Alfalfa stems

Alfalfa (lucerne) is used in many diets for commercial rabbits that are growing or breeding during their short lives. It has a high fibre and calcium content. It is also high in oxalates. It is found in some muesli mixes to balance out the calcium deficient parts of the diet and increase the fibre content. Not all rabbits eat it. Rabbits with dental problems may have difficulty cutting the fibrous stems.

Almost empty bowl

This bowl shows the components of muesli mixes that rabbits seldom eat. Close inspection shows that pellets, whole grains, and husks are left behind. Most owners discard this food and replenish the bowl, so the rabbit never eats pellets and whole grains. The pellets often contain the vitamin and mineral supplement that is used to balance out the deficiencies (calcium, vitamins A and D) in other ingredients in the mixture. The husks of the grains contribute to the fibre content. Rejecting these food items mean that the rabbit is eating an unbalanced, fibre deficient diet despite the analysis on the side of the packet.

Components of muesli mix

Muesli mixes tend to be composed of the same basic components (extrusions, flaked cereals, whole wheat and pellets) but in different quantities. Added ingredients, such as breakfast cereals may be added.

Dried carrot

Dried pieces of carrot can be found in some brands of muesli mix. It is hard to understand why it is preferable to give rabbits dried carrot when fresh carrot is cheap and widely available. Some people worry that the sugar content of carrots may cause digestive upsets. This does not happen although carrots are low in calcium and high in soluble fibre so they are fattening.


Like nuggets, 'extrusions' are a cooked mixture of ingredients. The ingredients and analysis of these vary between brands of muesli mix. The pieces can be different sizes and shapes because the mixture is squeezed through a special die. Some companies add food colourings, so the pieces are brightly coloured, which may increase the visual appeal of the mix to owners but will make little difference to the rabbit.

Flaked maize

Flaked pieces of sweetcorn (maize) are VERY palatable for rabbits. They are starchy and sweet, so they are fattening. The calcium content is very low with a highly inverse calcium to phosphorus ratio. The fibre content is low. Flaked maize is junk food for rabbits. They really enjoy eating it, but it contributes to obesity and dental disease.

Flaked peas

Flaked peas are a firm favourite with rabbits despite their low calcium content. They also contain sugar and starch. In moderation, they are not harmful. If the rabbit picks them out of the mixture and eats a lot of flaked peas, it will be eating a very unbalanced, calcium and fibre deficient, fattening diet.

Locust bean pieces

Locust beans are the pods of the Mediterranean carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). The pods are hard, fibrous, and taste sweet with a chocolate flavour. They are palatable for rabbits and pieces of crushed pods are sometimes used in muesli mixtures. The pods are not harmful, but their seeds might be as they can be the right size to cause a fatal intestinal obstruction.

Locust beans

Locust beans are the pods of the Mediterranean carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). The pod is several inches long, hard, and dry and contains several seeds that are used in the food industry. Crushed pieces of the pod used to be a common component of muesli mixes, but the seeds sometimes made their way into the mixture as well. The leading manufacturers of muesli mixes withdrew locust beans from their mixtures as the result of several fatalities in rabbits that swallowed the seeds and died from intestinal obstruction. Ground pods are included in some pellets and nuggets.

Locust bean seeds

The seeds that are inside locust bean pods are dry and hard. They can be large enough to obstruct the small intestine of any rabbit that swallows them, sometimes with fatal consequences. Although the seeds should not be in muesli mixes, they can make their way into the mixes if they are still in pieces of locust bean pods.

Muesli mix with few flakes and lots of pellets and extrusions

The manufacturers of this brand of muesli mix state that it is high in fibre. It's fibre content will be increased by the stems of alfalfa and the husks of the sunflower seeds and grain. There are few flakes in the mixture which is mostly made up of pellets and extrusions. Theoretically, rabbits on this type of muesli mix are less likely to develop problems than the mixtures that contain a lot of flaked maize, peas and oats

Muesli with less flakes

This brand of muesli mix contains a lot of extrusions but also contains flaked maize and peas. These components are palatable but severely deficient in calcium. Whole wheat kernels have been added to the mixture and will increase the fibre content because of the husk. However, most rabbits do not eat the wheat kernels and select the flaked maize and peas instead. Although the analysis of the whole mixture may be acceptable, a rabbit that selects these ingredients will be eating an unbalanced diet.

Muesli mix with lots of flakes

This brand of muesli has a few pellets and extruded nuggets and is mainly composed of flaked cereals. This mixture is very likely to induce dental disease and obesity.


Most muesli mixes contain pellets. These are composed of ingredients that have been ground down and compressed. Like extrusions, the exact composition of the pellets in muesli mixes is not given although the ingredients and analysis of the whole muesli mix is stated. The pellets are often a variety of sizes and colours. Pellets are cheaper to produce than extrusions. A vitamin and mineral supplement is necessary for muesli mixes in order to balance out the deficiencies in the ingredients. As the supplement is a powder, it may be incorporated into the pellets because vitamins in extrusions can be denatured by the cooking process. The pellets are the least palatable part of the mixture and are often left with whole grains in the bottom of the bowl, complete with the vitamin and mineral supplement that the pellets contain.

Puffed wheat

This component of one brand of muesli mix looks like (and probably is) breakfast cereal.

Rolled oats

Rolled oats are often found in muesli mixes. Like all the other cereals, they are deficient in calcium with an inverse calcium to phosphorus ratio. They are high in starch so rabbits that pick oats from the muesli mix are prone to dental disease and obesity.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are occasionally encountered in muesli mixes. They are not a food item that would normally be available for rabbits to eat. The kernels are high in fat, deficient in vitamin A and calcium with a highly inverse calcium to phosphorus ratio. Although the occasional seed is not harmful, there is no need to include them in muesli mixes. Some rabbits enjoy the hulls, which have a high fibre content but no other nutritional value.

Sweetcorn kernels

These are hard dry kernels from sweet corn. They are not suitable for feeding to rabbits. Not only are they deficient in calcium but some of them are the right size and shape to obstruct the small intestine. They may be swallowed whole because they are so hard.

Typical muesli mix

This mix contains brightly coloured extrusions, pellets, flaked cereals and alfalfa. It is typical of a muesli mix from which a rabbit can select its favourite ingredients and eat an unbalanced diet

Whole grains

Whole grains are often included in muesli mixes. Because of the fibrous shell, the addition of whole grain increases the overall fibre content of the mixture so the analysis on the side of the packet looks good. This is misleading as rabbits seldom eat the grain and if they do, they leave the shell in the bottom of the bowl.