Nearly all of the fibre in a rabbit’s diet comes from feeding hay and fresh grass. In fact, between 85-90% of your rabbits’ diet should consist of quality, fibre-rich feeding hay and fresh grass every day, with the remaining amount being made up of feeding nuggets and fresh leafy greens to provide them with the rest of the vitamins and minerals they need. Constant access to a clean water supply should always be available, and we encourage regularly checking your rabbits’ water supplies to check they’re not only accessible, but clean and fresh.
The Problems with Feeding Muesli
It is a common misconception that rabbits should be fed muesli, when in fact, research has proven that the feeding of muesli in rabbits can lead to severe health problems. Recent research conducted by The University of Edinburgh showed that rabbits fed on a muesli diet can result in some of the problems below:
- Digestive Health – reduced gut function and a high number of uneaten caecotrophs (sticky droppings)
- Dental Issues – overgrown teeth would prevent the rabbit from picking up food or drinking
- Eating less hay – hay is vital to ensure wear of the continuously growing teeth
- Lower water intake – water intake is important for urinary tract health
- Obesity – eating muesli-style foods without hay can result in rabbits becoming overweight
What is selective feeding?
Rabbits fed on muesli-style foods will often selectively feed. This is where they pick out the high starch elements of the diet and leave the rest (typically the pellet or high fibre elements).
Selective feeding leads to the consumption of an unbalanced diet. In addition, hay intake and water intake are lower when muesli is fed leading to other potential dental and digestive issues. Over 90% of vets do not believe muesli style foods should be sold for pet rabbits*.
How do I transition my rabbits from muesli to nuggets?
If you are currently feeding a muesli style food to your rabbits you should gradually transfer your pets onto a hay and nugget based feeding plan over a period of between 14 and 28 days, by gradually reducing the amount of muesli and increasing the proportion of nuggets until they have completely replaced the mix.
*Independent research, conducted by VetSurgeon.co.uk and VetNurse.co.uk, 2013