Feeding the house rabbit 2: Vegetables

 

 

Camilla Bergstrøm

 

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Most rabbits love vegetables. They add variation to the diet and are entertaining to eat. Vegetables also contain many nutrients your rabbit need. The high water content helps hydrate the intestinal content, and further improve digestion.

Introducing vegetables

It is very important that vegetables and other types of fresh food are introduced slowly and carefully. It is often best to introduce just one kind at a time. Don’t be tempted to give your rabbit large amounts in the beginning. This can cause soft stools, diarrhea or stasis. Start with one vegetable (e.g. celery). Offer a small piece and wait for at least 24 hours. If there are no soft stools, a larger piece can be offered the next day. If the droppings get soft, discontinue the introduction, and try again some other time. Take your time, and allow 5-7 days to introduce each vegetable.

The digestive tract of young rabbits is not fully developed and they may suffer diarrhea if the diet is changed. Watery stools are, however, more often the result of an infestation of the digestive tract by coccidia, a major cause of death at this young age. Young rabbits will start to nibble on hay and fresh vegetables after leaving the nest, at age of 2 or 3 weeks. If the young does not suffer adverse effects, this natural behavior should be encouraged, so to help develop a healthy bacterial flora in the intestine. If a young rabbit does not handle fresh food well, it should be stopped during a few days, and then reintroduced slowly. Other causes like parasitic infestation or environmental conditions should be ruled out.

Video of young rabbit nibbling on fresh greens.

Linda Baley

 An adult rabbit should be offered at least 3-6 different types of vegetables every day. Be sure to vary once in a while to keep it interesting. A 6 lbs rabbit should have between 1 ½ and 2 ½ cups of fresh vegetables a day. It is an individual matter which, and how much vegetables a rabbit can tolerate. You might have to experiment a little to find the perfect balance for your rabbit.

Video about fresh vegetables for rabbits

Debbie Hanson, with the collaboration of Barbara Schmeitz and the rabbit Pixel.

 

At least one of the daily vegetables should contain vitamin A (e.g., beet tops, broccoli, carrot tops, dandelion leaves, endive, cress, chicory).

Some vegetables to try

Carrots and tops (the toots should be limited because of the high sugar content)

Daucus carota

Celery sticks  (cut into 1” pieces)

Apium graveolens

Celeriac (celery root)

Apium graveolens

Radish and tops

Raphanus sativus

Peppers

Capsicum annuum

Romaine lettuce

Lactuca sativa

Lollo rosso lettuce

 

Lollo lettuce

 

Rucola

Eruca sativa

Chicory

Cichorium intybus

Artichoke

Cynara scolymus

Pumpkin

Cucurbita pepo

Squash, zucchini

Cucurbita pepo

Beets and tops

Beta vulgaris

Goutweed

Aegodopium podograria

Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare

Okra

Abelmoschus esculentus

Alfalfa (fresh)

Medicago sativa

Parsnip (should be limited because of the high sugar content)

Pastinaca sativa

Parsley root

Petroselinum crispum

Spinach

Spinacea oleracea

Endive

Cichorium endivia

Wheat grass

Poa sp.

Asparagus

Asparagus officinalis

Garden pea pods

Pisum sativum

Tomato (should be limited because of the high sugar and oxalate content)

Lycopersicon esculentum

 

     Dark green and red lettuces are OK, but the light green varieties (iceberg) can cause diarrhoea in some rabbits.

     Cucumber and iceberg lettuce contain almost no nutrients and some rabbits can get digestive problems.

     Too much cabbage can cause enlargement of the thyroid and digestive problems.

 

C. Bergstrøm

 

Rabbits enjoy socializing at meal times

The following vegetables are OK in limited amounts, but may cause gas in some rabbits:

Broccoli

Brassica oleracea var. italica

Cauliflower

Brassica oleracea var. botrytis

Brussels Sprouts

Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera

Curly kale

Brassica oleracea var. acephala laciniata

Fodder kale

Brassica oleracea convar. acephala

Endive

Cichorium endivia

 

Kohlrabi

Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes

Turnip and tops

Brassica rapa rapifera

Bok Choy

Brassica campestris

 

 

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Adar enjoying fresh vegetables or a carrot

 

 

  

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