Role of Vitamins in Rabbit Nutrition


  1. Are important to help release energy from food and energy stores
  2. Act as hormones to regulate metabolism
  3. Act as antioxidants to prevent cellular damage


  • Bunnies cannot make their own vitamins
  • The structure of each vitamin is different, however, all are organic molecules found in trace amounts in bacteria or plants. They can be divided into two general groups.
    • Water soluble vitamins (B-complex, C)
    • Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)


  • The water soluble vitamins and vitamin K are synthesized by the cecal bacteria and obtained by coprophagy.
  • Carotenes (plant pigments) are converted to Vitamin A in animal tissues.
  • Pre-vitamin D is found in sun-dried alfalfa hay and can be synthesized by the skin after exposure to UV light.
  • Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils and cereal grains.


  • Rabbits do have an absolute requirement for all the vitamins except C.
  • However, the vitamin K and the B-vitamins are provided by the cecal bacteria and therefore may not need further supplementation until the cecum is disturbed or the cecal pellets are not consumed.
  • Rabbits receiving pellets as part of the diet should be receiving sufficient amounts of vitamins D, A, and E. For rabbits receiving no pellets, it is possible that D and E would become deficient after a long time (many years). Carrots, of course, are rich in vitamin A.


  • Extreme excesses of Vitamin C can cause kidney damage.
  • Excess vitamin D can cause calcium deposits in tissues (joint, kidneys, etc.).
  • Excess vitamin A causes neurological and skin damage.

Feeding Considerations

Mature house rabbits and Angoras

Normally should not need any vitamin supplements.

Older Rabbits

If they have difficulty re-ingesting cecal pellets, then B-vitamin supplements maybe appropriate.

Sick rabbits

May have the same B-vitamin requirement as older rabbits especially if the GI tract is disturbed or cecal pellets are not being eaten. Many people have reported appetite stimulation after injection with B-complex vitamins.

Growing rabbits

Liver stores and pellet sources of vitamins should be sufficient to support growth.