The most important nutrient!! Make sure your rabbit has fresh and unlimited water every day. If you notice you rabbit not drinking then you could try increasing the salt in the feed. But there is always a possibility that the rabbit doesn’t like the container of which the rabbit comes from. Some rabbits prefer water bottles, while others prefer crocks/cups. If you notice that your rabbit stops eating food then the rabbit may not have any water available to it.
A healthy feed should contain everything that the rabbit needs in its diet. Different feeds have different formulas, you will have to research the feed that is healthiest for your rabbit but is within your price range.
Protein levels for rabbits range from 14% through 18%. A smaller rabbit (less then 6 lbs) will not need a lot of protein so less then 16% is a good choice. Larger rabbits (more then 7lbs, typically 10lbs and over) will require a larger protein level, 16% and higher is the best choice for them.
Fat should be between 2% and 4%.
Fiber should be at least 16%. A typical feed will give the minimum and maximum percentage of fiber that is in the feed. In example: if the feed tag says Minimum Fiber: 13% Maximum Fiber: 18%, then the range is 13-18% which is healthy, the rabbit will most likely consume the amount of fiber that is needed. Hay contains fiber. If your rabbit needs to be supplemented fiber, hay is the best way to do that.
Calcium and Phosphorous are vital to a rabbit’s bone structure and teeth. Phosphorous should be at least .4% in the feed. A rabbit can have serious problems if the Phosphorous levels are imbalanced (whether that means too high or too low.) Calcium is important for bone structure.
Salt will give the rabbit the need to drink water. This helps while conditioning the rabbit’s coat. You may add extra salt or molasses to the feed to increase water intake. If you do this, make sure the rabbit has unlimited amounts of water.
Vitamins are included in the feed. Supplements do not truly do much other then help if the rabbit is stressed.
There are various types of hay and straw that you could buy. The best and most nutritional hay that you could feed is Grass Hay and Timothy hay. They are both full of healthy nutrients and fiber. They contain around 30% fiber if you wish to go into specifics.
Alfalfa can be very risky to feed a rabbit and it is best to stay away from it. However if you have a rabbit that is lactating (producing milk) or nursing then you have the option to feed Alfalfa. The babies would be growing and the mother could use extra nutrients to provide her kits enriched milk that is why Alfalfa is aright. However after a rabbit is 7 months of age (which is when a rabbit has typically reached adulthood and doesn’t grow bigger much), Alfalfa will be very harmful to the rabbit because it is too high in nutrients.
Straw has no nutrient benefits to it at all. The reason is because it comes from plants with hard yet hollow stem shafts like Wheat. Straw could also cause discomfort within the rabbit if it was eaten without being chewed thoroughly. Straw may be used as bedding however you will want to provide Grass Hay or Timothy Hay for the rabbit to eat.
Energy is an interesting factor of a rabbits nutrition. Rabbits that are in the growth stage, gestation, and lactating, will require more energy. (1,134kcal/pound) High quality legume hay, supplemental concentrates, heavy grain, milk products, fats and sugars products are all sources of energy in a rabbit’s ration.
To decrease the amount of energy, simply feed Grass Hay or Rolled Oat products or any type of high fiber substance.
To increase the amount of energy, feed ‘energy rich’ foods, or ‘milk type’ pellets. Also Timothy Hay and Alfalfa hay are high in energy.
Too much energy fed to younger rabbits could increase the likelihood of the rabbit getting Enteritis, and increase the incidents of or induce molting. High energy will increase growth rates, evenly spreads fat throughout the rabbit’s body, cause lose/flabby skin and or soft flesh, it also increases molt.
So a lot of people will wonder, “How are rabbit feces related to nutrition?” The answer is that a rabbit’s droppings can tell you if the rabbit’s diet is healthy. A healthy diet will equal hard, and round, droppings. The more fiber the rabbit has the more golden the droppings will be.
A rabbit will eat Cecotropes commonly known as Night Droppings. This is absolutely necessary for a rabbit to have, if they don’t eat it their gut flora could become imbalanced and that rabbit could develop diarrhea and often the rabbit will lose condition.This can happen if the rabbit has a bone structural issue or simply is too large to reach anus to eat the droppings. If you notice this and the rabbit has yet to show signs of diarrhea then place a mat of EZ mat for the rabbit to sit on. This way the cecotropes will be caught on the mat before they have the chance to fall through the wire. Then the rabbit can turn around and eat it.
Diarrhea often looks deep brown and it is liquid textured. It is very bad for rabbits, it can easily turn deadly. If you notice your rabbit with diarrhea then immediately give hay to the rabbit. You will have to pull the rabbit’s feed pellets out and stop feeding pellets till the rabbit’s droppings are solid. However always have the hay so that the rabbit can’t sit in it and soil it, this can continue to infect the rabbit and then it.
Pudding Stools are droppings that are soft and mushy. It means that there is an imbalance in the nutrients for the rabbit. It could mean that the rabbit needs more fiber, or it could mean less protein. You will have to experiment around with different feeds or additives to see what the cause is.
Droppings with hair attaching them together do not truly have a name other than Clingers because they will get stuck on the wire. This usually occurs if a rabbit is molting. The rabbit will swallow an excessive amount of hair and that is what creates clingers. To solve this, simply get hay to the rabbit, in addition to the pellets, and put 1tsp of apple cider vinegar per 1 gallon of water. The acid in the apple cider vinegar will break down the hair follicles. and the hay will help with the digestive system. This should solve the problem.
Unless fruits and veggies are apart of your rabbit’s regular diet and it is fine with them then I wouldn’t worry about this. However for those of you that want to introduce fruits and veggies, be very careful. A rabbit has a very delicate digestive system, it doesn’t take much to upset it’s balance. Fruits are high in sugars and a few other things that are bad for a rabbit, and veggies like Corn and Potatoes are high in starch, Carrots can turn a rabbit’s coat colors or throw it into a molt, light green leafy veggies can contain too much watery substances and, like cabbage, to get diarrhea and become gassy (could be fatal). All of these and more could cause serious issues, most common is Bloat. A rabbit will have a blockage or a gas build up then start to bloat, this should be tended to immediately. Take out the food and the fruits and veggies out of the cage and replace it with hay. Keep an eye on the rabbit. Often a rabbit will pass from this, there isn’t much you can do. Always check a rabbit’s droppings and it’s stomach, it could save your rabbit.
“Causes of bloat remain unknown. It may related to overeating, exercising immediately after eating are suspected in most animals, lack of fiber in the diet, change of diet, excessive drinking or stress, or result from a pyloric blockage, gastric ulcers or other digestive problems.”
Healthy treats for rabbits!
Flax seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, rolled oats, dandelion, blackberry leaves, raspberry leaves (Only a little bit, and advised to give only to lactating/ pregnant does.), burberry leaves and branches, apple branches, long leaf and english plantain, and wild lettuce.