Have Food Scraps? Start a Bunny Bowl
Eating healthy in a world of convenient processed foods is challenging at times but I do my best to eat what nature intended. I start the day with a fruit and vegetable packed smoothie followed by a vegetable centric lunch. Dinner is where I pack on the protein and of course there are the daily snacks of berries, peaches, apples, clementines, etc. Not as easy as grabbing a pop tart but definitely healthier.
Our rabbits face the same challenges as us when it comes to convenient processed foods vs natural sustenance. It’s a lot easier to grab a bag of rabbit pellets from Tractor Supply than it is to grow them their own fodder year-round. While I haven’t ditched the alfalfa pellets completely yet I have started to heavily subsidize their diets with “real” food.
The best part aside from happier, healthier rabbits? It doesn’t cost anything extra. It’s FREE. In fact I would wager my feed bill has gone down as a result.
So where is this free food coming from? Food scraps. One man’s trash is another rabbit’s treasure.
From strawberry tops to carrot peels, apple cores to squishy blueberries, you may be throwing out an entire rabbit feast as you go through your day. The leafy insides of celery that you usually chuck in the trash? Yeah, rabbits love that. I challenge you to put all of your uncooked food waste in a bowl for one day and see how much you end up with. Don’t worry about what’s rabbit friendly and what’s not, the purpose of this initial challenge is to understand how much food you discard in a day. If you have chickens then go ahead and throw some meat scraps in there too. One banana peel and you’ll probably find yourself needing a bigger bowl.
Did your bowl fill up? Mine did. Before noon I had the perfect bunny salad or compost pile contribution. By dinner I started to understand why food waste is one of the largest components going into municipal landfills in the United States. In addition to eating better I want to lead a more sustainable life, not to mention spend less money. A permanent bunny bowl on the kitchen counter has made for a win-win-win solution:
I waste less food – LIVE SUSTAINABLY.
My rabbit feed bill has gone down – SPEND LESS MONEY.
The naturally fed rabbits provide a healthier source of meat for my family – EAT BETTER.
Like I said, win-win-win.
Now that the bunny bowl has become a permanent fixture on my kitchen counter I’ve put some basic rules in place to make sure it stays rabbit friendly.
Only raw, uncooked food goes in the bowl. Wild rabbits do not have ovens or stoves or microwaves. No meat or dairy products go in the bowl. Rabbits are prey animals, not predators, and as a result are very strict vegans. No rotten or moldy food goes in the bowl. Some squishy fruits and vegetables are ok but anything that’s visibly deteriorating or emitting a less than lovely odor should not be added to the bowl.
Following these three basic rules will get you 95% of the way to a rabbit friendly bunny bowl and this adorable scene:
The other 5% comes from knowing some specific no-nos. For example, tomato vines and leaves are poisonous to a rabbit but the tomato fruit (yes it’s a fruit) is fine. Avocados should also be avoided. Luckily the folks over at Rise and Shine Rabbitry have already made comprehensive lists of what is and is not safe for rabbits to eat. You can find them here:
Do not feel the need to read these lists and memorize every single item (given their length I’m not even sure that’s possible). Rather use them as a reference guide when you have a question about a specific food. The first week or two you’ll probably look up everything but after a little while you’ll get the hang of what should and should not go in the bunny bowl. Then it’s smooth sailing. So much so you’ll start yelling at your friends and family when they come over and try to throw out cucumber peels in front of you. Ask me how I know.