Rabbit Diet and Feeding

Rabbits are herbivores (plant eaters). In the wild, their main diet is grass although they also eat a range of other vegetation including leaves, twigs, and tree bark. All these foods have something in common: they are high in fibre but low in nutrients. To cope with this, rabbits have evolved a specialised digestive system that can process plant fibre and extract the additional nutrients locked inside (something that most animals, including humans, are not able to do).

Find out how Rabbit Digestion works

Rabbits' specialized digestive system means you must feed the right combination of foods to keep your rabbit healthly and their digestive system working effectively.

The Basics

Around 80% of a rabbit's diet should be grass or hay (dried grass). The rest is made up of a combination of fresh foods (e.g. vegetables and plants) and commerical dry food (e.g. pellets/nuggets). Select the foods below to learn more about each.

Components of a Balanced Diet

Hay and/or Grass

Plants & Vegetables

Dry Food

Monitoring Your Rabbit's Diet

No single diet can be right for every rabbit and getting the right balance of foods can be complicated. Even rabbits the same size may have different diet requirements. The exact combination and quantity of foods a rabbit requires daily to meet their energy and nutrient needs depends on several factors including their age, size, environment, and level of physical activity. As these factors change throughout your rabbit's life you will need to reassess their diet regularly to ensure it is still meeting their needs.

Why is a Rabbit's Diet Important?

Preventing Health Problems

Having such a specialised digestion system has drawbacks. Whilst it's very efficient at processing high fibre food, the wrong types of food or sudden diet changes can easily disrupt it throwing the whole digestive system out of balance. This can have serious consequences, the most common include:

Diet is also a factor in other health problems, such as:

Whilst diet is not the only factor in preventing illness and disease, it plays an important part in maintaining your rabbit's health and well-being. By feeding the right foods, you can prevent a whole range of health problems and in doing so lengthen your rabbit's lifespan.


The types of food you feed and the manner in which you feed them also affect your rabbit's behaviour. Wild rabbits naturally spend over two-thirds of each day moving around their territory grazing. When pet rabbits are fed too much concentrated food, which is quick to eat, they often become bored and develop behaviour problems because they do not have any activities to fill the hours that would usually be spent feeding. With no appropriate outlet for foraging behaviours, such as striping bark from trees, they can become destructive behaviours, like wallpaper striping and cage chewing. By making your rabbit's diet and feeding pattern more natural, you can encourage your rabbit to exercise both its brain and body, helping to maintain a healthy weight and prevent boredom.

Please note: you should never make sudden changes to your rabbit's diet. Even if your rabbit has a 'bad' diet, suddenly changing to a 'good' diet can do more harm than good. Changing or introducing new foods should always be done gradually.