One of the major contributing factors for illnesses in rabbits is poor feeding regimes. Rabbits are herbivores and need a nutritious, balanced and interesting diet.
We recommend a feeding ratio of the following:
- 80% roughage
- 15% greens
- 5% pellets
- Coloured fruit and vegetables such as carrot or apple are high in sugar and should only be given in small quantities as an exceptional treat.
Roughage should always be readily available to your rabbit
Long roughage (hay) is essential to the rabbit for healthy digestion, as it also combats boredom creating a natural foraging instinct and aids with dental care allowing the rabbit to naturally wear down its teeth as they continually grow. Many commercial rabbit mixes allow the rabbit to selectively feed, this means it picks out the pieces of the mix it likes and leaves the rest, thus not having a balanced diet. This can be avoided by feeding pelleted foods such as Burgess Supa Rabbit, which means the rabbit receives a balanced nutrition with every mouthful.
Vary the diet
To give variety, green stuff, root vegetables and fruit should also be available to your rabbit in small amounts. Some plants readily available from your gardens such as acorn, clover, daisy, dandelion, hawthorn berries, nettles, sunflowers, willow and young oak leaves are also very nutritious but should always be washed first. Remember that common garden plants can also be poisonous and sometimes fatal to your rabbit, so make sure you know what your feeding is safe. A list of dangerous plants is available from your vet.
A diet that is high in fibre will also aid in the process of “caecotrophy”, this is where your rabbit eats one type of their own faeces as a means of enhancing its total nutritional intake. The second type of faeces produced is the small hard droppings which can then be removed from its dwelling. This is an important process in your rabbit’s digestion and will help prevent problems in the gut and blockages that may occur.
Changes in diet should always be made gradually over a period of 10 days as sudden changes may result in loss of appetite or even refusal to eat.