Rabbits should only eat a handful of fresh grass each day. However, they should be given an unlimited supply of hay. Fresh grass is a great occasional treat, but hay should be the staple of a rabbit’s diet.
Since hay is considered a type of grass, the correct answer to this question would be “unlimited.”
However, it’s important to ask whether you’re talking about fresh grass or hay. Both can be nutritious for your pet, but one is considered a staple in a rabbit’s diet, while the other is viewed as a treat.
Hay is an absolute essential for rabbits. Rabbit teeth grow indefinitely, and the coarse nature of hay keeps them down to a manageable length. Fresh grass is good too, filled with fiber that can help your rabbit’s stomach, but it’s also more likely to cause digestive issues.
What You'll Learn
Grass Vs. Hay: What’s the Difference?
Think of the process as if you were drying fruits. Mangoes on their own are watery, soft, and fresh. Dried mangoes, however, are less sweet, chewier, and smaller.
The same process happens with grass into hay. Virtually any grass can undergo the hay-making process, but a few are preferred due to the length in which they grow.
Timothy and Orchard grass are among the most popular selections for hay-making. These grasses are cut with a mower at their most nutritious point, turned over a few times in the sun until crunchy, then shipped off.
These grasses are usually not treated with pesticides or herbicides, making them safe for rabbits, horses, cows, and other hay-grazing creatures to enjoy.
How Much of Each Can My Rabbit Have?
Hay for your rabbit is essential. It keeps your rabbit’s teeth from getting too long and provides plenty of fiber for your furry friend’s gut.
If a rabbit doesn’t get enough hay, it can develop serious gastrointestinal problems, the most common being GI Stasis.
Muscles of the stomach are contracted, and intestines shrink. Healthy bacteria are set off course, and your bunny can get sick very quickly.
Alfalfa hay is filled with calcium and protein, making it ideal for keeping your rabbit energetic and promoting healthy bones. There are many other options, such as oat, timothy, and meadow hay. Feel free to mix and match hay as you please. If your rabbit is a picky eater, mixing the new hay with the familiar one may be an excellent way to transition them to a new diet.
Pellets are a great option as well. Timothy hay pellets are the most popular treat due to their fiber and fat-reducing qualities. They also carry a large number of vitamins.
Vitamins A, D, and E are the most prominent nutrients found in these yummy snacks. Pellets are not essential for your rabbit’s diet, so only give them about half a cup daily.
Fresh grass may seem like a great idea, but it has consequences. Most lawns are treated with pesticides, fertilizer, and fungus treatment which isn’t ideal for your rabbit’s health.
If you can find some untreated grass, give it to your pet immediately, as it quickly loses its nutrients.
Fresh grass shouldn’t make up a considerable percentage of your rabbit’s diet, so if you decide to give it to them, only give them a handful or two. You can also let them graze for about 15 minutes.
Adjusting Your Rabbit to Fresh Grass
If you let your rabbit roam around in an outdoor cage, watch them the whole time. Rabbits are escape artists and are very sneaky (my rabbit has gotten out of his indoor cage multiple times, I don’t trust him to be outside!).
However, letting them graze can be beneficial. Don’t let your rabbit graze for too long at first. Their stomach isn’t used to fresh grass and will need time to adjust. If they seem uncomfortable or if their behavior changes, stop feeding it to them immediately.
Never replace your rabbit’s supply of hay with fresh grass. It is not as coarse as hay and will not help their teeth stay down to a manageable size. Hay is the most important part of a rabbit’s diet, but you can view fresh grass as an occasional treat.
As your rabbit adjusts to fresh grass, you can let them graze a little more every few days. Be on the lookout for symptoms of poisoning, such as upset stomach, lethargy, and constipation. If your bunny does well with grazing, you can let them graze for about 15 minutes daily. Any longer may fill them up and they won’t have an appetite for their hay.
Unlimited Hay – Limited Fresh Grass
Both fresh grass and hay can be fed to your rabbit. While hay is essential for rabbits, fresh grass can also be beneficial. These meals provide different levels of fiber, protein, and calcium. It is up to you to decide which type of hay you prefer to give your bunny. Determine if they may need more protein for energy levels or fiber to aid digestion.