Tuesday, 5 March 2013

#Bringing #Home the #Bunny: #Food & #Nutrition

Bringing Home the Bunny
By Stacey Gonzalez
Photo by jemoström photo Foter.com CC BY-NC-ND


Bringing Home the Bunny is a seven-part blog series about what to expect when becoming a new rabbit owner.

 
Food and nutrition


Rabbits are herbivores and should not be fed meat. Hay is an important part of their diet. If the bunny is less than a year old it should be fed alfalfa hay which is rich in protein and calcium. Rabbits over a year old should eat timothy hay.

Always purchase pet-friendly hay at the local pet store- some hay from farms is unclean or treated with pesticides. Hay should always be available to the pet, either loose in the habitat or in a hay manger.
It is recommended that a rabbit always has a pelleted diet available to them. Pellet diets are made to be rich in nutrients and will ensure that the rabbit has a balanced diet. Mixed diets work better as treats since rabbits will often pick through and only eat the parts they like.
Rabbits have a tendency to overeat just like dogs, so it is important to limit food to only healthy amounts. Rabbits under seven months can burn off a lot of calories, but once they pass that age their food consumption should be monitored to keep the pet from becoming obese. Fruits and vegetables can be offered every day, while pre-packaged treats should be offered sparingly and should never exceed ten percent of the pet’s diet.
Dark, leafy greens are great for rabbits. For treats try kale, bok choy, carrot tops, collard greens or romaine lettuce. Some rabbits under the age of 12 months get diarrhea from greens. Fruits like the tops of strawberry, raisins, apple, and melons make good treats as well. Vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, celery, peas, and zucchini are safe to feed your rabbit. Foods to avoid are chocolate, salt, beans, nuts, and sugar. Rabbits should be given clean, fresh water twice a day in their water bottle so that it is always available to them. Your rabbit should never consume its bedding.

Its time for the fun stuff! Loving your bunny will involve handling the animal. It is natural to want to nurture the pet by holding it but there are right and wrong ways of doing things, highlighted here in Bringing Home the Bunny: Proper Care and Socializing.

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