Rabbits in the wild spend more than half their time above ground eating grass and similar foods. Their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives and need to be worn down by long periods of grinding and chewing. Their guts are developed to digest these high levels of fibre through slow digestion. Therefore the bulk of your rabbits' diet should be grass or good quality hay and a rough guide is that they need a pile of at least their own body size every day! Rabbits produce a soft form of poo in the morning which they eat straight from their bottom so that they have a second chance to get nutrition from their grass and hay. This is quite normal and essential for health.
Did you know?
Rabbit’s teeth continually grow, so allowing them to graze as they would in the wild will help maintain their oral health and help to wear down the teeth. If their teeth get too long this can lead to pain and abscesses and will stop them eating properly. You can check the front teeth weekly but only your vet can look at the back teeth so have them checked every few months and follow our diet advice.
Ensuring that your rabbit has the right diet and nutrition will help keep them happy and healthy. Below we share tips to help create a balanced diet for your rabbit.
Do not feed 'muesli'-style dry food because rabbits pick out the bits they like and leave the rest, leading to an unbalanced diet.
The food is almost too easy to eat compared to grass so their teeth overgrow which can have fatal consequences and many rabbits eat too much so become overweight.
Fresh vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, carrot tops and small amounts of dandelion can be offered daily too.
Don't make sudden changes to your Rabbits diet as this can upset the gut making your pet ill. We recommend that any changes are done over a period of 7-10 days.
Fruit is high in sugar and will lay down unwanted body fat, so only feed as an occasional treat.
Make sure fresh water is available at all times.
General health and welfare
You can prevent many diseases and avoid suffering for your rabbit by being informed and prepared. Here we share our advice to help keep your rabbit in good health.
Check your Rabbit daily to make sure that they are in good health. You can then check for any wounds or mucky bottoms. This may cause fly strike which can be fatal.
Regular handling of your Rabbit is beneficial to both you and your pets as it will make it easier for you and your vet to examine when the time comes for a check-up.
Make sure that their hutches are cleaned out daily, this will give you the opportunity to monitor any changes in urine or faecal output. If the number of pellets being passed reduce or stop you need to call your veterinary surgery immediately.
As with any pet make sure that you monitor food and water intake, if this suddenly changes you will need to call your veterinary practice immediately.
Rabbits are social animals so it is recommended that you have 2 rabbits, a neutered male and neutered female. Having a single rabbit can lead to boredom frustration and fear.
Neutering is recommended in rabbits. This not only stops unwanted babies but also prevents some serious diseases like certain cancers.
Make sure your rabbits are vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RHDV1 + RHDV2). Both these diseases can kill. This is now given annually.
Rabbits can pick up fleas, lice, mites and other parasites.
E cuniculi is a parasite spread via urine and should be treated regularly to control this parasite.
Flies lay eggs which turn into maggots on your rabbits. They can cause horrible injuries and even death, especially in the warmer months, so ensure the hutch is kept clean. Treatments are available to help control this.