYPE MIXES!
As for suitable fruit & veg, I recently did some research after Topsy, our bunny we rescued last year had to have a kidney removed this was due to a build-up of calcium. Her kidney had grown to the size of a cricket ball, that of course no longer functioned. This was likely because of a bad diet in the past that had built up over time but I felt it best to really look into the fruits & veg that we feel or are lead to believe are okay to give our bunnies. The research was a looking at the amount of sugar & the amount of calcium in foods. The link below shows the data & graphs.
My conclusion is a list I have made that is always stuck on my fridge;
Bunny Safe Foods
- Bell Pepper
- Bok choi
- Brussel sprout
- Green Beans
- Red cabbage
- White cabbage
- Cabbage savoy