Food & Essential Supplies

People who own rabbits and rodents not only have the pleasure of interacting them, but the responsibility of keeping them well-fed and well-housed. Feeding these animals may be a bit more involved than filling their bowls with pellets and making sure they always have fresh water.

Rodents and rabbits need to be fed in a way that not only gives them the nutrients they need but keeps them engaged and active.

Rabbits

The digestive systems of rabbits have evolved to let them make the most of tough, fibrous plant material that doesn’t have a lot of nutrients. It’s for this reason that they have ever growing teeth and why they have the disconcerting habit of eating their own feces. Because rabbit pellets are cheap and can be found in any pet store, many owners prefer to feed them to their rabbits instead of foods that are rich in fiber. Feeding a rabbit exclusively on these very rich pellets leads to obesity and the problems that come with it. What rabbits need more than pellets are green leafy vegetables and grass hay. They not only have a lot of fiber that supports the health of the GI tract but keep the rabbit’s teeth in check because of how thoroughly they need to be chewed.

Greens

Some people worry that introducing the rabbit to green, leafy vegetables causes diarrhea, but this is true only if the rabbit’s been exclusively fed rabbit pellets or grain. The loose stools are a sign that the GI tract needs to adjust to the new type of food and should go away after about a week. Experts recommend the rabbit be given at least three different types of greens such as kale, dandelion or beet greens.

Work for Food

The food should also be presented to the rabbit in a way that’s mentally stimulating and mimics the way wild rabbits have to constantly forage for food. It can be tucked into old toilet paper rolls, placed in boxes or folded up in paper. This make the rabbit think it’s found food on its own, which is highly satisfying. As for treats such as bits of fruit, experts recommend about a tablespoon for every two pounds of the rabbit’s weight. Foods that are high in sugar and starch such as potatoes should be avoided.

Rodents

Rodents also have teeth that constantly grow and are made for constant gnawing, but their diets are somewhat different. Gerbils eat seeds, but rats, mice and hamsters are omnivores. They all do well on food made for rodents that have a 4:1 ratio of protein to fat. Though these dry foods can be kept in a bowl all day, rodents also appreciate having to do a bit of hunting.

Treats

Fruit and nuts, cheese and cooked meat can be offered as treats. However, they shouldn’t be the main part of the rodent’s diet, for they will cause the rodent to grow fat. If these foods aren’t eaten within an hour or so, they’ll need to be taken out of the cage so they won’t spoil.

Guinea Pigs

Like rabbits, guinea pigs thrive on greens and especially on grass hay. Their intake of grass hay should be unrestricted. The owner should also know that guinea pigs are unusual among animals in that they don’t produce their own vitamin C. Some guinea pig food have vitamin C added, though the vitamin degrades over time. The best way to make sure that a guinea pig gets its RDA of vitamin C is to keep feeding it grass hay and dark green vegetables such as kale and green peppers. Chewable vitamin C tablets are also available for guinea pigs.

Another guinea pig habit is spraying water from their bottles around the cage. The owner should make sure the bottle is kept full of fresh water and that the guinea pig’s bedding is changed frequently to guard against mold.

You Might Like