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Quite simply, rabbits eat grass. It is high in fibre, contains moderate levels of protein and is low in fat and sugar. In an ideal world, rabbits would have free access to gardens in order for them to eat all the grass they need. However, this is not always convenient for us.
We can provide a diet that is high in fibre that maintains dental health and a healthy gut. It is a diet of:
• Grass and hay
• Small amount of pellet food
We recommend Burgess Excel Rabbit Food to be provided as the pellet portion of the diet. It is designed as a complementary food so that it is fed alongside grass, hay and vegetables.If you are a VIP Pet Healthcare member there is a 10% discount off these foods.
If you are planning to change the pellet portion of the diet, then this must be done slowly (eg over a two week period). Similarly if you want to increase the grass, hay and vegetable portion of the diet, this should also be done gradually.
Rabbits must also have free access to water, either using a bowl or bottle. It is very important that the bottle or bowl must be cleaned twice daily to prevent contamination or bacterial infection.
Remember, it is normal for rabbits to eat the sticky droppings that they produce. These caecotrophs are passed at night and basically contain fibre and bacteria. Rabbits will eat these as soon as they are passed in order to re-digest and extract essential nutrients.
Some common wild plants that rabbits are able to have include, this list is not exhaustive.
Agrimony - Avens - Bramble (Leaves) - Chickweed - Clover - Coltsfoot
Cow Parsnip (Leaves) - Dandelion - Goosegrass - Grass - Knapweed
Mallow - Mayweed - Plantain - Raspberry (Leaves) - Sea Beet - Sow Thistle
Trefoil - Vetch - Yallow
The main vegetables that can be fed are:
Baby salad leaves - Broccoli - Cabbage - Carrot - Cauliflower - Celery
Spinach - Watercress
Rabbits will also eat the leaves and branches of apple and hazel trees. The branches also provide ideal gnawing material.
Many people allow their rabbit free run of the garden during the summer months believing that they will instinctively avoid eating poisonous plants. However, this is not always the case and a rabbit must be confined to its run unless all poisonous plants are removed.
Azalea - Arum (Lord and Ladies) - Bindweed - Bittersweet - Bluebell
Bracken - Buttercup - Bryony - Caladium - Celandine - Charlock
Clematis - Cyclamen - Columbine - Daffodil - Dahlia - Deadly Nightshade
Figwort - Fool’s Parsley - Foxglove - Hellebore - Hemlock - Henbane
Horsetails - Hyacinth - Iris - Jerusalem Cherry - Juniper - Kingcup
Laburnum - Leyland Cypress - Lily of the Valley - Marsh Marigold
Mistletoe - Monkshood - Morning Glory - Oak Leaves - Poppies
Philodendron - Privet - Ragwort - Rhododendron - Scarlet Pimpernel
Speedwell - Spurge - St John’s Wort - Toadflax - Travellers Joy
Wild Celery - Wisteria - Woody Nightshade
• Poor nutrition may lead to health problems
• Different life stages have different nutritional requirements
• Always make fresh water available
• We recommend Burgess Excel Rabbit food for the pellet portion of the diet
• Make any changes to diets gradually ideally over a period of 2 - 3 weeks.
• It is normal for rabbits to eat their own droppings, they contain essential nutrients
• Make sure your garden is free from poisonous plants before your rabbit is allowed free access
• Be aware that food gathered from a roadside or in a field could be contaminated by exhaust fumes or farmers pesticides
Treatment of sick and injured animals is obviously a very important part of our work, but we are great believers in preventative medicine.
These are the most common poisonous plants but the list is not exhaustive.
If your rabbit has a free run of the garden, it will be necessary to remove any poisonous plants. Alternatively place a piece of chicken wire around the plant to prevent access by the rabbit. If the rabbit has a run, ensure that the plant is not in contact with the wire as he may nibble it through the wire.
Garden pesticides and herbicides may contain chemicals that are toxic to rabbits. Therefore avoid spraying weeds in areas where your rabbit may graze. Plants collected from the roadside may be covered in dirt and exhaust fumes, which contain lead and may be lethal to rabbits. Farmers sometimes use chemical sprays to control pests and weeds and plants that are collected may have spray residue on them. It is essential to remember that you must be able to correctly identify the plant that you wish to feed your rabbit to ensure that it is not toxic - some harmful plants can look similar to beneficial ones.