What Do I Feed my Rabbit in Winter?

Are you relatively new to owning a rabbit or maybe you’re experiencing wintertime for the first time with your bunnies and you’re unsure what to feed your rabbit in winter?

Rabbit in snow

Don’t worry as the most popular types of food for rabbits are listed below and a few that you may not have thought of.

Some are available in your home right now whilst some of them may have to be purchased.

Our guide below of top rabbit winter foods hopefully will point you in the right direction and ensures that your rabbit receives the correct type of food to help it not just survive the winter but thrive.

Check out our list of foods for rabbits during winter and beyond

Best Rabbit Foods to Feed Your Bunny in Winter

  • Hay

Rabbits require hay as part of their diet all year round. Hay should make up 80% of their diet. As a guide, the amount of hay you give daily should be as big as your rabbit.

There is a wide range of different types of hay available, including alfalfa, oat, and Timothy. Some rabbits have preferences so it is worth experimenting to ensure your rabbit eats well over the winter months.

Fresh hay should be given daily – even over the winter. Hay keeps the rabbit’s digestive system working properly while keeping their teeth in good condition.

Be sure that you know the difference between bedding hay and feeding hay.

You will be likely to provide your rabbit with more bedding hay as the temperature drops. Feeding hay is more fragrant and often more green in color than bedding hay.

Make sure that you continue to provide the right amount of feeding hay as you up the amount of bedding hay going into your rabbit’s hutch,

  • Rabbit pellets

Pellets are not a mandatory part of a rabbits diet but are an excellent addition to it.

When choosing rabbit pellets look for Timothy-based ones, as the alfalfa-based pellets are higher in calories and lower in fiber. An ideal rabbit pellet should be 22% crude fiber, no more than 14% protein, with 1% fat and 10% calcium.

Be careful about giving to much pellet based food in their diet. It can lead to a reduction in foraging behavior and result in a bored bunny.

If you do use pellets there is no need to change the type of pellets you give over the winter.

  • Rabbit ‘porridge’

A mix of bran, porridge oats, water and the rabbit’s favorite hard veg grated can be a great treat if served slightly warm over the winter months.

Add boiling water to the bran until the consistency is thick and porridge-like. Add a small amount of oats and stir them in.

It must be left so that all of the water to absorb. Stir in the chosen veg – carrots and beetroot both work well.

Allow to cool sufficiently before feeding to the rabbits. The porridge is high in fiber, making sure good digestive function in the rabbits. It is also very calorific and should only be given as an occasional treat.

  • Bramble/apple/raspberry leaves

These leaves include woody fiber and increase the rabbit’s appetite by improving gut function.

This is important over the winter as the rabbit will be less active, leading to poor digestive movement. Bramble leaves are also readily available over the winter meaning they are an ideal addition to your rabbit’s winter menu.

  • Grass

If the snow cover is light it is still possible to let your rabbit graze in a secure outdoor enclosure. Rabbits must always have growing grass – do not feed your rabbit mown grass clippings.

Grass clippings can ferment in the rabbit’s gut and lead to, sometimes, fatal complications.

Allowing rabbits to graze over the winter also makes sure they get enough exercise. Don’t worry about the rabbit getting cold.

Rabbits naturally produce a winter coat as it turns colder and so may even enjoy playing in the snow, as long as they can reach the grass underneath.

  • Fresh vegetables

Fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, celery, and greens should be given every day.

This should continue through the coldest months. If you grow your own veg it is possible to stockpile and freeze produce to ensure your rabbit has a balanced diet throughout the winter.

While rabbits are famous for loving carrots these should be given only as an occasional treat. The leafy carrot tops are high in calcium and should not be given too often as rabbits don’t require much calcium in their diet.

The root has a very high sugar content that can lead to dental problems and don’t provide the rabbit with any of the fibre necessary to keep the gut healthy.

The same applies to fruit. Apples and pears leftover from the fall harvest are fine, but not to be given every day.

  • Water

Rabbits must have access to freshwater daily.

This can be an issue for outside rabbits over the winter months if the temperature drops to below freezing.

If it is suitable, it is possible to insulate the rabbit’s water bottle with an old sock or place a heat lamp nearby but away from the rabbit itself.  Just make sure the rabbit can’t get hold of the insulation.