Rabbit Diet

Compared to other animals, rabbits have a high water intake, 50-150 ml/2 pounds (i.e. approximately ½ – 1 1/3 cup per pound). A 4 pound rabbit drinks a much as a 20 pound dog. Access to water at all times is essential. Rabbits cannot endure a lack of water for longer than 24 hours, even less in hot weather. Hanging water bottles are recommended because they do not tip, cannot be contaminated by urine and feces, and prevent moist skin infections of the rolls of skin under the neck (the dewlap). Changing water container types can be confusing for your rabbit, so one may apply sweet sticky molasses or corn syrup to the surface of the water delivery system until the rabbit is acclimated to the new system.

Fiber is an important component of a rabbit’s diet, stimulating gut motility, digestion, excretion, and helping to balance the gut microflora (important normal bacteria in the gut). Alfalfa pellets are used most commonly as the primary food source. They may vary in protein, fat, and fiber content. In pet rabbits that aren’t used for breeding, research, or meat, the recommended percent of fiber is 16% with a protein content of 18%. Higher fiber can be helpful for rabbits that are obese or have chronic soft stools. Store pellets in cool (60 degrees F) areas protected from vermin, excess moisture and light. Use within six months of purchase. Daily pellet consumption averages about 10 grams per pound of body weight. Primary feeding times are in the early morning and at night. Rabbits may normally eat some of their feces (corprophagy) to replace the gut microfilaria on a regular basis. Probiotics (bacteria supplements much like the healthy bacteria found in yogurt) can be provided for rabbits with diarrhea. A common product used is called Benebac.

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