Due to their complex digestive systems, rabbits have specific dietary needs. If you introduce a new food out of the blue, they might experience gastrointestinal issues. Therefore, it’s important to know what types of food rabbits eat and how much.
In this article, we’ll answer everything you need to know about a rabbit’s diet. What can rabbits eat, and what are the dangers of overeating? Let’s find out.
Here are some foods that rabbits can (and can’t) eat:
Rabbits can eat celery in small quantities. It can be given as part of their balanced diet or as a treat. However, you should only feed your rabbits raw celery. Rabbits can’t digest cooked vegetables, so avoid feeding them steamed or pre-cooked celery.
When feeding your rabbits celery, don’t throw out the leaves. Rabbits love the celery leaves just as much as the celery itself.
Celery is a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals, packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, folate, and a plethora of antioxidants. It’s made of 95% water, so it can also keep your little bun hydrated.
Rabbits can safely eat the skin, flesh, and seeds of the cucumber.
Like celery, cucumber is mostly water. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because the high water content can keep your rabbit hydrated. Bad, because it can cause indigestion and diarrhea if eaten in excess.
Cucumber isn’t nutritionally dense. It’s rich in fiber, but the high water content makes the fiber less nutritionally available.
Therefore, you should only feed your rabbit a serving of cucumber two to three times a week. A single serving equals one small slice of cucumber, a few millimeters thick.
Cucumbers should only account for about 5% of your pet’s weekly diet.
Apples are an excellent addition to your rabbit’s diet, as long as they’re given in moderation. Apples are high in sugar, so they shouldn’t be consumed regularly. Feed your rabbit only a slice or two of apples three times a week at most.
Sugar content aside, apples are a good source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential to rabbits.
When feeding them apples, make sure to remove the seeds and stem. Apple seeds and stems contain trace amounts of cyanogenic glycoside, which can be harmful to your rabbit’s health.
Rabbits can eat tomatoes as an occasional treat in small quantities.
Tomatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, but like most fruits, they’re high in sugar and don’t contain much fiber.
Tomato leaves and seeds can be toxic in large amounts, so ensure that you remove the leaves, seeds, and stems before feeding the tomato to your rabbit.
You can feed your rabbit an acorn-size amount of seedless tomato every other day as a treat. Thoroughly wash the tomato to rid it of pesticides and cut it into bite-sized pieces to avoid the risk of choking.
Fresh red and white grapes can be given as an occasional treat once or twice a month.
Grapes contain small amounts of fiber and vitamins B and K, which may be beneficial for rabbits. Grapes also have a high water content, making them suitable for rabbits who don’t often drink water.
Grape leaves and stems aren’t toxic to rabbits, but the seeds should be removed as they contain trace amounts of toxins.
Bananas are a good source of potassium and fiber, which are valuable for rabbits. But since they’re high in sugar and starch, they should only be given in moderate quantities.
Feed your rabbits no more than two tablespoons of banana per five pounds of their body weight, at a maximum of three times a week.
Like most cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains a great deal of fiber. However, it should only be given in moderation as broccoli can induce gas and other stomach issues.
As a rule of thumb, your rabbit should eat around one tablespoon of chopped, raw broccoli for every two pounds of their body weight.
Cabbage is a brilliant addition to your rabbit’s diet. It’s a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as dietary fiber.
When serving your rabbit cabbage, mix it with one or two other leafy vegetables.
Don’t feed your rabbit cabbage every day. Instead, alternate them in between days alongside other greenery.
Spinach, while not toxic to rabbits, isn’t the best choice for everyday eating.
Spinach provides decent amounts of vitamins and minerals, like potassium and iron, but they also contain high amounts of anti-nutrients like goitrogens and oxalates.
Adult rabbits can eat a small handful of spinach every few days with a maximum of twice a week. Baby rabbits shouldn’t eat spinach at all.
Watermelon isn’t as nutritionally dense as other options on this list, but it’s a perfectly acceptable treat to feed your rabbits. Just make sure to remove the seeds and chop them up into small, bite-sized pieces to prevent choking.
Watermelon rinds are safe to eat, as well. They have more fiber than fruit and less sugar, making them a better treat overall.
Feed your rabbit watermelon and watermelon rinds no more than twice a week.
Strawberries are non-toxic to rabbits but don’t offer much nutritional value. Feed your rabbits no more than one to two tablespoons of strawberries every two to three days.
Asparagus is safe and healthy for rabbits. It’s high in fiber and low in sugar. Depending on your rabbit’s size, the average asparagus portion should be no more than two inches per serving every two days.
Rabbits can eat carrots, but they shouldn’t imitate the diet of Bugs Bunny.
Carrots are high in sugar and should only be fed in small amounts as occasional treats. They can eat both flesh and skin.
Alongside other veggies, a few slices of carrots every other day are more than enough.
Rabbits can safely eat lettuce, but some lettuce types are worse than others.
Dark-colored varieties like romaine lettuce are more beneficial as they’re higher in fiber and nutrients.
Light-colored varieties are high in water and have little nutritional value, so while safe to eat, they’re less beneficial.
The darker the leaves, the healthier the lettuce.
If possible, rabbits should have an unlimited source of grass. Rabbits can eat grass from the yard, provided it’s healthy and not treated with chemicals.
Rabbits are obligate herbivores and therefore shouldn’t eat meat, regardless of the circumstance. Their digestive systems aren’t equipped to process large quantities of protein. If they eat meat, they’ll get sick.
Baby rabbits should indulge in a diet full of hay after they’re weaned from their mother’s milk.
In the first seven to eight weeks of their lives, they must eat alfalfa hay free-choice or alfalfa pellets for that well-needed boost of protein and calcium as they grow. Timothy Hay or Rye Grass are equally good alternatives.
As they grow older, you can gradually introduce them to green leaves like basil, butter lettuce, kale, cabbage, spinach, and carrots tops. You can introduce fresh foods to your rabbit around the three-month mark, but minimize their consumption of sugary fruits like apples, strawberries, oranges, and the like.
Baby rabbits should eat a small serving of fruit no more than once a week.
Rabbits should eat a handful of vegetables and leafy greens twice a day and a tablespoon of rabbit nuggets once a day.
If your rabbit weighs more than seven pounds, add an additional tablespoon of nuggets.
Regardless of the size and breed, rabbits should always have easy access to drinking water.
Water bottles can be a hassle to clean and difficult for some rabbits to use, so bowls are ideal options.
Wild rabbits eat various dry and fresh grasses and plants with leaves. Their diet consists of the following:
- Hay: Timothy hay, oat hay, clover hay, meadow hay
- Wildflowers: Jasmine, roses, clover, and willows
- Vegetables: Spinach, kale, raspberry leaves
- Weeds: Dandelion weeds, butterfly weeds, and daisies
- Tree seedlings: Lettuce and broccoli
In dryer seasons, wild rabbits indulge in twigs, pine needs, tree barks, leafy weeds, and dry green grasses.
If you plan to feed the wild rabbits roaming in your yard, avoid tomato vines, potatoes (both the vegetable and the vines), corn, nuts, beans, avocado, and anything related to onions and garlic.
Rabbits are opportunistic eaters. They’ll overeat if given the chance. They also tend to pick the highest-calorie food and leave out the healthier ones.
Overeating can quickly lead to animal obesity, which can be deadly for rabbits. Rabbits have sensitive digestion, so eating in excess increases the risk of developing stomach complications that may require medical intervention.
Overeating can also lead to heart problems, tooth decay, urinary tract infections (UTIs), imbalance of the gut bacteria, and gastrointestinal stasis (GI).
All these conditions can be deadly if not treated immediately.
Mother rabbits nurse their kitten once or twice a day, for five to ten minutes just before dawn and/or after dusk when they feel safe.
Mothers feed their babies for about eight weeks, gradually decreasing feeding frequency until the kittens become independent.
Baby rabbits can eat solid food at around three weeks and transition into a solid meal by six to eight weeks.
Baby rabbits shouldn’t be separated from their mothers until they’re at least eight weeks old.
The mother’s milk contains beneficial fats and proteins, which are necessary for kittens to grow big and strong. If kittens are taken off the milk too soon, their immune system might not properly develop.
Baby rabbits will have functioning immune systems and digestive tracts by eight weeks, allowing you to start introducing foods into their diet.
Feed them with 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 cups of pellets per five pounds of body weight no more than twice a day. As for the hay, give a chunk roughly the same size as your bunny.
A rabbit’s diet should contain no more than 25% vegetables, fruit, and leaves per day. Feed your bunny two to three types of vegetables once or twice a day in limited amounts.
Rabbits don’t need salt licks to remain healthy. As long as they’re fed a balanced diet, you can forgo the salt lick.
Rabbits are good at regulating their salt intake, so they’re unlikely to consume more salt than they can handle.
However, some rabbits may overindulge if they’re bored and end up biting off huge chunks of salt lick even when they don’t eat the sodium. Therefore, it’s best to leave out the salt lick entirely.
Rabbits need to chew on solid objects for physical and psychological reasons. Cardboard, wood, pinecone, paper, and non-poisonous logs are great for your rabbit to chew on to wear down their teeth and combat stress and anxiety.
That said, it’s important that you constantly monitor the materials you offer your rabbit and watch how they interact with them. Ingesting cardboard, wood, and other solid items can lead to gastrointestinal blockages and other potentially life-threatening issues.
Rabbits are obligate herbivores, meaning that they survive solely on plant-based diets. Their digestive systems are designed to digest vast amounts of fiber and limited protein. If a rabbit was to eat meat, it’ll become sick.
Recent studies found that some rabbits eat meat to boost their protein intake in rough winter weather, where nutrients are scarce. They’d sometimes ingest features, too, as they’re believed to be a source of fiber.
That said, these rabbits only consume meat in life-or-death situations. If given the choice, they’d rather eat a full herbivore diet.
A rabbit’s diet should consist of 85% grass hay and 25% fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as pellets. Offer one fresh meal in the morning and at night. Don’t overindulge your rabbits with fruits and vegetables as excessive consumption may harm their health.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.