Don't feed rabbits lettuce?

Discussion in 'Nutrition and Behavior' started by Eden, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Mar 2, 2013 #1

    Eden

    Eden

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  2. Mar 2, 2013 #2

    indianavex

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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!
     
  3. Mar 2, 2013 #3

    woahlookitsme

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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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  4. Mar 2, 2013 #4

    ladysown

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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.
     
  5. Mar 2, 2013 #5

    iLuvMyLilBuns

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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 :)
     
  6. Mar 2, 2013 #6

    missyscove

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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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  7. Mar 2, 2013 #7

    JBun

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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
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
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  8. Mar 2, 2013 #8

    LakeCondo

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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.
     
  9. Mar 2, 2013 #9

    molly

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    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.
     
  10. Mar 2, 2013 #10

    mochajoe

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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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  11. Mar 2, 2013 #11

    agnesthelion

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    I agree with what mochajoe said. Diet is a HUGE debate on here and people get waaaaaay too worked up.

    There are some who support pellets, some who don't. Some who feed hay, some who don't. Some feed lettuce, some who don't.

    You will NEVER get everyone to agree on this subject, haha, except maybe no iceberg, that's a pretty common piece of advice, but past that.......it's what works for you.

    As long as bunny is loved and well taken care of and fed and tolerates whatever diet you feed without health complications, I think any rabbit diet any pellet/or no pellet, any veggie, any hay is okay.
     
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  12. Mar 2, 2013 #12

    Eden

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    Thanks so much for your input, I was really scared but I did feed her some dark leafy greens (a small amount) I'm not sure how old she is because the people who gave her to me found bunny babies by accident. She looks about 3 mos. though. She is doing fine after eating a little bit of lettuce and a little bit of cilantro. I'll just be sure to give her a little bit. I wanted to ask which foods are best for rabbits?? I know about hay but she doesn't seem very "into" it like she is with her lettuce and cilantro. What's best to feed her at this point? Someone did mention oats to me though how much of this should I give her?
     
  13. Mar 2, 2013 #13

    ladysown

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    safe food for buns.... mostly dark leafy greens, be careful with cabbage family plants (can cause bloat), parsley, cilantro, carrot greens (rather than carrots), hay - as long as it's smells like hay and not like mould, what else is safe for buns.....apple branches, banana skins

    Grains can be given: note many grains can be fattening, so don't over do these things. 3 month old bun should be able to handle a teaspoon of regular kitchen oatmeal uncooked. A five pound bun should be able to handle one tablespoon a week DEPENDING on what you are feeding him.

    Things to be aware of: spinach and swiss chard will often turn pee an orangey-red colour.
    Sweet things like fruit and carrots are occasional foods as they are basically sugars and can upset tummies.

    my buns get a base diet of pellets every morning.
    I am deliberate about separating when they get pellets and when they anything else. I want them to eat their pellets, which I measure feed.
    anything else I give them varies on season and availability.
    In the winter - hay every other day, mixed grains alternative days, one day no treat, one day apple branch. Occasionally as I have it available: carrots, greens, melon rind, apple, banana skins, kiwi skins

    In the summer: a variety of greens five days a week. one day a week hay, one day a week nothing.

    In the fall it changes as greens die back with the gradual addition of grains.

    my mixed grain ration consists of pumpkin seeds (a safe worm preventative), BOSS, oatmeal, horse oats and bird seed.

    The only thing I strongly advise people against is feeding their rabbits a diet of carrots and celery. I breed rabbits as well as do some rescue and I've rescued TOO many buns fed a diet of carrots and celery... they end up orange skinned and boney, and getting them going again on a good diet is a challenge.
     
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  14. Mar 2, 2013 #14

    Azerane

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    In terms of the lettuce, I found it best to just avoid it, or otherwise, just give one small piece of leaf every now and then, as sort of a little treat, because I found with my last rabbit that it would make his poo running otherwise. I prefer to use other greens, parsley and basil are two good greens that can be easily grown for your buns at home.
     
  15. Mar 2, 2013 #15

    missyscove

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    There are definitely wrong ways to feed a rabbit (e.g. I once saw a rabbit whose owners had been feeding it only iceberg lettuce and nothing else), but there are plenty of right ways too.
    The general consensus in the pet world is that rabbits should be offered an unlimited supply of grass hay (timothy, orchard, meadow, brome, bermuda, oat, etc) although young bunnies can be offered alfalfa (and even my adult rabbits get an occasional piece of alfalfa as a special treat). For growing rabbits, they are typically offered as many pellets as they'll eat in a day of a good quality plain pellet (just pellets, no seeds or fruit or cereal bits mixed in). Adult rabbits need a lower protein pellet in a limited portion. I personally feed Oxbow essentials adult rabbit food (formerly called bunny basics/T) and my two buns (3 lbs and 5 lbs) split just over 1/4 cup of pellets daily. If/when you choose to add greens to your rabbit's diet, do it slowly. There are some rabbits that can't handle greens and there are some that seem to be sensitive to certain greens. My buns definitely love their greens and I like that they add some variety to the diet and help keep them hydrated.
    Some folks do a diet of just hay and greens and no pellets. Personally, unless I had a nutrient analysis done on my hay and my greens, I wouldn't feel comfortable going that route. I like knowing that all the micronutrients my buns need are included in their pellet.
     
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  16. Mar 7, 2013 #16

    gmtstars

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    You don't free feed hay to your buns? Why is that?
    You also feed then nothing at all on some days?

    I'm a new bunny owner and did extensive (I thought?) research on the absolute best care for my bunny to live the fullest happiest life and everything said free feed unlimited hay. Am I doing it wrong?
     
  17. Mar 7, 2013 #17

    woahlookitsme

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    there is no doing it wrong. . .

    You can feed however you like to. Some people like me cant always afford enough hay to free feed. We have 20 rabbits so trying to free feed that much hay would cost a fortune. Some people also dont always have hay available to them and it can be expensive trying to get enough to free feed.

    If you are able to free feed that is great and you arent doing anything wrong, neither are the people that feed it every other day or only sparingly. It is when you have a problem such as GI issues pointing to something being done wrong. If your rabbit is healthy then there is nothing wrong with how you feed. It just varies so much from person to person.

    Ladysown I believe does feed her rabbits daily but there are things she gives or doesnt give on certain times of the year. Like she said all of them get pellets everymorning. When she said one day a week nothing she meant that on those days she doesnt give any kind of greens or hay just pellets. or thats how i took it
     
  18. Mar 7, 2013 #18

    gmtstars

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    Woahlookatme,

    Thank you for clarifying. I was sort of confused! I buy my hay by the bale at my local feed store, 110 lb for $25. So far I have barley gone through a flake, but that's just one bun. I cannot imagine 20! How crazy, and lucky! But I notice the hay at the pet store is extremely expensive. So I can understand that.
     
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  19. Mar 7, 2013 #19

    dayna

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    I feed 100% gathered forage and kitchen scraps. I live in Hawaii so I guess it's more easy for me than most. I try to make it a balanced diet. My rabbits reproduce fabulously with large healthy litters of shiny healthy babies. My Does are beautiful, shiny coats and are not too fat or too skinny. All my rabbits enjoy their forage food.

    I have a total of 6 acres, and I go out twice daily to gather forage for my rabbits.
     
  20. Mar 7, 2013 #20

    Margarita

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    I used to feed my rabbits greens (not iceburg) and she always had tummy troubles. I have taken it out of her diet and she is on a unlimited hay and 1/4 cup pellets a day. Ill give her some greens as a treat if im cooking but very small amount and not to often. she hasnt had the problems since i took her off veg. But some rabbits can handle it and eat it every day, mine couldnt.
     

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