What's the difference between bedding hay and feeding hay?
Although they’re both essentially dried grass, bedding hay and feeding hay are very different. Feeding hay is fresher, smells more fragrant and is usually greener than bedding hay. Feeding hay tastes better (for rabbits!) and has far more nutrients in it. Bedding hay is usually quite dry – ideal for getting cosy but not so great for nibbling, though your rabbits might sometimes snack on some. It won’t do them any harm as long as they have plenty of feeding hay available too.
My rabbits' food looks boring
Your rabbits’ food might look boring to us, but for them it’s perfect. In the wild, rabbits spend more than half their time feeding. Their ideal food takes a long time to eat and has a lot of fibre, helping to keep their guts moving. Did you know that if a rabbit’s guts slow down or stop it can make them seriously ill?
Because a rabbit’s teeth keep growing their whole life, their diet needs to not only keep their stomach healthy but also help them to wear down their teeth. So by providing lots of hay and other high fibre foods, you’ll be keeping their guts and teeth in good condition as well as keeping them entertained for longer.
What about 'muesli-style' mixes?
Our vets don't recommend muesli-style mixes for your rabbits. Muesli-style rabbit food contains a mixture of seeds and flakes and can cause serious health problems because:
- Like us, rabbits tend to pick out and eat the less healthy, sugary (tastier) bits. These parts also tend to be lower in fibre and higher in calories so can lead to weight gain and obesity.
- Muesli mixes can lead to dental disease. Eating muesli often leads to their teeth becoming curved or too long (even if rabbits are also fed hay) which causes serious problems.
- Rabbits don’t tend to eat the bits that contain lots of fibre, which can cause gut problems.
Sadly, our research shows 21% of rabbit owners are still feeding their rabbits muesli-style mixes. If you feed your rabbits muesli-style food, we recommend slowly changing their diet over to a healthier option of hay with small amounts of rabbit pellets or nuggets.
Can I feed my rabbits treats?
If you want to give your rabbits something special, or something exciting for them to forage for, then a tasty treat is perfect. We'd recommend using some rabbit-safe fresh veggies (remember to mix up which veg you use) as these are both tasty and healthy for our bunnies.
You can buy rabbit treats from pet shops, but do be aware that, just like the treats we give ourselves, these often have a lot of sugar in them. This can be bad for bunny teeth and digestion as well as their waistlines! Always try to feed your bunnies a natural treat as part of their everyday food allowance. Find out which veggies are rabbit-safe. Why not hide your bunnies’ favourite veg in a pile of hay for them to enjoy finding and digging out.
Obesity in rabbits
Rabbits need to stay active and eat a diet appropriate for them. Rabbits with the wrong diet can also lose weight, which can be just as dangerous.
Pets that have a poor diet can put on weight and even become obese. This often leads to health problems in the long term and will have a big impact on your rabbits’ quality of life.
Download our rabbit body shape guide for tips on keeping your bunnies slim and healthy: