A good quality rabbit pellet may be offered daily, but in limited quantities. Over feeding a pelleted diet can led to obesity, heart disease, liver disease, chronic diarrhea, and kidney disease. Buy pellets that are high in fiber (18% or more) and low in calcium. Keep pellets refrigerated or in a cool and dry area to prevent spoilage. If you need to buy more then two months of pellets at one time, make sure to freeze them.
Rabbits up to 8 months of age can have free choice because they are still growing. Do not refill the food bowl if all the pellets are eaten before the next day. However, after 8 months they should be on a maintenance diet, the following chart is a daily amount to feed your adult bunny:
- 2-4lb of body weight – 1/8cup daily
- 5-7lb of body weight – 1/4cup daily
- 8-10lb of body weight – 1/2cup daily
- 11-15lb of body weight – 3/4cup daily
Rabbits tend to eat small frequent meals through out the day, therefore, timothy or grass hay should be offered daily in unlimited amounts. The fiber in the hay is extremely important because it promotes normal digestion and prevention of hairballs. Alfalfa hay is not recommended because it can be too high in calcium and carbohydrates.
Fresh foods (greens):
Fresh greens can be fed at 1 cup per 5 pounds of body weight. If you bunny is not used to eating fresh fruit, start gradually. Add a new fresh food every 5-7 days. If these foods lead to diarrhea within 24-48 hours discontinue that food. Below are some fresh foods you can try with your bunny:
- Carrot tops
- Collard greens
- Romaine Lettuce (do not give light colored leaf or iceberg lettuce)
- Broccoli (leaves and top)
- Green Peppers
- Raspberry leaves
- Peppermint leaves
- Mustard greens
You can feed 1 tablespoon per 5 pounds of body weight, per day. Again, if diarrhea is seen, discontinue the treats. The following is a list of treat foods:
Fresh water should be available at all times. Water should be changed on a daily basis and their water container should be washed out weekly. You can use either a water bottle or a heavy bowl that is attached to the side of the cage so it cannot be tipped over.
Rabbits produce a “special” type of dropping called cecotropes. These droppings contain vital nutrients, amino acids, proteins, and vitamins that help the digestive tract. They are softer, greener, and have a strong odor. These dropping are generally produced in the evening. Your rabbit will instinctively eat these droppings on its own.
Avoid foods that are high in fat and starch, such as most commercial treats. Below are some examples of high fat and starch foods to avoid:
Exercise is vital for the health of your rabbit! Rabbits are built to run and jump in large areas. “House” rabbits should never be kept completely confined to their cage; confinement can cause several health problems such as, obesity, poor bone density and muscle tone, behavioral problems, and pododermatitis (inflammation of the feet).
A cage should be used for part of the day, but your rabbit needs to be let out to exercise on daily basis. The cage should allow the rabbit to stand up on its hind legs without hitting the top of the cage; provide a resting spot, and a spot for the litter box.
Litter Box Training
Rabbits are relatively clean pets and can be litter box trained relatively easy. Determine which corner of the cage your bunny prefers to use, and place the litter box there. Make sure the sides of the litter box are low enough for your rabbit to get in and out of. It can sometimes be helpful to place some droppings in the litter box. You should use a pelleted litter; it is non-toxic and digestible if eaten.
Be sure to keep the cage well ventilated and in a cool area. Basements are often too damp which can lead to upper respitory problems. The best temperature for a rabbit is between 60F to 70F. If the temperature is in the mid 70s you may notice clear discharge from the nose. If the temperature goes about 80F and humidity is high it can potentially be fatal. If there is no air-conditioning available, freeze a plastic milk jug full of water and leave it in the cage, this will help keep the cage cool.
Rabbit proof your home before allowing your rabbit out of the cage to exercise. Move any electrical cords, toxic plants, and rodenticides out of reach. Rabbits love to chew/dig up carpet and furniture. Toys are a good idea when your bunny is out. They love items that make noise and items they can hide in and chew on.
Valley Veterinary Hospital recommends yearly exams on rabbits and vaccinations are not needed.