Quantcast

Switching a bunny off parrot food

Help Support RabbitsOnline:

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
A few weeks ago I found out my mom has been feeding her outdoor bunny parrot food (the kind with the bright colorful pieces and tons of dried fruit) as her staple. I was appalled. The bunny is a couple years old and has been eating the parrot food since she was a few months old. On the bright side, the bunny does get veggies and herbs (I don't know how often) and regularly gets to run the yard and graze. I convinced her to start feeding a healthier diet and I'm trying to work with her to find a diet that everyone is satisfied with. It won't be an ideal diet. She's going to feed foods rabbits shouldn't have regardless, so I'm trying to find lesser evils and compromise. If I try to make her completely cut out all foods that aren't ideal she'll get annoyed and go back to parrot food, so I'm picking and choosing my battles.

I got her a bale of mixed hay and some Oxbow bunny pellets. The bale of mixed hay does have some alfalfa in it, which I know isn't great for adult bunnies but it's better than parrot food and better than feeding nothing but alfalfa. I'm trying to find a decent mix of dried fruit and seeds that can be used as a healthier treat. I was thinking of getting her a small bag (everything has to be small bags because she's terrible at portion control) of BOSS for the winter, some rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, and dried bananas.

What other not terrible (but not ideal) things can I get so she's satisfied that she's giving enough treats (I can't convince her to give zero treats. Never happening.) that the bunny gets really excited about? She's thoroughly unimpressed with the Oxbow treats I got. I'm sure the bunny does get fresh fruit sometimes, but that alone won't satisfy her need to give treats.

Again, the goal isn't an ideal diet. Maybe someday, but no time soon. I'm just trying to get her to feed less awful alternatives.
 

Blue eyes

Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
7,910
Reaction score
4,604
Location
Arizona, USA
Sounds like you will do well for the bunny. I once met a rabbit that had been fed nothing but dry dog food!

The hay and Oxbow is fine. I'd skip the idea of a bag of dried fruit and seeds. That'll likely be too much temptation for your mom to give the rabbit. Rabbits shouldn't have seeds at all (BOSS is fine) and the dried fruit should be limited to no more than a tablespoon per day (which doesn't sound like that limiting would happen). Even fresh fruit should be limited, so while it is fine when limited, maybe it's best to not even encourage it.

Maybe you can convince her to use greens as "treats" instead. Rabbits can go crazy for a favored green. Some of mine have gone crazy for cilantro or for basil. Whatever her rabbit really likes-- that's a healthier way to offer a treat. The trick is to find a green that the rabbit clearly gets excited for (and then portion control won't be much of an issue). If you can help find that type of green that she can see bunny get really excited about, maybe (just maybe?) that may help convince her to use that as a treat instead. It may depend on how the idea is presented too. ;)
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
Since the bunny likes dried fruit she's going to feed it somewhat regardless. It's unfortunate, but it's better than yogurt drops and corn I suppose. I can just make sure she gets stuff without extra sugar added and get small bags. I know the bunny gets excited for herbs, and she does give herbs regularly, but it's not as satisfying as giving the equivalent of cookies and candy.

Is there a recipe for relatively healthy bunny cookies? I could mail her a big batch for the holidays and she can freeze them to feed throughout the year instead of colorful parrot food.
 

Blue eyes

Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
7,910
Reaction score
4,604
Location
Arizona, USA
Hmmm... don't know if you can appeal to her motherhood.... Did she feed you loads of cookies and candies as a kid? The case could possibly be made that the same care needs be taken with the rabbit -- plenty of healthy stuff and not a bunch of junk. (unless, of course she did fill you with crap food ;) )

Caring for someone (or a pet) implies doing what's best for them. Surely she can see that feeding a bunch of crap is hurting the very animal she professes to love.
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
She feeds anyone anything that will make them happy. She's had grocery store cashiers over for thanksgiving dinner because they didn't have family. If it eats, she'll feed it anything and everything that brings happiness. It's a wonderful quality, just not when it impacts feeding a species appropriate diet.

She gets that the food isn't healthy, but the bunny is excited to eat it and does crazy little jump kicks, so she wants to feed what brings joy. My goal with all her pets (I've gone down this same road with her cats and dogs, who now have fabulous diets) is to find that one healthy thing that makes them just as exicted as the junk food did. "Them" being the animal and my mom.

I want to wean my mom and the bunny onto slightly less awful treats and then slowly get her switched over to completely healthy alternatives. I'm in charge of choosing most of her pet food (obviously I wasn't involved in the bunny diet until now) and finding the deals because of her tight budget, so I can slowly work the unhealthy things out with each food order without making them go cold turkey.
 

samoth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
345
Reaction score
236
Location
MI, USA
Is your mom aware that obesity in rabbits can cause or exacerbate medical problems, and that specialized rabbit medical care can be very expensive? Sometimes money can be a very good motivator.

I adopted an already-chubby 3.5-year-old dutch and was a bit too generous with junk food for the first year or two. After all, eating is her favorite hobby, and I just wanted her to be happy, right? Well, the excessive weight she gained led to clinical issues with a pre-existing condition, which led to over $1k in vet bills in a matter of a few weeks. I cleaned up my rabbits' diets very quickly after that; not just for my bank account, but for their own health -- my dutch would not have survived without medical intervention.

The desire to give tasty treats to our pets (and children) is tempting, because we want nothing more than to see them happy. However, we need to understand that doing so too often over an extended period of time may actually cause them harm, even if our intentions are good.

Remember the saying, "everything in moderation." :)
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
I've explained everything wrong with her feeding methods dozens of times. She makes everything she feeds fat. Last night she was insisting she needs to find something else for the bunny because she's worried she isn't getting everything she needs. No matter how many times I told her hay, good bunny pellets, and veggies are a complete diet she just wasn't satisfied. She doesn't see anything wrong with feeding bags of bird food. If I don't find her an alternative until I can talk some sense into her, she's going to put the bunny back on parrot food and add in 10 bags of dried fruit and every kind of seed mix you can find.

It's not my bunny so I can't dictate what she's fed. I've never even met the bunny, and it takes a long time to make my mom change her ways. It's going to take a year or two to get the bunny on the right diet. My mom is incapable of big, sudden change in any aspect of life. Everything has to be done in baby steps. It's frustrating.

Out of everything a rabbit shouldn't eat, what stuff is the least awful? Like one step up from parrot food? If I get her a small bag, say 1 pound of dried papaya, and tell her it has to last 6 months she'll try hard to make it last that long. If I had a rabbit (someday, but not any time soon) I would just buy in bulk and give her weekly rations. The bunny is going to get on a good diet if it's the last thing I do, it'll just take time and be a very slow process. I'm still working on cat food with her and it's already been a year. Things have improved, but they aren't yet ideal. It's slow work.
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
What about dried herbs and flowers? She'll feel better because it's colorful and looks exciting. The bags are pretty expensive so she'll be less likely to use it up fast. Maybe apple sticks too?
 

Liz Talley

Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2018
Messages
11
Reaction score
7
Location
Ocean View, DE
She feeds anyone anything that will make them happy. She's had grocery store cashiers over for thanksgiving dinner because they didn't have family. If it eats, she'll feed it anything and everything that brings happiness. It's a wonderful quality, just not when it impacts feeding a species appropriate diet.

She gets that the food isn't healthy, but the bunny is excited to eat it and does crazy little jump kicks, so she wants to feed what brings joy
Oh my...I'd swear we have the same mom, haha! My mom doesn't have a bunny though--at least not anymore. My mom is a (retired) Italian baker and she will feed people and any animal anything that makes them happy--at almost 70, I know she will never change.

My parents used to watch my bunnies when I'd go away, and my mom would feed them junk/high sugar food....bananas, carrots, even that cheap bunny food with added junk in it although I provided plenty of hay, greens, and quality pellets. She thought it was so cute when my bunny would get excited over the food. I finally got her to just feed my bunny a small piece of banana or carrot instead of a big piece--at least I made a little progress.
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
My mom is almost 50. I consider her plenty young enough to make some changes to her feeding! She's getting super impatient with me finding treats. She's only been feeding healthy food for a few days and apparently its killing her not to feed rainbow chunks of sugary things. By the end of the week the parrot food will be back. It wouldn't be so bad if she had some kind of portion control. I really don't know how I'm going to find something affordable that she's satisfied with. Dried fruit has to stay, she won't get rid of it. I can't find a bag of it with all bunny safe stuff and no added sugar.
 

samoth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
345
Reaction score
236
Location
MI, USA
Would your mom be interested in joining a rabbit discussion board on the internet? Maybe the voice of the crowd would help her change her ways for the better.
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
No, she won't. She's so annoyed with me that I think she might actually look into rabbit nutrition herself to see if I'm telling the truth. That's a long shot though. She's more likely to just switch back to feeding junk because the rabbit is still alive and they market similar foods for rabbits, so she doesn't see how it can be all that bad.

If I don't find something healthier (and colorful) that the bunny is crazy for she won't work towards improving the diet at all.
 

minmelethuireb

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2013
Messages
127
Reaction score
16
Location
Chambersburg PA
Eating only parrot food and herbs the poor bunny is probably malnourished. Your mom has to realize that rabbit food is best because it is specifically formulated to meet their needs. Maybe she needs to hear it from a vet? You could offer to pay for a vet visit for a checkup and nutritional advice.

It's not ideal, but I think better things to mix with the Oxbow include Kaytee "healthy toppings" Papaya, Higgins berry patch, any treats with dried carrot. Try to have her avoid seeds, nuts, and dairy.
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
I can't afford to pay for a vet visit unfortunately. If I could the bunny would definitely get a check up and get spayed so there would be no baby bunnies if she escaped.

I tried explaining to her again the importance of proper food, and once again she promised to feed better and only feed what I tell her to, but in 2 or 3 days she'll be freaking out over the lack of sugary treats.

I'll go to the local feed store today and see what healthy bunny treats they have. Sometimes there's really nice locally made treats. If nothing else I can get her dried papaya and carrots
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
I'm spending so much time looking at rabbit stuff! By the time I can afford to add another pet to my bunch of critters I'll know plenty about bunnies.

I'm broke, my mom is broke, so I bargain shop. I found some super cheap wood chews from China and the reviews are good, but is it too risky? I don't know if the bunny gets enough things to chew on and it worries me. The chews would take a long time to get here, but at this point what's one more month when she's been getting inappropriate food for years? She has good hay, pellets, and veggies (I assume the veggies are good, I really don't know).

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-Wood-Chew-Stick-Twig-for-Small-Pet-Rabbit-Rat-Chinchilla-Hamster-Toy-50g/273051604106?epid=2215377025&hash=item3f9324d48a:g:X4sAAOSwywRaOx8M
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Fresh-Apple-Wood-Chew-Sticks-Twigs-for-Small-Pets-Rabbit-Hamster-Guinea-Pig-Toy/322615750939?epid=4006163588&hash=item4b1d65b11b:g:4nAAAOSwighZd~X9

I'm also going to get a small bag of the Kaytee papaya treats since they're only like $5. My limit is $15 for healthier treats that appeal to my mom's need for colorful food. My dog is overdue for shots so I really really can't spend much.
 

Aunt Mary

New Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2018
Messages
2
Reaction score
1
Location
Charleston, SC
Check out freeze dried fruit. If you have an Aldo’s, they have good prices. It is just fruit, no added sugar. You can get apples, strawberries, pineapple, etc. and pretty colors naturally. Cut them up into smaller pieces. Mix in an airtight jar. Add directions about how many pieces a day she can give.

Plus, get papaya enzymes for them. Break them each in half, bunny can have four to six pieces a day depending on weight of bunny. Mine have always loved them. Good for digestion.
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
There's no Aldo's here. There's actually no stores here where I've ever found plain freeze dried fruit. Any fruit I get her will have to be online.
 

April LD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Messages
124
Reaction score
78
Location
Concord CA
Also, if your mom has a garden, or if there is a flower shop near by, you can see if they will give you rose petals, or other plants that are bunny safe instead of throwing them out. Or i f you or your mom, or a neighbor has a rose bush that is not sprayed with pesticides, make sure there are no bugs and dry the rose petals and make a homemade batch of color petal leaves to use as treats. Then you have free treats, colorful treats, and mom can give those.

My buns LOVE dried bamboo to chew on - order on amazon for like $10. You can also try Binky Bunny - they have various items for buns that are "colorful" but natural - dried herbs, flowers, leaves, etc. then mom can give a pinch a day. I also think using the "freshies" as the treat would be good. Get some Kale, Cilantro, Mint, Italian parsley, mustard greens, collard greens, cut up a baby carrot and make a bunny salad bag and mom can give a handful a day while bun plays.

To save money - if your mom has a green thumb look into live herbs in the store. She can plant them and let bun chew on them for a short while so it doesnt' die, and then you ahve continual herbs for bun...you can also buy color wood blocks (not usually recommend).

Use toilet paper tubes add some rabbits kibble, a piece or two of dried fruit, cover in news paper or safe used brown paper so bun has a toy and uses energy to get to the good stuff...I'm sure bun will love that and mom might like to see bun tossing it around and digging into it to get the treat.

There are links on Pintrest, videos on UTube, for homemade bunny treats but the better ones are not colorful...they are green. Most items colorful are items that should be fed in small doses or not at all.

Good luck!!!
 

Spitfire!

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
2
Location
U.S.A.
She does give the bunny rose petals from her rose bush. The flower shop by her house isn't nice enough to give scraps. If they're just going to throw it away anyway, I don't understand why they won't just let a bunny eat it instead. My mom grows a handful of herbs that the bunny gets to enjoy. Apparently, during spring all the seeds scattered around from the bird food start to grow in the bunny's area so there's a big green salad for a little while. I would love to get a cheap mix of safe seeds she can scatter along the side of the bunny run. I don't suppose that's something that's already sold? If she can protect a couple plants and let them go to seed, there could potentially be a recurring bunny garden.

Can rabbits have lemongrass? I have a small plant that I can cut a little bit off of, dry, and mail to her.

Binky Bunny was one of the first places I looked but it's wwwaaaayyyy too expensive. I found cheaper options on other websites that I might try at some point. I do avoid colored wood blocks, but I think my mom likes them. Do you think smashing strawberries and using them to stain the wood would work? I imagine I could get the wood to a light pink.

The toilet paper tubes are a great idea! Would it be problematic if the bunny ate a little bit of the tube?
 

JBun

Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2012
Messages
9,077
Reaction score
3,623
Location
Utah, , USA
Honestly, I'm not sure birdseed is going to be any worse than feeding a rabbit a bunch of sugary fruit. Either way a lot of carbs/sugars can be really bad, but with it not being your bun you can only do so much. If a high carb/sugar treat is going to be fed by your mom regardless, it's probably not going to matter whether it's birdseed or fruit, just as long as it's a food that is safe for rabbits to eat.

One problem to be aware of with the rabbit getting birdseed and not rabbit food pellets, is the nutrients the rabbit needs won't be provided. Birdseed doesn't have the proper levels of calcium(or other nutrients), which can lead to bone and dental issues if the rabbit is eating it primarily over a balanced rabbit pellet or green/veggie/hay diet. So it is important for the bun to be getting a balanced diet from either pellets or greens/veggies/hay, with birdseed and fruit as treats and not the bulk of the rabbits diet. I don't know if your mom knowing this fact will matter or not, but maybe eventually you can help her understand this.

Rose petals is a fine treat. I would avoid any flowers from shops because they likely have chemicals on them. Only use flowers and forage from places you know are free of pesticides/herbicides/chemicals. You don't need to color the wood, unless this is for your moms benefit. Just make sure you are using a rabbit safe wood(not all are safe to use). Fresh apple branches are my rabbits favorite wood. They like to strip the bark off of bigger branches, and will completely consume the smaller shoots. Willow is a popular one too. You just have to be careful when you are buying wood online, to make sure it is going to be rabbit safe as not all sources can be relied upon to ensure this.

I would just keep encouraging leafy greens and veggies over seeds and fruit. Hopefully eventually she'll stick more with the greens/veggies. Just do the best you can and don't stress too much over it.

This link is a good list of foods and branches that are considered safe for rabbits.
http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/GI_diseases/Food/feeding_en.pdf
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top