Choosing the Best Feeding Pellets for Rabbits
What are Rabbit Pellets?
Rabbit pellets, or nuggets, are a complementary addition to your rabbits’ diet and can be a source of nutrition when fed correctly. Originally, pellets were developed as a cheap way to feed livestock and these earlier foods tended to be high in fat content and lacked the high quality nutrition needed to support long term health and wellbeing.
However, good-quality, high-fibre rabbit pellets are now more widely available. They often contain a base of grass with additional herbs and are supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Functional ingredients such as prebiotics may also be added to help support a healthy digestion.
Do Rabbits Need Pellets?
Given properly, and in the correct amounts, high-quality rabbit pellets offer a variety of vitamins and minerals that can support good health. They should be provided as part of a balanced diet. Rabbits need a high fibre diet made up of 85-90% high quality feeding hay or fresh grass, 10% rabbit safe fresh greens, 5% rabbit nuggets, or pellets, and the occasional healthy treat. Your rabbits should also have constant access to fresh, clean water.
Overfeeding rabbit pellets, or giving poor-quality pellets, can cause health issues such as obesity and digestive problems.
How Many Pellets Should You Feed Rabbits?
Rabbits should be fed around 85-90% good-quality feeding hay and about 5% pellets. Our Excel Feeding Plan, developed alongside leading small animal vets and nutritionists, provides a guide on the types of food and amounts you should be feeding your rabbits. Following this plan will ensure your rabbits get enough beneficial fibre to promote good health as well as enjoy a variety of foods and textures which they would find in the wild through their foraging behaviour.
It’s important to feed the correct amount of nuggets for rabbits based on their type and weight. You’ll be able to find a feeding guide on the back of the feed packet. It’s also vital that rabbits have constant access to fresh drinking water.
What are Rabbit Pellets Made From?
The best rabbit pellets are made from grass and other beneficial ingredients, which are compressed into small nuggets so they can be easily included in your rabbits’ diet. Although they make up only a small portion of their feeding needs, they’re still an important factor. The vitamins and minerals included support healthy eyes, skin and coat and promote digestion when given as an addition to a balanced diet.
Including nuggets also helps prevent selective feeding, where rabbits choose only the high-sugar parts of their feed. This is often seen in rabbits who are fed muesli and has been shown to increase the risk of a number of health problems
There are two main types of rabbit pellets: cold-pressed and extruded. This relates to the way they’re manufactured.
Cold-Pressed vs Extruded – What Pellets are Best for Rabbits?
What are Cold-Pressed Pellets?
Cold-pressed rabbit pellets are made at low temperatures and with high pressure to formulate the ingredients together.
What Does Extruded Rabbit Feed Mean?
Extruded pellets are manufactured at higher temperatures, similar to the process of cooking, thus destroying anti-nutrients and increasing food safety. The cooking also increases the digestibility of the food which can help reduce the risk of digestive issues.
What Should I Look for in Rabbit Pellets?
The best rabbit pellets should consist of high-quality natural ingredients and contain no artificial colourings or preservatives. They should also:
- Include grass as their main ingredient
- Contain the correct balance of vitamins and minerals for your rabbits
- Be high in beneficial fibre. Our Excel Rabbit Nuggets contain at least 36% beneficial fibre, meaning your rabbits get the nutrients they need.
Some nuggets also contain a prebiotic to support digestion and you should always ensure you choose the right pellets for your rabbits’ age: junior, adult or mature.
It’s important to remember that rabbit pellets are not a replacement for hay or fresh grass but are intended to be a complementary part of the diet.
What Other Foods Should Rabbits Avoid?
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits should never be fed a muesli-based diet. Research by the University of Edinburgh in 2013 revealed that muesli style diets can increase the risk of a number of health issues. This is because muesli style diets can encourage selective feeding, where rabbits will often reject the nutritious parts of the mix, which can result in:
- Dental issues
- Digestive problems – the gut can stop working altogether in serious conditions
- Uneaten sticky droppings, attracting flies that lay eggs and cause flesh-eating maggots.
There are lots of foods that are great for our rabbits. High quality feeding hay is easy to buy in store, or online. And you will be able to find high quality rabbit pellets too. While fresh greens only make up 10% of your rabbits’ diet, they are an important part. Greens provide rabbits with nutrients, as well as replicating foods they would forage for in the wild. Some healthy, rabbit safe greens options include savoy cabbage, dandelion, green beans, and cavolo nero. All easy to forage or to find in your local supermarket.
Unfortunately, there are some plants that are toxic for rabbits. These include:
- Plants that grow from a bulb e.g. tulips and hyacinths
If you believe your rabbits have eaten any of these listed above, speak to your vet.
What Rabbit Food do Vets Recommend?
Along with us here at Burgess Pet Care, The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund and the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) agree that the majority of your rabbits’ diet should be fresh feeding hay or grass (around 85%). 10% should be leafy greens and 5% of their diet should be made up of high-quality rabbit pellets. Fresh water should always be available.
Rabbits don’t need to be given any other types of food, other than the occasional grass or hay-based treats.
Let Burgess Pet Care help you look after your rabbits
Give your rabbits a healthy, balanced diet and incorporate Excel Rabbit Nuggets to help them thrive. Feed them as part of the Excel Feeding Plan, ensuring you include a high-quality feeding hay – choose from our selection of Excel Rabbit Feeding Hay – a small amount of fresh, leafy greens, and some occasional tasty Excel Rabbit Treats.
Make sure fresh drinking water is always available and your rabbits will enjoy a nutritious diet that promotes good health and wellbeing.
For more information on caring for your rabbits, take a look at our other blog posts. There are fun facts, tips and guides on everything from bonding with your rabbits to choosing suitable accommodation.