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 ...

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).

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".


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

  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?

  3. carrots are a BAD choice for rabbit its stringy to them and theyll slowly die its a common misconception for rabbit owners along with celery a good choice is lettuce kale spinach salad startings NO CARROTS or CELERY pls

    1. Carrots (and carrot greens) are addressed in the post. Lettuce is good but not iceberg lettuce. Gassy vegetables like kale should be in small portions, occasionally.