Meeting Your Lionhead Rabbit’s Nutritional Needs

To keep your rabbit healthy, happy and looking its best you want to make sure you’re meeting your rabbit’s nutritional needs.

Feeding your lionhead rabbit is not that complicated. However, its level of activity should be taken into consideration to meet its nutritional diet. Rabbits, like many other pets, should be given the right amount of recommended food for a balanced nutrition because proper diet can lengthen the life expectancy of your rabbit.

In this section, you’ll learn the majority of your pet’s nutritional needs as well as feeding tips and foods that are good and harmful.

The Nutritional Needs of Rabbits

Rabbits are herbivores which mean that the entirety of their diet should be made up of plant products.

It is also important to realize that rabbits have very high needs for fiber in their diet.

Making sure that your rabbit’s nutritional needs are met is actually quite simple – a balanced diet for rabbits should be made up of high-quality commercial pellets, fresh timothy hay, oat hay, and fresh vegetables.

Your rabbit also needs constant access to fresh water because this too plays a role in your rabbit’s digestion.

What should you feed a rabbit?

Commercial Pellets

When choosing a high-quality commercial pellet to use as your rabbit’s staple diet, there are a few things you should look for.

First of all, the pellets should contain at least 18% fiber – the more the better.

Secondly, make sure that the pellets you are buying are fresh. Do not purchase more than your rabbit can eat in 6 weeks- time because that is about as long as the pellets will remain fresh. After that point, they will lose some of their nutritional value and they won’t provide your rabbit with the nutrients he needs.

Different Types of Grass Hay

Aside from choosing a quality pellet for your rabbit you should also stock up on fresh grass hay.

Grass hay is loaded with calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D and other nutrients plus, the process of eating hay helps to keep your rabbit’s digestive tract healthy and also helps to wear down his teeth.

Your rabbit needs at least one type of grass hay – timothy hay is generally the easiest and most cost-effective option to find. Ideally you would give your rabbit a variety of other hays too, as they all have slightly different nutritional content. Another good type is oat hay.

4 types of hay for rabbits

This sampler box contains 4 different types of hay so you can let your rabbit have variety and see which types it likes.

Alfalfa hay is okay for young rabbits because it contains more protein than other hays but it should only be offered occasionally for adult rabbits because fiber is more important for them than protein.

As with the pellets, you want to make sure that your hay stays fresh. 

Fresh Vegetables

Last but definitely not least is fresh vegetables.

You should aim to feed your rabbit about 1 cup of leafy greens per 2 pounds of bodyweight per day with a small amount of other vegetables – leafy greens are nutrient-dense and should comprise about 75% of your rabbit’s fresh vegetable intake. Leafy greens include things like spinach, parsley, mustard greens, swiss chard, arugula, lettuce, dandelion greens, cilantro, and more.

Here is a list of non-leafy green vegetables that are also safe for rabbits:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Edible flowers
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Snow peas 
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage (any type)
  • Broccolini
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Wheat grass
  • Fresh Fruits

In addition to fresh vegetables, you can also feed your rabbit small amounts of fresh fruit – these should comprise no more than 10% of your rabbit’s fresh diet. Feed your rabbit no more than 1 teaspoon per 2 pounds of bodyweight on a daily basis.

Below are the list of fruits that are safe for lionhead rabbits:

  • Banana
  • Melons
  • Star Fruit
  • Apricot
  • Currants
  • Nectarines
  • Apple
  • Cherries
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Berries
  • Pineapple

Important Reminder

When feeding your lionhead rabbit fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure you don’t go overboard with the portions and make sure to introduce new foods slowly. Always keep an eye on your rabbit’s digestion to make sure he tolerates the new foods well.

Consult your veterinarian if he your pet develops any kind of digestive problems after feeding him a new food.

Toxic Foods to Avoid

It might be tempting to give in to your rabbit when he is at the table, but certain “people foods” can actually be toxic for your pet. As a general rule, you should never feed your rabbit anything unless you are 100% sure that it is safe.

In this section you will find a list of foods that can be toxic to rabbits and should therefore be avoided.

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Bread
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Citrus peels
  • Corn
  • Fresh peas
  • Grains
  • Green beans
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Seeds
  • Sugar

If your rabbit eats any of these foods, contact the ASPCA Pet Poison Control hotline right away at (888) 426-4435.


Tips for Feeding Lionhead Rabbits

Now that you know what to feed your lionhead rabbit you may be wondering when and how much to feed him.

To make sure that your rabbit gets the nutrients he needs, you need to adjust his diet based on his age. For example, baby rabbits that have just been weaned can benefit from higher protein content in their diet while adult rabbits need more fiber than protein.

Here’s an overview of the ideal composition of a lionhead rabbit’s diet as determined by his or her age:

Kaytee Juvenile rabbit pellets
Juvenile or baby rabbit pellets have a higher protein content

Baby Rabbits (Birth to 7 months)

  • From birth to 3 weeks – mother’s milk only.
  • From 3 to 4 weeks mother’s milk, small portions of pellets and alfalfa hay.
  • From 4 to 7 weeks – mother’s milk, free access to pellets and alfalfa hay.
  • From 7 weeks to 12 weeks – unlimited access to pellets and alfalfa hay.
  • From 12 weeks to 7 months – introduce veggies one at a time, unlimited access to pellets and alfalfa hay.

Young Adult Rabbits (7 months to 12 months)

  • Introduce timothy hay, grass hay, oat hay, and other hays while decreasing alfalfa hay.
  • Decrease pellet consumption to ½ cup per 6 pounds of bodyweight.
  • Increase daily consumption of vegetables to 1 cup per 6 pounds of bodyweight.
  • Introduce fruit in small quantities – no more than 1 to 2 ounces per 6 pounds bodyweight.

Mature Adult Rabbits (1 year to 5 years)

  • Unlimited daily access to timothy hay, oat hay, and other grass hays.
  • Decrease to ¼ to ½ cup pellets per 6 pounds bodyweight.
  • At least 2 cups fresh veggies per 6 pounds bodyweight daily.
  • Fruit ration no more than 2 ounces (about 2 tbsp.) per 6 pounds bodyweight daily.

Senior Rabbits (6 years and older)

  • Continue adult diet as long as healthy weight is maintained.
  • Offer unlimited access to pellets if needed to keep weight up.
  • Offer alfalfa hay to underweight rabbits as long as calcium levels are within the normal range.

Follow this guide to make sure you’re meeting your rabbit’s nutritional needs, and if you want to learn other ways to keep your rabbit healthy, read more here.

Need more? Read the Ultimate Guide for Lionhead Rabbits

Book - Lionhead Rabbits: The Ultimate Guide for Lionhead RabbitsIf you’re still looking for more detail on meeting your lionhood rabbits nutritional needs, I’d recommend reading “Lionhead Rabbits: The Ultimate Guide for Lionhead Rabbits”. You can find it on Amazon in paperback or on Kindle.