19 May Rabbit Care- Feeding
Information on Feeding Rabbits.
Rabbits deserve their reputation as great pets – they are friendly, inquisitive, content to play with their owners and can happily be held and stroked. With the correct diet, care and handling you and your rabbit will have a long and happy time together. This section will introduce all the important things you need to know in order to enjoy the experience of being a rabbit owner to the full.
Rabbits need to keep their digestive systems busy with a mix of two kinds of fibre moving through the gut at all times (these types of fibre are called digestible fibre and indigestible fibre, and at Burgess Excel we collectively call them ‘Beneficial Fibre’). Rabbits can’t get enough nutrition from fibre when it passes through their gut the first time, so they pass it through a second time, by eating their poo!
Indigestible fibre is moved through their digestive system and excreted as separate, round, hard droppings. This type of fibre keeps the digestive system moving and their appetite stimulated.
Digestible fibre is moved up into an organ called the caecum – which is like a giant appendix.
Good bacteria in the caecum ferment the fibre, making it easy to digest. This emerges in the form of clumps of sticky droppings – we call these droppings caecotrophs. Rabbits then re-eat the caecotrophs and their systems extract the essential nutrition when the digestible fibre passes through for the second time.
If rabbits don’t get the right amounts of both digestible and indigestible fibre, it can rapidly lead to serious health problems.
Sticking to The Excel Feeding Plan will ensure your rabbits get the right amounts of fibre in their diet. The Excel Feeding Plan was developed by the world’s leading small-animal vets, to provide a perfect daily balance of fibre and nutrition.
The Excel Feeding Plan is a simple five step guide to help pet owners understand the high levels of beneficial fibre required by fibrevores. It is the only complementary range that, when used together, delivers extremely high levels of the right kinds of fibre needed in fibrevores’ diets and effectively promotes and maintains the dental, digestive and emotional health and longevity of these pets.
These premium quality Feeding Hay and Grass products should form the majority of your pets’ diet. They are especially good for dental health as the gnawing action required to eat them helps to wear down teeth. The teeth of rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas are constantly growing and overgrown teeth can be the cause of potentially fatal problems. Hays also play a vital role in digestive and emotional health as they provide the bulk of the diets’ indigestible fibre and encourage foraging.
Excel Tasty Nuggets are a single component food and are high in ‘Beneficial Fibre’ which means they’re great for digestive health. All Burgess Excel Nuggets have added vitamins, minerals and prebiotics to help with healthy eyes, skin and coat.
These delicious, natural and healthy snacks are ideal for ‘Fibrevores’ as they promote emotional health, by preventing boredom. They can also be used to encourage bonding and interaction between you and your pet. They can be fed daily, because they’re packed with ‘Beneficial Fibre’ and made with natural ingredients. Some are specifically designed to be fed by hand which helps pets to get comfortable with human attention.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas can be fed fresh greens to give additional nutrients and to provide some variety. You need to be careful about what you feed them, and how much. Fruits can be fed, and are a great source of extra nutrients, but only feed in very small amounts as they can be high in sugar. Avoid feeding anything that grows from bulbs as these can be dangerous.
Good Rabbit Greens: Apples (pipless), asparagus, banana, basil, brussel sprouts, cauliflower leaves, celery, chicory, dill, fennel, green pepper, kale, mint, oregano, parsley, Savoy cabbage, spinach, turnip, watercress, red leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce (large amounts of iceberg lettuce can lead to diarrhoea)
Bad Rabbit Greens: Apple pips, avocado, carrot, potato, and potato tops, rhubarb (leaves and stalks), tomato leaves, locust pods and beans.
A plentiful supply of fresh water should always be available. Change it daily in warm weather and ensure it hasn’t frozen over during winter months.
The Problems with Feeding Muesli
Muesli-style foods are a real problem because rabbits can become fussy eaters, eating sweet foods as an easy way to get a sugary fix. As a result, they can pick out the unhealthy bits in muesli-style foods and leave the rest. We call this selective feeding. It can lead to an imbalanced diet, that’s lacking in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D as well as a diet that’s low in fibre, which can have very serious consequences.
The unhealthy ingredients in muesli-style foods are high in sugar and starch; these are difficult for rabbits to digest and can lead to health problems and obesity. Obese rabbits often can’t reach the caecotrophs around their bottom that contain so many of the important nutrients nutrients, which can again lead to problems.
There are also several plants that are poisonous to your rabbits, so make sure you don’t feed them to your pets and that there are none growing in your garden.
Some common plants that are harmful to rabbits: autumn crocus, begonia, black nightshade, busy lizzie, buttercup, carnation, chrysanthemum, clematis, cowslip, geranium, hemlock, laburnum, laurel, poison ivy, poppy and yucca.