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Rabbit Food Considerations: What Should You Do If Your Bunny Isn’t Eating?

rabbit food considerations

We’ve all been there: we get the best of the best rabbit food and hay, we lay it out ever so nicely, and all our rabbit does is turn their little scrunchy nose up at the meal. As much as we love our little fuzzies, sometimes they can be so darn picky.

Or, is there another, more serious underlying cause as to why your rabbit isn't eating? If so, what should you do? Let’s talk a little bit about these concerns to help you decide if your rabbit has a case of hay boredom, or if there’s something more serious going on. 

Different Kinds of Rabbit Food

Before we talk about why your bun isn’t eating their rabbit food, let’s talk about the food itself and a healthy bun’s diet. Rabbits are herbivores, meaning that they only eat plants, grasses, fruits, and vegetables. Because they’re herbivores, they need lots and lots of fiber to keep their digestive tract moving. It’s not unusual for a tiny bunny to gobble down a huge pile of rabbit hay as big as (if not bigger than) themselves. 

Speaking of hay, high-quality rabbit hay should make up about 80% of your rabbit’s diet. Hay not only provides the fiber, protein, and fat that every healthy adult rabbit needs, but it also gives your little friend the chance to channel their inner wild rabbit. Tossing, digging, and chewing hay are all fun activities for domestic and wild bunnies alike.

In addition to rabbit hay, you can feed your bunny a hay-based pellet made with Timothy or orchard hay. When shopping for pellets, always avoid any junky ingredients: artificial colors, fillers, chemicals, or anything else that isn’t in a bunny’s natural diet. Their rabbit food should mimic what they would have in the wild.

Lastly, you can treat your rabbit with safe fruits and veggies in moderation. While fruits and veggies can be a healthy and safe snack for your little one, make sure to watch out for items with high sugar content… this can upset your bun’s tum.

Now that you know more about rabbit food, let’s look at reasons why your bunny might not be eating any of their delicious options. 

Signs That There May Be Something Wrong

Rabbits are known to be picky eaters, but sometimes something serious could be the issue. One of the scariest scenarios is gastrointestinal stasis. GI stasis is considered a “silent killer” because a rabbit might stop eating and then things can suddenly turn fatal. In addition to not eating, other signs of gastrointestinal stasis include:

  • Extremely small or no fecal droppings
  • Runny stool
  • Fecal pellets encased in a yellow or clear mucus
  • Loud, violent intestinal gurgling
  • Lethargy

GI stasis can be caused by many different scenarios, but one of the most common is a lack of fiber in a bunny’s diet. Like most herbivores, rabbits eat a lot all the time (as opposed to omnivores and carnivores who eat a few larger meals throughout the day). Most bunnies are constantly munching on their rabbit food to keep everything moving. This also helps them get enough fiber. Without this fiber, the GI tract can back up or even end up blocked, which can lead to GI stasis. 

The good news is that when caught early, GI stasis can be treated with medication, a tummy massage, and extra attention and care. If you suspect something is up with your bun, take them to a vet that knows how to treat rabbits right away. Rabbits are naturally inclined to hide any signs of pain or illness, so if you notice something is wrong, act right away. 

Signs That You Just Have a Picky Bunny

It’s always better to be safe and concerned when thinking about your rabbit not eating, but in many cases, your bun could just be picky. If you think about the grasses, leaves, fruits, nuts, and other natural goodies that wild bunnies have access to all day every day, it’s no wonder that our little house rabbits can suffer from hay boredom. This is simply them turning their little pink noses up at hay and refusing to eat the awesome rabbit food you just got them.

rabbit with hay

If you notice that your bun is getting bored with their current hay routine, don’t be afraid to mix things up. Seriously. Everyone and every bun needs variety. Timothy hay usually makes up the majority of a rabbit’s diet, but below are some more hay choices that can help keep your little guy or gal munching away:

  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cutting Timothy hay. Did you know that there are actually three cuttings of Timothy hay and all of them make delicious rabbit food? You might usually feed your bun 2nd cutting Timothy hay, but feel free to mix it up with 1st cutting, which is high in fiber, or 3rd cutting, which is super soft and high in protein and fat. This hay nearly melts in your rabbit’s mouth and is perfect for adding a little variety to their diet.
  • Alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay is high in fat and calcium and shouldn’t be given to an adult rabbit all the time, but it’s a delicious way to mix up their diet and encourage more hay eating. It’s a rich, dense hay that even the pickiest of buns can’t help but gobble up.
  • Orchard hay. Orchard hay is often used in homes as a substitute for 2nd cutting Timothy hay for families with allergies, but it can also be a fun hay to add into the mix to switch up your rabbit’s food. 
  • Oat hay. Oat hay is a totally different type of hay and your rabbit will notice. This yellowish hay is high in protein, fiber, and fat, making it a delicious treat hay.

Another fun way to mix up your rabbit’s food is by adding in healthy treats every so often. Treats don’t have to be high in sugar, contain artificial colors, or unhealthy ingredients. In fact, treats can be fun and healthy. We even have mini cookies (made out of hay, fruits, and herbs) that are delicious and nutritious. While treats shouldn’t make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet, they can be used to spice things up and get them to start eating other things. 

Picky bunnies might still eat their favorite pellets and leafy greens, but turn their nose up at some hay, and that’s okay. As long as your bun is getting some nutrition while you work to mix up their food, you should be in the clear (but always check with your vet if you’re unsure). Rabbit food isn’t one-size-fits-all, just like each and every little bunny is unique. 

Interested in learning more about rabbits? Check 'em out below! ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Rabbit Hay Basics: What You Need to Know

Rabbit Tooth Problems

A Guide to Antibiotics for Rabbits

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