Fresh vegetables are one of the most important parts of your rabbit’s diet. If you have a green thumb or enjoying gardening, you can grow food for your rabbit at home. By growing your own fruits and veggies for your bunny, you not only save money but also know that their food is organic and free of pesticides.
If you don’t have a yard or space for a traditional garden, many of these plants can easily be grown in containers on a porch, deck, or balcony. Some can even be grown indoors with enough light. While you could conceivably grow any fruit or veggie that’s healthy for your bun, this article focuses on easy to grow plants great for beginners or gardening newbies.
Veggies & Greens to Grow in Your Garden for Rabbits
Your rabbit’s diet should consist of 5-6 cups of vegetables each day (3/4 of which should be leafy greens and herbs). They can also have up to two tablespoons of fruit each day as a treat. Learn more about a healthy rabbit diet
If you’re limited on space, herbs are very easy to grow in containers or even inside. They’re also perfect for new gardeners or even kids to grow. Since they can be grown indoors, you can grow herbs year round for your rabbit. We recommend hydroponic garden systems to easily grow herbs in your kitchen.
Basil – Easy to grow in gardens, containers, or even indoors. Basil leaves are delicious for bunnies and humans alike. Rabbits can also eat the flowers the plant produces at the end of each season. Just pinch them off before they bloom to keep the basil growing and your bun can have them as a snack.
Cilantro – Another super easy to grow herb that is perfect for rabbits. Easily grow it in gardens, pots, or indoors. Make sure to sow new seeds every few weeks to have fresh cilantro all summer long.
Dill – Dill is frequently called dill weed because it grows like a weed. That’s why we recommend growing dill in containers since it can easily take over your garden. Your bun will enjoy the flavorful leaves. (Learn All About Growing Dill)
Mint – Mint is another herb that grows out of control, making it easy for even the worst gardener to grow. Do not plant mint directly in the ground, it will take over your garden and yard. Instead, plant it in a pot and enjoy delicious mint for yourself and your rabbit all summer long.
Parsley – Easy to grow and good for bunnies, parsley grows well in the garden or in pots. It’s also great to grow indoors year round. (High in oxalic acid, so should be limited to one type per day)
I find greens that don’t grow in heads are the easiest for new gardeners, especially because they can be harvested throughout the growing season. Many of these greens can be grown in containers and even indoors.
Arugula – Grow in your garden or even a container. Arugula is best grown in spring and fall. They like full sun or partial shade.
Clover – Found naturally in many yards, you can grow clover specifically to feed your rabbit. I recommend either dedicating an area of your garden to clover or growing them in pots.
Dandelions – Yes, this weed is edible to humans and bunnies! But even if you don’t want to enjoy dandelion greens in your salad, your rabbit will love them. If your yard is pesticide free, you can feed your bun any dandelions growing there. Or you can grow them in your garden or in pots to provide fresh and safe dandelions. Since they’re a weed, they’re very easy to grow.
Kale – Another spring and fall green, kale is very hardy to grow in cool weather and perfect if you live in an area with a shorter growing season. Kale grows best in garden beds.
Spinach – Good for human and bunny salads, spinach is another spring/fall crop. I recommend planting it in your garden bed between tall crops like tomatoes or beans, which will provide the spinach shade. (High in oxalic acid, so should be limited to one type per day)
Bell Peppers – Peppers grow really well during hot summer weather and are easy to grow outdoors in areas with full sun. You can even grow them in pots (5 gallons or larger works best), just make sure to keep them well watered and put them in a spot where they’ll get enough sun.
Broccoli – Broccoli is a perfect veggie to grow for yourself and rabbits. Since bunnies should only eat leaves and stems, you can feed them leaves all summer while your broccoli head grows. They grow best in traditional garden beds.
Carrots – This is another great vegetable to grow for bunny and yourself. While the carrots themselves should only be given to rabbits in small quantities, carrot tops count as greens for your rabbit. If you don’t like carrots, you can just grow the greens and harvest them for your bun before the carrots grow full-sized. Carrots grow well in garden beds or in deep containers (12″ or more deep).
Radishes – Rabbits can’t eat radishes, but their greens are perfect for bunnies. If you enjoy radishes, I recommend growing them in your garden so you can give your bun the tops. They’re relatively easy to grow, though they do best in garden beds. (High in oxalic acid, so should be limited to one type per day)
Zucchini Squash – If you’ve ever had a zucchini plant or two in your garden, you know how July and August are filled with a bumper crop of zucchini squash. Luckily, your rabbit can enjoy some as well. Zucchini squash does best in traditional gardens with full sun.
Fruit to Grow for Bunnies
Fruit should only be given to your rabbit as a treat (a maximum of 2 tablespoons per day for a 6 lb. rabbit), but you can easily grow fresh fruit to give as a treat or even dehydrate it to serve year round. Many of the safe to eat fruits for bunnies require growing a tree, but these suggestions are a little bit easier than that.
Blueberries – If you have the space and are willing to commit to planting a bush or two, blueberries are pretty easy to grow and make a great treat for your rabbits.
Raspberries – This is another fruit that takes a little bit of commitment. They grow on “canes” that come back year after year. One of the bonuses with raspberry plants is rabbits can have them as a treat and eat the leaves as greens.
Strawberries – Strawberries are super easy to grow. They’re great for all levels of gardening experience and can be grown in containers or gardens. I like using dedicated planters because strawberries will send out runners that can be planted to create a lovely patch.
Eating is an important part of your rabbit’s day. You’ll notice they’re constantly munching on hay or pellets to keep their digestive system running smoothly. One of the most important parts of your rabbit’s cage or pen is all the accessories need to give your bunny food. The main parts of a rabbit’s diet are hay, pellets, fresh vegetables, and water. To help keep your rabbit’s cage clean, their food fresh, and help you keep track of how much they’re eating, you’ll need dishes to contain all of these elements.
Rabbit Food Bowls & Dishes
These dishes are great for feeding your rabbit pellets, though you may also find them useful for serving veggies or even water.
Stainlesss Steel Rabbit Food Dish
Designed originally for birds, this stainless steel food cup is perfect for bunnies as well. They’re completely chew proof and easy to clean and sterilize–plus it’s dishwasher safe.
The best part, this dish comes with a holder that mounts to the side of your cage with two bracket mountain clamps and a wingnut. These dishes come in a pack of two, so use one for pellets and the other for water. This is great for those bunnies who keep knocking over their food dishes or throwing them out of their cage.
This food dish is perfect for rabbits who are free range. It’s a heavy ceramic dish that’s design with a sloping side making it “ergonomic” for your rabbit to each out of. It’s reasonably tricky to flip it over, but a determined rabbit will find ways to push it around.
Another plus is the curved lip keeps pellets inside the bowl, which is helpful for buns who make a mess of their food. I recommend the large size for most bunnies, but if you have a dwarf rabbit the small size will work better.
If you feel like you’re in a constant battle with your rabbit to keep them from tipping their food or water bowls over, this may be the solution you’re looking for. The STAYbowl is designed to stay put, meant for guinea pigs that are always tipping their food bowls over. Unsurprisingly, it works for rabbits too. It’s a short bowl, just under 2 inches high, with a wide base that keeps it flat on the ground.
This bowl is easy to clean and dishwasher safe. It is made from a BPA free food grade plastic, so if your rabbit is a chewer, this bowl may not work out for you.
If you’re looking for a cute set of bowls for your bunny, these are adorable. Custom made by Cat Tail Studio arts, these bowls are hand made and then custom painted to your preferences. They will even personalize them with your bunny’s name. They offer 18 different color choices and you can even mix and match.
These bowls are made by hand on a potter’s wheel from natural clay and kiln fired. Because of this, it does take a couple of weeks to receive the food dishes. They are food-safe, as well as dishwasher and microwave safe. These also make a great gift for any pet lover.
If your rabbit tends to scarf their pellets down quickly or you’re looking for more ways to entertain your rabbit, adding a fun feeder (or two) to your rabbits routine can help. These feeders require interaction from your rabbit to reveal the food or treats inside. You can use them to feed pellets, treats (like dried or fresh fruit) or a combination of both.
Rabbit Treat Ball
This is a classic and fun toy for rabbits and other small animals. It’s a hard plastic ball with a slot on the side where you can add pellets or small treats. Then you put the ball on the floor and as your pet bunny nudges it around, the treats or pellets will fall out. You can adjust the size of the opening to make it more difficult for the contents to spill out.
This will give your rabbit something fun to play with while they enjoy their food, which makes it a win-win and a great boredom buster.
If you’re looking for a food dispensing toy that has a variety of challenging configurations. This Living World food dispenser has three “levels” of difficulty, so you can ramp up the challenge as your rabbit figures each one out or just offer some variety in their routine. The toy is a flat base that sits on the floor. It has eight wells that you can fill with treats or pellets and a variety of “covers” to put over them. Your rabbit must use their teeth or nose to bump or move the covers to access the treats.
This toy will slow down any bunnies who eat their food too quickly and also provide some stimulation and entertainment for your pet rabbit.
Give your bunny a little challenge to get their treats or pellets with this “logic” board. This simply designed toy entertains your bunny by making them search out and uncover their treats.
It features seven treat wells perfectly sized for pellets, herbs, dried fruit, or even small pieces of fresh fruit. Each has a plastic cover with a little handle perfectly sized for your rabbit to grab with their teeth. Once your bunny learns how to use it, they’ll be excited every time you bring their snack board out.
This is a very simple–and affordable–hay rack, but I love it. I’ve used it for the cages of my rabbits and my chinhilla and it does the job just fine. It’s a single piece that hangs off of horizontal cage bars. Fill it with tastey hay and it’s good to go.
Since it is all plastic, I recommend hanging it on the outside of the cage to discourage chewing. Easy to clean and easy to use.
If your rabbit is a big chewer, then a metal hayrack might be a better alternative. Made by Quality Cage Crafters, this hayrack is made from galvanized steel sheet metal and designed to hang on the outside of your rabbit’s wire cage or pen. The attachment wires bend to form a secure attachment, so it works with a variety of cages with horizontal bars.
I love this hay holder because it’s perfect for free range rabbits or play time. This wheel is actually a ball, with solid plastic sides and a wire center where the hay goes. The wheel can either go directly on the floor to roll around like a ball or it comes with a stand to hold it in place while your rabbit spins it. The stand can also hook onto horizontal bars to hang it on the side of a cage or playpen.
Fill it up with your rabbit’s favorite hay. You can even hide some treats or pellets inside for extra fun.
It’s a true, but funny, fact that rabbits like to eat while they sit in their litter box. Well, this hay rack is designed to support just that. Handmade by Buns, Beds, and Beyond, they take kiln-dried pine and construct a bunny safe wooden hay rack. It also includes a “bed” which holds a large plastic litter pan.
The pan easily lifts out for cleaning and disinfecting. The top of the hay rack has a lid that hinges up for easy refilling. If you have a little pan you already love, they will build you a custom rack for those dimensions.
If your bun is free-range or lives in a pen, this is a fantastic hay rack that doesn’t require mounting to a cage wall. Appropriately named the “Hay Tower,” Etsy seller ScratchyThings makes this rabbit-safe rack from pine and birch wood. It helps to stimulate your rabbit by allowing them to eat low and high, getting a little extra exercise by standing on their hind legs. It’s also easy to refill from the top.
Perfectly sized for 1-2 rabbits, this is great for anywhere you rabbit hangs out. It keeps hay fresh and clean and off the ground.
It’s kind of funny when you realize this is one of the most hotly debated topics in rabbit ownership: is it better for a bunny drink from a water bottle or a bowl? While owners all have their personal preferences, there is one thing everyone agrees on: hydrated is best. If your rabbit is picky and prefers to drink one way or the other just go with their preference.
The general advice from vets and breeders is that drinking from a bowl is the most natural way. In the wild rabbits are drinking from streams and other small bodies of water, which is more accurately mimicked by a water bowl. There are several pros and cons for each option. A bowl or crock is the most natural way, but it requires cleaning and replacing at least once a day and maybe even more often if your rabbit tips it over or kicks debris into it. A water bottle is easier to keep clean, though the water should also be changed every day. The bottle also requires the rabbit to do more work to get the same amount of water. It’s recommended to have multiple water bottles available, especially if you have more than one rabbit.
Some bunnies will absolutely refuse to use one or the other. They may also change their preferences suddenly. Many owners have found a nice middle ground in offering their rabbit both options so they know there’s always water available. That also works for rabbit pairs who have different preferences.
Our general advice is: water bowls or crocks are best for bunnies at home. A water bottle can be offered as a back up. Water bottles are best for travel.
If you want to offer your rabbit water in a bowl or a crock, any of the dishes recommended in our food bowl recommendations will work. If you want a water bottle, here are our recommendations:
Oasis 31 oz. Rabbit Water Bottle
Perfectly sized for a bunny or two, the Oasis water bottle is made of plastic with a stainless steel drinking tube. The clear plastic makes it easy to monitor your rabbit’s water level. It even comes with a wire holder to hang it on your rabbit’s cage or pen.
Some downsides with this model: owners report having issues with leaking. In my experience, I find if you don’t screw the top on properly to a full bottle of water it will leak. A small amount of leaking is expected with any water bottle, but if the bottle is completely draining, then there is a problem. Another downside, the holder that comes with it does not allow you to hang it on the outside of the cage. If your rabbit is a chewer this could be a problem. Consider a glass bottle, like the Lixit below.
Lixit makes some of my favorite water bottles for small pets. I’ve used them for rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, and even birds. It’s a bit on the small size for rabbits at 16 oz., I would recommend getting at least two for their cage or pen. The bottle is fully glass and it’s strong. I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally dropped it without even causing a crack. The stainless steel nozel is perfectly sized for bunnies.
It also comes with a spring to easily hang the bottle from a cage or pen wall. You can hang it inside or outside the cage, whichever you prefer. All parts can be sterilized for easy cleaning.
What is ‘Scatter Feeding’ and should I use it for my rabbit?
Scatter feeding is a type of feeding meant to simulate a more natural eating environment. In the wild, rabbits are munching on various plants, veggies, and fruits as they encounter them. To scatter feed you can lay out hay on the floor or in a hay box and then sprinkle the daily amount of pellets over the top of the hay. The pellets will fall through and your bunny will have to forage and nose around in the hay to find the pellets. This helps entertain them, stimulate their curiosity, and slow down their eating. Another technique to consider if scatter feeding won’t work for your rabbits is the fun feeders recommended in that section of this page.
The technique of scatter feeding for rabbits works well for bunnies who tend to suck down their pellets as soon as you put them out. It’s also good for bunny pairs where one rabbit is a bit of a pig and tries to eat the other rabbit’s pellets in addition to their own. It will slow down their eating and make it harder for them to hog all of the food.
One of the downsides of scatter feeding is it makes it harder to keep track of how much your rabbit is eating. Make sure to diligently pay attention to their poops and urination to look for signs of sickness, low appetite, or gastronomical upset.
What should I feed my rabbit?
A rabbits diet is made up of four main parts: water, hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables. They are also allowed to have a small amount of treats (usually fresh fruit).
Water and hay should be available 24 hours a day because your pet bunny is constantly eating. Pellets and vegetables should be given in limited amounts once or twice a day. Learn about the proper rabbit diet, including food recommendations.
The one part of caring for your pet rabbit that will affect their health and longevity the most is the food that they eat. Rabbits have a sensitive digestive system that needs a specific diet in correct proportions to function correctly. Following the correct rabbit diet will help your bunny maintain a healthy weight and prevent other health issues, lowering vet bills. They’ll also make for a happy and active rabbit.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about feeding your pet rabbit a safe, healthy, and nutritious diet. We cover all the types of food and quantities they should eat, as well as recommendations of the best brands of rabbit pellets and the best hay for rabbits. This whole article is filled with must know information for rabbit owners, but if you’re looking for specifics on a particular part of bunny diets, feel free to use the contents links to jump to that section. Bun appetit!
Pet Rabbit Diet & Nutrition
A pet rabbit’s diet is made up of five components:
Water and hay should be available to your pet rabbit 24 hours a day.
Pellets are also an important part of a rabbit’s diet, though the type of pellets they get will depend on their age (see the next section on “Bunny Age and Diet”). In addition to pellets, they should also be given fresh vegetables. As a rabbit gets older, you should lower the amount of pellets they’re fed, and add more vegetables to their diet. Some owners opt to feed their adult rabbits hay and fresh vegetables exclusively (eliminating the rabbit pellets), but you should consult with a rabbit savvy vet before you do this to make sure your bunny is getting adequate fiber, protein, and calories in their diet.
How and when you feed your rabbit pellets and vegetables is up to you and the routine you establish with your pet rabbit. Our routine is to feed the full amount of pellets in the morning, allowing them to eat those throughout the day along with their hay. Then in the evenings, they get their “bunny salad” with fresh vegetables and greens. You can also give a half portion of pellets and veggies in the morning, and then another half portion in the evening.
Fruit is considered a treat and must be given sparingly. Fresh fruit is a much better option than commercial rabbit treats sold in pet stores or grocery stores. If you don’t have a safe fresh fruit on hand you can also give dried fruit to your bunny, but they must be given in smaller quantities than fresh fruit.
Bunny Age and Diet
Baby and young rabbits have different dietary needs than adult rabbits. While most rabbits you will find at a shelter will be adults, sometimes the rabbits purchased from breeders or pet stores may be younger. And if you have a rabbit who has an unexpected pregnancy, you may end up raising some baby rabbits you didn’t plan for.
A baby rabbit will only drink their mother’s milk until they are about 6-8 weeks old. Rabbits should not be separated from their mother until after 8 weeks when their digestive system is fully adjusted for solid foods. At that point, pellets and hay can be introduced (and they’ll probably start to nibble at their mother’s portions around 6 weeks if they are living together).
While diets for young rabbits are close to that of adult rabbits, there are a few changes you should make. Since young rabbits are doing a lot of growing, they need extra protein in their diets. One way this is achieved is through alfalfa hay, which has higher protein and calcium contents than other grass hays. It’s a good idea to mix it with other grass hays so your bunny gets used to them in their diet and then eliminated the alfalfa completely by 5 months of age.
Another way to help ensure your young rabbit gets enough protein is to feed them a pellet with a higher protein content that is formulated for young rabbits. We will give some recommendations for this in the section on Rabbit Pellets below.
Fresh vegetables can be introduced to a rabbit once they’re 12 weeks old. If you have recently added a young rabbit to your home, allow them to have a couple of weeks to settle in before you make any changes to their diet. Introduce fresh vegetables and fruit one at a time and observe their droppings. If their stool becomes soft or watery stop feeding the new food to them. If need be, consult with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian about your rabbit’s diet.
Here’s a handy chart to help you remember all the parts of a healthy rabbit diet. Save it to Pinterest to easily reference it later.
Best Hay for Rabbits
When we talk about rabbit grass, we aren’t talking about that plastic grass you find in Easter baskets. Instead, we’re talking about dried grass and hay that form the base of a good rabbit diet. Hay should be available to your rabbit 24/7. In the wild, rabbits can graze freely on grass and so your setup should allow for unrestricted access to fresh hay. Generally, you should expect your rabbit to eat any amount of hay equal to their body size each day–that’s a lot of hay!
Hay also provides several important benefits for rabbit nutrition and overall health. Hay is a roughage that helps prevent hairballs and the fiber helps their gut function and prevent illnesses like GI Stasis.
When shopping for hay you want to look for options that meet the fiber and nutritional needs for your rabbits (which is dependent on their age). You also want to make sure anything you buy is fresh: the hay should be green and smell fragrant but not moldy.
The final thing you should take into consideration when shopping for hay is that your rabbit will actually eat it! Bunny’s have their own flavor preferences and will sometimes have no interest in certain types of hay. Feeding a mixture of hay types is a good way to keep them interested and give some variety in their diet, but if your bun refuses to eat a certain hay type, give them something else.
When most pet owners think about hay, they assume the only thing you should buy is timothy hay for bunnies. While timothy hay is one of the most abundant and traditionally fed hay for rabbits, it is not the only option. You can feed your pet rabbit any of the following hay types and even provide them a mixture:
Recommended Hay Types for Rabbits
Alfalfa Hay (under 1 year old only)
A Reminder About Alfalfa Hay: Rabbits under 1 year of age should be fed alfalfa hay in addition to other grass and oat hay. Because of the high protein and calcium content of alfalfa hay, it should not be fed to adult rabbits.
If you can buy hay directly from a farm or feed store, this is usually best. Not only will it cost less than hay from pet stores, it will often be fresher. If you don’t have direct access to a farm or feed store, you can easily order good quality hay for rabbits online.
Recommended Rabbit Hay Brands
Our recommendations include national brands you can find in pet stores or order on Amazon. We also have some farms that you can order from directly in larger quantities.
If you’re shopping for timothy hay for bunnies, you may have a choice of “cut” either first, second, or third cutting. These numbered cuttings refer to the crop of hay it came from during the growing season. Generally, the second cut is the best as it has a good balance of nutrients and fiber. Many owners prefer third cutting timothy hay, but it is rarer and during a bad season may not happen at all.
Oxbow Rabbit Hay
We are a huge fan of Oxbow and they are one of the best brands available in many pet stores in the US and they’re extremely easy to order online. They offer many varieties of hay that are great for small animals like rabbits. Their hay is grown in the USA and hand-selected to ensure a good quality product. They have a great variety of hay types available, which is perfect if your bun is a picky eater.
A newer food distributor is Small Pet Select. They’re receiving positive reviews from exotic pet owners and are worth considering when shopping for your rabbit. Unfortunately they only offer timothy hay and orchard grass.
One thing that Small Pet Select does differently, is they pack and ship their hay in a cardboard box, which is the best long-term storage option for keeping hay. They offer timothy hay in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cuttings.
Kaytee is one of the most common brands of hay and food available, often seen in national pet store chains and grocery stores. They’re also usually the cheapest option. Some rabbit owners complain about the freshness and have seen inconsistent quality, but we have used it without issue. (When buying any hay you should check the freshness and quality of it before feeding it to your pet.)
Kaytee offers the following hay options for rabbits:
Farmer Dave is located in New York State and specializes in organic, high-quality pet supplies for small pet owners. His hay selection is unfortunately limited to timothy hay, but he offers it in 1st and 2nd cuttings. He also ships LARGE boxes of hay, great for rabbit owners that have a whole warren of hungry bunnies. Currently, he offers 10 lb., 25 lb., and 35 lb. boxes.
(If you’re in the market for toys & chews for your rabbit, check out his apple sticks.)
If you’re interested in buying rabbit hay directly from a farmer but don’t need such large quantities, check out Fay’s Hay. Also located in New York State, Alicia Fay owns a small family farm that sells hay to large animal farms in the northeast. Now they offer their delicious bunny grass to small pet owners as well. All of their hay is pesticide and chemical free, and naturally sun and wind dried on their farm.
They only sell timothy hay and orchard grass blend that has a small amount of clover, but it is available in 1st and 2nd cuttings, or a mixture of the two. Available sizes include 1 lb., 5 lbs., 10 lbs. and 20 lbs.
Pellets are an important part of a balanced rabbit diet. When shopping for bunny food there are a couple of things to keep in mind in your hunt for the best rabbit pellets. First, you want to make sure the rabbit food meets the nutritional requirements for rabbits. Then you want to make sure the feed you buy consists of only pellets. A lot of food advertised for rabbits in pet stores or grocery stores contains nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or colored pieces. Those added in bits are junk–basically treats–and your bunny will pick those out and skip over the pellets that have all the nutrients and fiber they need.
When considering rabbit nutrition, for adult rabbits you should look for a timothy based pellet. Alfalfa based pellets are too high in protein, calories, and calcium for adult rabbits and should only be fed to rabbits under 1 year of age. If you’re considering a new brand of rabbit pellet, look for a feed that has 20-25% fiber (18% is the absolutely minimum), no more than 1-2% fat, 12-14% protein, and no more than 1% calcium. If you don’t want to shop around, you can check out our recommended brands below for some healthy bunny food.
The standard amount to feed a 6 lb. rabbit is about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of pellets. These can be served in a bowl or crock, or spread among their cage and hidden in their hay to encourage foraging. There are also toys to help your bun get a little exercise while they eat, like this treat ball they have to push around to get the food to come out.
Recommended Healthy Rabbit Pellet Brands
Oxbow Essentials Adult Rabbit Food
In addition to their fantastic hay, Oxbow also makes two lines of quality rabbit pellets. The Adult Rabbit Food is a timothy-based pellet recommended for adult rabbits over 1 year of age. This is the brand we feed our rabbits and they absolutely love it. It was also recommended to us by our exotics vet, so that’s why it gets our #1 spot as the best rabbit pellets. The feed has large amounts of fiber while keeping fat and calcium low. And this feed is just pellets–not nuts or dried fruit in the bag.
Oxbow is available in many national and local pet stores, as well as easy to order online.
The other bunny diet option from Oxbow is their Young Rabbit Food formula. This is designed for rabbits under 1 year of age who need more protein in their diet. The base of this pellet is made from alfalfa, which rabbits love, and it helps those young bunnies grow.
Just like their adult formula, this rabbit food has only pellets in it–no additional junk. It’s a great option to provide a balanced rabbit diet for your young bunny. This brand is also easy to find in pet stores or order online.
Though not as widely available as Oxbow, American Pet Diner makes their own timothy based bunny pellet that is great for adult rabbits. Timmy Rabbit has a little bit higher crude fiber content than Oxbow, but nutritionally they’re very similar and balanced well to provide good rabbit nutrition. As you may guess from the name, the Timmy Rabbit feed is made in the USA.
We’ve never been able to find American Pet Diner in our local pet store, but their pellets are easy to buy online. They even promise “chewing and gnawing satisfaction guaranteed.”
This is another brand that is tough to find locally, but many rabbit owners swear by it. ZuPreem’s bunny pellets are made from western timothy hay and include not artifical colors, flavors, or preservatives. There’s no seeds or junk in this pellet mix. It’s also fortified with vitamins and minerals to create a balanced pet bunny diet.
One thing to watch out for is this pellet does have alfalfa in it, though timothy hay is the main ingredient. I would not recommend this for overweight rabbits
Vegetables are an extremely important component in a balanced pet rabbit diet. Adult rabbits should be fed about 1 cup of vegetables per 2 lbs of bodyweight each day. The majority of the veggies should be leafy greens, but a variety of fresh veggies and herbs will provide an interesting and balanced diet for your pet bunny.
Just like when planning your own diet, variety is an important component to ensure your rabbit is getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients from the fresh vegetables they eat. A variety of colors is an easy indicator to consider when planning your bunny’s meals. Once you know what vegetables your rabbit enjoys, it’s good to rotate vegetables rather than give them the exact same meal every day (for example: your rabbit may get romaine, green, or red lettuce every day, and then carrots every other day alternating with broccoli stems, and some bell peppers when you have them on hand). My rabbits always enjoy when I have extra basil from making pesto, even if they don’t get to have basil every day.
Always try to buy organic vegetables and herbs whenever possible. Or if you’re a gardener, you can grow greens and veggies for your bunny yourself and avoid any pesticides. Make sure to rinse or scrub any vegetables or fruits before serving them to your pet rabbit.
A Note on Introducing New Foods to Your Rabbit: Rabbit’s stomach are very delicate and they need to be introduced to new food very slowly and only one new food at a time. When you introduce a new food, monitor their stool. If they have softer stools that persist over a couple days, do not continue the new food. Even though these lists include vegetables that are safe for rabbits, your rabbit may not tolerate it or even like the veggies! Keep a list of their favorites to make shopping easy. If you have questions or concerns about your rabbit’s diet, consult with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
Leafy greens should make up about 3/4 of your rabbits vegetable meals each day.
Veggies with an * are high in oxalic acid and should be rotated and limited to 1 per day.
Basil (all types)
Dandelion Greens (& flowers)
Fennel (base & leafy tops)
Kale (all types)
Mint (all types)
Parsley* (flat leaf recommended)
Red or Green Lettuce
Bell peppers (all colors)
Broccoli (leaves and stems only)
Cabbage (all type)
Chinese Pea Pods (the flat kind without large peas)
Fruit and Treats for Rabbits
Even if your rabbit is a sugar fiend and loves to gobble down bananas faster than you can slice them, fruit should be given as a treat only and not a part of their “regular” diet. Fresh fruit should only be given to a maximum of 2 tablespoons per day (for a 6 lb. rabbit). Dried fruit should be given in even smaller quantities as the sugar is more concentrated.
Buying organic fruit is best, but if not available you can remove the peel. Make sure to wash all fruit thoroughly before giving them to your pet rabbit.
Fruit for Rabbits
These fruits are safe to give to pet rabbits as treats:
Apple (no stems or seeds)
Banana (no peel)
Cherries (no pits)
Melons (peel & seeds ok)
Orange (with peel)
Pineapple (no skin)
Plum (no pits)
Commercial Treats for Rabbits
Pet rabbit treats are a booming business in pet stores–but that doesn’t mean you can give your bunny any “treat” you see on the shelf. Even if it’s advertised as “for rabbits,” plenty of commercial treats are just filled with sugar and unhealthy ingredients for your little bunny. Treats like yogurt drops are not healthy for rabbits. Instead, we recommend fresh fruit as the best treat to give your rabbit.
Now we understand that seasonality and produce prices may mean you don’t always have fresh fruit on hand for your bunny. In that case, there are a few other options you can consider.
The first option is to give your rabbit dried fruits like pineapple, papaya, strawberries, or banana. Dried pineapple is highly recommended because pineapple contains enzymes that help break down fur in your bunny’s tummy is the perfect treat during molting season. If you’re buying dried fruit for your rabbit, make sure to look for organic options with no added sugar.
If you really, really want to buy some pre-made commercial treats, you should keep the following in mind. First, look for all natural ingredients that are made from things already safe for rabbits–this includes hays, herbs, dried veggies or fruits. Then read the ingredients to check for any artificial flavors or colors and make sure there’s no additional sugar.
Many entrepreneurial rabbit owners have taken to making their own rabbit treats, many hard biscuits that encourage chewing and the natural wearing down of a rabbit’s teeth. Oxbow also sells some rabbit safe treats. Check out these recommended pet rabbit treats.
Rabbits have delicate stomachs that are sensitive to sudden diet changes, so any changes to what they eat need to be done carefully. Young rabbits are extra sensitive because their systems are still developing.
When you first adopt a rabbit, you should continue them on the same diet they had before they joined your home for at least 2 weeks. This gives them time to settle into their new home and new routine. Make sure to inquire to find out what brand of pellets, types of hay and veggies they were eating and match their meal times as closely as possible. A young rabbit should have at least 2 weeks of eating hay before any changes are made to their diet. The hay keeps their GI track working properly while other aspects of the diet are changing and helps prevent loose stools.
You should only introduce one new type of food at a time. For example, if you are transitioning to a new pellet brand, you should not introduce any new fresh vegetables until your rabbit it completely transitioned.
Introducing New Fruits & Vegetables to Your Bunny
You should only give them one new fresh fruit or vegetable at a time. Give it to them for three days in a row and monitor their stools. If you notice softer or runny stools, stop the new food. After 3 days, if there’s no change in their poop, you can add the vegetable or fruit to their regular rabbit diet.
Occasionally, your rabbit may refuse to eat or show less interest in certain vegetables. That’s just a matter of taste (we could never get our Barney to eat bell peppers!) and probably a good sign it’s time to experiment with a different vegetable.
Keep track of which vegetables are your bunny’s favorite and you’ll be able to plan a diverse fresh rabbit diet that works with seasonality. It may even give you some ideas for vegetables and herbs to grow in your garden.
Transitioning to New Rabbit Pellets
Just like other parts of the rabbit’s diet, consistency is best. Ideally, you will select a healthy brand of pellets that is easy for you to purchase and that’s what your rabbit will eat all their life. But when you first bring your pet rabbit home, you may need to switch the rabbit pellets they eat.
Changing pellets should happen as a slow transition, while no other changes are made to your bun’s diet. You may need to plan in advance to make sure you have enough of the old bunny food on hand to make the smooth transition. While you are changing from one food to another, keep an eye on your rabbit’s stool. If it starts to get soft or mushy, then you are changing too quickly.
The absolute best way to transition a pet rabbit to new pellets is slowly over 3 weeks. Follow this schedule:
Week 1: Feed 75% of the old pellets and 25% of the new pellets each day.
Week 2: Feed 50% of the old and 50% of the new pellets each day.
Week 3: Feed 25% of the old and 75% of the new pellets each day.
Week 4: If your rabbit has no problems, feed the new pellets exclusively.
Occasionally, you may have a rabbit that refuses to transition to the new food. Instead, they will pick out the old pellets and leave the new ones uneaten. In that case, you may want to continue to feed the old food (as long as it is healthy and meets your rabbit’s nutritional needs) or try a different brand.
Use this infographic as a handy guide:
What to do if Your Rabbit Stops Eating
If your rabbit stops eating, consider it an emergency situation. Because of their delicate digestive systems, a rabbit can go into what’s called GI Stasis. If not properly treated, your rabbit could die.
GI Stasis can be caused by a variety of issues like stress, pain, intestinal blockage, or insufficient fiber in their diet. Our rabbit Barney went into GI Stasis from joint pain he was experiencing from undiagnosed arthritis in his hind legs. Once the GI Statis was treated and the vet prescribed pain medication to help his arthritis he went on to live 3 more happy, hoppy years. If I hadn’t taken him to the emergency vet the day he stopped eating, that story would have had a very different ending.
So what should you do in the situation? Make sure you are always keeping an eye on your rabbit’s poop and their eating habits. Sweeping out their cage and play area frequently and changing out their litter box daily will help you keep tabs on their pooping habits. If the number of poops decreases or changes in consistency, this could be the first indication that something is wrong with your rabbit. If they stop pooping for 12 hours, you need to contact a rabbit-savvy veterinarian immediately.
If your rabbit doesn’t seem to be eating, offer them their favorite fruit or treat (bananas usually work well for this). If your bunny takes it, make sure they have lots of their favorite foods, fresh hay, and clean water on hand and keep an eye on them. If they don’t improve, make an appointment to see your vet. If your rabbit refuses their favorite treat, you need to take them to a rabbit veterinarian ASAP.
GI Stasis can often be cured with treatment, but it should be done under the care and advice of an experienced vet. Once it is treated and cured, you should identify the cause and make appropriate changes to prevent it from happening again. You can learn more about GI Stasis in rabbits on the House Rabbit Society website.
Because emergencies like this can happen at any moment day or night, it’s important to have a relationships with a rabbit savvy vet near you. They are a great resource to call if you’re unsure about your rabbit’s health or behavior, and they’re the first place you need to go if your rabbit shows symptoms of GI Stasis If you need to find a vet near you, check out this list on the House Rabbit Society site. DO NOT WAIT FOR AN EMERGENCY TO FIND A GOOD RABBIT VET.
Now that you know what to feed your rabbit, get all the right bunny bowls and dishes. We had recommendations for crocks, food bowls, water bottles, hay racks, and even fun feeders.