Rabbits are herbivores who munch and crunch all day long. These nibblers have a specialized digestive system that allows them to process food efficiently, but they can’t eat everything. If a rabbit overeats a new food or consumes something they shouldn’t, they can become very sick and possibly die. For this reason, guardians should be cautious about what rabbits eat.
So what do rabbits eat?
Grass and Hay
Grass and hay—such as timothy or oat hay—should be readily available at all times for rabbits, as it is (ideally) in nature. This is important for their digestive system’s function and helps their teeth remain the correct length and shape. Rabbits should have fresh hay, free from mold or dust.
If your rabbit companion isn’t used to eating hay, they may not eat that much at first. Don’t worry! Just add fresh hay a few times a day and reduce the number of pellets.
Various vegetables are important to a rabbit’s diet. Some vegetables that make excellent nutritious snacks include the following:
- Carrots and carrot tops
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
Bunnies can start eating vegetables in small quantities at 12 weeks of age, but watch for diarrhea! Discontinue any vegetable that upsets a rabbit’s stomach.
Veterinarians suggest feeding rabbits fresh vegetables as well as grass and hay as primary sources of nutrition. Pellets are high in calories, so rabbits fed too many may develop health issues. Still, pellets are rich and balanced in nutrients, so they can play a small role in a rabbit’s diet.
Choose a high-quality, fresh vegan pellet for your rabbit companion. The number of pellets required depends on the rabbit’s size and weight, so check with your veterinarian for proper amounts.
Rabbits should have an adequate supply of clean, fresh water. A heavy water bowl is preferred so that it doesn’t tip over. Clean it every few days with soap and water. If the rabbit prefers a sipper bottle, be sure to fill it daily and keep it clean.
You don’t need to buy cecotropes from a store—rabbits make them themselves! They’re a distinct type of poop that rabbits excrete, full of nutrients and protein, and it’s normal for rabbits to eat them. You might not even notice this happening, since rabbits eat them right from the … uh … source. If you do see uneaten cecotropes around or wet feces, you should contact your veterinarian.
Rabbits are remarkable individuals who need special attention and care. If you’re ready for a lifetime commitment, be sure to adopt one from a reputable shelter. Never buy a rabbit from a pet store, a breeder, or a neighbor or through a website. And if any of your friends ever ask, “What do rabbits eat?” please share this article. You can find more information about caring for rabbits here: