A second year student at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, shares her knowledge of rabbit nutrition.
The following is written by Ilene Ellis, DVM Candidate class of 2023
Hi, everyone! My name is Doc! Nice to meet you!
Hello, Kids 4 Critters friends! My name is Doc and I’m a Dwarf Hotot rabbit. Today I’m going to write a grocery list for my owner, Ilene, to take with her to the store. She thinks that I should share some of my favorite foods and snacks with you, in case any of you are wondering just what a rabbit like me loves to eat!
Unlike you guys, I’m not a big fan of pizza or tacos. I would rather eat the plants that grow in your backyard and garden. I know, how can anyone want to eat salad everyday? It might sound crazy, but that’s what bunnies like me love to have in our food bowls! If I had my way, I would eat lettuce and carrots and apples and bananas all day, every day. But, Ilene knows that some “snacks” can be bad for me, and she’s very careful to balance my favorite treats with a food that she calls “pellets.” Maybe you’ve heard of pellets before?
Photo credit: bunssb.org
They’re pretty boring looking. They usually come in a bag from the pet store--little brown, dried up bits. I’ve heard some special bags have corn, colorful crunchies, nuts, and seeds mixed in with the pellets. I would LOVE to eat what’s in those special bags , but Ilene doesn’t buy them for me. She knows those little extra mix-in’s can make me gain too much weight and cause my stomach to be upset. So, even though I know they’re delicious and sometimes I sneak a request for them onto my grocery list, she doesn’t bring them home for me. Instead, she buys the boring pellets and every once in a while she gives me a more healthy snack. She must know what she’s doing though, because I’m a healthy, happy bunny--I have lots of energy to hop around, my fur is very soft and shiny, and most importantly, I never have an upset stomach!
Here are my favorite snacks that I put on my grocery list:
● Italian Parsley
● Sunflower seeds (unsalted!)
● Baby carrots
● Applewood sticks from the pet store (I nibble on these to keep my teeth nice and neat)
That’s it! Is that less than you thought? These are my personal favorites, but you can find what other rabbits like to eat as snacks at this veterinary hospital’s website: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/feeding-your-rabbit
There’s one more thing I always include on my grocery list besides pellets and snacks and it’s the most important one! Rabbits like myself MUST eat a good quality timothy hay every day to stay healthy. Ilene likes to give me a handful of fresh, leafy hay along with my pellets.
Photo Credit: petsmart.com/kaytee
I hope my grocery list will help you be a responsible pet guardian and rabbit owner! It’s easy! Just remember to feed your bunny friend:
Plain pellets twice a day
Fresh timothy hay twice a day
One applewood stick once a week
A treat from Doc’s grocery list no more than three times a week, in a small amount that your rabbit can eat in less than five minutes
Keep calm and hop on everybody!