It’s time to throw out the Looney Tunes rabbit stereotype, and burrow deep and find out some bunny trade secrets.
Rabbits are lagomorphs, meaning that their sensitive little digestive systems can only process cellulose – leafy greens and a limited choice of fruits.
Their sensitive digestive system requires a high fibre, low sugar and low fat diet, and their diet must be monitored and supplemented to ensure they get a nutritionally balanced meal.
This week, Ah Beng Pet Store burrows deep to uncover a bunny trade secret: What foods not to feed your rabbit.
We are all familiar with household favourite Looney Tunes character Bugs Bunny, who is periodically seen munching on a carrot.
But don’t let the cartoonish appeal deceive you.
Bugs’ signature mannerism (nonchalant carrot eating) is not reflective or indicative of rabbit behaviour.
Contrary to popular belief or misnomers, carrots are not a rabbit’s staple food source.
Rather, Bugs’ carrot-eating mannerism was inspired by a scene in 1943 film It Happened One Night, when the fast-talking Clark Gable snacks on carrots while leaning on a fence, and has little to do with the nature of a rabbit’s diet.
(Photo credits: http://cartoonbros.com/)
But he’s a cartoon character after all – real rabbits don’t talk, and they shouldn’t be eating carrots too often either.
While they are high in vitamins, carrots and most fruit are also dangerously high in sugar, and should only be fed in small amounts as occasional treats (no more than once a week).
2. Iceberg Lettuce
Rabbits are vegetarians but be mindful, they cannot eat just any vegetable, plant or weed.
It seems like common knowledge that rabbits should be getting lots of leafy greens in their diet.
However, recent studies have deemed certain types of leafy greens like Iceberg lettuce unfit for buns for several reasons.
(Photo credits: Digital Zoo/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images)
One– Iceberg lettuce has next to nothing in nutrient content. It is made up of mostly water and fibre. Your bunny’s tummy would essentially be filled up on dead substance, detracting them from eating other more nutritious foods.
Two– Iceberg lettuce contains Lactucarium, a milky chemical, which can give your rabbit diarrhoea so bad that it becomes fatal.
So stay away from the iceberg, and save your bunny a trip down the rabbit hole.
3. Human Treats
Anything that comes from the grocery store should not be fed to your rabbit.
Rabbits thrive on a high-fibre, low sugar and low fat diet.
Items like cereal, rice, pasta and bread are too high in starch and sugar and excess consumption may lead to indigestion and even a fatal case of enterotoxemia, i.e. a bad case of bunny diarrhoea.
And no– just because that cereal is labeled ‘high fibre’ doesn’t mean it is food your rabbit should eat.
Rabbits have a sweet tooth, so stay strong when they hop up to you with those adorable doe-eyes and twitching noses.
Instead, a rabbit’s diet should be made up mostly of hay.
(Photo credits: https://www.instagram.com/bunnymama/)
Hay is important for rabbits for many reasons:
- Wears down their teeth that are constantly growing.
It’s highly fibrous nature makes for an all-natural teeth file. Your furkid needs to be chewing an ample amount of hay to ensure his/her incisors don’t overgrow!
- Gets lots of great fibre to keep things moving through the digestive tract.
A rabbit’s digestive system needs balance.
Rabbits need the right nutrients for energy, growth, and healing ability, and quality hay like Timothy hay provides these nutrients.
Much like their feline counterparts, bunnies groom themselves by licking their fur. But while cats can spit up hairballs, a rabbit can’t, so having a good fibre intake from hay keeps their digestive system moving.
A serious medical problem for a rabbit is a blockage in her digestive system, so make sure your bunny has copious amounts of good quality hay to munch on.
- Learns and keeps good litterbox habits.
A little pro tip: Rabbits like to eat hay and poop at the same time. To promote good litter box habits, place hay either directly in the box over the litter or place it in a hay box next to the litter box.
- Keeps them busy rearranging it and searching for the best tasting pieces.
Your rabbit’s diet should also be made up of bunny-safe leafy greens. Bunny Wonderland has an extensive list of bun-safe veggies that you can check out!
Pellets on the other hand, should be fed in moderation due to its high nutrient content; usually a bunny-ear sized amount everyday.
So throw out the Looney stereotype, and be careful of what goes into your bunny’s tummy!