Having your own rabbit at home is very rewarding. These cute little animals can move very fast around your garden. They tend to be very friendly and you can easily pet them. In reality, one could say that rabbits are actually the best animals to have at home, and they get along perfectly with both cats and dogs.
That being said, it is not all roses either. You'll have to think about a series of different things when you bring home a new rabbit: these include getting a cage and quality food, spending time with it without smothering it. The weaknesses of a bunny are the digestive system and teeth, which is why you'll also need to do frequent checks at the vet.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our selection: The best rabbit foods
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about rabbit food
- 4.1 What is rabbit food and what are its advantages?
- 4.2 What is hay and what role does it play in a rabbit's diet?
- 4.3 What is fescue hay exactly?
- 4.4 What is oat hay and what are its properties?
- 4.5 Is alfalfa hay good for my rabbit?
- 4.6 Which food is best suited for my rabbit?
- 4.7 Your pet needs more than quality rabbit food
- 4.8 What types of rabbit food are suitable for my pet?
- 4.9 Do certain types of food help them live longer?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Rabbits are mammals used to eating grass and vegetables, so you should be very careful with their diet. The wrong diet ill expose their very delicate digestive system, and you'll end up running back and forth with the vet to clean their stomach.
- Their main food is hay, and they need to chew it continuously. This is because their teeth constantly grow throughout their lives and they need to wear them down. This is why your rabbit should always have fescue hay handy in its cage. Prefer sun-dried hay over dehydrated one, as it better retains its properties.
- Your rabbit cannot gain or lose too much weight, and you'll need to weigh it regularly. Lower the caloric intake of foods such as certain fruits – peace pineapple, mango, papaya or pear – if your rabbit is overweight. Luckily for you, these are foods that you probably won't give to your bunny every day.
Our selection: The best rabbit foods
As we have mentioned above, food is a fundamental part of the breeding and care of these animals. It is basically their life insurance, and you'll enjoy your rabbit's company for years if you make sure that it has the right diet. In the following section, we've created a selection of the very best rabbit foods available on the market right now.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about rabbit food
Let's get right into it: you've just acquired a baby rabbit – actually called a kitten – and it is the most adorable. But how should you take care of it? Is it the same as having a dog or a cat? Not in the slightest, which is why we've designed the section below. Here's everything you need to know about its care and its diet.
What is rabbit food and what are its advantages?
Once you know this, it'll be time to find the food that will most fit your bunny's needs. If you also do your own research, you'll realise that a rabbit cannot only live off the different products we've listed in our ranking earlier. They also need plenty of water and hay – and not only alfalfa.
Let's now have a quick look at a comparison table that exposes the pros and cons of rabbit food. You'll notice that one of the disadvantages of it is that your bunny will never have enough pellets and croquettes. This is because the mouth of a rabbit forces it to constantly gnaw on something.
What is hay and what role does it play in a rabbit's diet?
We most frequently hear about alfalfa hay, but there is in reality a wide variety of hays out there. We've designed the following table for you, so you can better understand the different alternatives you have. You can change from time to time so your pet never gets bored of eating the same thing.
|Type of hay||Recommended for:||Advantages|
|Fescue hay||Rabbits over 3 or 4 weeks of age||Good digestion|
|Oat hay||Rabbits over 3 or 4 weeks of age||Coarse texture with antioxidants, and good for tooth health|
|Alfalfa hay||Rabbits younger than 6 months and thin adults||Caloric and satiating power|
What is fescue hay exactly?
This is incredibly significant because a rabbit's entire diet revolves around maintaining a healthy stomach and intestine. Fescue also has a very pleasant taste for your pet, which means that your rabbit will be enjoying every minute it chews on it. You are advised to close the container every time you put hay in it to avoid dust from entering.
Benefits of fescue hay
- Good for tooth wear
- Great fibre content
- Powerful antioxidant, strengthening the immune system
- Can be used as a mattress in the cage because of its softness
What is oat hay and what are its properties?
Another advantage of this type of hay is that it helps tooth development, in particular for kittens. This is because oat hay offers greater resistance than alfalfa hay, for instance. While contributing to growth, it also prevents dental malocclusion, a phenomenon unfortunately widespread in this species.
Benefits of oat hay
- Natural tooth wear
- Contributes to the bowel function
- Gives a shinier fur than other types of hay
- Incredible antioxidant abilities
Is alfalfa hay good for my rabbit?
Other aspects of alfalfa hay make it a favourite amongst rabbits, in particular for its taste. As a matter of fact, you could even use this type of hay as a treat for your bunny. That is if you've run out of those little wooden sticks that are ideal for their teeth. Remember that your pet also needs to be entertained regularly!
Benefits of alfalfa hay
- Growth of bones and teeth
- Blood coagulation
- Blood tonic, antioxidant and diuretic
- High content in protein, minerals and fibre
Which food is best suited for my rabbit?
You also have to consider other key aspects, such as the breed of your rabbit. We'll discuss this further into the article, because different breeds have different physiologies, with some more active than others. In the long term, you'll have to adapt the diet to your bunny's personality.
|Stage of life||Age||Diet|
|Newborn||Days||Mixture of milk for cats, goat milk and dairy formula. One needle-free syringe, three times a day.|
|Young||Up to 3 months of age||Independently of breed: it needs water and food. It will still drink some milk. Introduction of solid foods such as oats.|
|Adult||From 7 months of age||Quantities are important due to the risk of obesity. 30 grams of feed. Constant provision of hay. One piece of fruit. Ration of vegetables.|
|Elderly||Older than 6 years||Same as for adult rabbits. There is a high probability of weight loss. In that case, you are advised to increase its food intake until it regains weight.|
Your pet needs more than quality rabbit food
The first thing you'll need is a cage in which your rabbit can live and sleep. It is not recommended to allow it to wander around the house, as it could get lost or even escape. Quality food, hay and food containers are next on your list. Remember that hay can also serve as bedding for the cage.
What types of rabbit food are suitable for my pet?
In the following table, we've listed the various breeds of rabbits with a brief description of each. They all have different names and sizes: the smallest breeds only weigh 1.5 kilos, while the largest can easily reach 8 kilos.
|Blanc de Hotot rabbit||White fur. Black eye contour. Round body. Very long life (up to 16 years). Friendly and hyperactive.||A lot of fibre, because their teeth is one of their biggest problems.|
|Dwarf rabbit||Very small (1.5 kg). Fearful and nervous. Affectionate. Long and droopy ears. Quiet, they need exercise.||Alfalfa, tomato, cabbage leaves and endive, amongst others.|
|Lop rabbit||They needs malt to expel hairballs. There are several types: French, English, Mini Lion, Miniature Cashmere and many others.||Fresh hay, spinach and chard, in addition to its feed.|
|Rex rabbit||Intelligent and affective. Large (between 3 and 5 kg). Suitable for children. They need to be brushed once a week. Their life expectancy is 8 to 11 years.||Polyphyletic hay (composed of various types) or alfalfa. Also fresh vegetables, such as carrots, thistle or rocket.|
|Lionhead rabbit||Long coat on the head. They require a lot of brushing and malt. Calm and friendly breed. Affectionate, they enjoy being petted. They weigh less than 2 kg.||Food rich in proteins, hay, fruits and vegetables (without excess, because they cause digestion problems).|
|Angora rabbit||Quiet and shy. Long, silky fur. Risk of knots and complications due to excess dead hair. Very fearful. Different types: English, Giant, French and Satin.||Vegetables (tomato and carrot), as well as fresh hay. Fruits in very small quantities.|
|Harlequin rabbit||Three-coloured fur. Long ears with rounded tips. Weekly brushing is necessary to keep the shine of their coat. They also need constant exercise. Forbidden to bathe because of the protective layer of their skin.||Fresh hay, mixed with their favourite feed. You can offer them fresh fruit twice a week.|
|Californian rabbit||All white except nose, ears, tail and legs, which are black or brown. Large, upright ears. Red eyes. Fearful, they may be aggressive at times.||Fruits (a couple of times a week), vegetables and the hay they like.|
|Flemish Giant rabbit||One of the largest breeds (adults can weigh 18 kg). Large, straight ears. Very lazy: their ideal day is spent in the cage chewing on hay or jelly beans. They also need a lot of space so that they don't feel oppressed.||They eat a lot since they are bigger than other rabbit breeds. Do not let them eat too much to avoid overweight issues. Lots of hay for their intestine to work properly.|
|European rabbit||The most commonly found in pet shops. Large size (approximately 4 kg). Very territorial, yet silent. They are shy, so you have to be patient with them. They generally feed at night and don't need any special food.||Legumes and grass, as well as bush stems and barks.|
Do certain types of food help them live longer?
That being said, you also have to consider the rabbit's breed. For instance, this living in the wild do not usually live more than 4 years. A dwarf rabbit, on the other hand, can live between 8 and 12 years, and a lionhead between 7 and 10 years. Your veterinarian is always who you should turn to for more specific information regarding your pet.
As you've probably understood by now, buying rabbit food doesn't mean taking the first pack of pellets you find or clicking on any random product online. As a matter of fact, there are key factors and requirements you need to consider, and we've detailed them in the following section for you to make the best possible decision for your pet.
- Pellet quality
- Size and consistency of the pellets
- Age of the rabbit
- Breed of the rabbit
A good pellet should include a number of different nutrients for it to be considered a quality product. Make sure to read the composition of any food package you're looking to buy for your rabbit. One of the most important requirements when it comes to its food is that all pellets are the same.
This means that all should include the following nutrients: fibre, necessary in pellets but also found in hay; protein (adults need between 12 and 13% of daily intake); as little fat as possible, because they tend to gain weight; and vitamins A, D and E, as well as calcium. Remember that the latter should be in small doses due to their great dental development.
Size and consistency of the pellets
The type of rabbit you have will influence which pellet size is the most suitable for your pet. Keep in mind that a kitten cannot bite with as much strength as an adult. This means that you should also take into account the consistency of the pellets – how fast they can be broken down.
You can generally see the size of the pellets directly on the food packages. Some even feature transparent wrapping for you to know exactly what the pellets look like before you even open the pack. Unfortunately, you won't be able to return the product if it has been opened for any reason whatsoever. You don't want to be wasting money!
A rough guide for how much food your rabbit should eat is one tablespoon per kilogram of weight. Keep in mind that this advice is very broad, and there will be other specific needs and requirements that you'll have to take into consideration with your own rabbit. In any case, you should always listen to your veterinarian. This is particularly important if your rabbit is having a difficult time.
Unfortunately, these animals are extremely delicate. Getting the dosage wrong from time to time isn't a big problem with other common pets such as dogs and cats. However, it will be an issue with your rabbit. Remember that the recommendations present on food packages aren't always the most accurate.
Age of the rabbit
This is absolutely essential. Rabbit offspring – kittens – are very delicate upon birth, and you cannot give them the same food as adults. This could harm your pet, who may have difficulties chewing it. This is why you'll need to use common sense when buying its food.
Very small kittens will continue to drink milk and require less dry food. For this reason, opt for products containing ingredients such as broccoli, lettuce, carrot, cauliflower, chard, spinach, celery, radish and tomato. You basically want vegetables with a high percentage of moisture.
Breed of the rabbit
You discovered earlier on in this article that rabbit breeds vary in size and personality, which is why you need to adapt the food to the characteristics of your pet. You don't want to give to your calm rabbit food for more active animals. This, as well as your veterinarian's advice, will help you choose wisely.
All rabbits generally require feed, hay and water. That being said, you can also adapt the type of food you give your bunny to avoid risks of digestive, oral or morphological problems. Some feeds, for instance, contain more fat and are therefore ideal for rabbits that like to exercise a lot.
|If your rabbit is:||It needs:|
|Active or very thin||More hay|
|Passive, chubby or old||Less hay|
Getting the right type of food for your bunny can be a real challenge, given the number of breeds, different stages of life and personalities of these animals. One thing is for sure: each rabbit has its own tastes and needs. Pay attention to your pet's morphology and try to get it to exercise frequently.
This is particularly important, because rabbits have a strong tendency to gain weight. They are also exposed to various teeth conditions: dental malocclusion, infections by bad bite and dislocation, amongst many others. They are also very much exposed to congenital defects. This I why you need to perform regular check-ups with your veterinarian.
We hope you enjoyed our shopping guide on rabbit food. If so, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below, and don't forget to share our article on your social media.
(Source of featured image: Byrdyak: 37847310/ 123rf.com)