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Hay is the most important part of a rabbit’s diet. Approximately 80% of the diet should be unsoiled hay. Rabbits should have free access to as much clean hay as they wish to eat. It helps with proper tooth wear and intestinal motility. Several different types of hay are available, timothy hay, orchard grass, etc. Alfalfa hay tends too high in calories for the average rabbit, but it is useful for growing or pregnant rabbits.
Rabbit pellets are the next most important part of the diet. They provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they are too high in calories and too low in fiber to be 100% of the diet. Pellets should make up 10-15% of the diet, which is 1/8-1/4 of a cup for the average rabbit.
The last components of a rabbit’s diet are vegetables and treats. Vegetables should be fresh and washed or pesticide free. These should be mostly dark, leafy greens with some peppers, peas, carrots, etc mixed in. This should make up a small portion of the diet at 5%. Treats can be given in very small quantities. Examples of good treats are dried, unsweetened fruits like papaya, pineapple, banana and apples.
Interestingly, rabbits produce a special type of soft feces called cecotropes. Eating these special feces is important for proper nutrition. Normal bacteria in the gut break down indigestible fiber into products that the rabbit can use when it is eaten in the cecotropes. The hard fecal pellets are waste and should be cleaned from the cage.