What do Rabbits Eat?

And Other Popular FAQs

So come on, what do rabbits eat?
If you have taken a really good peak at this website, you'll already know the answer but just in case your in a rush, trying to fit in a bit of sneaky research at work, or negotiating running a manic household, this page will help you find some answers quickly.

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The answer to 'what do rabbits eat?' is split the questions and answers in to categories to make it easier for you to browse for what you are looking for.

Remember if the answer's not here, then ask your question and check back soon for your best response.

It's great when a community comes together for the greater good of all our beloved bunnies!

Grateful Rabbit

Below you'll find some category links to search for common FAQs:

Bunny Accommodation:

Rabbit Living & Sleeping Questions & Answers

Q: Should my rabbit be kept inside or outside?
A: It is your choice whether to keep your rabbit inside or outside. Rabbits can adapt very easily to varying environments and conditions however; it should be kept in mind that rabbits need to be protected from the elements at all times. They should not be kept any place where they would be in a direct draft; come into contact with rain, snow, etc; or anywhere they would be in the direct sunlight. Rabbits are wearing a fur coat, so they can withstand colder temperatures much better than they can withstand heat. If kept outside, it is good to envision how you will protect the animal from the elements before bringing it home. Building or purchasing a pen that will provide the necessary protection from the elements should be first and foremost in planning for your rabbit.

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Q: Does My Rabbit Need a Cage?
A: Your rabbit does not need a cage. However, an untrained rabbit probably should be kept in a home-base of some kind, like a pen, a cage, or some other protected housing, while you’re not home to supervise and at night when you sleep. Rabbits are crepuscular, which means that generally they sleep during the day and during the night but are ready to play at dawn and at twilight. Be sure to let them out during the evening when you are home, and if possible, in the morning while you get ready for work. However, once your rabbit is familiar with your home, once you know what your rabbit does, and once your house has been fully bunny proofed, there’s no reason that he or she can’t have run of your home even when you’re not there.

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Q: Is it OK to keep my rabbit in a cage with a wire floor?
A: Rabbits were not designed to live on wire floors–they’re hard on their feet (which have no pads like those of cats or dogs). If you must use a cage with a wire floor, you need to provide your rabbit with a resting board or rug for her to sit on, otherwise she will spend all of her time in her litterbox. But this is not ideal.

You can find cages with slatted plastic floors, which are more comfortable, or you can use a solid floor. As long as your rabbit has a litter box in the corner that he chooses as his bathroom, there shouldn’t be much of a mess to clean up.  But ex-pens or other types of situations are much easier to find, are roomier, and are friendlier for both your rabbit and yourself.

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Q: What size housing is best?
A: Bigger is better! A rabbit’s home should be at least 4-6 times the size of your bunny when he’s entirely stretched out–more if he is confined for a large amount of the day. Enclosure sizes also should be decided in conjunction with the amount of exercise time and space the rabbit has. One guideline to go by is at least 8 square feet of enclosure time combined with at least at least 24 square feet of exercise space, for 1-2 rabbits, in which the rabbit(s) can run and play at least 5 hours per day. You can build or buy your rabbit a two-story “condo” with the floors connected by a ramp–they love this!

For more inspirational ideas and details about modern rabbit accommodation and housing, check out the Just Rabbits revolutionary 'iRabbit READY 3 Step System'.

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Rabbit Behaviour:

Psychological Questions & Answers

Q: What are the psychological factors of chewing?
A: Sex, hormones & Personality.
Sex
Females often have a stronger urge to burrow than males, although this is not the only reason rabbits chew. The hormone/age factors below also apply to males. Both males and females can and should be spayed or neutered as soon as they are sexually mature (4 to 6 mos. old).  Make sure they are chewing the right things–hay, non-treated grass mats, etc.    Their teeth are always growing, so they need hard things to chew on to keep their teeth trimmed.  Provide plenty of fresh hay, hard cardboard boxes, etc.

Hormone/age
Is your rabbit
spayed?

  • If young (under 2 yrs) & un-spayed, spay her.
  • If young & spayed, her chewing will lessen with time.
  • If mature (over 2 yrs) & un-spayed, spay her but get a check-up first.
  • If mature & spayed, her behaviour isn’t governed by hormones.

Remember, a spayed rabbit will chew less and less as she matures. It may be just a matter of riding out a high energy stage of your bunny’s life.

Personality
Chewers are often intelligent, outgoing, affectionate individuals who like to be in charge and get lots of attention. Does she chew to get attention? Would a companion alleviate boredom? Anything that would entertain her/make her happier might lessen her chewing.

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Q: What are the environmental factors of chewing?
A: Diversions: keep trying to find something harmless she enjoys doing. What kind of “burrow” (such as a cardboard box stuffed with hay), can you provide for her?

Protecting the environment: A box or wire basket can go over a group of wires. Browse a large hardware store for products to use for bunny proofing.  Hardware stores make the black wire covers that go easily over your home wires.

Confinement (to a cage or room). This simply buys you time, while you bunny-proof, get her spayed, or wait for her to mature.

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Q: Should I give the rabbit items to chew?
A: Yes. You can give rabbits pieces of the thing they want to chew: their own small towel, for example, providing they aren’t ingesting it.   Give your rabbit plenty of fresh hay–oat hay, timothy, orchard grass hay, and replace two times or more a day.

Here are some items that are OK for rabbits to chew on:

  • apple, willow, aspen branches; hay!
  • pine firewood;
  • cotton towels
  • untreated fresh pine lumber attached to cage so it doesn’t move–piece of moulding, 1″x2″s, or 2″x4″s;
  • basket with hay in it–let the bun chew the basket as well as the hay;
  • compressed alfalfa cubes

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Q: Aren’t some woods toxic?
A: Fruit tree branches, such as, apricot and peach are toxic while attached to the tree but not after they’re cut and dried (a month or more). Keep your purchases of imported baskets limited to willow, the only basket material not sprayed with pesticide.

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Q: Does chewing carpet hurt the rabbit?
A: Yes, if then ingest the fibre. Since swallowing indigestible such as carpet presents a health hazard to your bunny, follow up excessive chewing incidents with a petroleum laxative such as Petromalt or Laxatone (sold at pet- supply stores).

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Q: Should I give the rabbit items to dig?
A: Yes. For digging, build a “tunnel” (top isn’t needed, just bottom, high sides, and end). Cover the bottom with a bit of carpet or something similar. Bunnies LOVE to dig at the end of tunnels. Same thing can be accomplished by putting a board with carpet tacked on between two pieces of heavy furniture against the wall…just be sure the board can’t move or the bun will be digging the carpet beneath where the board was meant to be.

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Q: Can I discipline my rabbit not to chew?
A: Discipline (clapping hands, saying “no”) has a small role in stopping chewing behaviour. Most people report that it’s easy to make their bunnies understand them, but difficult to make them stop the behaviour through the use of discipline only, especially if the bunnies are left alone for periods of time. It's a good idea to replace the bad things with good things like hay and grass mats etc. Rabbit training techniques will help as will these bunny-proofing ideas.


For a more detailed look at rabbit behaviour including territorial, aggressive, unusual , mating and annoying or inconvenient behaviour and ways to control them all, check out the Just Rabbits revolutionary 'iRabbit READY 3 Step System'.

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Rabbit Breeding:

Reproduction Questions & Answers

Q: What age can rabbits breed?
A: The generally accepted age of sexual maturity is from three to six months of age for small to medium breeds. Bucks mature earlier than does. It is known that does can become pregnant by their eight week old sons while they are still nursing! Does can become pregnant as early as 12 weeks of age although it is not advisable. Breeding before fully mature is not advisable as it can be fatal for a young doe or she may not take care of the litter.

Six months of age is typical for most small to medium breeds and eight to twelve months with large breeds and twelve to eighteen months for giant breeds. You want to let the animal put all it's physical energy into it's own growth before taxing it with reproduction. Many breeders will start dwarf breeds as early as four months but they are experienced enough to know from the animal's development if it is practical.

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Q: Is there a best time of year to breed rabbits?
A: Rabbits can breed all year long but the buck's fertility decreases in winter as the daylight hours diminish. Extremely hot weather can also reduce fertility in the buck.

Pet owners are probably wise to breed in the spring or early fall when temperatures are mild and the resale market is best.

Keep in mind a three month "weather window". The first month your doe will be pregnant and the next two she will be nursing; all of which will be easier in a temperate climate.

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Q: When are rabbits 'in heat'?
A: Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits are "induced ovulators" which means that they release an egg after being exposed to the male. When a doe is approached by the male the egg is released within eight hours. This is why it is recommended that you breed early in the morning (when the temperature is mild for maximum sperm motility) and again eight to twelve hours later (in the cool of the evening) when they doe is certain to have eggs available to be fertilized.

In rabbitries where a doe has a male on each side of her cage may release eggs continuously requiring only one attempt at breeding. That is unlikely with a pet rabbit not normally exposed to a male.

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Q: Can different kinds of rabbit breed?
A: Domestic rabbits (ORYCTOLAGUS) are all capable of interbreeding. Caution must be taken to assure a small doe isn't bred to a large buck for fear of difficult delivery.

They are not, however, able to breed successfully with Cottontails (SYLVILAGUS) or Hares or Jack Rabbits (LEPUS). They may breed but the embryo's will die apparently from the chromosomal differences between the genera. Domestic rabbits have 22 pairs of chromosomes (such as humans), the Cottontails have 21 pairs and the Jack Rabbit or Hare, have 24 pair.

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Q: How long are rabbits pregnant for?
A: Thirty to thirty-two days is the normal gestation period for a rabbit although first time does may hold out until thirty-four.

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Q: How can I tell if my rabbit is pregnant?
A: Rabbits seldom show obvious signs of pregnancy unless it is a very large litter. The only way to know for sure is by palpation. Please have your vet or knowledgeable breeder check for you at between ten and fourteen days after breeding to avoid fetal injury. Rabbits don't "bag-up" obviously heavy with milk like a dog or cat and many will not "let-down" milk until after they kindle.

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For more on rabbit breeding, go here...

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Rabbit Breeds & Types:

Variety Questions & Answers

Many good rabbit owners have rescued their bunnies from their local rabbit or animal shelter and because of this, they don't really know what variety or breed of bunny they have.

Of course, in many cases it doesn't really matter one jot about the breed or variety of bunny you have, just that he or she has a loving forever home to call their own.

However,some breeds make better indoor companions, other breeds are much happier outside, while there are certain breeds which are not suitable for children and some that are more suitable - so knowing the breed may help in if these circumstances are relevant to you.

Rabbit Breed Calculator

I'm in the middle of creating a searchable database that will allow you to type in certain characteristics of your rabbit which will then return the three top most probable breeds that your bunny may be.

Sign up for my Newsletter or Blog to stay informed about this great new software - coming soon!

Or you can join in the chat on Facebook or Twitter - I'm always tweeting & rabbiting on about something new and exciting.

There is a very comprehensive rabbit breed page here, which will steer you in the right direction too!

For a full rabbit breed list go here.

If you have any questions related to this area, please comment below...

I will research the answer for you and include your question in this section.

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Rabbit Care:

General Care Questions & Answers

Rabbit care is a very detailed subject and can sometimes raise some very serious debate. For a comprehensive look at rabbit care in general go to the Rabbit Care Guide dedicated page.

If you have any questions related to rabbit care, please comment below...

I will research the answer for you and include your question in this section.

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Rabbit Companionship:

Bonding Questions & Answers

If you have any questions related to this area, please comment below...

I will research the answer for you and include your question in this section.

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What Do Rabbits Eat?

Other Diet Related Questions & Answers

Q: What do rabbits eat?
A: A rabbits diet is fairly simple, consisting of 80% Hay and Grasses, 12% Greens & Vegetables, 6% Pellets and 2% Treats. Look at the dedicated rabbit diet page...

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Q: What is muesli and why is it unhealthy for rabbits?
A:
Recent research has shown that including muesli-style foods in a rabbits diet can lead to teeth and tummy problems.  If you currently feed your rabbits muesli, it's important to gradually transition them onto a healthier diet.  Find out why with the New Just Rabbits Getting Started Kit...

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Q: My rabbits won't eat hay, what can I do?
A: All rabbits need to eat hay, but they can be fussy (well they do have over 17,000 taste buds - that's 7,000 more than humans!) so you just need to find one that they like and make sure they're not filling up on other foods. See tips below for getting them to eat more hay. In the meantime, make sure they have access to grass as this is also good for them and acts in a similar way to hay. If they don't currently eat grass, wean them onto it slowly to avoid upset stomachs. Don't feed them grass from lawnmowers as the way it's chopped causes it to ferment, which is bad for their tummies and only feed grass that hasn't been near traffic fumes.

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Q: How can I get my rabbit to eat more hay?
A: Bunnies love to eat and nibble on things and will always choose tastier things than hay given the chance.

For loads of tips on getting your rabbits to eat more hay check out the New Just Rabbits Getting Started Kit...

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Q: My rabbit has stopped eating, what should I do?
A: This may be down to G.I. Stasis may be that the rabbit suddenly stops eating and pooing. You MUST take your rabbit to the vet if either of these symptoms occurs, it can become fatal within 24 hours.
Another reason may be down to their teeth being too long and blocking the ability to chew and eat their food. Teeth grow constantly and fast too, so you may not notice the change.

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Q: Why would teeth problems cause my rabbits to stop eating?
When teeth don't occlude (meet) properly, it is called malocclusion. Maloccluded teeth create abnormal pressure against one another, which can cause the tooth roots to become impacted, elongated and inflamed. Tooth root impaction is extremely painful and will eventually lead to an infection in the bone, or "jaw abscess." A rabbit will find it near on impossible to eat when this has happened. A trip to your vets is a must for a tooth trim under anaesthesia and possibly even abscess surgery. CHECK YOUR RABBITS TEETH REGULARLY!

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Q: What is GI Stasis?
A: GI stands for Gastro Intestinal and is also known as 'the silent killer'. This is the condition of food not moving through the gut properly. The gut contents may dehydrate and compact into a hard, immobile mass (impacted gut), blocking the digestive tract of the rabbit. Food in an immobile gut may also ferment, causing significant gas build-up and pain for the rabbit.

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Q: Should I give my rabbits water in a bowl or bottle?
A: Fresh water must always be available, a bowl or a bottle depends on what your rabbit is used to. If you want to change from bowl to bottle or vice versa make sure you do it gradually as rabbits may not take the change very easily. If using a bottle make sure it has a metal spout, and ensure bottle and bowl are full and cleaned daily and all will be well.

Q: I think one of my rabbits is drinking more than usual, is this important?
A: If any of your rabbits start to drink significantly more or less than usual, this can be a sign of a medical problem.  However, check the reasons below with your rabbit first, it could be one of these:

  • During hot weather it's natural for rabbits to consume more, just like you or I.
  • Check the water bottle is working properly and not leaking. Bucks tend to rub their chins on water bottle as they have a scent gland there. This will empty the water quickly.
  • Females that have a litter will drink more a lot more water to aid in milk production. Note that does in heat and ready to breed will drink very little and hardly eat either. Rabbits in moult tend to drink less too.

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Rabbit Genetics:

It's in the Genes - Questions & Answers

Rabbit genetics can come across as quite complicated but hopefully this page makes it slightly more easier to understand...

If you have any questions related to this area, please comment below...

I will research the answer for you and include your question in this section.

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Rabbit Health:

Health Related Questions & Answers

If you have any questions related to this area you will find everything you need to know in the Just Rabbits 'Getting Started with Rabbits' 3 Step Kit.

Find out more here...

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Miscellaneous:

Uncategorised Questions & Answers

If you have any niggling questions that can't be defined in any of the previous areas, or you just can't find answers for, please comment at the bottom of this page...

There's plenty of people out there that may be able to help.

Or, if you can help someone else out, then please go ahead and dive right in with your advice and suggestions.

It's good to share!

Or you can get answers to practically every scenario imaginable, and on the go too...

More Answers in a Box

For more details about modern rabbit accommodation and housing, reports and fact sheets on rabbit health, diet and disease control, scientific breakthrough evidence on understanding rabbit behaviour, including companionship and bonding insights, plus an in-depth grooming guide, check out the Just Rabbits revolutionary 'iRabbit READY 3 Step System'.

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