Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bunny care: What is a treat?

Telephone cords.
Well, no, that's another story: bunny proofing.

Let's briefly cover what is food and what is not.


Hay - This is the bulk of a bunny's diet, like 80-85%+. Our trio gets mainly Timothy hay or Western Timothy supplemented by a variety of "treat" hays: orchard grass, botanical hay, oat hay, and so on. ("Treat" hay is our term, mainly because they come in smaller bags than Timothy hay, which can be huge.)
Caveat: Alfalfa is for some young buns and should otherwise be very limited (we don't buy it at all).
"Treat" hays

Selected greens - in limited quantities - give bunnies more vitamins and nutrients. Examples include lettuce (NOT iceberg), parsley, cilantro, carrot TOPS, basil, clover, endive and wheat grass.

Certain vegetables should be very limited - those that might negatively impact the bunnies complex and sensitive digestive system, for example: kale, collards, mustard greens, spinach and broccoli leaves/stems. If a fruit or vegetable is considered "gassy" or "binding", think small amounts or none.

Pellets - Oxbow Bunny Basics/T is recommended by our vet and GHRS. How much depends on weight. If the bunny is under a year old, there is a "baby" version of pellets.
Pellets - Oxbow Bunny Basics/T

Water is also very important. Your bun should have access to a clean fresh bowl of water 24/7. The same with hay. Read this post to find out a way to get your buns to ingest more water.

While discussing feeding your bunnies, it is worth noting that it is good to feed them twice a day. Whatever is the right amount of food for their age and weight, divide by two. This helps them keep the digestive system going. (Not applicable to hay - that's the other 7/24 food, always available).

So, now that we covered a little basic bunny diet, WHAT IS A TREAT?
Other than speaker wires and phone cords.

Exact - We were advised that this multicolored pet food is not a good basic pellet BUT it s fine as a treat. The bunnies think it's special and react that way.
Use as a treat
(not the pellet part of the diet)

Probios - The ones for horses. It comes in apple and peppermint flavors. Our bunnies range between 3-5 pounds so a whole cookie is too much. They end up with maybe about half a cookie a day in total. It is good for their digestive systems and they LOVE it.
Whoever finishes his/her piece first
tries to snatch some away from the others.
They LOVE it.

Papaya - Purchased from our HRS chapter Hop Shop (no sulfur, low sugar). Another treat they LOVE. In fact, this is one way we assess whether our bunnies are sick - if they will not come and eat either a Probios or a papaya piece, something is wrong. The papaya we get from the Hop Shop are diced into little tiny cubes about 1 cm per side.

Hay cubes - Compressed Timothy hay. They love to nibble on them. We toss them in a box they can hop into, but they sometimes carry them off to eat. You will know where by the little puddle of green "sawdust". Stepping barefoot on a hay cube is a little less painful than stepping on a Lego (that's why we try to get the bunnies to enjoy them in a dedicated purpose box).
Hay cubes - of Timothy hay

Carrots - Are like doughnuts are to a human. So ignore Bugs Bunny and only give them a little, like the size of your small fingernail. The green tops - a different story; the bunnies love them and that part can be a part of their regular greens rotation.

Fresh fruit - The bunny is small and it's unhealthy for them to pack on the pounds, so think small portions (a piece about pinkie fingernail size). Our bunnies like: pineapple, blueberry, apple, banana, grapes, melon, peach, pear, strawberries ...

DANGEROUS TREATS
Unfortunately, some pet food companies sell treats that are bad for bunnies; one of the little furries on the package may be a bunny. When we first had Bunya, we gave him those and he loved them, but we stopped once we learned better. Avoid the ones with seeds and yogurt; the chart above has a little list of never foods for bunnies (little longer list below).

ABSOLUTELY NO - THE NEVER FOODS:
Bread, Cabbage, Chocolate, Cookies, Crackers, Cereals, Corn, Nuts, Onion, Pasta, Raw potato or skin, Rhubarb, Seeds, Sugary treats,Yogurt drops, Human snack foods - don't share them with your bunnies.
(Came across this in 2016)

So, there are plenty of treat alternatives for bunnies. Just keep in mind an overall "how many treats have I given my bunny today?" limit. Wish I could do the same for me.

Great bunny care advice is on the GHRS website, including a section on "Your Rabbit's Diet".

3 comments:

  1. which is why Speedy is on a diet but its hard when you have a dad giving to much some times,xx

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  2. What if it is non-GMO whole wheat crackers with flax, or how about sprouted bread in small proportions? Or are those things still a no no?

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