Feeding the house rabbit 6: twigs and branches
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Rabbit teeth grow constantly throughout their lives (approx. 2 mm per week). Even though a diet consisting of hay, vegetables and pellets normally is enough to keep the teeth nice and short, it is advisable to give the rabbit fresh twigs and branches to chew on once in a while. Twigs not only help wear the teeth down – they need to chew them slowly, which triggers proper salivation of the ingesta. They provide fibers that contribute to the good activity of the digestive system, are nutritious, and fun as well. Mostly, branches and leaves rich in tannin (willow, hazelnut, oak, ash-tree, fruit trees, eventually pines) are excellent in preventing coccidiosis.
Before a rabbit is given a twig to chew, it is important to check that it’s picked from a tree that is not toxic to rabbits. Furthermore, the tree must not have been exposed to chemicals or pollution from busy roads. The cut branches can be rince in the shower to remove bugs and foreign bodies before giving to the rabbits.
During the winter season, the branches can be given without leaves too.
Trees carrying drupes – single-seeded fruits (including plum, cherry, apricot and peach) are toxic to rabbits.
Safe trees or bushes: willow, spruce, ash-tree, birch, maple, juniper, poplar, apple, pear, hazel, rose, and hawthorn.