Rabbits can make perfect pets because they are warm, loving animals, and are quite easy to look for in the long term. However, if you want to make sure they are living a long, healthy, and happy life, you’ll need to find out more information about their habits and diets and make sure you don’t feed them things such as avocado, iceberg lettuce, sweets, and processed foods.
If you’re looking to adopt a rabbit, you’ll probably be surprised by how friendly and loving these small creatures are. They are similar to dogs when it comes to their loyalty but also quite independent, just like cats. They are quite easy to look after and won’t require your attention 24/7, which makes them wonderful pets for those who live an active or busy lifestyle.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should neglect your furry friend. On the contrary, bunnies thrive on cuddling moments with their owners and will greet you with the same enthusiasm as a dog after you come back home from work. So, how can you make your bunny’s life happier? Let’s start with the basics.
Where should they live?
Rabbits can live both inside and outside the house, in special huts or wooden cages that will protect them from direct sunlight exposure, extreme temperatures, snow or rain. Most domestic breeds are medium-sized, meaning they can be easily accommodated inside the house as well, while large and furry breeds are best kept outside.
No matter if you keep them inside or outside, you need to make sure they have enough space to sleep, rest, play, and stretch their paws. Keep in mind that bunnies are active animals, so they will need at least half an hour of physical activity daily.
If you’re keeping your pet indoors, allow it to enter and exit its cage whenever it wants, and let it wander freely around the house or in just one room. If you’re keeping your rabbit outside, opt for large huts, with plenty of outdoor space where it can play or rest in the summertime.
Similar to their rodent relatives, rabbits tend to overeat, especially if you give them plenty of food. Thus, they require as much physical movement as possible to avoid weight and health problems. We suggest keeping your pet active by allowing it to run and jump freely or burn some calories in an exercise wheel.
What to feed your rabbit?
Rabbits are herbivorous creatures, meaning they only eat plants, fruits, and vegetables. And, just like humans, they enjoy a good meal, so choosing the best foods for them should be your number one priority.
Rabbits can be fed both dry and wet food, as well as a mix of hay, pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Although they can extract most of the required amount of water from fresh veggies, you should still provide a clean source of freshwater to your rabbit pets as well.
As for proportions, hay should make up the bulk of your bunny’s daily diet, so make sure your pet has access to it at all times. Younger rabbits should be offered alfalfa, while adult rabbits can indulge in other types of hay, including oat hays, timothy, and grass. Keep in mind that alfalfa is not recommended for adult rabbits as it is rich in sugar and proteins.
Hay represents an essential source of fibers, vital for good digestive health. It also helps wearing down your pet’s teeth and maintaining proper oral hygiene. And, since your bunny’s teeth will continue to grow, it is highly important to offer it enough chewing treats, pellets, and dry foods to prevent pain and further health problems.
If you want to keep your pet strong and healthy, pay attention to the hay you choose. As a general rule, it should smell fresh, so you shouldn’t buy hay that looks moldy or brown. Store it in a dry place, with plenty of ventilation, to maintain its freshness for longer.
As we previously mentioned, your bunny will also enjoy a wide selection of fresh vegetables and fruits as occasional snacks and treats. Apart from quenching their thirst, veggies are packed with necessary vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants that will keep your pet healthy and strong.
It should go without saying that all fresh food must be organic, and free of pesticides, GMOs or other chemicals. If you’re not entirely sure about the source of vegetables and fruits, at least wash them thoroughly with warm water and eliminate the peel whenever possible.
If you’re feeding your pet a certain ingredient for the first time, give it time to adjust. It would be best to introduce each new fruit and veggie gradually, allowing your rabbit enough time to adjust to the new tastes and textures. You should also feed them in small quantities and notice the animal’s reaction.
As for what they are actually allowed to eat, rabbits will enjoy basil, broccoli leaves, carrot tops, clover, cilantro, celery, kale, lettuce (avoid cabbage and iceberg lettuce), mint, dill, parsley, mustard greens, and watercress.
You can also feed your rabbit a selection of fresh or dry fruits as treats or occasional snacks. Berries are a rich source of natural antioxidants and vitamin C that will protect your pet’s eyes and ensure strong vision, while bananas are rich in potassium.
You can also offer your rabbit raisins, figs, papaya, cantaloupe or watermelon, oranges, peaches, pears, mangos, and pineapples. However, organic fruits should only be provided occasionally, especially if we’re talking about dry ones that are rich in carbs and sugars.
What not to feed your bunny?
Rabbits can often display similar behavior to dogs, meaning they love cuddling, being petted, and even sleeping with their human companions. However, they can also crave for what’s on your plate. And how can you say “no” to those adorable ears and big eyes?
Unfortunately, human food is not safe for bunnies and you should avoid feeding them snacks or treats that you might consider delicious. Yogurt drops, for instance, represent a healthy and refreshing treat for humans but can cause enterotoxemia to rabbits.
High-carb products like cookies, crackers, bread, and pasta should also be avoided because they are rich in artificial ingredients and can cause stomach problems, not to mention they can lead to overweight and obesity problems. If you still want to offer some delicious treats to your bunny, you can opt for organic cookies without refined sugar or homemade bread.
Avocados have increased in popularity in the past few years, being now considered one of the main foods for millennials. It is rich in proteins and oils but it can be deadly if ingested by rabbits. Thus, keep your avocado toast or salad just for yourself.
Cereals aren’t great for your furry friend either, as most of them are packed with sugar and preservatives. For instance, muesli is made of flaked maize, pellets, grains, peas, and seeds, which can often lead to tummy and tooth problems.
Although most types of lettuce are not only delicious but also contain enough vitamins and nutrients for your rabbit to thrive, it is not the case of iceberg lettuce. It includes a chemical called lactucarium which can be harmful if ingested by your pet.
Iceberg lettuce also contains a lot of water which won’t add too many nutrients in your rabbit’s diet. Cabbage is toxic and can cause diarrhea and digestive problems. However, you can still provide plenty of kale, Roman lettuce, and other types of leafy greens.
From French fries to roasted, grilled, chips or mashed, potatoes are definitely a favorite when it comes to human food. Although they are not particularly poisonous to rabbits, you should avoid feeding them to your pawed animal as they are rich in carbs and starch which can cause digestive problems.
It goes without saying that you should avoid all processed foods, meats, and desserts when it comes to your pet’s diet. This means you shouldn’t feed it chocolate, cakes, sweets, burgers or unhealthy snacks like chips. Peanut butter and walnuts are high in fats and won’t make a good snack for your animal either.
Last but not least, under no circumstances should you offer alcoholic beverages, sodas or sweetened juices to your pet.