Posted by: soniahs | March 25, 2011

Friday bunnyblogging: Noe’s many interests (part 2)

As mentioned previously, Noe has a fairly wide range of behavior. It surprises some people when I tell them she’s litterbox-trained or pushy or does things to get our attention. It seems that a lot of people have ideas about rabbits that are shaped by an experience with rabbits confined to an outdoor hutch, or mental images of rabbits as lab animals huddled in cages. In these settings, the rabbits aren’t really given the capacity to develop interesting behaviors- and, let’s face it, they probably don’t think much of the humans who just come to feed and water them, and clean their cages.

At any rate, an abbreviated list of bunny behaviors that Noe exhibits includes gnawing, eating, exploring, frolicking, napping, pooping, digging, getting the humans’ attention, and warning the humans of danger. Today, let’s move on to behavior #2: eating.

Foraging for hay.

Rabbits in the wild eat a high-fiber diet. Like other grass eaters, they forage most of the day. Their guts are set up to continually process lots of plant matter, and they can get sick quickly if they’re on a low-fiber diet. Gut stasis is a dangerous problem if rabbits are left without fibrous food to munch on, so rabbits need a constant supply of grass or hay.

A rabbit does not live on hay alone.

Of course, rabbits also need a variety of veggies, for vitamins, minerals, and just plain variety. Noe has a bit of a problem with oxalate-containing veggies: too much of these give her bladder crystals. So we have to limit her intake of certain types of veggies, like spinach. As you can see, she has no problem eating other veggies.

Noe and the pellet ball.

Noe’s third main nutritional source is pellets. Often times, people with rabbits will assume that the rabbit food pellets you get at pet stores are nutritionally complete, and are all you need to feed a bunny. This actually isn’t the case– pellets are high in protein and fat, and are comparable to feeding your rabbit cheeseburgers all the time. Pellets as a sole food source are great when you want to have a rabbit that gets large quickly (e.g., you’re raising it to eat), not so great if you want a healthy pet. Noe gets a few tablespoons of pellets a day. Sometimes we put them into the “pellet ball,” which has a small hole in it. She rolls it along the floor till the pellets come out, then snarfs them up.

Finally, treats. For Noe, treats are usually little bites of fruit when we’re eating an apple, prunes, banana, etc. She most definitely does not get cookies, but I bowed to the cuteness and will include this photo here. …and yes, Noe has done this sort of thing before.

Desdemona. Photo: Kem Sypher, winner of the 2004 Oregon Humane Society’s photo contest.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing the info Sonia. Is it okay to have Timothy hay and pellets available at all times? They seem to eat both equally …. and OMG, continually!

  2. Definitely hay, but I’m not sure about the pellets. The rabbit.org site has more info on that- they advise 1/4 cup per 4 lbs bunny weight, but that varies for old and young rabbits. If your bunnies are eating that amount, it’s probably OK to leave them out.
    Noe weighs just about 4 lbs, but we actually underfeed her pellets b/c she gets so many veggies. And when we accidentally feed her pellets twice, she acts just as starving as she did when we fed her the first time. Every time we feed her, she acts like she hasn’t been fed for a week…

  3. […] eating […]


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