If your rabbit is a finicky eater, you aren’t alone. Even wild bunnies can be selective about their grub. Have you tried every vegetable under the sun just for your bunny to anxiously await her daily ration of rabbit pellets? Believe it or not, most wild rabbits actually don’t prefer veggies to the standard vegetation readily available in their natural environment. So what do you do if you have a picky rabbit?
Rabbits are herbivores by nature. Wild rabbits eat grasses, fallen pine needles, leaves, shoots, flowers, shrubs, tree bark, clover, weeds, etc. Wild rabbits eat tons of grass, because the fiber is essential for digestion. You can thank these wild buns for your rabbit’s ability to consume a pile of hay the size of her body.
Wild rabbits will eat whatever plant matter is available, depending on the season. That doesn’t mean they don’t have preferences, however. Even these guys are notoriously picky. They prefer fresh florae above all, and especially those nom noms that can be gobbled fastest and easiest. Ever seen your rabbit throw in the towel on an extra tough piece of hay? If a forage is particularly challenging and is going to take more than a moment to devour, most wild rabbits will move on to another food source. Fruit hanging from trees? Out of the question.
Picky Eating Tips
Your rabbit needs to eat hay throughout the day, not in small meals like we do. She should have a nice pile, about the size of her body, available for munching at all times. If she turns her nose up at hay, try sprinkling some fragrant herbs in her hay pile to peak interest. You can try different cuts of rabbit hay, other types of hay, or even a gourmet hay blend… a true delicacy! You can also incorporate hay into play activities. Stuff hay into a willow ball or hanging toilet paper roll to peak interest.
It’s not uncommon for small animals to resist transitioning to a plain Timothy-based pellet. Many commercial pellet mixes from big box stores are basically junk food. Those colored pieces, nuts, and seeds may be yummy and visually appealing, but offer very little for rabbits in terms of actual nutrition. If you feed a toddler potato chips and cookies every day, they probably won’t be eager to transition to a menu of broccoli and wholesome grains. It’s up to you, the pet parent, to know what’s healthy and offer your rabbit a nutritionally complete and species-appropriate diet. That doesn’t imply you need to ban treats! It just means healthier, safe treats fed sparingly rather than having them form the bulk of the diet.
A Word of Warning
It’s frustrating if the pickiness of your picky rabbit is constant, but even more concerning if they suddenly reject their favorite fare. If your rabbit is uninterested in treats out of the blue, stops eating hay, or is overall eating less than usual, it’s a big red flag. Rejecting certain foods can be a sign of illness or pain. Rabbits are prey animals and hide illness well. Loss of appetite may be the first sign something isn’t right. Your vet may need to examine your rabbit’s teeth to make sure the molars haven’t overgrown. Problems with the teeth can make eating painful to downright impossible. Noticing tooth issues early on lessens the chances of complications like GI stasis and infection, and makes it easier to manage long-term.
As strict herbivores, you aren’t going to tempt your fussy bun with a pepperoni pizza – nor should you try. If your rabbit isn’t interested in certain veggies, try new offerings and sneak in small pieces of former rejects a few days or weeks later. Encourage her hay consumption by offering some stuffed into toys and chews, mixing in some yummy herbs, or presenting her with new types of hay like oat or orchard. Variety is the spice of life!