Super nutrition means better all around health, and maybe some extra time with your best friend. Just like we pay attention to our own diets, and try our best to get a good broad range of all the things we need, we can do the same for what we feed our rabbits.
Small animals are herbivores. That means they eat plants. Plants only. They aren’t built to eat dairy, so no more yogurt drops! They don’t eat anything processed, of course, out there in the meadows, so we aren’t fans of processed grain treats.
Hay is the core of the diet, of course. We start by making sure at least 80% of their diet is great hay. After that, there are a lot of great choices for filling out their diet, as well as providing them the occasional treat.
Three types of fresh greens every day is a terrific addition. You can provide them with herbs and flowers, such as Small Pet Select’s Herbal Mixes. You can also make sure they have plenty of edible toys that provide resistance as they chew (apple sticks wedged into pen corners, etc.), to keep their teeth in good shape. An alarming number of nutrition problems are caused by dental problems, so it is worth giving your friend’s teeth a chance to do what they were meant to do.
They can become sugar addicts, and it is important to watch their sugar consumption. Many veggies (such as carrots!) are pretty high in sugar, so check the list below and mix it up.
Great Everyday Greens:
(* means high in oxalic acid)
Arugula, Basil (all types), *Beet greens, Bok choy, Borage leaves, Broccoli leaves, Carrot tops (the green leafy part, not the orange veggie part!), Celery, Chicory, Cilantro, Clover, Collard greens, Cucumber leaves, Dandelion leaves, Dill, Endive, Escarole, Fennel, Frisee Lettuce, Kale, Mint, *Mustard greens, *Parsley, Radicchio, *Radish tops, Raspberry leaves, Romaine lettuce, *Spinach, Spring greens, *Swiss chard, Turnip greens, Water cress, Wheatgrass
Fruits and Veggies
(feed sparingly, since these are higher in sugar, lower in fiber, and are not part of the staple diet. By sparingly, we mean REALLY SPARINGLY – like one raisin for a medium sized rabbit. A quarter of one of those tiny baby carrots. SPARINGLY.)
Apple (no seeds!), Apricot, Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), Banana, Bell pepper, Carrot, Cherries (no pits!), Edible flowers, Snow peas in pods, Broccoli flowers (the nice green part we usually eat), Brussels Sprouts, Kiwi, Mango, Melon, Nectarine, Papaya, Pear, Peach, Pineapple, Plum, Squash
Given the opportunity to romp around in the garden (with close supervision, of course, and in a pesticide free-environment), you’d see that small animals go from place to place, sampling a snippet of all kinds of different plants. You might even see them pulling and tugging at stems or twigs. They move around seeking out the tasty bits, the stuff that smells good. What you won’t see is an animal standing in one place, eating one thing. Remember variety when doing your weekly meal plan! (Here’s some info about how to introduce new stuff to your rabbit’s diet.)
Small animal’s digestive systems are delicate! Buying them organic plants, when possible, and wash the produce well to remove any toxins introduced during the trip from the farm to the store.
photo credit: marlerblog.com
Ta da! Now you have a well fed rabbit, who gets lots of fiber (80% of the diet should be nice fresh hay), plus a few kinds of leafy greens, maybe a little tiny treat veggie bit, and some herbs. Well done, you!