Diet ~ Hay
Rabbits need to eat hay, lots of hay!
Hay is full of fibre which is what keeps their digestive system moving. Hay also keeps their teeth trim from the grinding action. A rabbits teeth never stop growing.
Hay is essential and will make up 80-90% of your rabbits diet;
- Oaten Hay
- Meadow Hay
- Timothy Hay (imported from USA)
- Lucerne Hay as a treat only (it’s rich in calcium, which can lead to bladder sludge/bladder stones)
Give your rabbit a fresh pile of hay daily, ideally they should be eating a pile of hay the size of themselves per day.
It’s a good idea to give a little fresh hay at night before bed to encourage them to eat more during the night.
Tip: If you place your hay in or above the litter tray they will be litter trained much faster. Rabbits like to poop and pee where they eat. Makes sense, considering how much time they spend there munching away!
Diet ~ Pellets & Vegetables
Pellets & Vegetables will make up only 15-20% of your rabbits diet.
Commercial pellets are not essential, however they add some additional nutrients that rabbits would most likely get from foraging in the wild.
Feed only 1-2 tablespoons per day for a small (1-2kg) rabbit, and 2-4 tablespoons per day for a large (3kg+) rabbit.
You can give all at the same time or break it in to 2 servings, morning and night.
Commercial pellet brands we recommend:
- Oxbow Essentials
- Vetafarm Origins
- Burgess Excel (our preferred brand)
- Science Selective
Vegetables should be limited to a loose cup per kg of body weight serving per day as a maximum. You can add some different herbs, rabbit safe weeds, grass and flowers from your garden for variety also. We personally recommend feeding 1-2 leaves the size of your hand every 2-3 days.
Feeding less vegetables is better for their gut health, ensuring they get maximum fibre from eating more hay.
NEVER FEED ICEBERG LETTUCE TO YOUR RABBIT
We feed every 2-3 days a small serving of any of the following;
- Celery Tops (the leafy tops are best, the stalks have very little nutritional value and the strings can get caught in their teeth)
- Asian greens; Kai Lan, Bok Choy, Choy Sum, Pak Choy
- Herbs, weeds, grass & rabbit safe flowers
Diet ~ Treats & Fruit
Treats & fruit (fresh or dried) will make up only 5% of your rabbits diet.
Commercial treats are not recommended as they contain many ingredients that rabbits should not be consuming.
Stick to home made treats, or purchase treats from hand crafted online stores such as;
- Saving Thumpers (that's us!)
- The Vegan Rabbit
- Mosuki Bunny Shop
Feed only 1-2 treats per day max, and if feeding fresh or dried fruit make sure it’s no larger than the size of a $2 coin.
Some favourite treats;
- Rose petals & leaves
- Carrot peels
- Apple & Pear tree branches
- Willow branches
- Chaff (finely cut hay combined with flowers etc)
Rabbits will naturally prefer to toilet in a cornered area. If you notice they have chosen a particular corner of your home to use as a toilet, then you are best off to move a litter tray to that area because they generally will keep going back there.
To start with, pen off the area you want your rabbit to use for eating and toileting. Place a deep litter tray in one corner, then place hay on top of wood or paper based litter and they will most likely start using their litter tray naturally. If they choose a different corner, move their litter tray to that corner instead. Leave them in this area penned off for a few days so that they get used to the habit of toileting there, and keep the area small at first.
Once you feel they have learnt to use their litter tray well, you can start to make the area bigger, eventually letting them free roam the whole room and then venturing out in to the larger areas of the house.
If they urinate outside of the litter box, soak it up on some paper towel and place in to the litter box. Same with poops, gather them up and put in to the litter box.
Don’t try and discipline your rabbit if they have accidents, as they are very sensitive little beings and won’t understand what they are being told off for.
Bunnies love to chew and shred. If you supply your bunny some boxes with holes cut out, this will provide them with hours of fun. You can also try giving them shredded paper in a box or a phone book opened up. They may tear the phone book to small pieces.
Some other toys they love;
- Cat tunnels
- Baby stacking cups
- Baby throw rings
- Baby rattles (hard plastic only, no rubber)
- Toilet rolls with hay stuffed inside
- Toilet rolls cut in to rings
- Cat climbing towers
If you give your rabbit enough stimulation, they will most likely not chew things like furniture, curtains, walls and flooring.
If they are starting to chew certain areas, wipe vapour rub on the area or section it off until they lose interest.
They love to run around and play on the grass. You will see them do “zoomies” and “binkies”. Zoomies is when they run super fast and binkies are little jumping twists in the area—both are super cute to watch!
Your rabbit should be sterilised to avoid breeding, cancers, other health issues and behavioural issues. Your rabbit should also be vaccinated against calicivirus. Unfortunately the vaccine does not cover all strains and there is no vaccine for Myxomatosis which they can catch from mosquitoes, other insects and infected rabbits.
Be sure to take your rabbit for their 6 monthly boosters and annual vaccines at a rabbit savvy Vet to ensure they are covered against the strains we can vaccinate against. To ensure they stay safe from exposure to the others you need to make sure they are not outside during the evening and very early morning when mosquitoes are active & during summer when flies are around.
Keep your yard free of stagnant water, make sure fly screens are well fitted and kill any mosquitoes and flies inside the home (do not use insect sprays around your rabbit, take them to a different room and never spray near their food or water).
At your vet checkups your vet should be always checking their heart rate, an overall feel of their bodies, check inside ears for signs of infection, check inside mouth for teeth issues and take their temperature.
We recommend you research thoroughly GI Stasis, GI Blockage and early warning signs of your rabbit being in pain. Early treatment is key to ensuring your rabbit does not become so ill that they pass away. As rabbits are prey animals, they hide pain very well and when you notice your rabbit is in pain, this means they are already in a lot of pain.
It’s imperative that you find a rabbit savvy vet, preferably a specifically trained exotics vet.
At veterinary school there is only a 1-2 day course to cover the entire range of exotics which is not enough to learn about everything you need to know especially for illnesses such as E. Cuniculi and Floppy Bunny Syndrome which can be fatal if left untreated. Often rabbits with these illnesses are misdiagnosed as spinal injuries by non-exotics vets and their recommendations are to euthanise.
Our recommended Vets are;
Dr Chris Martin - Cannington Vet
The Unusual Pet Vets Balcatta & Murdoch
We hope this care guide has helped to cover the basics of rabbit ownership and we look forward to hearing updates with your new fur family member.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us any time via Facebook messenger, email or SMS;
Ph 0490 440 906