Fresh Vegetables to Feed Rabbits
With spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to grow vegetables, forage locally, or visit the farmer’s market. Fresh produce is also a perfect addition to a rabbit’s diet. Rabbits enjoy a variety of textures and plants, so mixing up which leafy greens you feed them will not only keep them engaged with their food, but it also allows you to regulate the amount of alkaloids (a naturally occurring chemical in plants) that your rabbit eats.
Start with Hay
The most essential part of a rabbit’s diet is grass hay, which provides rabbits with Vitamins A and D. Grass hays like Timothy hay also help rabbits maintain strong, trimmed teeth, good dental hygiene, and good digestive health. You can mix different types of grass hays like oat, orchard, and brome, but do not feed adult rabbits alfalfa hay as it is a legume, like peas or beans, and thus too high in calories.
For young rabbits between the ages of 7 weeks old to 1 year, it is safe to feed them alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets, decreasing the amount as they get older and introducing them to new foods like Timothy hay and fresh vegetables.
Choose pellets with high fiber content to help their digestion. Bunnies only need a small amount of pellets each day, as they primarily eat grass hay and enjoy vegetable treats. Follow the feeding instructions on the bag to know how much your bunny should receive.
These dark, leafy vegetables are safe to feed your rabbit everyday, but we recommend that you switch up the variety every week: (1 cup per 2 lbs of body weight)
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Carrot tops
- Cucumber and cucumber leaves
- Romaine lettuce
- Red or green lettuce (but no iceberg!)
- Turnip greens
- Bok choy
- Dill leaves
The following vegetables are higher in alkaloids or starch, so only one item amounting to one tablespoon from this list should be fed to your rabbit per day:
- Broccoli stems/leaves
- Dandelion greens
- Edible flowers (like chamomile, English daisies, hibiscus, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, and roses)
What about fruit?
Fruit contains higher carbs and sugars, and even though these are perfectly healthy sources of glucose for the body, you should limit the amount you feed your rabbit to only one to two tablespoons per day.
Safe fruits include:
- Seedless apple slices
- Bluberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Seedless cherries
- Seedless grapes
- Seedless, peeled oranges
- Seedless watermelon
Always wash your produce before serving to your rabbit. In the case of wild foraging (like dandelion stems), make sure to harvest in areas that are free from pesticide use.
The Banned List
Never give your rabbits the following foods:
- Broccoli heads
- Human food
- Iceberg lettuce
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- and yogurt
Did you know?
Rabbits practice coprophagy, which means that they eat their own poop. It might sound strange and unpleasant, but it’s an important part of a rabbit’s diet to absorb essential vitamins and nutrients. Chances are you’ll be asleep when your bunny does this, but please don’t worry if you happen to catch them nibbling on fecal pellets in the early morning. It’s safe, normal, and an essential part of their diet that you shouldn’t interfere with.
A balanced diet of grass hay, fresh vegetables, and pellets is key for a healthy bunny. Like humans, individual bunnies can react differently to certain vegetables, so if you notice that your rabbit ignores something in their dish or starts producing diarrhea after trying a new treat, switch it out and consult your vet. A healthy bun is a happy one.