Posted: June 4, 2014, 5:40 p.m. EDT
© Courtesy Heather Custis
Healthy, adult rabbits that are not breeding or lactating usually do not require any supplements.
Q: I have an English Spot rabbit. I don't know how old she is. Is there any way I can tell how old she is? My English Spot lives inside. I don't take her outside because we live in the woods. I’m worried she is not getting all the vitamins she needs, and I was wondering about electrolytes. The only kind I have seen is for horses and it’s a powder you add into water. I tried to put a mineral wheel in her cage. She didn't like it, so I’m looking for something different.
A: Once rabbits attain adult size, it is difficult to determine how old they are. Most rabbits reach adult size by the age of 4 to 6 months. By then, at least by size, their age cannot be determined.
Regarding food supplements, we are always concerned that we are not giving a proper and complete diet to our rabbits as we rarely are able in homes to duplicate the natural diet of rabbits. But we do believe we come pretty close when we feed a diet of high-quality hays and grasses; limited, high-quality pellets; and a variety of fresh vegetables. With a diet such as this, we usually do not recommend further supplementation with vitamins and electrolytes unless there are specific health needs for a particular rabbit.
If you have concerns, the best solution is to visit your veterinarian and bring with you all of the food labels so your veterinarian knows exactly what your rabbit is eating and then can devise a plan to go forward if supplements are needed. But in a healthy adult, non-breeding, non-lactating rabbit, if the diet is appropriate, it would be very unusual for a rabbit to require vitamins and electrolytes.
One final thought on vitamins. A reason we do not supplement vitamins in rabbits is that rabbits obtain many vitamins by ingesting their cecotropes. Bacteria in the cecum, especially, produce the necessary vitamins for rabbits. When rabbits ingest the cecotropes, they are getting a dose of vitamins.
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