By Christian “Nonoy” Parlade
A terrible but common misconception is that rabbits just need to eat carrots and cabbage. That can be fatal to your rabbits. Don't do it.
However, rabbits do love veggies. But there is a correct way to feed them.
Here are tips on proper feeding:
1. Limit the amount to one bowl per day.
A rabbit's primary diet is grass hay and a rabbit should be given an unlimited amount. When buying online, just look for Timothy or Meadow Hay as these are the most common in the country. The bowl of veggies should just be around 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the total intake for the day. If you feed more, you will risk fatal indigestion.
2. Veggies Are Not For Babies.
Another fatal mistake most new rabbit owners commit is feeding veggies to rabbits under six (6) months old. If you feed your young rabbit veggies, he will most likely get diarrhea and die in a few days. The more you feed, the higher the risk of course.
3. Give Human-Quality Veggies.
Rabbits are not waste disposal units. If the lettuce is all spotted and wrinkly and not good enough for you, then it's definitely not good enough for your rabbit. When you cut kang kong and dispose of the hard stems, the stems are not for rabbits. Rabbits need fresh, clean vegetables just like us. The parts you eat are also the parts you give them.
4. Feed Only Clean Veggies.
Before feeding your rabbit, clean the vegetables by removing the bad spots, soaking the veggies in a 10 per cent salt solution for 10 minutes, and then rinsing thoroughly with drinking water three to four times. Otherwise, your rabbit may develop diarrhea which can be fatal to your rabbit. You should also consider getting organic vegetables to lessen the risk of your rabbit digesting pesticides and fertilizers.
5. Choose The Veggies.
There are a lot of vegetables that rabbits can eat. A few personal favorites of my bunnies are kangkong, kamote leaves, basil, dill, cilantro and romaine lettuce. Avoid the broccoli family and any other vegetable that can make one gassy since the gas can cause your rabbit to bloat and die. Nothing starchy like potatoes and corn. Nothing sweet. Do your research before feeding veggies.
6. Introduce Veggies Carefully.
By this time, you would have concluded that rabbits have a very sensitive digestive system. That is correct. Any rapid change in the diet can kill your rabbit. So whether it is because you just got a new rabbit (#adoptdontshop) or you are introducing a new vegetable, do it very, very gradually (like one small leaf a day). This will help your rabbit's tummy adjust.
It is also a good idea to give your rabbit Benebac (rabbit probiotic) to help stabilize your rabbit's digestive bacteria during this period of adjustment. While this is happening, you should observe your rabbit's behavior and poop. If the introduction of the veggie causes tummy issues or soft poop, stop and resume again in a few days once his digestion normalizes.
7. Consider the Time.
As a purely personal preference, I tend to give rabbits veggies at their sleepiest part of the day (noon) just so they won’t get hungry. It also helps hydrate them at the hours when the temperature outside the house reaches 40 degrees.
If you will consider doing these seven (7) tips, you greatly increase the chances of having your rabbits enjoy their beloved veggies while minimizing the risks to their health.
About the author: Christian “Nonoy” Parlade is a director for finance in TaskUs. He facilitates rabbit adoption / rescue via the SaveRabbitsPH FB page. He is also an informal educator for overall rabbit care and welfare.
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