Hey! Just wanted to let you know “Soda” is fitting in perfectly here! Our cat has decided that he’s the mommy to both the bunnies now lol he’s been grooming their fur and cuddling with them both. Soda’s ears seem to be falling a bit more since he’s been here and he’s grown so much! Thanks again, we absolutely love him!
One of the things I often talk about with my rabbit buyers is think like a rabbit when feeding them greens.
Rabbits LOVE fresh food, but not all fresh food is the most rabbit friendly.
My rabbits eat a lot of weeds out of my garden, and to my sister's chagrin, I'll even grow weeds for the rabbits.
This morning I was struggling with finding the right name for a common weed the rabbits love so I went searching for what it was called and discovered this great site for ONTARIO weeds.
Seriously.. it's a great site.
What do I like about this site?
It gives common and Latin name, provides plenty of images, and has a search feature. It will be a great site for me to refer people to if they don't know what prickly lettuce is.
Mind.. people will still need to research if it's safe for bunnies, but if you know the true name, it makes it easier to do the research.
Take for instance one of my favourite weeds: Prickly Lettuce.
They have the write up, with black white drawings.
Then at the bottom they have pictures taken of different stages of the plants life.
Why do I love prickly lettuce?
1. It's a thistle type plant which rabbits love
2. it's great to give to bunnies who are starting to struggle with gut issues.
3. it grows REALLY easily. I started with one plant five years ago and now it crops up everywhere. :)
4. It keeps coming back when I cut it back for feeding.
I thought this was good thinking on the part of Easy Ears, mind it only works for a certain type of hutch, but it was creative thinking worthy of sharing with other eh? :)
There are as many ways to feed rabbits as there are ways to house them or breeds of bunnies in the world. It's amazing to me at how versatile rabbits are.
It must be mind boggling to the average pet rabbit owner to sort out what is best for their bunny.
Therefore I thought I would tell you what I do with my bunnies in an effort to help you make some wise decisions.
This is the basis of my feed regime.
As much as i would prefer to feed my rabbits a completely natural diet I have no room or time for such an endeavor. Figuring out the balance of salt and nutrients along with protein and fibre content is something I simply choose NOT to do, plus most of my bunnies move into pet homes where they will be fed pellets, so it makes the transition easier for them if I simply feed pellets.
What to look for in a pellet? Green colour, just pellets, no grains or colourful bits.
Why no grains?
It's like giving your rabbit main course plus dessert. Rabbits (with the temperament of many toddlers) will say DESSERT!!! I WANT DESSERT!!! and forget about eating their main course.
Why no fluffy colourful bits?
Well frankly who needs extra food colouring, fat, oil, and flour in their diet??? Honestly most rabbits DO NOT need that stuff.
I am not as driven as some about giving hay. I give it (in the winter every other day and daily during times of stress/change) and in the summer once a week (again daily during times of stress/change).
I only give a good solid handful and it changes depending on the rabbit involved. Some rabbits if I give too much hay won't eat their pellets, and others will eat ALL their hay and their pellets and act like starvation is just around the corner.
My reasoning is this...
1. Rabbits need fibre in their diet and a good quality pellet will provide that needed fibre.
2. Variety is the source of life, health and enjoyment. If I feed hay daily, how can I give other variety? How can my rabbits learn they can survive without hay (for those with a hay allergy who still want to own a bunny)?
3. hay is fed primarily for the enjoyment and stabilizing factor.
The type of hay does matter.. rabbits do best on a horse quality hay.. a grass hay. I buy mine by the bale, one slice last my herd for a day for the most part. Depends on who baled it.
I talk about the grain mix I use My Grain Mix and My grain mix part two.
I want my rabbits to be as balanced and capable of surviving regardless of how a person chooses to feed their rabbits. For those who feed a more natural diet, grains are an important part of the type of feeding regime. I've purchased rabbits who simply WON'T eat greens. They just say NOPE, never seen it, won't eat it.
I strongly desire rabbits who won't do that type of stuff as it's much less worrisome to the new owners.
In winter, every other day, in summer twice a week.
I find feeding grains really helpful in the heat of summer when the rabbits are too hot to really want to eat. They will eat oats if they are used to do so. Just a scoopful in the evening when it's cooler and they will do just fine.
Green Feed - also known as veggies, grasses, fresh food etc
I DO NOT buy greens for my rabbits.
In Ontario it is SO easy to find greens for your rabbits. It's the lawn to put up signs if uses sprays on your lawn, and most places it's rather restricted to businesses only to treat, so its usually not that difficult to find greens or even to grow them in your house/apartment.
I focus on GREEN feed, thinking like a rabbit as best I can.
REMEMBER>>> start slowly. Give their guts time to develop the proper flora needed. Mixing some fresh grass in with some hay to start and gradually increasing how much they get.
In the spring I'll feed dandelions, parsley, young leaves from GREEN leafed maple trees, young thistles, clovers, various grasses etc.
In the summer I'll add produce from my garden (lettuces, kale, swiss chard, turnip and radish greens etc). Along with plantain, prickly lettuce etc from my yard.
In the fall, maple leaves again are a favourite mixed with grasses, bean plants (without any dried beans on the plant), sunflower leaves, pumpkins or squashes I'm not using, etc. I'll pick up corn leaves and silk from vendors. Melon rinds are always a favourite.. water, honeydew, and cantelope.. YUM!
Every day they don't get grains or hay they get a big handful of greens, starting them off VERY slowly in the spring until their gut flora adjusts to having greens again until they are the full course.
What Don't I feed my rabbits?
Very little in the way of sweet food.. carrots, cucumber, apple, strawberries and the like. They will get the husk, tops or rinds, but rarely the fruit itself. Too much sugar is as bad (or worse) for rabbits as it is for people. Keep your rabbits gut healthy.. avoid foods it doesn't need.
I also feed very little in the way of cabbage family plants. Some rabbits will bloat from these plants and since I cannot predict by looking at them which ones might do that, and there are SO MANY other options out there.. feed the safe foods and leave the questionable ones behind.
If you've any questions.. just ask!
I'll do my best to answer them. :)
These pictures of Timothy enjoying Christmas made me smile so I thought I would share them with you. :) The giraffe apparently is his Christmas present.
I am told he enjoys the tree they got this year.
Silly bunny, he looks so content doesn't he?
Timothy is a bunny I sold a while back. He's a good lad. In these pics he's been recently neutered and then bonded with a female bunny they had.
He apparently really likes this blanket.
He's such a lovely boy here. Really pleased with how he turned out.
The above video is specifically for how to make a christmas treat for your rabbit, below is for general homemade treats for your rabbits.
I don't like linking to House Rabbit Society materials, but in this case.. it works. This table is helpful to people wondering if their rabbit is at a good weight or not.
I did try to find a video that would help as well but ended up annoyed at them.
So instead, let's just talk.
Overweight Rabbits and how to help them lose weight
Helping rabbits lose weight is fairly straight forward.
1. NO TREATS... so no apples, cheerios, bread nothing like that. NO yogurt drops.
2. Increase fibre... means giving them more grass hay. NOT a legume hay, just a simple grass hay and lots of it
3. Decrease pellets.
4. Increase exercise.
How to increase exercise?
In a caged rabbit.. add things that they have to jump over to get from their water to their food. Add a resting box they have to jump up on to reach.
For a house rabbit... put their food bowl into a different place, make food a reward for good behaviour, as a training reward.
Underweight Rabbits and how to help them gain weight
Helping rabbits gain weight is relatively easy.
1. Add safe treats...NOT yogurt drops but things like oatmeal and black oil sunflower seeds
2. moderate amount of hay
3. increase the amount of pellets
Keeping your rabbit at a good weight is important for several reasons
1. Obese rabbits can not keep themselves clean
2. Obese rabbits are more likely to develop joint and feet problems
3. Excess fat makes it harder for the internal organs to function properly.
So monitor your rabbits condition. It is better if they are a little thin then a little fat. It's easier to add the weight than it is to take it off again.
I have been breeding rabbits for a quite a few years. I thoroughly enjoy them as animals and think they make great pets. I also like to take some of them to rabbit shows to see how they measure up to the standards.
For the BEST rabbit forum I've ever found. Go to Rabbittalk.com. Good for the pet rabbit owner as well as the breeder for meat or show.