The house rabbit diet - plants, vegetables & fruits

The house rabbit diet - plants, vegetables & fruits


Mizuna is just one of many greens suitable for rabbits

Are you thinking of adopting a house rabbit? Do you know what rabbits eat? It is up to you to provide the proper nutrition to your pet, and providing your rabbit with the proper type and quantity of food will help to maintain their good health and ward off a variety of health problems in the future.

All house rabbits should have 24/7 unlimited access to fresh water and hay, as well as access to pellets (sometimes unlimited but it depends upon your rabbit and his or her level of activity. Your veterinarian can provide direction in this area).

Adding fresh plants to your bunny’s diet will provide him with a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber and will add interesting flavors and textures. Providing a small amount of several different greens can also provide you with some entertainment, watching your bunny root about and forage through the greens offered!

Many different plants, vegetables, and herbs are suitable for rabbits. You can feed some daily, where as others, that are high in sugar or starch, should only be a rare treat.

Many of the common fruits and vegetables humans eat are also safe for rabbits. The part of the plant that a vegetable comes from is a good guide to its nutritional balance and its place in your rabbit’s diet.

Vegetables to avoid feeding at all, either because they are toxic or at the least are very high in starches and sugars:

  • Bulbs: onion, leek and garlic bulbs (note: small amounts of garlic greens are fine to feed).
  • Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams
  • Legume seeds: peas, lentils, beans

What foods are appropriate for your house rabbit? Adult rabbits should eat at least 2 cups of plant leaves and stalks daily; items that are fine to feed in limited quantities (as treats) include root vegetables, fruits, and seeds.

Root vegetables are high in sugar (the roots are where these vegetables store their energy) and carrots, turnips, parsnips and the like should make up a much smaller portion of your house rabbit’s diet.

Fruits are usually high in sugar, and should be given as a small treat: apples, grapes, banana, berries, pineapple, cucumber, etc. Please note that tomatoes are a fruit and are perfectly acceptable to feed your bunny, but the leaves are poisonous.

Vegetable stalks, leaves and flowers should make up the bulk of your bunny’s produce intake: the green leafy parts are highest in fiber and lowest in sugars and calories, and are best for bunny to eat. Endive and radicchio are actually cultivated forms of chicory, and spinach, arugula, strawberry/blackberry/raspberry leaves, radish and carrot greens are all wonderful additions to your rabbit’s diet. Some rabbits can tolerate a bit of cabbage or kale while others get quite gassy, which can lead to potentially fatal GI stasis; it is best to start off with very small amounts of these greens to see how your bunny will tolerate them. Stalks of plants such as broccoli and chard are a fine option, as are the flowering heads of broccoli and cauliflower (again, start off slowly with the cauliflower).

Seeds and grains can provide omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients to your bunny’s diet, but these should be strictly limited – I offer one to two teaspoons of treat mix (five grains, five seeds) to my rabbits daily and have had no problems, but keep in mind that rabbits were designed to eat greens, not seeds).

Providing your rabbit with an appropriate amount and type of foods will go a long way towards keeping them happy and healthy.

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The house rabbit diet - plants, vegetables & fruits
Mizuna is just one of many greens suitable for rabbits P O'Beollain

Mizuna is just one of many greens suitable for rabbits

Adding fresh plants to your bunny’s diet will provide him with a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber and will add interesting flavors and textures. Providing a small amount of several different greens can also provide you with some entertainment, watching your bunny root about and forage through the greens offered!



The house rabbit diet - plants, vegetables & fruits
Chard and beet tops for bunnies P O'Beollain

Chard and beet tops for bunnies

Many different plants, vegetables, and herbs are suitable for rabbits. You can feed some daily, where as others, that are high in sugar or starch, should only be a rare treat. Beet greens and chard are just two of the greens that are suitable for house rabbits.



The house rabbit diet - plants, vegetables & fruits
Carrots P O'Beollain

Carrots

Root vegetables are high in sugar (the roots are where these vegetables store their energy) and carrots, turnips, parsnips and the like should make up a much smaller portion of your house rabbit’s diet.



The house rabbit diet - plants, vegetables & fruits
Greens from 2nd St Market P O'Beollain

Greens from 2nd St Market

Vegetable stalks, leaves and flowers should make up the bulk of your bunny’s produce intake: the green leafy parts are highest in fiber and lowest in sugars and calories, and are best for bunny to eat.



The house rabbit diet - plants, vegetables & fruits
Pumpkin seeds for bunnies P O'Beollain

Pumpkin seeds for bunnies

Seeds and grains can provide omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients to your bunny’s diet, but these should be strictly limited. Keep in mind that rabbits were designed to eat greens, not seeds, so offer very small amounts of these nutritious foods.