The natural diet of a rabbit is mainly composed of various fresh and dried grasses and leaves. They will also eat bark on trees, tender twigs and sprouts, fruits, seeds and other nutritious foods in small amounts. But as domesticated animals they are primarily fed pelleted food and hay. Some of the ingredients in these pellets are Tallow, Molasses, Meat & Bone Meal, Blood meal, Fish meal, Limestone, Soya or Vegetable oil. Doesn’t really make sense does it. We have observed that given the choice our rabbits will eat their greens over the pellets, in fact some brands of pellets they will only eat if there is nothing else and will even look at you as if to say ‘what are you giving me this crap for’. So, we are making changes…
The first step is to learn what they can and can’t eat and to plan to grow enough to feed them over the year.
What not to feed.
If the plant is considered toxic to people or horses it will not be safe for your rabbit, for more information read about Toxic Plants
But there are also some other plants which are considered unsafe, Iceberg lettuce, which is thought to give rabbits diarrhea, raw beans, apple seeds, peach pits, potatoes or any nightshade family plant (tomatoes, eggplant etc.) or corn. These plants can cause illness and even death. Likewise, never feed anything that you are unsure of. Do not feed moldy or contaminated hay.
So what can they eat…
There is conflicting information on some plants especially those high in oxalic acid, such as Parsley, Mustard greens and Spinach, Lambs quarter, Comfrey and Kale. But that does not mean they cannot be eaten, just in moderation. The same applies to Brassicas and sweet or starchy foods, only very small amounts of fruit and root vegetables should be given to your rabbits. Any changes should be done slowly with good quality hay available at all times.
TREES, SHRUBS and PERENNIALS
Hazel – leaves
Grape vine leaves
WILD GREENS OR WEEDS
Dock – before flowering
Kale (all types)
Red or green lettuce
Mint (any variety)
Basil (any variety)
Fennel (the leafy tops as well as the base)
Small amounts of these greens…
Beet greens, Silverbeet
Sprouts (from 1 to 6 days after sprouting, sprouts have higher levels of alkaloids)
NON-LEAFY VEGETABLES – Small amounts only.
Broccoli (leaves and stems)
Edible flowers (roses, nasturtiums, pansies, hibiscus)
Bell peppers (any color)
Snowpea pods (the flat kind without large peas)
Cabbage (any type)
FRUITS – very small amounts
Apple (any variety, without stem and seeds)
Cherries (any variety, without the pits)
Plum (without the pits)
Berries (any type)
Pineapple (remove skin)
Banana (remove peel; no more than about a 5cm slice a day for a 2.5kg rabbit…they LOVE this!)
Melons (any – can include peel and seeds)