Here at Pet Rabbit Ridge, from the time our young rabbits are weened, they become used to a feeding and watering schedule that I meet on a daily basis, 7 days a week, 365 days a year... It's not always easy to fight the elements to insure my rabbits are properly cared for, and sometimes due to stormy weather my feeding times will faulter a couple of hours one way or the other waiting for stormy weather to pass or getting ahead of schedule to avoid an approaching storm, but I make it a point to feed and water all my animals twice a day no matter what.
When you first aquire your new pet rabbit, ask questions from the seller or breeder to find out the rabbits feeding schedule to help make the transition to your home as comfortable as possible for your new pet. If the rabbit is used to being fed twice a day and you only have time to tend to their needs once a day, bring them around to your schedule slowly by feeding them twice a day when you first get them, then alternate days that you only feed them once daily until they get used to the idea of being fed once daily.
Many people have asked me why I feed and water twice daily instead of only once. The answer is very simple... When you have as many animals as I do, they have a tendency to waste their food and scratch it out of the feeder to the ground below once they have had their fill. A full grown rabbit requires only 6 to 8 ounces of feed per day to maintain a healthy persona. When I feed them twice daily it gives me a chance to interact with my rabbits by petting them a little during feeding time. This helps to tame the animals and help them to look forward to my visits. Although I only feed and water twice a day, I may visit several times a day to check on the needs of my breeders.
Providing fresh water is essential to the health and well being of your new pet rabbit as well... By maintaining a schedule of feeding & watering twice daily, it also insures that my rabbits don't go without fresh water. In normal conditions, a full grown rabbit will require 1 litre of water daily... Colder weather requires a little less, while warmer weather may require twice as much. When your rabbit has to go without water, they have a tendency to not eat as well. Fresh water is every bit as important as nutritous food when it comes to keeping your rabbit happy and healthy, so make sure every time you feed your rabbit you check their water supply.
Feeders & Drinkers...
There are basically two types of feeders... Drop feeders and dish feeders. Either work very well, but determining which feeder is best for you and the schedule you plan to maintain may be the question you need to answer.
Drop feeders work well for those of you that plan to feed and water your new pet rabbit once daily... But there are a few drawbacks. You must make sure the feed you place in the feeder will remain dry at all times to avoid waste, and rabbits that are fed a mixed feed with treats throughout have a tendency to scratch through the feed looking for treats and wasting much of the food.
Dish feeders must be heavy enough to withstand your rabbit's weight if it decides to stand on the edge of the feeder while it eats. Lightweight dishes have a tendency to tip over and waste food as well. Heavy dishes with a broad base are a must when choosing a feeder dish for your pet rabbit. Try to avoid plastic dishes of any type as your rabbit will have a tendency to try to eat the dish when it has to go without food for to long a period of time.
There are three basic water delivery systems to consider when it comes to watering your new pet rabbit. Bowl drinkers, nipple drinkers, and automated nipple drinkers. All three systems work very well, but you will need to choose a system that is right for you.
When I first wean baby rabbits here at Pet Rabbit Ridge, I always start them on a bowl drinker. This allows several rabbits to drink at the same time as well as giving the slightly older rabbits a chance to show the babies where and how to get their water. Its important to remember that all baby rabbits will need to be started on a shallow bowl drinker to insure they get plenty of water to drink. Dehydration in baby rabbits can be very serious and even lead to death. Always make sure your baby rabbits have plenty of water available.
Nipple drinkers that can be placed on old soda bottles like in the picture at the top of the page are probable the best water delivery system for a pet owner. A single rabbit can drink 2 or 3 days on a single filling, and as the bottle gets dirty, it is easily replaced from time to time without having to worry about cleaning the drinker periodically. Simple clean the drinker tip in a good bleach solution and rinse, then replace the old bottle with a new one.
Your rabbit will have to be trained to use a nipple drinker when they are 2 or 3 months old, but the process is very simple and can be done within a week to ten days. Hang the nipple drinker bottle on the cage near where you are currently using a bowl drinker with the tip of the drinker 4 or 5 inches from the bottom of your pet pen. Allow the water in the bowl to run out and when you go to feed your rabbit, tap on the drinker bottle to get it to spray a little water on your rabbit. The next feeding cycle, fill the bowl with water and allow to run dry again. After a week to ten days, remove the bowl drinker and use only the nipple drinker, but make sure your rabbit is actually using the nipple drinker before removing the bowl drinker.
Automated nipple drinkers are low pressure watering systems that allow breeders to connect several drinkers to a water hose to insure their rabbits have a constant supply of water and decreasing the time they have to spend watering animals at each individual cage. If you have 500 or more rabbits to feed and water every day, this is a great time saver... But for the individual that just wants to raise a pet rabbit or two, it's really not worth the extra cost to install such a system.