Bunnies have open rooted teeth, meaning they are growing throughout a rabbit's life. In the wild, a rabbit would spend most of it's day chewing on grass and other fibrous foods. Not only does this wear down their teeth, the fiber also helps to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system and prevents gut stasis.
Providing our domestic bunny friends with lots of indigestible fiber will ensure that they get:
- sufficient dental exercise- wear and tear of every growing teeth
- reduce boredom and behavioural problems (overgrooming, chewing on wires and furniture)
- stimulate gut motility
- maintain healthy gastrointestinal tract bacterial flora
Pellets usually do not provide enough of the above benefits.
Good types of hay include timothy, oaten, orchid grass hay. Alfalfa should only be fed to pregnant, lactating does or juvenile rabbits (<1 year old) because of the high calcium content which could lead to kidney and bladders stones! There are also various cuts of hay to choose from. First cut hay is ideal for wearing down teeth but it is usually not very palatable and many bunnies dislike the coarseness of the hay. Second cut hay is probably the most commonly fed hay and is accepted by most rabbits and still have enough "toughness" to provide dental exercise. Third cut hay is usually not advised because they do not do much for dental health.
Fresh greens should also make up part of your rabbit's diet. Like any other species, variety is key and feeding the same type of vegetable to your pet everyday for the rest of its life is going to lead to health problems too. Some good vegetables that you can consider in this rotation include:
- xiao bai cai
- kang kong
- kai lan
- collard greens
Depending on body weight of your bunny, they can take up to 1 cup of greens a day. An important thing to note when introducing food to your bunny, is that all new greens should be given in small amounts first and your bunny's poo should be monitored closely. If you notice mucus (jelly coating), irregular sizing or soft stools, you should immediately contact your vet.
You may also like to check out these useful websites on diets for your bunny: