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Old 03-02-2013, 01:43 AM   #1
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Default Don't feed rabbits lettuce?

Hi, I just adopted a new bunny and thought they could eat lettuce and a website (http://bunniez.hubpages.com/hub/Bad-Rabbt-Food-What-NOT-To-Feed-Your-Bunny) said I should not feed bunnies lettuce. I did not know how reliable this source was and I was confused because I have seen rabbits eat lettuce before so fed some to my bunny. I'm worried now, is this true?



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Old 03-02-2013, 02:16 AM   #2
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I've seen this debate all over the place, so I'm not really sure what to think. You do get people who are very strongly against feeding lettuce and people who insist on it. I was actually thinking about posting a thread here soon myself!



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Old 03-02-2013, 02:44 AM   #3
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Romaine and green leaf lettuce is perfectly fine. Iceberg lettuce does pretty much the same thing it does for us. . . Which is nothing. There is no nutritional value in it but the others mentioned are perfectly fine

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Old 03-02-2013, 02:46 AM   #4
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the problem with lettuce is it is a wet food and many people make the mistake of giving their rabbit oodles of lettuce and not being smart about it.

Give your rabbit a small piece of lettuce and then work your way up to a bigger amount.

Rabbits are sensitive to diet changes and too big of a change leads to tummy upset.

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Old 03-02-2013, 02:56 AM   #5
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Green leaf, red leaf, and romaine lettuces are all fine for your bun. Iceberg is the only lettuce I would worry about (:

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:00 AM   #6
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I too recommend against iceberg lettuce.
I regularly feed my buns romaine or green leaf lettuce and a rotating selection of herbs and other leafy greens.

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:05 AM   #7
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It's actually a complicated subject because there are so many variables. It can depend on the sensitivity of an individual rabbit, the age can play a factor, and also if the veggie is introduced to the rabbit correctly. It is generally best to at least wait until a rabbit is about 12 weeks old and their digestive system is more developed, then lettuce and veggies can be better tolerated without problems, but that doesn't mean that every rabbit wiil be able to eat veggies without problems. Some rabbits just have sensitive digestive systems and you have to be careful about what veggies you introduce and how quickly you introduce them. But 12 weeks isn't a hard and fast rule either, as I ended up with a baby bunny that was 4 weeks old and not weaned properly from it's mother, and all it would eat was lettuce. The baby wouldn't eat pellets and didn't know how to drink water. It only would eat lettuce because that's what the people I got her from, were feeding her. So for about 10 days all she would eat was leafy lettuce and cilantro. And she didn't have any problems with it. She pooped normally, but she did pee a ton cause of the water content in the lettuce. But this isn't something I would ever recommend. A lot of young rabbits will get soft poops from being fed lettuce and veggies too early, which is why it's just best to stick with the age of 12 weeks to introduce veggies. And if introducing them is done correctly, then a lot of the complications of digestive issues can be avoided, or if there is a problem, then they are easily recognized before they get too bad. First of all never feed iceburg lettuce as it can cause diarrhea, only feed the dark leafy lettuces. Always introduce veggies one at a time and start off with VERY SMALL amounts for the first few days. This gives you the chance to see if the veggie is going to cause any immediate problems with your rabbit. And because you are only introducing one veggie at a time, then if there is a problem, you know exactly what veggie to stop feeding. You are looking for changes in your rabbits poop and changes in behavior in case it gets an upset stomach. The poop would most likely get soft and mushy if there is a problem, but you also want to look out for the poop all the sudden getting a lot smaller than normal. If after 2 or 3 days, there aren't any poop problems, then you can very gradually increase the amount of the veggie each day. Increasing the amounts slowly gives your rabbits digestive system time to gradually adjust to the new food. If your rabbit does have problems, then you stop feeding the veggie and give it a while before trying again, but there may be some veggies that some rabbits just won't be able to tolerate. Here are some veggie lists and how to introduce veggies to your rabbit.

http://www.rabbit.org/care/veggies.html
http://www.3bunnies.org/feeding.htm#greens

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Old 03-02-2013, 03:19 AM   #8
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Hay & pellets are what every rabbit should eat unless they are the rare rabbit that can't tolerate pellets. Again, in extreme cases hay can be replaced with grass [wheat grass or other]. Veggies are fine as extras, but not strictly necessary.

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Old 03-02-2013, 05:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeCondo View Post
Hay & pellets are what every rabbit should eat unless they are the rare rabbit that can't tolerate pellets. Again, in extreme cases hay can be replaced with grass [wheat grass or other]. Veggies are fine as extras, but not strictly necessary.
I completely disagree. Pellets are not necessary and can be harmful if fed in too high quantities. Rabbits can and should eat veggies if they are introduced properly. I feed my rabbits only hay and greens and they are fine, do not have issues with diarrhea. I have one rabbit that's in stasis right now and not feeding pellets has been a Godsend because they are rich in carbs that can contribute to enteritis and enterotoxemia.

The veggie list from the HRS was linked earlier, here are some articles about rabbit nutrition you may find helpful:

http://www.rabbit.org/journal/3-3/fiber.html
http://www.rabbit.org/journal/3-4/pellets.html
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3921/

I too was told veggies were dangerous for my rabbits when I adopted them and I ended up with an obese rabbit, even though I was feeding a very small amount of pellets. It took years to get her to a healthy weight and even then, the obesity eventually contributed to her death. Pellets were formulated to help meat and fur rabbits grow bigger faster, not to help domestic rabbit live long healthy lives.
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:13 AM   #10
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As a long time owner of bunnies, horses, goats, dogs...feeding our furry, four legged friends is truly one of the great debates! I have learned that we follow "general" guidelines, HOWEVER, what works for one MAY NOT work for another! For example, the horse I had growing up was a very "hard" keeper...we had to jump through hoops to keep weight on her, several pounds of grain a day, supplements, hay grass! On the other hand, my daughter's horse she has right now, is a super "easy" keeper! She gets 1/2 cup (yes I said 1/2 cup) of grain 2X a day...and mostly just enough to give her her supplements than because she needs it and she is roly poly! In 21 yrs of bunny ownership, bunnies are ALL different too! With my animals, my horses and my bunnies in particular, I take the "what do the wild ones do?" approach. So my horses rarely get blanketed, they don't wear shoes and they eat LOTS hay! My bunnies eat LOTS of hay, greens and a small portion of pellets. My bunnies and horses are very healthy and what we do works for them and for us! When it comes to feeding our animals, there are recommendations from the experts and guidelines...but there really is no right or wrong...just making sure each gets what they need...which in some cases like my horse as a kid and my daughter's now, are VERY different! There are bunnies out there who live long, healthy lives on all kinds of diets. The fact of the matter, most of the bunnies owned by people on RO are WELL taken care of...and in MANY cases (like mine, lol) are spoiled rotten and "live the lfe"!!! Think of all the animals out there who are starving, neglected or abused!!! I think all our bunnies, regardless of what they are eating, have it made!!! I wish people (I have read numerous threads on RO and have had many conversations at horse groups) would be more tolerant and accepting of differences and less critical and judgy...heck I wish that were true about people in general!!! The world would be a better place!!!



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