So You Want to Get a Rabbit 2
– The Rabbit Diet
A rabbit’s tummy is extremely delicate! In my experience the biggest cause of fatality is a diarrhea. And don’t think like it’s a person’s diarrhea that you can gut (pun intended) for days to weeks. A rabbit’s’ runny poop can kill it within hours. And so the reaction time must be really fast. To help aid you as a future rabbit owner, here are a couple of tips I’ve picked up along the way.
• New food should be introduced in the course of weeks – Just because you see a list of vegetables that rabbits can eat doesn’t mean that you can feed all of those right away. For example, when I got my Lily from Avilon Zoo, one of the key things we asked for is the pellets she was eating. Even though those were not high quality pellets (don’t look and smell it), her tummy was used to those. I weaned her away for about 2 months before buying new pellets. However, I did risk giving her timothy hay right away. So her diet was unlimited timothy hay and the substandard pellets from Avilon Zoo. In practice, I even had multiple types of timothy hay and star grass hay, but I didn’t risk those at once. Along the way, I patiently introduced different types of vegetables, but never more than a leaf or so at a time (basil, kang kong, kamote leaves, dill).
• Hay and clean water are given in unlimited amounts - I could never understand the store practice of feeding rabbits on specific times only (both food and water). My bunnies are always surrounded in hay. That’s how much you need to prepare for. That typical 750 gram timothy hay that is most available in Manila will be finished in a week if it’s the only food you give to one bunny. Depending on who you get it from, that’s about P400 / week. I can’t tell you how precise that is because it’s been a while since I had only that. I always feed a variety of timothy and star grass hay (my personal preference). If I had to advice you, I would keep at least 3 bags in reserve. There are infinitely more dog and cat supplies out there than bunny ones. And knowing how critical food is to rabbits, a healthy dose of preparation goes a long way.
• Veggies and Pellets in restricted amounts – I can’t tell you the practices of breeders and pet shop owners. But as a rabbit owner that cares very much, I err on the side of caution. On a given day, I may give my full grown rabbit – 5 kang kong leaves, 1 very small slice of carrot, a handful of alfalfa hay and about a small scoop of pellets in the course of the day. I don’t give them all at one time. This is not a hard and fast rule of course. My guide is really the poop. If the poop looks a little small and dry, I would give a few more wet kang kong leaves. If the poop is on the wet side, I may restrict veggies and pellets and just keep to hay. This is a practice I have to do every few hours. Yes, you check poop that often. So on the side, you should be cleaning out poop as real time as possible so that you know which “samples” are recent.
• Some paranoia in order – Whenever I see deformed or slightly soft poop, I typically cancel whatever it is I have for the next few hours to observe my rabbit. Yep, rabbit above all else. When the poop is better, I can leave.
So future rabbit owner, please consider my experience. I’ve learned a lot of them the hard way. Taking care of a rabbit takes some money, a lot of time and a healthy dose of paranoia.