Assisi Animal Sanctuary is Northern Ireland's largest independent animal welfare charity providing shelter for up to 200 companion animals - cats, dogs and rabbits.
Charity Reference No: NIC104594.
Rabbits are herbivores and are designed to eat little and often.
Rabbits have a very complex digestive system and any imbalance, no matter how minor, can cause illness. Rabbits under 16 weeks of age are especially susceptible to gut complaints as their digestive system is still getting used to solid food. Care needs to be taken when introducing any rabbit to a new food. When adopting or purchasing a rabbit be sure to feed the same type of food that they have been fed previously. If you have to make a change, do so very gradually.
The main components of your rabbit’s diet should be hay, grass and dried grasses such as ‘readigrass’ or ‘justgrass’. Forage should make up at least 80% of what your rabbit eats in a day. Hay should be available to your rabbit at all times as it not only provides them with nutrition, but it also helps grind down their teeth and aids the digestion of the other foods it will eat throughout the day.
Vegetables should make up another 10% of what your rabbit eats in a day. Vegetables provide your rabbits with nutrients such as vitamin c and essential carbohydrates that their forage does not provide. Feeding vegetables to a domestic rabbit simulates the variety of plants and berries a wild rabbit would have in its diet.
Green vegetables such as a variety of cabbages, (such as green cabbage, kale and spring greens), spinach (in moderation), rocket, broccoli and brussel sprouts are best. Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips and parsnips, along with fruits such as apples and pears should be fed in moderation too as they are high in sugar and can easily cause stomach upsets if they are fed in excess.
The final 10% of your rabbit’s daily diet should be pelleted food. Pelleted food acts as a ‘feed balancer’ and provides your rabbit with the correct levels of fibre, protein and carbohydrates to ensure that the diet is well balanced and is providing the rabbit with the correct level of nutrients daily.
A medium sized rabbit should only require a double handful a day of a good pelleted food such as Burgess Excel once a day. This can be increased and decreased as needed to prevent over or under feeding.
Mixed foods are not suitable foods for rabbits as it promotes selective feeding. If the rabbit only eats the tasty bits out of the mixed food it is not receiving the correct level of nutrients needed to provide it with a balanced diet.
Plenty of hay and plenty of green foods will keep your rabbit happy and healthy. It is important to feed your rabbit right from the very start.
Below are some useful links to rabbit and guinea pig food manufacturers. Both foods are highly recommended.
www.burgesspetcare.co.uk – Manufacturers of Burgess Excel Nuggets
www.supremepetfoods.com – Manufacturers of Supreme Science Selective pet foods.
If you have any questions about feeding your rabbit don’t hesitate to contact Assisi on 028 9181 2622