In the natural world, bunnies would find their own supplements because they have the instincts to know what their bodies need, just like we do. But since I'm raising house rabbits, I have to make sure my children are getting everything they need. Sometimes this is hard to do, but if you pay real close attention, you'll be fine.
I've learned a lot about raising rabbits over the last 6 years (almost 7!), but supplements have been the hardest for me to grasp. I have 7 rabbits at the moment (we lost Daphne over a year ago and Happi before that, still miss them!) and the main thing they've all taught me is that they each like different things! Most people just don't understand that bunnies are SMART. Like dang smart.
Hazel aka Bug is a bona fide escape artist. Like no joke. Think those walls are high enough? Nope! I've seen her hop/climb a 5 foot cage wall. Think that gap is close together? Nope! She'll squeeze right through and she's my biggest bunny. Think that table is too high? Nope! Next time you walk by she'll be sleeping on it. Think that couch is low enough to the floor? Nope! She'll squeeze under and eat out the bottom to make a bed inside.
Gaiden aka Fluffers is a ninja. As his name entails. (Ninja Gaiden, anyone?) He kicks off walls and spins in circles to get around any obstacle.
Rew aka RewFoo quite literally gets into everything along with his loyal brother, Chi aka Radar. Where's RewChi? Probably under a blanket or in a box.
Let's not even get started on the rest of the posse. We'll be here for hours.
But really, all of this to say that each bunny has a different personality. Like any animal. Like any human. And so they all have to be treated differently. Which is why when anyone comes to me because they think they want to raise a house bunny or meat rabbits I always make sure they understand that bunnies aren't simple animals to keep. They require work just like a human child does, just like all animals do.
And when it comes to food, there's no difference. Jack doesn't like broccoli, Tobie loves jalapeno, Hazel eats anything (literally), Chi is a treat snob, Caroline doesn't like people (drop the food and walk away), Gaiden wants only kale, and Rew is just happy you're here.
I have to tailor food, hay and water quantities depending on the bunny.
So this is where mixing your own supplements comes in!
This week's mix...
Peppermint Leaf, Red Clover Blossom, Strawberry Leaf, Bilberry Fruit, Blueberry Leaf, Calendula Flower, Chamomile Flower, Dandelion Root, Echinacea, Hibiscus, Jasmine Flower, Lavender Flower, Nettle Leaf, Oat Tops, Oats, Timothy Pellets, Rose Petals, Sunflower Seed, Flax Seed
I like to change my supplement mix each week, depending on what the overall health concerns are (poopy butt, lethargy, hyperactive, weepy eye, winter, summer, etc). So at the moment I have Rew who won't get over his poopy butt, Gaiden who has chronic weepy eye (probably for the rest of his life), and Hazel who is severely hyper and has been sneezing her whole life.
How do you mix supplements for all those things at once?!
Simple! You either offer each bunny individual herbs or you mix them all up in one big jar and they can pick and choose what they need. I like to do the latter, unless I have a severe condition on my hands (then of course that bunny gets super special treatment). The great thing about having so many bunnies with different personalities is that if one bunny doesn't like oats, I can give whatever he/she leaves behind to another bunny that I know will eat it.
So when Jack doesn't eat his pellets, I can give those to Hazel who will eat anything.
Now, let's talk about this week's mix that I have listed above. A few notes to start.
- I don't normally give pellets of any kind to my children. They can cause dental disease and I've already had a bunny die of that issue (RIP Daphne). The pellets I have in this mix are special in this case because it's basically impossible to find Timothy hay in my area right now and so I'm having to supplement with other hays (Orchard & Alfalfa), but at the same time I don't want the bunnies to miss out on their Timothy because it's generally the only type of hay they consume (except in winter and then they get a small mixture of Alfalfa). And truth be told, they aren't too keen on these pellets, which is a good thing. Now the second reason that I have these pellets is for emergencies. In case something happens and I can't get fresh food for them, at least they will have hay and pellets.
- I will mix in some of their less than favorite herbs in small quantities in hopes that they will inhale it with something else they prefer. Echinacea is one they don't care for, but in Rew's case, he needs it for his poopy butt, and Hazel needs it for her sneezing.
- And lastly, if I can't harvest herbs locally (like the rose petals and lavender is from our yard), then I will buy in bulk to save the most money. These babies can go through herbs and seeds fast. I get the oats, sunflower and flax seeds at WinCo in bulk bags and then I order bulk herbs from my favorite suppliers. All organic when possible because if you take care of your bunnies now, you won't have vet bills or early deaths later.
I give out supplements before I forage for dinner. Right now in the summer, I'm able to feed them (mostly) off our property (the lack of rain is making this hard to do because the weeds aren't growing!). So before I head out to forage, I give out their supplements to keep them occupied. Each bunny gets roughly 1-2 Tablespoons of the mix. I just eye ball it. By the time I come back with their actual green food, the supplements are typically gone. How do I know this? Because the bowls are flipped over in protest.
If you have a bunny who is ill or requiring extra treatment, I would recommend giving them free choice of herbs for their condition.
The mix above is basically everything I have on hand mixed up in varying quantities. Most of my herbs are "old" and need to be used before I can order more.
And a note about Peppermint. My bunnies don't like fresh mint, but they are suckers for it dried. Go figure.
Are you looking to blend your own herbal supplements for your bunnies? I have found this list to be helpful.
And if you have older buns, these herbs are a great blend for them.
- Alfalfa Leaf
- Burdock Root
- Oat Straw Herb
- Carrot Pieces
- Oat Groats
- Dandelion Root
Please remember I am not a vet, just a helpful human. If your bunnies are truly sick, take them to a trained professional immediately. Bunnies can take a turn for the worse in a matter of hours. If you are not quick to act, they might be lost forever. And nobody wants that.