A rabbit’s diet is vitally important in keeping them happy and healthy; ideally their diet should mimic what they would eat in the wild. Around 85-90% of your rabbit’s diet should consist of hay, grass and dried grass supplemented with small feeding nuggets and some leafy green salad items.
Most importantly, rabbits need fibre in their diets; fresh grass and feeding hay are excellent sources of fibre and easily located. These food items are also important in maintaining good dental and digestive health, they encourage foraging behaviour and also help to keep your rabbit occupied.
There are three key areas that these foods help to keep healthy:
- digestive health: they keep the gut moving which reduces the likelihood of your rabbit developing gut stasis which can be a debilitating and painful experience for them, and they also help to maintain a healthy balance in the gut – just like a healthy balanced human diet does for us
- dental health: the constant chewing motion helps to wear down your rabbits’ teeth and avoids them growing too long and requiring veterinary intervention to burr down
- good behaviour: foraging for these foods helps to keep your rabbit entertained and mimics the behaviour they would display in the wild where most of their time is spent looking for food; it also helps to keep them well exercised which is vital to their well-being
Dental health is key to a rabbit’s happy and healthy lifestyle. Their teeth continuously grow therefore it is important that the correct food is given to wear down the teeth otherwise the teeth can begin to grow backwards into the jaw causing discomfort, or sharp spurs can develop on the teeth causing damage to the cheeks and tongue each time the rabbit eats. Signs that your rabbit is having problems with their teeth can include runny eyes, abscesses or swellings on the face, difficulties eating (especially hay) and a reduction in faeces produced.
Obesity is more common in rabbits than people think – a more sedentary lifestyle can cause problems like joint stiffness, a shorter lifespan and problems grooming which can in turn lead to flystrike. This is why ensuring your rabbit run is appropriate for the size and number of your rabbits is vital to their well-being.
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