the house rabbit 1: Hay and straw
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an excellent source of fiber, and the most important part of any rabbit’s
diet. The rabbit’s digestive system is dependent on large amounts of
indigestible hay-fiber to obtain and maintain optimal digestion. Hay must
therefore be available at all times.
has several important functions:
• Protects against gastro-intestinal stasis;
• Prevents constipation caused by
accumulation of fur in the intestines;
• Adds moisture and volume to the feces;
• Prevents enterotoxaemia;
• Provides a healthy bacterial balance in the
rabbit’s digestive tract is able to process large amounts of high-fiber /
low-calorie food. Too little fiber in the diet can cause serious problems
including dysbiosis of the bacterial flora of the digestive system, or
diarrhea. These problems can be avoided by offering the rabbit unlimited
amounts of grass hay every day.
quality of the hay is very important. Good quality grass hay should be rough,
green, dry, have a sweet and spicy aroma, and generally look appetizing. Some
say that the smell of good hay resembles the smell of tobacco. Alternatives
are timothy hay or alfalfa hay. It’s important that the hay does not contain
too much dust. Small particles of dust may cause respiratory problems. The
hay sold in pet stores is often of very bad quality, and many rabbits refuse
to eat it. Often it’s better to buy from local farmers or stables. Hay that
is moist or has a moldy smell can make your rabbit sick, and must be removed
should be stored in a dark, dry place. Direct sunlight may ruin important
vitamins and minerals in the hay.
can be offered in a basket, a hayrack, a rabbit
hay feeding bag, or in the litter-box. Hay that ends up on the
cage floor, and gets soaked in urine and droppings, must be removed
as soon as possible to avoid becoming moldy, which can be fatal for
the hay into wicker baskets, empty paper rolls, and other fun containers,
might encourage some rabbits to eat more hay.
Another method to increase hay
consumption is to put the hay directly on the floor in the rabbit’s living
area, away from the litter-box. This way hay is always available, and the
rabbit can graze peacefully from the ground like wild rabbits do.
Advice from Michel Gruaz (Switzerland): Straw can
also be given to rabbits. Straw obtained from barley is an ideal litter for
Rex rabbits as it helps protect their sensitive feet. This kind of straw is
appreciated by rabbits and is able to absorb a lot of humidity. Straw
obtained from wheat has properties similar to barley straw. The best quality
hay to consume is that of oat. It absorbs humidity less. In order to
recuperate the clean dry stray, a rack can be used. This avoids also a too
rapid growth of the dung heap. And the dung will be of better quality. The
quality of straw, and its cheap cost, favors its use as litter. In
summary, hay in the rack, straw as litter.