ALL ABOUT RABBITS
A Little History
The House Rabbit
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Air Travel with Rabbits
Pregnancy & Rabbits
General Misconceptions
Why Breeding is Bad
Confronting Animal Abuse
 

 



 
 

The House Rabbit
Diet

Hay is the Basis of a Healthy Rabbit Diet
extracted from House Rabbit Society website

An unlimited supply of fresh hay is the single most important part of a healthful rabbit diet.

"The uncontrolled feeding of a pelleted diet to a house rabbit can lead to obesity, heart and liver disease, chronic diarrhea, and kidney disease as a result of the high concentration of calories, low fiber, and high calcium levels in the pellets," says Dr. Susan Brown of the Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital in Westchester, Illinois.

The House Rabbit Society is hearing more and more of rabbits who do poorly on a diet primarily of pellets. Some rabbits are experiencing chronic intermittent diarrhea, some produce too many cecal pellets, and many are very overweight. Rabbits do not need a diet primarily of pellets. Pellets are just convenience food, like feeding your kids a Big Mac™ for every meal.

Pellet diets were originally formulated as an efficient, economical, and easy-to-use method to promote rapid growth and weight gain in rabbits raised for meat or fur - rabbits not meant to live very long. This is not the goal we want for our companion house rabbits, who are expected to live out their full life potential of 8-10 years. The House Rabbit Society recommends a diet of unlimited fresh grass or Timothy hay, a variety of vegetables, and limited pellets (depending on your rabbits age and other factors).

Removing pellets from the diets of some of our rabbits was a traumatic experience (for us, not for the rabbits). After many years of feeding a diet primarily of pellets, many of our rabbits have come down with chronic problems of clumpy or runny diarrhea and others have become quite obese. We also receive many phone calls describing rabbits with chronic diarrhea. These rabbits have been through every conceivable test to try to diagnose the problem. The owners have gone from one veterinarian to another trying to find a solution and, finally, in desperation, they want us to take their rabbits because of the mess and the time involved in constantly bathing these rabbits.

The House Rabbit Society of Singapore favors feeding Timothy hay or other grass hay for best results. Alfalfa does not contain enough fiber to produce the desired large, light-colored droppings that indicate optimum digestive health. A "mix" of recommended hays provides the healthiest diet for your bunny and can be purchased from many pet shops in Singapore.

Click here for Types of Hay and Grasses

About Pellets

If you are supplementing a hay diet with pellets, avoid packaged pellets that contain dried bananas, nuts and seeds. These products are too high in sugar and carbohydrates, and can cause obesity, diarrhea and other serious digestive upsets. Limit your rabbit to plain, fresh-looking, dark green rabbit pellets, giving approximately 1/4 cup per 5 lbs. of ideal body weight per day. Buy pellets with a fiber content of no less than 18% and only in a quantity that you will use within one month. Store pellets in air-tight containers and keep away from moisture. Discard pellets that are old, moist, or bug-infested.

Timothy Pellets

There is a healthier alternative to alfalfa pellets: Timothy Pellets. They are available through a couple different sources, including Oxbow Hay Company's Bunny Basics/T (for "Timothy") and American Pet Diner's Timmy for Rabbits. These pellets are high in fiber and low in protein.

When switching to Timothy-based pellets, remember to make the change gradually. Mix a few Timothy in with your current pellets, increasing the percentage of Timothy pellets over a period of several days until that is all you give.

 

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