Whether you’re a first-time rabbit owner or a seasoned bunny caretaker, it’s easier than you might think to be taken off guard by just how much kibble they can eat. If you’ve run out of your rabbit’s food for this or any other reason, take heart: there are healthy alternatives that can keep your rabbit happy until more dried food arrives.
Even though there is no getting around a rabbit’s need for hay, running out of dried rabbit food isn’t a huge barrier to their health. Follow along with this article, and we’ll introduce you to plenty of fruits and vegetables that can act as useful supplements to your rabbit’s diet. From high fiber to plentiful vitamins, you’ll leave equipped with options to tide your rabbit over indefinitely.
The 10 Rabbit Food Alternatives and Supplements
With rabbit nutrition requirements in mind, let’s look at some of the best fruits and vegetables that you can feed to your rabbit when out of rabbit food.
1. Dandelion Leaves
A little-known green that’s delicious in salads for humans as well, dandelion leaves are widely available in the spring and summer. You can pick them from outdoors in areas with minimal road access, but be careful not to take from anywhere that may have been sprayed with chemicals. Always wash any freshly picked greens thoroughly before feeding them to your rabbit.
Fed in moderation, broccoli’s high fiber content and dense nutrient profile can make it an excellent supplement to your rabbit’s diet, stem and all. Be careful not to overdo it, though, as this brassica family vegetable can be stressful for some rabbits’ digestive systems.
3. Collard Greens
Possessing a healthy blend of protein and fiber with very little sugar, collard greens are a wonderful addition to any rabbit’s diet. There are no counterindications for feeding, so feel free to give your rabbit collard greens every day.
4. Beet Greens
High in iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber, the greens that usually get cast off from the tops of beets are a great supplement to your pet’s nutrition. Rabbits can also eat the beetroots in small quantities, but the greens are much better for their health.
5. Romaine Lettuce
Hardier and with a much better nutrient profile than iceberg lettuce, Romaine (as well as red and green lettuce varieties) is a useful addition to your rabbit’s diet. You’ll want to feed it to them in moderation, as its abundant water content can lead to diarrhea if overconsumed. Avoid iceberg lettuce entirely, as it provides almost no nutritional value.
Incredibly healthy thanks to its wide array of vitamins and minerals, spinach is also high in fiber and will help to naturally regulate your rabbit’s digestion.
Another brassica family vegetable that’s better served in small quantities, kale can be a helpful adjunct to your rabbit’s diet thanks to its exceptionally high fiber content. Try rotating it with other leafy greens to keep your rabbit’s belly happy and healthy.
Aromatic but not unpleasantly pungent to your bunny’s nose, common mint is an amazing herb to plant inside your home or in your yard. It grows quickly and establishes itself almost immediately, providing an ongoing (and free!) source of fiber in your rabbit’s diet.
Popular in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, basil of any variety makes a great snack for your rabbit. Not all rabbits love the smell equally, though, so let your bunny decide before buying extra for them.
Another fast-growing herb that does well in indoor gardens is cilantro, and is many a rabbit’s favorite treat. It’s high in fiber and has a moderate vitamin and mineral profile, making it a good everyday addition to your rabbit’s diet.
- Related Read: Can Rabbits Eat Rice?
Understanding Your Rabbit’s Dietary Needs
It’s important to understand that while your rabbit can survive without a constant source of dried kibble, they absolutely must have fresh timothy hay in order to stay healthy and well.
In addition to timothy hay’s importance in regulating your rabbit’s digestive health and gut bacteria, it provides a rough texture that grinds down your rabbit’s constantly growing teeth. Without hay, your bunny friend will likely suffer gastrointestinal distress in the short term, and serious dental problems in the long run.
Your rabbit can get along quite well just with plentiful sources of fresh hay and water, but fruits and vegetables will fill out vitamin and mineral requirements that hay might miss out on. You’ll need to be careful not to overfeed these nutritionally dense alternatives to your rabbit, limiting vegetables to a daily feeding and higher sugar fruits to only an occasional treat.
If you have plenty of hay and water for your rabbit, dried rabbit food is truly more of a luxury than a necessity. When it turns out that you’ve run out of their kibble prematurely, don’t sweat it; just feed them a little bit extra of any of the vegetables on this list, and they’ll stay satisfied until more dried food arrives.
Featured Image Credit: Ashley Hanawalt Photos, Shutterstock