Whether a new rabbit owner or a veteran, you want the best nutrition for your adorable rabbit. Good food means your rabbit is happy, healthy, and will stick around longer than a rabbit on a poor diet. So, it makes sense to feed your rabbit only the best you can afford. But if you’re a new rabbit owner, you have to watch out for harmful treats. Even expert rabbit keepers double-check if a specific snack is safe.
Many rabbit owners ask about cilantro, the herb commonly found in Mexican food. Here’s the short answer: Cilantro is 100% safe for your bunny to munch on1. But wait! Before you toss a bushel of cilantro into your rabbit’s cage, you must understand a few things about rabbit nutrition.
Trust us—this article will answer any questions you have about feeding your rabbit in the future.
Rabbit Nutrition 101: What Does a Rabbit Eat?
Rabbits are herbivores, meaning they only eat plant material. There are numerous herbivores worldwide, like horses, elephants, and cattle.
In the animal kingdom, animals have physical features that help them digest the food they eat. Herbivores have large, dull, flat teeth that help them grind tough plant material like leaves and grasses. They also have a digestive tract with special bacteria that helps break down the plant material.
Sometimes, herbivores appear “picky” about food because many eat only one type or part of a plant. For example, koalas eat eucalyptus, and pandas eat bamboo. Thankfully, rabbits aren’t this picky. They can eat a variety of plant materials such as grass, clover, flowers, and vegetables. Fresh grass or hay makes up the majority of their diet.
The basic proportions of a healthy rabbit diet are 85% grass or good-quality hay, 10% vegetables and 5% extruded rabbit pellets.
Variety Is Key
So, if rabbits eat plant material, then they can eat however much cilantro they want, right? Not exactly.
Remember the phrase “too much of a good thing is a bad thing?” That truth applies to feeding your rabbit cilantro.
Cilantro is an excellent herb to feed your rabbit, but rabbits should have variety in their diet. You don’t want to feed them too much of one thing and neglect other plant material. Most of their diet should consist of grass hay (dried grass) because it’s high in fiber, a critical component of a rabbit’s digestive health.
But vegetables, herbs, and flowers also play a part in a rabbit’s diet. They’re foragers, after all! Overall, rabbits can eat as many vegetables and herbs as they want, as long as the food doesn’t cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other health issues. Remember, variety is key. See this list of suggested vegetables and herbs by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund.
Side Note: Alfalfa hay isn’t recommended for adult rabbits since it’s too high in protein and calcium.
The Best Plants to Feed Your Rabbit
We know that grass hay is necessary for a rabbit’s health. But what about the other veggies that are good for your cottontail friend?
Be careful of feeding your rabbit a plant high in calcium. You also want to steer clear of vegetables high in carbohydrates, like carrots and potatoes. These vegetables can disrupt a rabbit’s gastrointestinal microbiome, so it’s best to avoid these foods.
Like any animal, high-calorie foods can cause obesity, so be wary of treats. Rabbits should never eat cookies, nuts, seeds, or bread.
What About Baby Bunnies?
Rabbits younger than 7–8 months old require a different diet because they’re young and growing. At this age, they should be fed alfalfa pellets and as much alfalfa hay as they want. Alfalfa hay is high in fiber and calcium, ideal for a growing bunny.
Bunnies can enjoy a varied diet of vegetables and herbs, too. In fact, a bunny should be weaned onto an adult diet at around 7 months old. Adding fresh vegetables and herbs to their diet can help with this transition.
Wrapping It Up
Rabbits are adorable cottontail creatures. We only want the very best for them because we love them. Following the advice we’ve given you today will help maintain your bunny’s vitality. It will also keep your rabbit’s mental health in check.
Just remember to keep variety in mind. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Offer high-quality grass hay with vegetables and herbs and your rabbit will hop its way to happy town!
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay