Your Rabbit's Diet

The quickest way to managing a rabbit’s health is through his nutrition. With a proper diet digestive ailments like Gastrointestinal Stasis and obesity can be easily prevented.


Grass hay is the most important part and should be the base for every rabbit’s diet. A diet high in forage will keep a rabbit’s digestive system in order. A diet that lacks enough fiber can create serious and potentially fatal health concerns. Keep your rabbit healthy and full by providing unlimited amounts of hay at all times.

Good rabbit hays include timothy, orchard, meadow, oat, rye, barley, and Bermuda grasses. Multiple types of hay can be provided for a variety of tastes. Instead of purchasing packaged hay from pet stores, check into buying hay from a local feed store or horse stable. If you can’t store a bale ask if you can purchase a bag of it. You may also check with rescue organizations who may also sell bags of hay to you.

There are plenty of ways to offer hay to a rabbit:
Box – One way to provide hay is to keep it in a wooden or plastic box. A wooden box can provide something extra to chew on as well as provide a fun bed for your rabbit. Make sure to clean the box if your rabbit soils it.
Toilet Paper Tube – This is a great way to make a fun toy without spending the money. We stuff cardboard tubes with hay so the rabbits can throw them around without making a huge mess of it.
Basket or ball- Pet stores will usually sell baskets or balls that you can stuff hay into. These are also helpful for keeping the hay neat and tidy.

Greens, Fruits, and Veggies


Acceptable Greens:


Broccoli (leaves and top)
Cabbage (red, green, Chinese)
Collard greens
Baby Greens
Carrot/Beet tops
Blackberry Leaves
Wheat Grass

Brussels sprouts
Celery (leaves are good)
Dandelion greens (and flower)
Swiss chard (any color)
Parsley (Italian or flat leaf best)
Romaine lettuce


Bok choy
Mustard greens
Leaf lettuce
Raspberry Leaves




Introducing greens will supplement your rabbit’s diet with vitamins and nutrients that might be lacking in his hay and pellets.



Acceptable Fruits:


Kiwi Fruit


Cactus fruit

Orange(no peel)


Rabbits have a natural sweet-tooth and will beg for your fruit salad. However, fruit contains a lot of sugar which doesn’t belong in the rabbit digestive tract and can cause obesity. Fruit can be fed occasionally in small amounts as a special treat. Try to limit fruit intake to 1 tablespoon a day.




Acceptable Veggies:


Green/red bell peppers


Bean or alfalfa sprouts

Pea pods (flat, NO peas)



Edible Flowers:




Day lilies

Flowers should be organically grown and not bought from florists.

Rabbit Pellets

Rabbit Pellets

There are varying opinions about pelleted feeds for rabbits. Some believe that pellets were only a creation for farmers to get their rabbit crop up to market weight as fast as possible and are unhealthy for longer-living rabbits. This belief is outdated and untrue. Today, pellets are created to fulfill the nutritional requirements of all types of rabbits.

Although it is theoretically possible to feed a pellet-free diet, it is estimated that it would take 14-17 vegetables in precise amounts to meet a rabbit’s nutritional requirements. Many of us lack the time, money, and resources to provide such a diet. Convincing a picky rabbit to eat every single vegetable may also prove to be challenging. Pellets provide an inexpensive way to ensure your rabbit receives adequate nutrition.

“Party Mixes” or “Blends” include small pieces of fruits, cereals, or nuts that many rabbits will pick out leaving the most beneficial pellets. Because of this, rabbits should be fed simple uniform pellets. Many pellets are either grass-based (Timothy) or alfalfa-based. Alfalfa-based pellets tend to be higher in protein and calcium and are sometimes avoided by pet rabbit owners. However, some grass-based pellets can be higher in calcium and protein than some alfalfa pellets. Careful attention should be paid to your rabbit’s food label.
Check the Guaranteed Analysis of your rabbit feed:

Crude Protien – Between 13-17% for most rabbits. Too much protein can lead to excessive cecal production, and high ammonia in the cecum and urine. Long-haired rabbits, large rabbits, and rabbits kept outside need higher protein.
Crude Fat Minimum – Between 1-5%.
Crude Fiber Minimum– At least 16-18%.
Calcium Minimum – Around 0.5%
Calcium Maximum – Around 1.0%
Phosphorus Minimum – Around 0.4%
Salt – Between 0.5 – 1%
Vitamin A – 4500-5000 IU
Vitamin D – Not more than 2000 IU

How Much to Feed –
A good place to start is at a ¼ cup for every 3 pounds of body weight. However, this varies depending on the rabbit’s body condition. An overweight rabbit should receive less feed. A skinny rabbit can receive more feed. An older rabbit may require more feed to maintain their weight.

Many rabbits that are given an unlimited amount of pellets do not self-regulate and can become obese. Whether or not your rabbit can be free-fed depends on the amount he eats and his body condition.

Check out Rabbit Nutrition and Nutritional Healing by Lucile Moore for more information on rabbit nutrition.


Water is a necessity to every living thing. Be sure to always have fresh and clean water available to your rabbit. Try to clean bowls and water bottles every couple of weeks to prevent the growth of any bacterium. Do not alter your rabbit’s water with flavors or medications as this may discourage them from drinking.

Donate to the RBRR Medical Fund

    Red Barn Rabbit Rescue is sanctuary to a number of rabbits with chronic illnesses and special needs. Please help these rabbits by making a tax-deductable donation to the RBRR Medical Fund.


Become a Monthly Sponsor

    Consider making a small monthly contribution to help fund the efforts of Red Barn Rabbit Rescue. Your donations are tax-exempt and will go towards food, supplies, and medical costs.