Owning a Rabbit – Part 2

Food and Diet

If you believe what you see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon rabbits only eat carrots. This is a complete myth.  A rabbit’s diet is far more complex.  If you broke it down it would look like this:

80% Grass and Hay – Rabbits digestive systems must have grass and/or hay in order to function properly.  It’s also important they chew grass and hay as it prevents teeth overgrowth. If you use various types of hay it can encourage different chewing patterns and is better for dental health.  One of the main health issues commonly seen by vets is dental disease.  This is directly linked to the inappropriate diets rabbits have. For example too much rabbit muesli (which does not wear their teeth down) and not enough grass/hay. 

If you spot any of the following symptoms it’s possible your rabbit may have dental problems

A wet chin

Weight loss


Going off their food

Eye discharge

A dirty bottom

If a rabbit has a sore mouth it will find grooming/licking too painful so it won’t be able to clean itself properly. Also, because of abnormal tooth roots it can affect their eyes.  If you see any of the above symptoms take your rabbit to see the vet. 

15% Vegetables – If possible, try to give your rabbit various greens each day. Below is a list of some greens that are safe for rabbits to eat and some that are not. It’s not a complete list but it gives you a general idea. Your vet can always give you more advice if you need it. 

Safe Greens                                                                               Unsafe Greens







Brussels Sprouts

Elder Poppies



Carrots (only feed occasionally – they are high in sugar. The leafy tops are OK)






Celery leaves

Most evergreens


Oak leaves






Rhubarb leaves



Green beans




Radish tops


Salad peppers


4.5% Rabbit pellets – It’s fine to feed your rabbit pellets but grass and hay are far more important to their diet and well being.  If you are going to feed it pellets don’t keep topping up their bowl as they may not eat enough of the food they really need.

0.5% Fruit and sugary veg – This should only be fed in very small amounts as an occasional treat due to the high sugar content. Rabbits can digest these types of food really well and over feeding can cause obesity. If a rabbit becomes obese they won’t be able to groom themselves properly. It can also lead to a ‘sticky bum’ and makes a rabbit more prone to fly-strike in the summer months.  Cherrydown Vets run weight clinics so if you think your rabbit is overweight, our nurses can help and advise you on diet and exercise.

Another important part of their diet is their own poo. Rabbits produce two sorts of pellets. The first sort is hard and dry and what you will commonly see in the hutch or garden. The other sort is dark, soft, moist and smelly.  These are called “caecotrophs” and rabbits eat them, usually straight from their behind.  If you see this it’s completely normal. They do this to ensure they get all of the goodness from their high-fibre food.

Finally, make sure water is always available. It doesn’t matter whether you use a bottle or a bowl. Just make sure it’s kept clean.

If you have any questions about anything mentioned in this blog or you would like more advice on feeding your rabbit please call us at the clinic or leave a message on our Facebook page