How Much Hay Does a Rabbit Eat? – Rabbits are herbivores and they eat continuously. They have sensitive and complex digestive systemsand they are very efficient at processing the food they eat.
Their dietary needs are very specific. If you feed them with inappropriate foods or introduce them to new foods, their normal digestive flora becomes disturbed which causes bacteria to overgrow and your rabbit might become extremely ill.
What do Rabbits eat?
Hay is an important part of a rabbit dietand it’s good for their health. High quality grass hay such as Timothy Hay or Orchard Hay should make 70-80% of their diet.
Rabbits have a daily intake of mostly hay and they also have small amounts of vegetables with it and a few pellets.
Grass hay is high in fibre and it maintains the rabbit’s digestive tract. While growing up, rabbits can eat any type of hay but alfalfa hay is not recommended as it contains high levels of protein and calcium.
Why is Hay important for Rabbits?
Hay is a rabbits main and favorite food, it makes up to 70% of their diet, grass is really good for them too. It keeps your rabbits healthy and keeps their gut functioning properly.
Digestion and Stasis
Hay is made up of fibre strands that help the rabbit’s muscles stay strong which helps in the movement of food through the gut.
As rabbits have a complex digestive system it means that they should have hay regularly as it helps with digestion and prevents problems such as blockages of undigested food which can be fatal, if the rabbit does not have enough intake of hay, their intestinal function may slow down and cause GI stasis which is a life-threatening condition and may stop the system all together.
GI Stasis is deadly which stops your rabbit’s GI tract to stop functioning properly for many reasons like dehydration, stress, infection and intestinal blockages mostly caused because of lack of fibre.
Bunnies have 28 teeth but we only see two incisors on the front. Rabbit’s teeth grow continuously. These animals love plants as they are herbivores.
Chewing hay also helps rabbit’s teeth to grow to a safelevel. If you don’t check on your rabbit’s teeth they may grow out of control even grows into the eyes from inside and can cause painful abscesses.
Rabbit’s teeth grow about 12cm each year, eye problems are also related to teeth. It is important to feed your rabbit with hay as the side to side jaw and chewing actions inhibits the extra growth of the teeth.
In the wild, rabbits graze on the grass for their food and we should encourage our rabbits to do the same at home too. They need teeth to chew on stems, roots, bark and roughage.
The rabbit hay satisfies the rabbits urge to chew and encourages them to graze. And all this helps to wear down their teeth, and we want that!
Like other animals, rabbits get cannot rid of calcium through their waste (Poops and Pee). Instead, the calcium is expelled through their kidneys.
If a rabbit has consumed too much calcium from foods, it can cause serious problems like bladder stones, kidney stones and bladder sludge which is the thickening of urine.
Try to feed your rabbits with less calcium foods rather than high calcium foods like Timothy hay, Orchard hay or Oats.
Always monitor the behavior changes of your rabbits like changes in bowel movements, lack of energy and turning their nose up on food and water are all indictors that your rabbit needs to see the vet.
Rabbits can hide whatever they’re feeling, so keep a watch for any abnormal behavior.
Hay we recommend:
How much Hay should Rabbits eat?
The most common problem with rabbits is that rabbits love to eat and nibble on things that are tastier than the food they are given. If given a choice between hay and something more delicious, they won’t have hay.
Here are some tips below to get your rabbits to eat more hay:
- Mix hay with other tasty herbs and grass, which will encourage them to eat more hay.
- Rabbits like to eat hay when they’re going to the toilet, so you can put a pile of hay near their litter tray.
- If you cut down on pellets (dry food), it will encourage them to have more hay. You should provide them with hay throughout the day and only feed them with pellets in breakfast/dinner.
- You can spray some pineapple juice on hay and when it dries try feeding it to your rabbits, they’ll like the sweet taste of hay. Please bare in mind this should not be given to your rabbit should they experience GI Stasis easily or be currently experiencing Stasis
- You can put hay everywhere so they cannot avoid eating it.
- Try feeding various types ofhay to your rabbit so you can figure out which one they like most. You can buy sample size packs so you don’t have to purchase a big pack.
- Make fun games for your rabbit by stuffing the toilet tubes with hay.
- Grass is also good for your rabbit’shealth;you can try feeding them with grass while you’re weaning them on hay.
- You can put hay near their mouths which will annoy them and they’ll try to bite which will eventually lead them to tasting the hay (Tested and tried!)
- Mix “readigrass” with hay, only small amounts. It’s good for rabbit teeth and health.
- All rabbits have a unique taste and once they develop some taste for hay, you can try feeding them with the hay that was dismissed by them previously.