What should I feed my bunny? 5 essential foods they should eat.
So you’ve just purchased your first bunny and have brought him or her home. Now you might be wondering: what should I feed my bunny and how often?
We’ve provided a handy guide below to help you out. There are 5 essential foods you should be giving your furry friends. We’ve also included a list of of what you shouldn’t be feeding them.
What should I feed my bunny?
#1. Hay, hay and more hay!!!
For the first 6 months of your bunny’s life you may feed them unlimited hay throughout the day. Hay is extremely important to your bunny’s diet. It provides the fiber needed to keep its digestive system running smoothly. It also helps to keep their teeth trimmed so they don’t run into any oral issues.
From 3 weeks to 6 months old, you can feed bunnies either Timothy (1st, 2nd or 3rd cut, but young and healthy bunnies typically eat 2nd cut), Orchard, Oat and Alfalfa hay.
Here at Cottontail Creek, we are actually quite allergic to Timothy Hay, so we feed our bunnies primarily Orchard Hay. This is a good option for anyone with allergies.
We also feed Alfalfa hay to our brood does when they are nursing litters, and our babies and juniors up to around 5-6 months who need the additional protein to help them grow into adult bunnies.
Small Pet Select (SPS) is the company we buy all our hay from. We really like the quality of their grasses. They also have a fast timeline from placing an order, shipping out the same day or following morning, to a fast delivery straight to our rabbitry door. In comparison to hay purchased at pet stores, SPS hay just looks and smells so much greener and fresher!
Our rabbits devour the hay, especially the Alfalfa which is nice and leafy. There is also significantly less hay wasted when eating SPS hay.
When we first tried different brands, our bunnies seemed to reject much of the store-bought hay bags and ended up just leaving much of it in a mess by their cage. We ended up wasting lots of money, and whatever they did eat from other brands was definitely not as nutritious.
Once your bunny turns 6 months old, you should only feed them Alfalfa hay as an occasional treat.
Alfalfa hay is much higher in protein and calcium than other species of hay. While it was perfect for when your bunny was working hard to grow into an adult and needed the extra nutrients, it’s not necessary when fully grown and can be harmful if they consume too much of it.
Small Pet Select also sells Timothy and Alfalfa hay cubes, as well as a Blend combining both. When given as a treat, these are a perfect way to give bunnies variety while includIng their tasty Alfalfa and without worrying you’re over feeding them too much protein.
How much hay should you feed?
As mentioned earlier, while bunnies are still babies and juniors they should receive unlimited hay. If their hay feeder is out of hay, it is okay to replenish it throughout the day up until they are about 6 months old.
After that, and as a general rule of thumb, bunnies should eat the same amount of hay as their body side. We like to make sure we put a nice handful in their hay feeders at breakfast time and before bed. It’s nice to get your bunny on a schedule and they often do most of their grazing during the night.
It doesn’t hurt them to feed more, but it definitely is dangerous for them to not get enough. Definitely don’t be shy delving in to grab a big handful from the box!
Hay is what helps move any fur they have ingested through their digestive tract. Bunnies are not like cats who can regurgitate hair after grooming. Hay also helps to keep their intestinal muscles toned.
Just like humans, food is a large part of the way to your bunny’s heart. While you can’t go wrong with feeding them the Orchard hay they were used to eating at our rabbitry, they will enjoy Timothy and Oat hays. After all, variety is the spice of life, even for a bunny!
We’ve included hay in our Starter Kits
So now you’ve learned about the main and most important part of your bunny’s diet, all that’s left to do is decide which Hay and how much of it to buy. We’ve taken care of that dilemma for you with our sampler selection of Small Pet Select Hay included in our Starter Kits.
Our Starter Kits are available in our Bun Shop. It is a nice way to try different grasses before ordering a large box and then finding out your bunny or you don’t react well to it, leaving you with waste, frustration and a hungry bunny.
It’s also helpful because they will provide your bunny with the exact same hay as they were accustomed to eating at the rabbitry. This avoids any problems or need to transition them to a new brand or variety.
Bunnies also need pellet food daily. They are supposed to provide a nutritious and well balanced part of your bunny’s diet and they are usually Timothy Hay based.
You can feed your bunny unlimited pellets for the first 6 months. After that, an 1/8- 1/4 cup of pellets for every four pounds of rabbit is the recommended portion. This means that we feed our Holland Lops a 1/4 cup per day and our Netherland dwarfs get a little over 1/8 cup.
Small Pet Select’s rabbit pellets are our pellets of choice. There is only one type, so no need to choose between varieties. Again, like the hay, their pellets are much greener and fresher compared to the dry or crumbly, brown and older looking pellets you often find in pet stores.
We’ve included Pellets in our Starter Kits so your bunny has an easier transition and no food rejection.
At our rabbitry, we combine SPS pellets with another breeder staple pellet, MannaPro – Pro Premium. MannoPro is available at local farming stores and on Amazon. Our bags of transition food available in our starter kits include both of these brands.
Sherwood pellets are another really good brand we’ve used, also available on Amazon.
Both of these brands would be suitable alternatives or additions to Small Pet Select. We’ve linked these on our Amazon Affiliate page..
A Word About Packaged Pellets with Colorful Treats
Bags of pellets with colorful treats and “fruit” or “nuts” that you see in pet stores are not quality food. The colorful stuff combined with the low nutritional value of the feed it is often mixed with, is the equivalent of feeding your bunny junk food each day. They will not thrive and grow well on this kind of feed.
BUNNY BONUS: GET 15% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER !!!
Because we love SPS so much, and we are sure you will too, we are happy to share this link with our bunny families. You can get 15% off your first order. https://shop.smallpetselect.com/pages/welcome-referred-customer?mbsy_source=440b920a-507a-4d6e-8a30-a3d9693f7873&campaignid=33091&mbsy=wCZVb
Be sure to always have fresh water in a clean bottle or bowl available for your bunny to drink.
Bunnies drink a lot of water compared to animals of similar size. A four pound bunny (a full size Holland Lop) usually drinks about a cup of water per day, although sometimes more if the weather is hot. Drinking less than a cup can be normal too, it’s any drastic change in your bunny’s water consumption that matters and can signal sickness. You’ll get to know what is normal for your bunny over time, and whether s/he prefers a water bottle or crock.
If you’re using a bottle, make sure it has a drip free nozzle and that it doesn’t get stuck and is preventing your bunny from getting water. Benefits of a bottle is that it isn’t likely to get contaminated as easily as a crock or bowl. Bowls can get knocked over, get hay, pellets, urine or stools in it making the water harmful if your bunny swallows it. Make sure to rinse out your bowl every day so the water is nice and fresh.
#4. Vegetables and Fruit
You should introduce vegetables and fruit very gradually when your bunny is about 4.5 months old.
The general recommendation is no sooner than 6 months. In reality though, the babies may have eaten some of their mom’s greens when they were sharing her cage at the rabbitry. Therefore very small amounts should be okay.
Once your bunny is fully grown, fresh greens are a daily necessity. This is as important as hay in maintaining a healthy intestinal tract. Dark leafy options such as kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, basil, carrots, dandelion greens, mustard greens and romaine lettuce are all safe to feed.
You should feed your bunny fruits sparingly as the high sugar content can give them an upset stomach. Favorite fruits are bananas and strawberries.
You’ll notice we haven’t listed carrots as a primary food. While being the stereotypical food that bunnies eat, it is actually high in sugar so it’s only good to feed as an occasional treat. Carrot tops with the greens attached are perfect for them.
#5. Other treats
Other foods that bunnies enjoy which are healthy treats include old fashioned oats.
They also enjoy pumpkin seeds which also have the added benefit of being a natural dewormer.
Small Pet Select has a wonderful selection of natural and healthy treats.
Foods that are not safe for your bunny
We’ve included a list of foods not safe for your bunnies to eat. While you might be tempted to give them some of these as a treat, don’t. These can be harmful to your pets.
Check your bunny’s stools.
Always monitor your bunny to see if its stools are still normal and it has not developed diarrhea. If their stools become more mushy, stop all veggies/fruit immediately and feed only hay.
Diarrhea in rabbits signals a serious problem which can be fatal in babies in a matter of 12-24 hours. You should seek medical help from your rabbit savvy vet as soon as possible.
If you have any questions, leave me a comment in the box below and I’ll try to answer it as soon as possible.
Hi, I’m Beth, the owner of Cottontail Creek Rabbitry. I’ve put together these articles to provide useful information about bunnies for any pet owners and would-be pet owners. I’m also a professional musician and teach piano and violin to students. You can find out more about lessons at my Piano and Violin Studio website.