Is Oxbow rabbit food a good idea for these cute and cuddly family pets? How about veggies and fruits, like watermelon? Whether they are kept as beloved family pets or bred in larger groups for a financial reason, the key to a rabbit’s good health is a varied menu.
To better understand what a rabbit’s diet should consist of, we will take a closer look at all different types of rabbits out there. Each rabbit breed and age category has certain diet requirements. For instance, baby rabbits should not be eating fruits and veggies, since their intestinal flora is not fully developed yet, and so they can get diarrhea.
A daily rabbit’s menu should be made of hay, pellet type food, small quantities of certain grains, some vegetables and a small amount of fruits, given just as a treat, every now and then. The general rule to go by is the bigger the rabbit, the bigger the amount of food offered. However, overfeeding is never a good idea, mainly because of financial losses in the long run.
What should a rabbit eat?
Hay is a very important part of a rabbit’s diet. The amount given daily should be equal to the rabbit’s body size. There are quite a few types of hay available in pet shops, like regular grass hay, alpine grass hay, or hay with chamomile. The quality of the hay is to be taken into consideration too — you should never feed moist or molded hay, filled with bacteria and toxins.
Pellets are a uniform type of rabbit food which prevent selective feeding, enriched with vitamins and minerals, and high in fibers supporting your pet’s digestive health. They come in a large variety of ingredients and sizes, each adapted to your rabbit’s age, size and health condition, maintaining a balanced daily function and performance.
Grains can be part of a balanced rabbit diet, but only some types of grain, and in small amounts. They are mostly used in feeding production rabbits and can be an obesity triggering factor in pet rabbits. Corn and corn products are not recommended in a rabbit’s menu. If given enough space to roam around and get exercise, feeding grains to rabbits is not a bad idea.
Vegetables play an important role in a rabbit’s diet, each of them adding much-needed vitamins and calcium to the menu. Some vegetables may produce too much gas and inflict bloating in some rabbits, so they can only be fed in very small quantities. The vegetables that are advised to be a part of any bunny salad are cilantro, dill, Boston lettuce and Chinese broccoli.
How about offering fruits?
Fruits should not add up to more than 10% of a rabbit’s daily menu. Unless it is otherwise specified, it is a good idea to leave the skin on the fruits, but make sure they are very well rinsed with clean water before serving them. Just to name a few, you can feed apples, pears, plums, cherries and melons to your bunny.
Watermelon, being so rich in sugar, is a very tasty treat to your pet rabbit. However, if you have never fed it watermelon before, give him a small amount first, then watch the stool for a few hours. If the stool consistency changes, from normal to soft, then use this treat very rarely. Try doing this several times before reaching a clear conclusion.
Watermelon is so tasty because it is very rich in sugar. Rabbits do not have the ability to digest such high levels of sugar, as humans do. For this reason, the sugar passes quickly through the intestine into the colon area of the digestive system, where it stays for a longer period of time because the sugar molecules are broken down.
Bad bacteria in the colon basically loves and thrives on this new and very good food for them, that is staying in the colon more than it should — thus they start to reproduce. This whole mechanism alters the fine balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive system, which leads to symptoms like gas, bloating, loose stool or diarrhea and inappetence.
Which other parts of the watermelon can rabbits eat?
Watermelon seeds are definitely not recommended for bunnies, due to the high risk of causing intestinal obstruction. Also, because rabbits cannot vomit, there is a chance of them choking on a seed. Therefore, make sure you clean out all of the seeds before feeding watermelon to your rabbit.
Watermelon rinds do make a great treat, as all the green parts of this fruit are suited for rabbits. It is actually advisable to feed the rinds instead of the flesh of the watermelon since it has a significantly higher level of citrulline amino acid and fibers, but lower levels of sugar. Still, feeding rinds more than twice a week is not advisable.
Watermelon leaves and flowers are not toxic to bunnies so you can feed them a small amount. Just like with the watermelon flesh, you should first test how their digestive system reacts to a new addition to the menu. Also, if your bunnies are allowed to wander freely in the garden, they will like hiding underneath the watermelon leaves.
How to avoid watermelon feeding problems
A good way of avoiding any watermelon feeding problems, like soft stool or gas, is by following a few simple rules: don’t feed watermelon on a daily basis, make sure that the watermelon you are about to serve is not wilted and make sure you never offer large amounts of watermelon to rabbits all at once.
Can baby rabbits eat watermelon?
It is definitely not recommended that you feed watermelon or any other type of fruit to baby rabbits. Because their intestinal flora is not fully developed yet, their diet is a very special and pretty strict one. Until baby rabbits turn one year old, their sensitive digestive system calls for a daily menu adapted to their specific nutrition and growth needs.
Balanced formula pellets specially made for baby rabbits, alongside plenty of good quality hay is what a baby rabbit’s main diet should consist of. You can also serve them some veggies, like carrots and green lucerne, but only in very limited amounts. You also need to closely watch their stool for a few hours after feeding any new food.
Treats are not advisable for baby rabbits, not even if their parents are getting some tasty snacks. If you have a mother still kept with her babies, then avoid feeding her any treats, until she will be once again on her own. It is not good to separate her from her babies during feeding times because such a practice will stress the baby rabbits.
Can wild or Angora rabbits eat watermelon?
Since fruits are a very seldom treat in the wild, the digestive system of wild rabbits is not as adaptable to human fruits and vegetables as is the digestive system of domesticated rabbits. Therefore, the advisable thing to do would be to avoid feeding them fruits altogether, or vegetables in large quantities.
Angora rabbits have similar needs to any other pet bunny, except for feeding requirements during the shedding season. Fruits that are advisable to feed to angora rabbits during shedding season are papaya or pineapple to avoid blockages.