How much pellets to feed a rabbit
This has been a hotly debated issue of the past 30 years among pet rabbit owners as well as veterinarians that specialize in rabbits. After having many pet rabbits over the past 20 years, I believe that there are several correct answers to the question; “How much pellets to feed a pet rabbit?”
Most pet bunny owners stick with the standard of 1/8 to 1/4 cup of pellets per 5 pounds of body weight. This is perfect for most adult rabbits and what I have done over the years with my buns. If your rabbit is not caged much and runs freely you may want to fed on the high end of a 1/4 Cup.
There are several other pet rabbit owners that do not feed pellets at all. I do not have a problem with this approach but have no firsthand experience with this. If you are not feeding pellets, then you will have to up the amount of vegetation that you feed your rabbit. I can not give you and exact amount that you would have to increase but my educated is this.
Most veterinarians recommend feeding 1 to 2 cups of fresh leafy dark green vegetables a day per 5 pounds of body-weight. I always feed two cups. If you are not feeding pellets, then I would suggest that you increase the amount of vegetables in the form of leafy greens to 3 to 4 cups per day.
What makes a good quality rabbit pellet?
There are a couple of key indicators of a quality rabbit pellet. Nutrition is obviously very important so let’s hit that subject first. Oh, and if you are interested I have a post on what the best pellet are, these are the pellets I feed to my buns.
Rabbit pellet nutritional information
When you are looking for the best rabbit pellets it is important to look on the bag of the bag for nutritional analysis. If there is no nutrition information, then you are not looking a quality pellet. Here are the key components to look for:
- Fiber (25%-30%) – If your rabbit does not get enough fiber he or she will die. Look for a pellet that is Timothy hay based.
- Protein (15% or less) – Rabbits do not need a ton of protein as adults. Baby rabbits on the other hand require much more protein than adult. Check out best pellets for baby rabbits.
- Fat (equal to or less than 2%) – Just like humans’ rabbits should not eat a lot of fat.
- Calcium (Max of .8%) – If adult rabbits are allowed to consume to much calcium, they may develop bladder and kidney problems. Please keep in mind that baby rabbits do need more calcium than adults since they are growing rapidly.
Other honorable mentions are Vitamin A, D3 and Vitamin E that should be included in your rabbit’s pellets.
Rabbit pellet ingredients
Okay so you know what type of nutrients need to be in your rabbit’s pellets but what sources should they come from. Here are a few examples of approved ingredients to make pellets from that are good for your rabbit.
- Timothy Hay/Meal – This should be in the best rabbit pellets, do not feed your rabbit pellets that do not contain Timothy in some way.
- Soybean Hulls/Meal – These hulls are an excellent source of fiber and some protein.
- Molasses – While high in sugar molasses is used as a binder that helps hold the pellet together. It also has several vitamins and minerals in it like iron, magnesium and vitamin b6.
Young and baby rabbits
Baby rabbit pellets should be based from Alfalfa rather than Timothy based pellets for the first 4 to 5 months of their life. Alfalfa based pellets are higher, much higher in calcium and protein which is great for a rapidly growing baby rabbit. Never feed these pellets to adult rabbits.
My opinion is to start mixing in some timothy pellets at three months of age to prepare them and their digestive system for the change to 100% Timothy based pellets. You should also start mixing in some Timothy hay into their Alfalfa hay also.
I have a post about “The best pellets for baby rabbits” if you are needing more information.
The best diet for adult rabbits
Lengthening your rabbit’s lifespan, preventing illness and improving their behavior can be accomplished by providing your rabbit with the best possible diet.
Hay is the most important food that your rabbit needs and should make up about 80% of your bunnies’ diet. Offer hay in unlimited quantities. Your rabbit should consume a large handful of hay each day. More on how much hay your rabbit should eat here.
There are a multitude of approved hays for adult rabbits including the following.
- Timothy Hay
- Orchard Grass Hay
- Meadow Hay
- Oat Hay
- Bermuda Grass
It can be difficult to keep your rabbits hay free from contamination in his or her cage. It is best to use a hay feeder to keep the hay up and out of the way of urine and poop pellets. .
Most veterinarians recommend feeding your rabbit at a rate of 1/8 cup to 1/4 Cup per day for every 5 pounds of body-weight. Make sure that the pellets you feed are of excellent quality and Timothy based like these Oxbow pellets.
Rabbits need vegetables daily to maintain their health and happiness. Root vegetables like carrots should only be fed as a treat. Leafy, darker greens should account for most of the vegetables that you feed your rabbit. Kale, romaine lettuce and cilantro are excellent veggies that your rabbit will love.
Rabbits love fruit, particularly bananas and should be fed in very small, limited qualities. One or two teaspoons per 4 pounds of body weight is an ideal target. You can find information about approved fruits here.
The best rabbit treats should not be overly unhealthy and NEVER contain nuts or seeds. Stay away from “yogurt” treats or anything that looks delicious or gourmet. I love oxbow products (for the most part) and have these treats to be an excellent balance between health and unhealthy. Mr. Bunny, our pet rabbit goes nuts for these treats!
FAQ about rabbit pellets and more
Q. How many times a day should I feed my rabbit?
A. Pellets and vegetables can be fed once a day, preferably in the evening around 7:00 PM. Hay should be offered several times a day and always be fresh. Here you can learn more about the best hay for rabbits.
Q. Should rabbits eat pellets every day?
A. Yes, you should feed your rabbit pellets every day in addition to hay, dark leafy greens and small amounts of fruit as a treat.
Q. Can I feed my rabbit just pellets?
A. No, rabbits MUST have unlimited fresh hay offered several times each day in addition to leafy greens. Fresh water in a clean bottle should also be available all of the time.
Q. Do rabbits stop eating when full?
A. Some rabbits do stop eating when full while other do not. It is important to keep an eye on your rabbits’ diet and how much of each food group they are eating. Remember that hay is the most important part of any rabbit’s diet.
Q. What happens if my rabbit eats to many pellets?
A. Obesity is a risk for rabbits if they are allowed to eat to many pellets on a long-term basis. Pellets contain a lot of calories and it is possible for rabbits to become addicted to them and gain weight. Over eating pellets will also cause rabbits to eat less hay which is not healthy.
About the Author
My name is Vanessa and I love my buns. My current house rabbit is Mr. Bunny, he is a black and white Dutch that just turned 9 years old.
I believe that rabbits are a magnificent animal that make great pets for SOME people. My mission is to share what I have learned about rabbits over the past 20 years to improve the relationship between our pets and us. Please contact me or comment if you have any questions or comments.