Fresh, clean water must be available at all times and is best given via a water bottle rather than a bowl which can be tipped over. Adding a Bottle Snug can help prevent water freezing in winter while keeping it cool and fresh in summer.
Rabbits are herbivores and, in the wild, would consume large quantities of fibrous plant material which is essential for maintaining an healthy digestive system.
Long, fresh meadow hay with herbs is the most important part of the diet and essential for helping to keep molar teeth in trim, helping to prevent dental spurs forming while the high fibre also helps to keep the digestive system in top condition. The hay sold in plastic bags in pet shops is usually of poor quality and stale so we recommend buying from a local farm or specialist. Ideally, you should aim to feed your bunny a pile of hay equivalent to his/her body size each day.
For small/standard breed bunnies, a good quality rabbit mix of flaked peas, nibbles, cereals and grains such as 'Russel Rabbit', or a composite feed of 'Burgess Supa Rabbit Excel' or ‘Supreme Science Selective’ pellets, should be available in heavy bowl to prevent your bunny tossing it around.
Large and giant breeds:
Larger and giant breeds require a different diet to small-breed rabbits. This should be higher in protein otherwise they are likely to become ragged looking, lose condition and fail to reach full adult size. We feed our French Lops and Giants on Allen & Page Breeder & Grower pellets, Dodson & Horrell Rabbit Pellets + or Heygates pellets due to their higher protein content required by large breeds.
Pellet protein comparison:
For large breed rabbits:
Allen & Page Breeder & Grower Pellets
These pellets are suitable for feeding from weaning through to adulthood, and to the pregnant doe. Made from natural, wholesome ingredients including grass,linseed and oat fibre these pellets are completely balanced, with all the vitamins and minerals your rabbit needs. Pellets should be fed with plenty of hay and constant access to clean fresh water. Protexin is included to assist gut health and boost the immune system, by ensuring a healthy balance of micro-organisms in the rabbit's digestive system.
Dodson & Horrel Rabbit Pellets+
Heygates Rabbit Pellets
A 3mm pellet suitable for large breed and growing rabbits.
Heygates rabbit pellets are manufactured from quality raw materials with locally produced cereals fortified with proteins, minerals and vitamins to satisfy all your rabbit's nutritional requirements.
Heygates Pet Pellets
A similar high specification to the rabbit pellets but without the coccidiostat.
Pet pellets are suitable for large-breed rabbits, growing rabbits and other small mammals. A vitamin C supplement should be offered if feeding to Guinea Pigs.
Heygates Rabbits' Choice pellets
A newer version of the above Pet Pellets suitable for feeding to large breed rabbits, growing rabbits and, despite the name, guinea-pigs(!).
The above pellets are packaged as animal feed, available from feed centres, packed in 20kg bags and are VAT exempt making them an extremely good value product. These can also be fed to small/medium sized breeds with a good supply of long fresh meadow hay, but if excess caecotrophs are produced, this can be a sign of excess protein in the diet so reduce the quantity fed. Remember, fresh hay should always be the main part of the diet!
For small/medium breed rabbits:
Burgess Excel 'Adult' pellet (original)
Crude Fibre 19%
Supreme Science Selective - 'Adult' (original)
Crude protein 14.0%
Crude fibre 25.0%
The above are packed as pet foods sold via retail outlets. They tend to be more expensive and are also subject to VAT making them around 2-3x the price of Allen & Page and Heygates products.
Mixes can allow rabbits to be selective in the bits they eat and leave. Many rabbits prefer the flaked peas and coloured crunchy nibbles in preference to pellets - if the vitamin and minerals are added to the pellets, then rejecting these will not provide your rabbit with a fully balanced diet. Therefore, it is advisable to feed your rabbit once their bowl is empty (or soiled) to ensure your rabbit has a balanced diet. If your rabbit selectively feeds then it is advisable to feed a pellet.
Rabbits also enjoy clean fresh vegetables (which must be introduced very gradually for young rabbits - see below) such as carrots, carrot tops, cabbage, and occasional tomatoes and apples. Potatoes and most types of lettuce, especially iceberg, should not be offered.