The Health status and welfare of your rabbit largely depends on what they consume, this literally means the type of feed you give to them, the equipment’s used to serve them the feeds and water as well as how hygienic their environment is. Therefore if you want your rabbits to always remain healthy and good looking then you must get their feeding methods and their ideal feeding and water equipment’s.
Rabbits are herbivores (plant eaters) and are considered grazers, in that they eat continuously. They have complex digestive systems and are very efficient at processing food. They also have very specific dietary needs. If you introduce new foods too quickly, or feed inappropriate food choices, the rabbit’s normal digestive flora (normal bacteria) will be disturbed, gas- and toxin-producing bacteria can overgrow, and the rabbit may become very sick and possibly die.
Rabbits should be provided with a pelleted diet daily. You may also choose to feed a home-prepared diet of fresh vegetables and greens. The amount to feed depends on the rabbit’s age and reproductive status. Young growing and pregnant or nursing rabbits may be provided with food ad libitum (regularly). This means they are provided with an excess of food and can eat as much as they want during the course of the day and night.
Adult rabbits should be fed based on label guidelines for the diet that you have chosen. In general, this means about a ¼ cup pellets per 5 pounds of body weight. This amount may need to be adjusted based on your rabbit’s energy level. More active rabbits will need to be fed more than less active ones. Watch your rabbit to ensure it is not losing or gaining weight, and adjust the amount of food offered accordingly.
Rabbits should always be supplied with high-quality grass hay. The fiber in grass hay promotes proper digestion and also gives your rabbit something to nibble on throughout the day.
Rabbits also should be provided fresh water at all times. Rabbits drink surprisingly large amounts of water for their body size. Make sure they have plenty of water at all times.
While most pet rabbit diets are geared toward preventing obesity, there are some rabbits that might need an increase in nutrients. Rabbits that are recovering from an illness, or that have been rescued from neglectful situations may need to put on some weight.
It is important to ensure that your rabbit is free of parasites or other medical issues that might be causing continued weight loss.
Read Also: All You Need to Know About Rabbit Housing
Meanwhile, obesity is a problem with rabbits that eat a diet too high in calories and that don’t get enough exercise. A healthy rabbit should be slim and sleek. The house rabbit should have a diet high in fibre and fairly low in calories (especially fats and starches). Over time pellet diets have been sold as the mainstay of a rabbit’s diet, but pellets were originally formulated for non household rabbits (i.e. laboratory or farmed rabbits).
Some of the problems associated with rabbits fed unlimited pellets are:
- Dental disease
- Soft stools (with norm stools)
- Periodic bouts of anorexia (not eating)
- Heart and liver disease
- Calcification of blood vessels
- Bladder and kidney stones
Rabbits are crepuscular. This means that in the wild they would eat at dawn and dusk. These are the times of day that the fewest predators are out hunting. Rabbits should be fed in a similar pattern in captivity for optimal health.
You should check your rabbit’s feed and water twice a day – first thing in the morning and in the evening. Rabbits should have access to hay at all times, so make sure to add hay each time you check on your rabbit.
Providing pellets or fresh greens during the evening feeding is optimal. Rabbits are most likely to eat their pellets during the evening and overnight hours. Providing food during this time decreases the number of unwanted behaviors (chewing, playing with water bottle) that may occur in the overnight hours.
The water should be changed daily. Algae can quickly build up in the water. This accumulation of algae can restrict proper suction, leading to dripping, and can also prevent water flow when the rabbit attempts to drink.
All rabbits need to have fresh, clean water available at all times. Skinny rabbits may be especially dehydrated. Watch the water levels closely and keep the water source full at all times.
Provide fresh Timothy hay, or mixed hay, which might include a bit of alfalfa hay, in your rabbit’s enclosure. Also offer pelleted food or well mixed mash to your bunny to round out his diet. These fortified with nutrients. Offering a balance of quality hay and quality feeds is what a growing bunny needs.
Give your rabbits a treat of fresh vegetables every day. Wheat grass, carrot tops, collard greens, parsley and radish tops are just a few veggies your rabbit can munch on. Avoid feeding too much kale. Fruit should be fed to bunnies sparingly. One to 2 tablespoon of fresh fruit for every 5 pounds of body weight is all she needs. Some acceptable fruits include pears, kiwis, strawberries, apples, pineapples and melons.
Weigh your rabbit on a scale every week. This helps you chart your progress and it also lets you know when your rabbit has reached an acceptable weight.
Avoid feeding your rabbit grains, refined sugar or beans, even if you are trying to fatten them up. While a rabbit will plump up on a diet including these foods, they can also develop a gastrointestinal disease and in cases where u add soya, it must be in very low quantities and fried not raw.
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