Rabbits should be fed mainly on grass and hay. We recommend feeding a very small amount (an egg cup a day) of commercial mix to your rabbit to compensate for any mineral deficiencies in the grasses they're eating, but this food should be no more than 3% of your rabbit's body weight per day. There should never be commercial food left in the bowl at the end of the day. To eat grass and hay a rabbit needs to be hungry and it would probably choose commercial mix over its natural diet if given the choice.
Rabbits have continually growing teeth. If their diet doesn't involve a large amount of gnawing, they will develop dental problems. Dental disease is due to a combination of genetic factors, diet and calcium metabolism. To help metabolise calcium your rabbit requires vitamin D which is activated by sunlight. Thus a diet involving lots of grass and a regular exposure to sunlight will aid in preventing disease. Rabbits intestines are designed to process large amounts of grass and plant material. This roughage is essential for the optimum functioning of their intestines.
Rabbits' diets can be complemented by many other vegetables and greenstuffs listed below. Rabbits should not be fed lettuce since is it nutritionally poor and may give them diarrhoea.
Safe Plants For Rabbits
Grass of any type is safe, palatable and ideal for rabbits. Vaccination against viral haemorrhagic disease(VHD) is advisable due to the risk of transmission from wild rabbits.
Wild plants that are safe include: agrimony, brambles, chickweed, clover, coltsfoot, cow parsnip (hogweed), dandelion, young docks, goosegrass, ground elder, groundsel, knapweed, mallow, mayweed, plantain, raspberry, sea beet, shepherds purse, sow-thistle, trefoil, vetch, wild strawberry and yarrow (NB: Many of these plants are illustrated in Virginia Richardson's book Rabbit Nutrition).
Safe cultivated plants include: artichoke leaves, apple, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and carrot tops, celery, cauliflower leaves, chicory, coriander, corncobs, green beans, kale kohl rabi, lettuce (in moderation), parsley, peapods, pear, parsnip, radish, spinach, spring greens (spring cabbage), sprout peelings, sunflowers plants, swedes, sweetcorn plants, turnips, watercress. N.B.Turnips and Spinach should be fed occasionally (not more than once a week) due to their oxalate content.
Tree leaves can be eaten by rabbits, especially from fruit trees and hazel.