Rabbit and forage
I am quite often asked about what to give rabbits to eat and health issues regarding the diet. We have been lucky enough in 10 years not to have a 'sticky bottom' bunny. Or is it luck?
All our rabbits are on grass 24/7 with plenty of hay and a very few typical treats. The treats they are given include carrot tops, cabbage leaf, a piece of celeriac, herbs and willow, apple or pear branches.
We also gather wild tasty bits from under the hedge and include some rose petals or crispy autumn leaves when available. You can gather weeds them yourself and keep a while and offer dried.
In winter nugget food is limited to once a day and no more than an egg cup. It is all eaten up at once never left in the run. We usually mix it in the hay tube or with some grass and hay. We recommend mixing anything you give your rabbit to eat with hay so that they have to sniff it out and eat by foraging which is more interesting and healthy for them.
Most rabbits love grass but when you adopt one that has never seen grass it may take a while. Polar did not spot grass as a tasty food for some time. She was 2 when we rescued her and it was clear she had never eaten it. Bear gradually brought her round to the idea!
I usually find that with a variety of choice rabbits do eat a moderate amount of what is good for them and if they are free it is interesting to see how after eating a tasty green leaf they may then choose a dried strand of grass - a natural hay!
They will forage inside the hedge nibbling hawthorn and bits of this and that. So the more we mix up all the healthy food the more balanced their diet should be.
I find it rewarding to see them sorting out an interesting bundle of hay with bits of fresh plucked grass and herbs inside and the odd pellet. It certainly keeps them busy and they usually eat their favourites first.
The picture shows our rabbit Rat in her free run having a great time in the hawthorn and among the nettles. What a lovely stretch she makes going after a tasty morsel. This is what we aim for our rabbits to be doing when inside their runarounds so we use hay tubes, pop hay in positions slightly higher - sometimes a hay cloud on a bench or stuffed into the mesh.