It is not easy to feed your domestic rabbit properly as its diet is far removed from ours. When welcoming a rabbit into your home, it is therefore useful to ask yourself which foods are the most suitable and, in particular, what is the list of vegetables that you can give them.
The rabbit does not eat just any vegetable
Remember that the rabbit is a strict herbivore is not unnecessary. Indeed, it is unfortunately still too common for domestic rabbits to be offered a diet that is not suited to their metabolism. Overweight or obese rabbits are very common because their owners quickly fall off the staple food list. In particular, they introduce proteins of animal origin, slow and fast sugars, fats… Ultimately, rabbits lack fiber and consume foods that are far too rich in proportion to their sedentary life, which is less active than in nature.
The rabbit must not eat only plants and nothing else. When the rabbit evolves in the wild, its natural diet consists of grass, plants, some fruit, seeds and roots. At first glance, the vegetables are not very present.
The rabbit’s diet must meet its needs, in terms of fiber, plant proteins, minerals and vitamins. But it must also meet his need for chewing, the only activity that ensures the wear and tear of his teeth. The rabbit must therefore chew fibers which, by their hardness, require time and effort to be crushed. These fibers also ensure good digestion.
The list of vegetables that you can give your rabbit
The rabbit first needs hay, supplemented with greenery. This greenery is composed of grass and certain vegetables. They should be selected because they are not all equivalent in terms of fiber, vegetable protein, trace elements, vitamins, minerals and water. Depending on the rabbit’s needs, it is not necessarily all the vegetables that interest the rabbit, but only a part, which often corresponds to the aerial part of the plants. Thus, in a carrot, what is useful for the rabbit are the tops and not the roots, which are too rich in sugars.
As for greenery, you will therefore favor what is close to what a rabbit can find in a meadow. Those are :
- aromatic plants such as parsley, thyme, fennel, coriander, basil, mint, dill …,
- carrot, turnip, fennel and radish tops,
- salads not too rich in water such as oak leaves, curly leaves, lamb’s lettuce, arugula, endives,
- artichoke leaves.
Spinach, sweet potatoes, leeks, peppers, chard, celery, watercress, escarole, beet leaves, chicory, dandelion and asparagus can be given, but in small quantities. Indeed, these elements contain oxalates which promote the appearance of urinary stones. However, rabbits are already predisposed to develop these disorders because of the natural composition of their urine, which is rich in crystals and calcium; the phenomenon should therefore not be accentuated.
The list of vegetables to exclude
Here is a list of vegetables not to give to a rabbit:
- cabbages (broccoli, green cabbage leaves, cauliflowers, etc.) because of fermentation phenomena capable of causing digestive disorders,
- vegetables too rich in water such as lettuce, cucumber and zucchini,
- avocados, potatoes and beans because of their toxicity.
How to prepare the vegetables?
To cover the broadest spectrum of the rabbit’s vitamin needs, the ideal would be to feed it three different vegetables per ration each day.
The daily amount of greenery to give your rabbit is evaluated according to its weight, i.e. 8%. A one kilo rabbit should therefore consume 80 g of greenery per day, divided into two portions of 40 grams, one in the morning and another in the evening.
Vegetables are introduced from the age of 4 months : the rabbit should already consume hay in the usual way. You will only gradually reach the proportion of 8%. If you go too fast, you risk triggering digestive disorders such as diarrhea which, in addition to the hygiene problems that they cause, should be monitored because they can quickly degenerate.
Vegetables should not be peeled but washed. If their drying is debated, it all depends on the habits you have given to your rabbit. If it has been primarily pellet-fed so far, excess water from the non-dried vegetables may trigger digestive problems. It will then be necessary to dry the vegetables if you introduce them in his diet or if you increase the quantity. But wild rabbits don’t stop eating when it rains, showing that a rabbit that’s used to it won’t mind if the vegetables are not dried. Since some rabbits drink little and it is important to ensure that they drink enough, not drying vegetables can help ensure that the animal is well hydrated.
If you want to feed wild-picked vegetables to your rabbit, you need to wash them carefully. Indeed, they could have been contaminated by a sick wild rabbit. If you are a fan of the harvest, do not hesitate to vaccinate it against hemorrhagic disease (HDV).
Should we exclude fruits?
Fruits contain sugar : they must therefore be considered as treats, either to be banned or to be given very occasionally. It all depends on the weight of your rabbit. If you want to give it to him, the apple is certainly the most suitable fruit because it is not very high in calories and generally appreciated by rabbits. Bananas, on the contrary, should be excluded.
To limit your possible desire to give your rabbit treats, it seems important to us to emphasize that obesity is the cause of many health problems:
- dermatological problems because the rabbit is no longer able to ensure proper toilet. Anus and tail become dirty and attract flies, the hair becomes dull and greasy, the urine burns the skin of the thighs,
- paw infections because the rabbit does not move enough,
- vitamin deficiencies because the rabbit is no longer able to absorb its caecotrophs from the anus.
Taking care of your rabbit means being able to give it just what it needs.