This site is mainly set up for rabbit science and production questions. For questions regarding rabbits as pets please refer to Links page for Pet Rabbit links.
If you have questions relating to rabbit science or production, please us e-mail link below, and include information on where you live, your involvement with rabbits, and the details of your rabbit question.
Your rabbit question will be answered either from our large database of rabbit science articles, or by a scientist in the appropriate field of study, somewhere in the world. The question and answer might be published in the Pan-American Rabbit Science Newsletter (or in the FAQ section below) if the information would assist other rabbit people. Please be as specific as possible in describing the situation regarding your question.
Read the FAQ's on rabbits below, then post your question on the Mail Page.
Growing rabbits, young does, pregnant rabbits and lactating rabbits should have free-choice feed. Adult bucks and non-reproducing does should be restricted fed, about 145 g per day of pelleted feed, for a 4.5 kg rabbit.
Giving too many "treats" can cause digestion problems for rabbits. A few dandelion leaves, or a small bouquet of clover, are a suitable treat, no more than once per day. A good treat for all rabbits, every day, is a small handful of straw or coarse grass hay. To ourselves, straw doesn't sound like a treat, but rabbits have a unique digestive system and enjoy straw and coarse hay as a treat. When rabbits eat a fresh blade of grass, they may fold it up and swallow it; but when they eat dry hay or straw, the chop it into certain sized bits, not too big and not to small, the size of which is very important to their digestive processes.
For the main diet of the rabbit, a complete pelleted ration will give good results, if you have pelleted feed available. However, it will probably never be possible to make a truly "complete" rabbit feed; be sure to provide some straw and hay in your rabbit's environment at least once per day.
For pet rabbits, follow the feeding recommendation above, and don't over-feed your rabbit. Rabbits don't need large amounts of feed, so you will have to find some other way to enjoy your pet besides the giving of food - try making rabbit toys and play spaces, such as large plastic pipe fittings or metal ducting (straight pieces, elbow, and tees) that rabbits can play in.
Much of what you need to know about rabbit feed is not listed on the label. On your feed label you will have items such as Crude Protein, Fat and Fibre. You will have no indication of the dry matter content, the total energy content, the digestible protein, the fibre components: lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose and perhaps one of the most important considerations, starch level.
The requirements for rabbit nutrition and examples of how to achieve these are given in the June 1997 issue of my publication "Pan-American Rabbit Science Newsletter" Vol. 2(1). You can order this issue for only US$8.00.
Basically, the most up-to-date requirements (see the Newsletter article for the footnotes) are as follows, on a dry-matter basis, and in this order of importance: NDF >30%, starch <19%, crude protein 18.9%, ADF 18 to 20%, ADL (lignin) 4%, crude fibre 15.6%, fat <4%, calcium 1.2%, phosphorus 0.53%, magnesium 0.33%, sodium 0.28%, zinc >50ppm. This requirement provides for a general purpose feed for both young and reproducing rabbits. How many of these things do you see on your feed label? Terms such as "NDF" are explained in the Newsletter article, or you can ask your nutritionist at your feed mill for the explanation.
If you would like to try making your own rabbit feed, go to Make your own Feed page.
It is best to re-mate the doe one hour later, this means one single mating one hour after the first single mating. See the Raising Rabbits page for full details.
It is easy to see the difference between males and females in young rabbits. Hold the rabbit in front of you with one hand, in a vertical position, so you are facing its belly. With a finger, or thumb and finger, of the other hand, pull up slightly on the top edge of the urinary opening. In males, you will see a small circle, and in females a vertical line. It's best to not do this to bunnies less than 6 weeks old, they are too delicate!
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