We keep mentioning that Bunny doesn’t eat any pellets and we keep getting questions about his diet, so here is a more detailed explanation of what we give him. We choose Bunny’s food based on three equally important aspects:
– It has to be fresh and healthy for rabbits.
– It has to be a good mix of Bunny’s favorites and food he tolerates.
– There cannot be more than 2 choices ‘high in calcium’ at a time.
The first one is easy. We made a long list of fresh foods that a rabbit can eat. The second one eliminates about a quarter of the items on the list, because there are certain foods Bunny will not eat, even if there is absolutely nothing else. Dill and mustard greens, for example. Since everyone has certain dislikes when it comes to eating and since he is spoiled, we don’t force him to eat food he hates. We will, however, combine any favorite (like an inch of parsnip) with food he will eat, but doesn’t get too excited about (a piece of celery, for example). That way he doesn’t get mad at us for the choices that day (We can’t have him be angry with us!), but he also gets a greater variety of nutrients. If he only ate his favorites, he’d get sick and overweight, ha! The third one limits us as far as some of the combinations go. Greens such as kale, parsley, spinach, or dill are high in calcium and even though Bunny gets plenty of water through drinking and eating and also only gets a small amount of everything, we like to be on the safe side, so we limit those choices to a high of 2 at a time.
Bunny has access to hay all day. He also gets about 2 cups of vegetables in the morning and 2 in the evening. The two cups are made up of about 8-10 different choices, so he gets a little bit of everything we have in the fridge for him. In the morning we generally hide his food all over the house, so he has to gather (which he loves). In the evening he mostly gets it in his bowl. Small treats are given to him a couple of times throughout the day. A treat could be a baby carrot, half a strawberry, or a pinch of chamomile flowers in one of his toys. We don’t give him any processed treats and he is just as excited as he would be otherwise. Vets recommend that rabbits get many small fresh meals throughout the day rather than be fed only twice, but we found that Bunny would stop eating his hay that way. Since hay is an important part of his diet and not having it gave him constant diarrhea, we decided that many small meals don’t work for us.
2-4 times a week we offer Bunny a bit of dry food. The choices mostly consist of dried vegetables, flowers, seeds, or leaves that are hard to come by around here, especially fresh. We give them to him to make sure his diet is as diverse as possible and he gets all the nutrients he needs. He may get a pinch of each of the following: All natural oats, nettle leaves, chamomile, spearmint, fennel seeds, dandelion root, nettle root, and rose buds. Anything “exotic” and edible, really.
I know that some people are concerned that not feeding pellets could mean that their rabbit will be lacking certain vitamins and minerals. Pellets only contain processed nutrients and no real vegetables at all (even if they are orange, there are no carrots in them). If you look at the food Bunny regularly gets and that we constantly rotate, can it really be that we are not covering something that the pellets provide? The equivalent question for humans could be, do you really think it would be better to eat McDonald’s and vitamin pills every day rather than cook fresh vegetables at home? Personally, I don’t think so. The images show Bunny’s breakfast the first 3 days of this week. He gets the same food for dinner, so imagine twice the amount per day (plus a Baby Carrot or other treat throughout the day plus Hay). Only 3 days and he has already eaten a large variety of vegetables. Tomorrow we’ll add Basil and Rutabaga (we ran out of Cilantro and Zucchini today). Be aware that Bunny is a small rabbit. Larger rabbits will need more food! And in case you are wondering, Bunny hasn’t gained or lost an ounce of weight in the past 6 months and he is at a perfectly normal weight according to the vet.
Please know that we don’t think that our “system” is the one and only way. It just works well for us. I wouldn’t go to a friend or co-worker and tell them that they are feeding their children all wrong, because they don’t give them enough of this or too much of that. We all want the best for our pets (and children) and we all judge what the best may be based on our own conscience. That being said, if you are interested in Bunny’s schedule, we will post an example of a typical month soon!