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Feeding the correct diet is vital to your rabbit's health and wellbeing and should consist of approximately 80% hay, 10% dry food and 10% fresh food...

Feeding the correct diet is vital to your rabbit's health and wellbeing.  Poor diet can lead to a variety of problems from obesity to dental disease.  A domestic rabbit's diet should consist of approximately 80% hay, 10% dry food (commercial rabbit food) and 10% fresh food (vegetables, fruit etc).  Fresh water should be available at all times.


Rabbits should eat approximately their own body volume in hay every day - that's a pile of hay as big as your rabbit.  Alongside this you can feed approx. 1 eggcup full of dry food and a variety of fresh vegetables.  Dark, leafy veg such as spring greens and savoy cabbage are best and carrots and fruit should be seen as treats as they are high in sugar.

How a rabbit's digestive system works

Rabbits evolved on a diet of grass alone, which is high in fibre but poor in nutrients.  To maximise the benefit of their food, some of it gets passed through their system twice so they get a "second shot" at absorbing nutrients from it.  To keep their gut moving properly rabbits need a mix of digestible and indigestible fibre.

When a rabbit eats some food, it enters their gut and goes one of two ways.  The indigestible fibre is passed through and comes out as hard, round droppings.  The digestible fibre moves into an organ called the caecum where bacteria work on it, fermenting it and making it easier to digest.  This comes out as clumps of sticky droppings called caecotrophs, which the rabbit takes direct from its bottom and swallows.

The importance of hay

Hay is the closest thing to a rabbit's natural diet of grass alone.  It is high in fibre so keeps their digestive systems running smoothly and grinds their teeth down.  As a rabbit's teeth grow continuously throughout their lifetime, without this fibrous material to wear them down the teeth can become overgrown, causing pain and discomfort to the rabbit and even preventing them eating altogether.

Dry and fresh food

In theory, rabbits can receive everything they need from a good quality hay but dry and fresh foods are benefical in providing vitamins, nutrients and friendly bacteria and also give a bit of variety to the rabbit's diet.  Rabbits tend to have a sweet tooth so these foods will always be very gratefully received but should be seen more as a supplement to the rabbit's main diet of hay.

Any changes to a rabbit's diet should be undertaken gradually to allow the rabbit's stomach time to adjust and it is a good idea to consult your vet beforehand.  Always ensure that hay and fresh water are freely available at all times.

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