Bunnies will just eat anything. This can get them in a lot of problems.
When raising bunnies, the one thing we need to be careful about is what do bunnies eat. Small kits and even grown-up bunnies will nib and eat almost every vegetable, fruit, and even poisonous plants that we put in front of them.
Essentially, it is our responsibility as bunny owners to be picky about the food we feed the bunnies. If they are left to their own devices, there are a really good chance bunnies will get sick, have digestive problems like cramps and diarrhea, and, in general, enjoy an unhealthy rabbit diet.
That’s why they need us to help them choose a healthy diet. In this post, we will go through 4 key ‘food groups’ when it comes to bunny nutrition and feeding habits.
What Can Bunnies Eat? (4 Regular Food Groups + Treats)
Bunnies are herbivores. That means they only eat plant-based foods. In the wild, rabbits will eat all kinds of fresh and dried grass, rich in dietary fibers. Additionally, rabbits can eat bark, seeds, and fruits in smaller quantities. These provide a source of healthy nutrition.
The diet of a house bunny should reflect the diet of a wild rabbit. That’s why a regular diet of an indoor bunny should consist of:
- Vegetables (leafy greens, root vegetables, flower vegetables).
- Fruits (small quantities as treats).
- Fresh hay (No. 1 food for bunnies, should be available to bunnies always).
- Rabbit pellets (made from quality hay).
- (Optional) Bunny treats.
Bunnies have two favorites times of day to feed; in the morning and right before dawn. They should have a healthy supply of fresh hay and fresh water throughout the day.
Let’s look at a few pointers when choosing foods bunnies can eat:
1. What Vegetables Can Bunnies Eat?
Vegetables are the No. 1 nutrition source for rabbits. Leafy greens, for example, represent the bulk of fresh food a bunny should eat every day.
So where do the carrots come in? We have this image in our head that bunnies eat carrots; and they do in a limited quantity. Apart from leafy greens, bunnies can eat root vegetables like carrots and flower vegetables like broccoli. However, bunnies should eat a lot more leafy greens than carrots.
Here is a general rule when it comes to leafy greens: Every leafy green a human can eat is a safe choice for rabbit feed.
Below you will find 3 lists of vegetables bunnies can eat. The 1st list consists of leafy greens bunnies can (and should)eat every day. The 2nd list consist of leafy greens that bunnies can eat every other week (those have a higher content of oxalic acid that can negatively impact pH levels in bunnies gastrointestinal system). The 3rd list are other veggies such as celery, broccoli, and carrots bunnies should enjoy in limited quantity.
List Of Leafy Green Vegetables Bunnies Can Eat Every Day
In the wild, rabbits will eat the leaves of vegetables that grow in the earth. For example, they will eat the green part of a carrot, not the orange part that is underground.
Here are the greens bunnies can eat all the time.
- Carrot tops. Bunnies prefer to eat the green part of the carrot, not the orange root.
- Kale. It doesn’t matter which type, bunnies will eat every variety of kale.
- Green lettuce.
- Romaine lettuce.
- Cucumber leaves. The leaves are a delicacy for a bunny.
- Spring and turnip greens.
- Mint and basil.
Lettuce, for example, is readily available in local supermarkets throughout the year.
List Of Leafy Greens Bunnies Should Seldom Eat
Bunnies enjoy eating spinach and parsley as well. These veggies are rich in Vitamin C, for example, but they also have high content of oxalic acid. Too much of oxalic acid can lower the pH of bunny’s gastrointestinal system. In turn, this can lead to problems like bloating, diarrhea or worse.
That’s why these following leafy greens should be on bunny’s menu every other week and only in moderaton. Here is the list:
- Green sprouts.
- Beet greens.
- Radish tops.
- Mustard greens.
Again, choose only one of these leafy greens every week. Too much of these and the oxalic acid could cause problems in your bunny’s tummy.
List Of Roots And Other Flower Veggies Bunnies Can Eat (Be Aware Of Sugar And Starch)
In the wild, a rabbit would have to dig to get to the root. That’s why pretty much the only root for a bunny can eat are carrots.
Non-leafy vegetables like carrots and broccoli can, however, have a relatively high starch and sugar content. A diet rich in sugar and starch can upset the gastrointestinal system of bunnies. As such, these foods are only recommended in moderation.
Mind you, a bunny will eat everything you put in from of it. Foods rich in sugar are their favorite; not only for us humans. That’s why we have to be the grown ups in the room and serve only modest amounts of these foods to a bunny. A few tablespoons should be more than enough.
Here is the list of foods bunnies enjoy eating:
- Carrots (obviously).
- Green, red or yellow peppers.
- Brussel sprouts.
- Zucchini squash.
- Broccoli (both the leaves and the stems can be fed to a bunny).
- Red roses (no kidding, bunnies love rose leaves).
- Any type of cabbage.
A bunny should eat about 1 cup per 2 lbs of body weight of vegetables every day. The highest quantity of veggies should come from the 1st list of leafy greens, supplemented by the 2nd list as well as the 3rd list.
Remember that eating food with high water content should be limited in quantity. We have described one good example of that in our post Can Rabbits Eat Cucumbers. Yes, they can, but in a limited quantity.
2. What Fruits Can Bunnies Eat?
Yes, bunnies do eat fruits. In fact, the sugary fruits are their favorite food. As such, they can serve as a bunny treat.
And that’s just it – fruits should be considered a treat for a bunny. Something akin to a dessert for humans.
That means apples, peaches, and bananas should be fed only in moderation. On average, an adult bunny can eat a few tablespoons of fruit per day. Again, bunnies will eat all the fruit you put in front of them because they love all that sugar content. However, too much fruit is not a good idea if you ask the bunny’s gastrointestinal system.
Here is a list of fruits bunnies can eat:
- Green, red, yellow apples (remove the stem and seeds).
- Bananas (just be careful with the quantity; bananas have high sugar content even for fruits).
- Any kind of berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries).
- Melons and pineapple (peel them before; bunnies can eat the skin but it’s the peeled fruit is a safer bet).
- Plums (remove the pits beforehand).
- Mango (without the skin).
Knowing how eagerly bunnies will eat any kind of fruit, you should measure how much you give them. For example, never give a bunny a full apple. That’s much too much sugar for a small bunny and the seeds contain small quantities of cyanide that may be harmful to a bunny.
The correct way to feed an apple to a bunny is to remove the stem and seeds. Cut it in 4 to 8 pieces and only feed one of these pieces to a bunny per day.
3. Fresh Hay (Should Be Available All The Time)
It’s true that rabbits are crepuscular. That means they will feed early in the morning and right before the dawn. However, when creating a bunny diet, you should always remember to make two things available at all times:
- Fresh hay.
- Fresh water.
These are two pillars of every bunny diet.
In the wild, a rabbit would graze all the time. To mimic that indoors, we have to leave fresh hay around for bunnies to nib on. The high fiber content of fresh hay will:
- Help the bunny’s digestive system function properly.
- Help move on the hairballs in bunny’s digestive system. Without hay or other fiber-rich food, there is an increased risk of blockage occurance.
One of the most common question is “What kind of hay should my bunny eat?”
If you have a kit (juvenile bunny), you should feed it alfalfa hay until for the first half a year. After that, an adult bunny should eat a mixture of different fresh hays. These include:
- Timothy grass.
- Bermuda hays.
- Alfalfa hay.
Most shops sell a mixture of these hays. They simply call it ‘rabbit hay’. Check the ingredients list and you will see a variety of different hays that make up the ‘rabbit hay’.
Here are 3 tips when choosing the hay for your rabbit at a local pet store:
- Make sure the hay is fresh. Squeeze it together with your fingers and smell it. Fresh hay shouldn’t have a stale smell.
- Make sure the hay is dry. Increased water content leads to mold build-up.
- Buy (at most) a 2-month supply of fresh hay.
If you buy a 2-month supply of fresh hay for bunnies, you also have to store it properly. Remember that hay, despite being dry, still has some moisture. You have to store it in a way to let that moisture out. A simple wooden basket, for example, would be a good way to store fresh hay.
4. Rabbit Pellets (Look For High Fiber Content)
Rabbit pellets are basically compressed fresh hay. They are packed with fibers and nutrients found in hay.
While hay should be available throughout the day, you can feed your bunny rabbit pellets in the morning and in the evening. Pellets, compared to fresh hay, are:
- Easier to handle. Hay is voluminous, pellets are compact.
- Bunnies can get a lot of high-quality fibers quickly.
- Per pound, pellets are cheaper than the same amount of fresh hay.
Pellets are kind of a treat for a bunny as well. As with everything, you can have good and bad kind of rabbit pellets. When I’m buying rabbit pellets, I always follow these 3 rules:
- Should be made out of grass hay.
- Should have more than 20% fiber content.
- Only buy 1-month supply of rabbit pellets. The larger supply, the higher probability of mold growth.
The low-quality non-grass hay pellets might be cheaper. Buying larger quantities of rabbit pellets will be cheaper per pound as well. High-grade fresh pellets are more expensive but you can get more fibers from that and bunnies, on average, respond better to pellets made out of grass hay.