Rabbits make for very popular pets, with over a million being cared for in households all over the UK. If you have just recently bought a pet rabbit for yourself or your kid, you should learn how to properly care for your furry friend – starting with how and what you feed them.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about rabbits’ dietary needs and habits, so you can avoid making the common mistakes and keep your pets healthy.
Myth 1 : Rabbits Mainly Eat Carrots
Bugs Bunny may have been too convincing in his love for carrots, because many still believe that carrots make up bulk of our furry friends’ ideal diet. The truth is, carrots are high in sugar and should not be fed to rabbits too often. Rabbits are also not naturally predisposed to have root vegetables like carrots in their diets, although you can feed them carrots occasionally as a sweet treat.
Myth 2 : Pellets and Commercial Food Work Best
It’s very common for first-time owners to go a bit overboard feeding their rabbits, thinking the fatter and cuter they are, the better. Pellets, nuggets, and other commercial food are indeed recommended parts of a rabbit’s daily diet. But while these provide your pets the vitamins and minerals they need, feeding them too much of it will make them gain weight.
Having bowls of commercial food readily available may also discourage your rabbits from eating grass and hay – which should be every rabbit’s main source of food and nutrients. To make sure your rabbit gets the nutrients it needs, give them a measured amount of commercial food while always making sure they have access to hay and/or grass.
Myth 3: Hay is Just for Bedding
As mentioned, hay and grass are the main source of nutrients for rabbits. It’s always recommended to have fresh, dust-free hay bigger than the size of your pet in their hutch or wherever you keep them. Hay and grass not only allows rabbits to engage in their typical behaviour of grazing and foraging, eating these natural food sources also help them feel comfortable with their growing teeth.
Another common mistake a lot of new rabbit owners make is basing their pet’s diet on lettuce. Some varieties of lettuce (like Iceberg and light-colored ones) are high in water content and low on nutrients. Large amounts of lettuce may also give your pets an upset stomach. If you want to feed them lettuce, go for the darker and fiber-rich varieties like Romaine lettuce and only in small amounts.
If your rabbit is young, sick, or pregnant, it’s still best to consult your vet to get dietary recommendations to keep your pet strong and healthy.