The three top options for rabbit pellets.
Looking for a healthy and convenient pellet brand to feed your pet rabbits? It can be hard to know what to feed with so many options on the market. How do you know whether pellets have safe ingredients, include everything a rabbit needs… or if your rabbit even needs pellets?
Let’s talk about the basics of feeding rabbit pellets and the top five rabbit pellet brands.
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Rabbit Pellet Basics
When it comes to feeding pellets to rabbits, there are a few things you want to keep in mind.
First, you want to be limiting the amount of pellets your rabbits get. The general rule is to feed a maximum of 1/4 cup of pellets per 4 pounds of body weight.
Check the ingredients of your pellets to decide if they’re the right pellets for your bunnies. Find the nutrition information on your bag of pellets.
First, you want to be aware of what type of pellets you’re feeding – are they timothy hay-based or alfalfa hay-based? This is important because adult rabbits should only be eating timothy-based pellets. Alfalfa pellets can be fed to baby rabbits up to 6 months old, as they have too much calcium for an adult rabbit.
You also don’t want your pellets to have a whole bunch of filler ingredients. There shouldn’t be corn or colored pieces mixed into your pellets. I prefer the first few ingredients to be forms of hay rather than fillers like soy hulls or wheat middlings, though these fillers don’t automatically mean a food isn’t a good option. I also like to make sure molasses isn’t one of the very first ingredients on the list since it’s just sugar.
Do Rabbits Need Pellets?
There is quite a bit of debate among rabbit owners about whether rabbits even need pellets. Many people are starting to be more specific with what veggies they feed and are eliminating pellets from their rabbit’s diet completely.
Pellets were originally developed for rabbit breeders and farmers to provide concentrated nutrition. This is not really necessary for the house rabbit that is fed a healthy diet of hay and veggies. There has also been some evidence from rabbit owners that pellets can cause digestive issues, dental issues, and obesity.
If you are considering removing pellets from your rabbit’s diet, I highly suggest doing your own research first. It can be harder for a new owner to figure out exactly what veggies to feed. Check out this post by the House Rabbit Society that discusses removing pellets from a rabbit’s diet.
What Makes a Healthy Rabbit Pellet
If you do choose to feed your rabbits pellets, it’s important to pick a high-quality option that provides safe ingredients and the nutrients your rabbit needs.
The pellets you choose shouldn’t have any mixed-in pieces – they should be just pellets. The added pieces are generally just junk food and aren’t healthy for your bunny.
You also want the main ingredient to be timothy hay (or alfalfa for baby bunnies). You can check this by looking at the ingredients – hay should be the very first ingredient on the list.
In terms of nutrients, there are a few things you want to look for:
- Low fat content – you want less than 3%
- High fiber content – look for 20-25%
- Protein content – between 12-14% (for adult rabbits, 15-18% for babies)
- Calcium content – look for .5-1% (see notes below)
- Vitamin A, D, and E
For most of these, it’s relatively easy to just look for percentages in the range and know your rabbit will get the nutrients they need. However, calcium is a little bit trickier.
Sources I looked at to get these percentages are included at the end of this article!
Calcium Levels for Rabbits
Rabbits do need calcium in their diets, but it’s also important to make sure they don’t get too much. Too much calcium can lead to kidney problems and prevent them from absorbing other nutrients they need from their food.
Pellets normally provide a percentage range in the nutrition facts. I personally am ok with my pellets having a low end of the range below .5% calcium levels because they also get calcium through their daily veggies. I choose one higher calcium veggie to feed a few times a week to be sure my rabbits are getting enough calcium along with the levels in their pellets, without getting too much.
Now, let’s go over five of the best rabbit pellet brands.
Oxbow Garden Select Rabbit Food
This is the pellet that I feed my rabbits!
Oxbow is a reputable company that makes some of the healthiest products for small pets. Plus, one of the advantages of these pellets is that most pet stores carry Oxbow products. Even if they don’t carry the Garden Select version if they have Oxbow products they can likely order it for you.
These pellets retail for around $15 for a 5-pound bag. Shop Oxbow Garden Select Pellets
One thing I really like about the Oxbow food, is the first three ingredients are timothy hay, oat grass, and orchard grass. That means the largest percentage of the pellets is made up of those three things. There is no molasses included and the majority of the pellet is not made up of fillers.
- Fat: 2.5%
- Fiber: 22-26%
- Protien: 12% minimum
- Calcium: .35-.75%
- Vitamins: Vitamin A, D, and E all included
These fit within all of the percentage ranges we are looking for, with the exception of the calcium starting slightly on the low end. As I mentioned before, though, I don’t mind them being a little low on calcium since I also feed calcium through my veggies. These are the pellets I feed and recommend!
Small Pet Select Rabbit Pellets
Small Pet Select is a great brand that really cares about the health and well-being of pets. They offer a great range of quality and generally healthy products for your small animals. The only downside is these can really only be ordered online.
These pellets run around $20 for a 5-pound bag. Shop Small Pet Select Pellets
The first ingredient of these pellets is timothy hay, but they do include a little bit more filler than the Oxbow pellets. They also do contain molasses, but it’s not super high on the list.
- Fat: 2.8% minimum
- Fiber: 25-29%
- Protien: 14% minimum
- Calcium: .4-.6%
- Vitamins: Does contain vitamin A, D, and E
These also fit pretty well within the percentages. The protein on these is a tiny bit high since the minimum is at the top of the recommended range.
Small Pet Select also has a “Non-GMO, Soy-Free” version of their pellets, which I don’t recommend. The percentages for this food do not fall within the recommended percentages.
Mazuri Timothy-Based Rabbit Diet
Mazuri is another brand that is pretty healthy in general and creates products specifically for exotic pets.
The first few ingredients of these pellets are ground timothy hay, wheat middlings, and ground soybean hulls. While these have a decent amount of fillers in them, they are not incredibly unhealthy. Molasses is also included in these pellets.
These pellets run about $15 for a 5-pound bag. Shop Mazuri Rabbit Diet
- Fat: 1.5% (minimum)
- Fiber: 18-22%
- Protien: 14% (minimum)
- Calcium: .75-1.25%
- Vitamins: Vitamin A and E included
These aren’t too far off from the recommended percentages. Protein is a tiny bit high since it starts at a 14% minimum. The high end of the calcium range is also a tiny bit high but not bad. There was no information on whether vitamin D was included in these pellets, but they do include A and E. These wouldn’t be a bad option if your bunny was picky and didn’t like either of the healthier options!
Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food
These pellets are also by Oxbow, but they are a bit of a different formula. Sometimes rabbits can be a little bit picky so these could be a good backup option if your bunnies won’t eat one of the healthier pellets!
The ingredients in these aren’t as healthy as the Garden Select version – the main ingredient is timothy grass meal. Molasses is also pretty high on the list, as well as soybean hulls and soybean meal.
These pellets run around $10 for a 5-pound bag. Shop Oxbow Adult Rabbit Pellets
- Fat: 2%
- Fiber: 25-29%
- Protien: 14% (minimum)
- Calcium: .35-.75%
- Vitamins: Does include vitamin A, D, and E
These pellets are also pretty close to the recommended ranges. Protein is slightly high as the minimum of the range is 14%. Calcium is also slightly low, but again, I remedy this by feeding calcium through veggies. These aren’t a bad option either!
Sherwood Pet Health Adult Rabbit Pellets
Sherwood is a newer brand that has come out with several different versions of rabbit pellets in the last few years.
We’re going to be taking a look at the Free-Choice Timothy Based Adult Rabbit Pellets. These retail for about $20 for a 5-pound bag. Shop Sherwood Adult Rabbit Pellets
The first few ingredients of these pellets are timothy hay, safflower meal, and whole flaxseed. We haven’t seen safflower meal or flaxseed in the other pellets, and these are supposed to be a bit healthier than the traditional fillers. These pellets also don’t contain soy or molasses.
- Fat: 4% (minimum)
- Fiber: 28-33%
- Protien: 11% (minimum)
- Calcium: .4-.9%
- Vitamins: no information on whether these are included
First up, these pellets are a bit high in fat. We want below 3% and the minimum for these is 4%. The minimum fiber is also a little low, but not too bad. I’m ok with the calcium levels being slightly low as I’ve mentioned before, they’re pretty close to the recommended range. There is also no information about whether these pellets contain vitamin A, D, or E. I personally would try any of the previous four options before these.
Final Thoughts About Pellets for Rabbits
Choosing the right pellets for your rabbits can have a big impact on their overall health. It’s important to pick a brand with safe ingredients and that adds to the overall nutrition of your rabbit’s diet. I hope this article helped you decide what pellets would be the healthiest option for your rabbits!
Read more about rabbit care:
- Pellet’s Place in the Mature Rabbit’s Diet, House Rabbit Society
- Small Animal Nutrition, House Rabbit Society
- House Rabbit Handbook: How to Live With an Urban Rabbit, Marinell Harriman, pg. 56-61