5 Ways to Get Your Rabbit to Eat More Hay

Considering at least 80% of a rabbit’s diet should be hay (or grass) there is a worrying number of rabbits owners that report their bunny eats little or no hay. The high fibre content of hay is essential for maintaining a healthy gut and teeth, as well as providing a boredom busting activity for your rabbit.

Many common and potentially serious health problems are caused or exacerbated by the lack it of, including:

  • Gut Stasis
  • Excess Cecotropes (sticky poop) which can lead to fly strike
  • Overgrown teeth which can result in tooth abscesses and gut stasis

So, below are my top 5 tips for turning your rabbit in to a hay eater.

1. Feed Tastier Hay
Hay is a bit like apples. It comes in lots of different varieties and flavours. Some people like crisp Granny Smiths others like sweet Cox’s, and cooking apples taste horrible (unless cooked). Likewise some rabbits can be quite fussy about the variety of hay they like.

When choosing hay avoid the finely chopped, brownish plastic packed varieties you find in a lot of pet shops. Look for green, long strands that smell nice and aren’t too dusty. Hay sold at feed shops and farms, for horses to eat, is usually good and a lot cheaper then pet shop bags.

Oxbow do a wide range of different hay’s you can try your rabbit with. You do not have to stick to one variety, mix and match to keep your rabbit’s interest.

2. Put Hay Where Your Rabbit Sits
Rabbits prefer to munch hay while they are resting and while they are using their litter tray/toilet area. Putting the hay in these places will catch your rabbit at the time he’s most likely to eat it. If you don’t want to put hay in the litter tray then hang a hay rack above it.

3. Incorporate Hay into Toys
Most rabbits like to play and throw toys around. Incorporating hay in to play activities can encourage them to pull, bite and chew at the hay. A willow ball or cardboard tube filled with hay can be hung from the cage or thrown around by your rabbit.

4. Add Garnish
You can make hay more interesting to your rabbit by mixing in food they like best. This could include dry food, fresh vegetables or dried (bunny safe) herbs. Whilst searching through the hay for the good bits hopefully they’ll eat some hay too.

5. Feed Less Dry Food
Most rabbits have bad hay eating habits because they eat too much dry food. A healthy adult rabbit should only be fed a small quantity of dry food (50g per average size adult rabbit per day is plenty). Dry food tastes good but it doesn’t provide the fibre levels and chewing action needed to keep your rabbit healthy. Reducing the amount of dry food you rabbit gets should help encourage them to eat more hay.

A change in eating habits can indicate teeth problems and should be investigated by a vet. If your rabbit stops eating hay, starts dribbling, has longer than normal front teeth or chews differently to normal then a visit to your vet is needed.

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85 Responses to “5 Ways to Get Your Rabbit to Eat More Hay”

  1. Kelli says:

    I’m curious. Have you read the feedtag on your rabbit’s pellets? If so, I think you will notice that the bulk of the pellet is *hay*. Actually, a hard pellet is the best surface for the rabbit to use to grind their teeth against to prevent malocclusion. Having produced rabbits for many years raised exclusively on a pellet fed diet, I have not once encountered malloclusion problems. The few rabbits that I have purchased with elongated front incisors were raised on a softer more hay based diet that did not have the required surface roughage to properly wear the teeth.

    • Jonathan says:

      I was wondering what this pellet fed diet is? Just as much as they can eat or what? I would like to know because these are the type of pellets I buy and my rabbit clearly prefers them to the hay.

      • Tamsin says:

        Rabbits do generally consider pellets tastier than hay, just like children think sweets are tastier than vegetables. That doesn’t mean the are better for them though! It is important to restrict pellets too encourage hay/grass eating and prevent obesity. There is information on dry food here: http://www.therabbithouse.com/diet/rabbit-food.asp

        It is not the hardness of pellets that causes wear, it is the rough surface of grass. If you run your fingers down a blade of grass or hay, you’ll find it catches. This is because the surface of grass is actually like abrasive sandpaper and that is what causes wear. Pellets are hard but they easily shatter into pieces, so this does not create the right kind of wear. If the roughness, rather than harness of the surface that is important.

        • Frederic Dufour says:

          Hello I have a small lion head bunny named Oreo he has not been eating a lot of hay the last 3 days should I buy him a new hay and buy small treats inside? Also do you know any cheap cages that are big? For bunny’s my bunny is out all day but likes his cage. Also any tips for the hay? And I have a dog and my bunny likes to drink out of my dogs bowl when his out is that okay? And do you know any good toys for bunny’s? Even homemade is good well thank you hope you reply!

        • Tamsin says:

          If your rabbit suddenly changes food preferences I’d suggest a vet check up it could be a teeth or digestive issue. A dog crate and pen are generally the cheapest options – you can often pick them up second hand. If you change the water regularly I don’t think it’s a big issue. If you look under the ‘toys & enrichment’ section of this blog you’ll find lots of home made toys 🙂

    • Scarlett says:

      I know. I agree the pellets I feed are Burgess Exel Tasty Nuggets With Mint. I love these I think they are relatively healthy because they contain a lot of fibre. My rabbit loves them as well and had never really liked hay and vet told us to try Timothy hay because we buy meadow hay from the local farm as the strands are long and green but the pet shop hay had short strands and they our brown and he had never been interested in that really so he gets pellets and lots of fresh greens and veg at night and that diet has worked well for nearly 4 years.

  2. admin says:

    Although a good high fibre pellet contains lots of grass based fibre, because pellets provide highly concentrated nutrition rabbits do not require large quantities of them. A pellet only diet may (possibly?) wear the teeth down sufficiently but they can cause a range of problems such as obesity, excess soft droppings, higher incidence of gut related problem etc. I wonder if you have experienced any of these?

    Hay is less concentrated nutrition and is eaten in much larger quantities. Grass/hay may appear softer but it has a very rough surface texture. Unlike pellets which crumble, eating grass/hay involves much more chewing action. Different types of hay also have different levels of ‘roughness’, Timothy hay is one of the best.

    I feed my rabbit only approx. 25g of pellets per day and likewise have not encounter teeth problems. They also do not experience the draw backs which can be encountered with pellet based diets either.

  3. sas says:

    Not eating hay for the most part won’t cause dental problems, but it won’t correct them, either. Many are genetic, and a pellet diet won’t keep it in check. Short-face breeds like Netherland Dwarfs and Holland Lops are prone to molar spurs, which can be controlled by a diet that includes hay/grass/straw. The only one of my rabbits who won’t eat hay is the only one with molar spurs. All rabbit teeth are contantly growing and do need to be worn down, some more than others. My other ‘long-in-the-tooth’ rabbits eat tree bark, chew on wood blocks, straw toys, etc, and never need trimming.


  4. Debra says:

    My rabbit is one of those who doesn’t much care for hay, any kind that I’ve tried. I mix his greens in with the hay and he accidently eats a bit that way. I also free feed pellets, but he only eats those when the greens run out.

    I supply him w/ abundent greens. In the summer I pick wild clovers, wild carrot tops, grapevine, dandelion, plantain, and mulberry land oak leaves. In the winter I buy spring mix, parsely and a variety of lettuces.

    I have had Hershey for 1.5 years. He has had no health problems. My vet thought this diet would be ok. What is your opinion?


  5. admin says:

    It sounds like Hershey gets a nicely varied diet. Have you thought about trying some fresh grass along with the other greens you pick? Hay is just dried grass so maybe Hershey prefers his fresher.

    “I also free feed pellets, but he only eats those when the greens run out. ”

    I think that’s the reason he doesn’t eat much hay. Obviously Hershey rates greens above pellets and pellets above hay. He only bothers with pellets when the greens run out and he never bothers with hay because the pellets never run out. If you limited the pellets so he has a period between top ups without any and you’d probably find his hay consumption went up.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Our bunnies also are not very keen on their hay – but they are free range during the day and seem to spend a lot of it eating grass (we have a big lawn so there’s no shortage). Is there anything they need that is in hay that they’re not getting from existing mainly on grass? We also feed them a very small bowl of pellets that they share each morning, but often they don’t eat all of these – they prefer grass! They chew the odd leaf and gnaw at the odd tree trunk too. Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Hi Elizabeth, Grass is just as good as, if not better than, hay. If your rabbits are eating a lot of grass then they’ll probably eat a proportionally smaller amount of hay to balance it out. Rabbits would naturally eat a range of plants (weeds) as well as grass and that helps provide a good mix of vitamins. Pellets are a convenient way to provide a balanced selection of vitamins but you can equally feed a range of ‘greens’ instead. If your lawn is well kept and weed free you could supplement the grass with human herbs and veg but if your lawn is a bit like mine with clover, dandelion etc. mixed in they probably get a good balance already.

  7. Mark says:

    My rabbit just went in for some slowing of the digestion problems and was prescribed a few different things by an exotics specialist including some antibiotics. After the vet visit, she seems to feel better, but she isnt as interested in hay as she used to be and I’m wondering why. I know when i bought her new bags of oxbow timothy and orchard grass after her vet visit they looked different from normal. The orchard grass which I find to be a lot softer was much harder like the timothy and she wasnt excited by it. I’m not sure if maybe the antibiotics and lessening her excitement for hay(she is still excited for oxbow pellets and treats). She pretty much got a full work up and the blood work seemed fine and the meds she was given at the vet over night to help her system move along seemed to work also.

    My bunny will occasionally eat a piece of hay but she looks through a few more pieces and then she doesnt seem to find any other good pieces to eat. Her poop has been ranging from a little small to normal to normal cecotropes although I’d like to see much more normal sized droppings which I imagine usually come from all of the hay. Anyways, I guess I’m wondering if I should be worried or if it just seems like the antibiotics are messing with her poop and hunger for hay a bit. She seems fine otherwise and enjoys food so I’m hoping when I can get some better orchard and timothy hay she will be more into it. She typically spends a lot of time eating hay so it kind of bothers me that she doesnt care for it much anymore. She is going back to the vet in a couple of weeks for a follow up, but any thoughts? I’ve heard lightly spraying apple juice on the hay can help, any validity in that?

  8. Sue says:

    Hi, my adopted rabbit doesn’t eat hay at all. Loved veggies especially those with crunchy stems and carrots. He is crazy about his pellets, which we give about 2 tablespoons in the morning and in the evening. How can I retrain him to eat hay? We have tried reducing the pellets but he has retaliated with a lot of pee outside his litter pan. Is there another way or something else that rabbits might find more tasty than the APD Gold, second cut, we give him in unlimited portions everyday?

    • Mommy of Naz says:

      I to have an adopted bun. Nazrae was given a high pellet diet previously and came to me obese. Took her in for a full work up vet said all was well aside from her weight. She is a 4 yr old Silver Fox who would give a chihuahua a run for it’s money hehe. I have gotten her litter trained, she hates leaving her room, loves to snuggle on the floor and adores kisses. I try to keep treats as few as possible but even fresh grass brought in she turns her nose up. I just don’t know what to do. I change her hay out every day regardless. Wish she would eat more…..

      • Tamsin says:

        Rabbits can be stubborn! Does she eat any foods other than pellets? I would try her with little bits of rabbit-safe fruit, vegetables and weeds and see what you can tempt her with. If she eats some fresh hay (some rabbits will pick at it initially then not bother with the rest), you could try small portions through the day. Just try and build up the non-pellet portion of her diet. I would use pellets as the treats, so you might want to save her pellet portion just to hand feed so that she only has vegetables and hay/grass for some of the day. Using a treat ball (available in the cat/dog toy section usually) for pellets is another way to encourage her to exercise and work harder for her pellets, so other foods seem more tempting.

  9. Marcelle says:

    My bunny loves his hay! What he doesn’t like is the hay you get in pet stores that’s been wrapped in plastic. Good thing – a bale is much cheaper than prepackaged hay. I buy it from a feed store (~2 bales/year) and keep it in a couple of plastic bins (to keep out critters). He gets fresh hay every day and when I first put it in his potty box, he comes running. He likes to dig through it for the seeds. That’s the other thing, his potty box is filled with hay and there’s other boxes around the house filled with hay (he doesn’t use them as litter boxes though they started out that way).

    When he was young, I tried to feed him the timothy and alfalfa that comes from the pet stores, but he would have none of it. Fortunately, it was spring/summer, so he had lots of fresh veg to eat. Then I found a pet store that said what you really want to do is give them fresh hay and they had a farmer who was supplying. They had a choice between oat/forage and timothy. Cosmo (my bun) prefers oat.

    On the pellets, he never gets more than a shot glass full – it’s his food scoop 🙂 I’ve always been told that pellets are more like vitamins than food source – they are there to make up for what your rabbit is missing in fresh veg and hay. And there is a routine. I unlatch the baby gate in the morning and off he goes. I put pellets in his bowl, fresh water, clean up, fresh hay. And then it’s not until 8pm that he gets fresh veg (which encourages him to go back into his room on his own.) In between, all that’s avail is hay.

    Hope this helps anyone with reluctant hay eaters.

  10. Merlin says:

    Hi, my rabbit won’t barely touch his hay even though I have tried a variety of products. In response I have tried much reducing his pellets but he simply doesn’t eat the hay (and only ends up losing weight). With this he is also terrible at drinking water and only seems to sip the odd bit, I have tried a range of bowls and drinking vessles. With this he is keen on biting and eating carpet as most rabbits do, and although I stop him constantly he still does so and has ended up with slight hairblock (he is very long fluffy haired to boot) which I worry about. Lots of issues, just wondered if you have any advice.


  11. chloe says:

    Hello there, sorry to say but as a SVN, I have to totally disagree with the above comments especially the ‘Not eating hay for the most part won’t cause dental problems’ because it really does! Pellets as correctly stated do have fibre in them (not as much as grass and hay) so is ok for their tmmies but they simply wont grind the continously growing teeth down as much as hay. Excess pellets lead to soft poos and although a small amount should be given as a vitamin/mineral supplement, it is thought that only a tablespoon amount is needed and that the rest of the diet should consist of hay, grass and a small amount of veggies. We get so many bunnies in our practice that need dentals, and although yes, a large part of this can be caused by breeding (espeically lops), the majority are needed because of insufficient diet. Hard pellets are not sufficient to grind bunnies teeth down!

  12. lola and sidney says:

    Hello, after an awful week at the vets and animal hospital after Lola decided to stop eating with gi stasis we are slowly getting back on track, before her diet was mainly pellets although hay is always around for her pellets caused the most excitement, i am now trying to wean her on a hay / veggie/herb diet but the only hay i can get is in plastic bags dried old grey colour and its only fit for bedding, where can i get oxbow hays in london? also any ideas on how to get Lola drinking water again?

    • Tamsin says:

      Hiya, I’m sorry to hear your bunny has been poorly, they can be such a worry! You could try emailing Oxbow and see if they can give you a list of stockists. Do you have any stables nearby – they are a good source of high quality hay as they buy for horses. A rabbit rescue would be another place to ask as they may buy hay by the bale and then sell it on. You could also order hay online and have it delivered eg http://www.thehayexperts.co.uk/ Rabbits tend to prefer drinking from a bowl when they are a bit off colour, a splash of apple juice in the water can encourage drinking too. Rabbit drink less when they have fresh vegetables so if you’ve been feeding those to tempt her into eating that may be why she’s drinking less.

  13. Good post , i have find it very helpfull, y rabbit does not want to eat hay i will try some of your advices, regards.

    • Sherrie says:

      Hi, I have an 8 1/2 week old Holland Lop. The breeder that I got her from doesn’t feed hay, so she’s not used to eating it and doesn’t really seem interested in it. She nibbles, but that’s about it. Being that young, should I limit her pellet intake to get her to eat the hay (timothy)? I’m also wondering how much pellets to give her. I’ve read that you should limit them, but have also read that babies should be fed unlimited pellets, so I’m really not sure how much I should give her. Thanks for any advice.

      • Tamsin says:

        Hi Sherrie, yes I would limit her pellets. Scamp has never had more than an egg cup full a day and as you can see he’s grown up just fine. Pellets are very concentrated so you need much less of them than you do hay to provide all the energy and protein a growing bunny needs. Even if you just restrict them for part of the day that will help. Bunnies are most active mid afternoon through the evening so this would be a good time to make just hay available.

        Hay is very important for gut function and teeth though so getting her into good habits now has big benefits. Try the ideas above too see if they help. As she’s a youngster you could also try alfalfa hay, it’s too rich for adults but fine for babies and very tasty so might tempt her. You could also try dried grass (sometimes kiln dried grass) again it’s extra tasty so might get her started.

  14. Kristine says:

    I was wondering if you can help me. We recently got a baby Lionhead for my daughter. The owner gave is a small bag of pellets to get us started. After reading that rabbits need timothy hay as part of their diet I went out and bought some. After giving them to her for the first time her demeanor immediately changed and she became very hyper (she was very calm before this). I thought it was a little odd but wondered if it was a coincidence. Shortly after that we ended to get 2 more bunnies. They were the most calm laid back bunnies….until I have them timothy hay for the first time. Now they are hyper. Not sure that its coincidence anymore but can’t find any info online. Any ideas? Thanks.

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Kristine,

      I’ve never heard of hay making bunnies hyper. They do enjoy playing with hay and digging about it in and eating it is good for them so that may make them feel happier and be more active. It’s really important rabbits have access to hay 24/7 for their teeth and digestive system, if you’re worried about the reaction to timothy hay you could try meadow or oat hay instead. If they are babies you could also try alfalfa but you’ll need to swap later as it’s too rich for adults and can make them overweight.

      Do get someone experienced to check if you have boys or girls if you have three, it’s easy to make a mistake and you can end up with hundreds if you aren’t careful!

  15. rawzer says:

    Our rabbit Max is a 7 year old lop and flatly refuses to eat any hay at all. He happily eats his pellets and loves a variety of fresh greens, particularly carrot tops but also brocolli (which frankly he is welcome to 🙂 ), but he would rather starve than eat hay. We have tried lots of different kinds of hay from pet shops and farms and we have tried reducing his food to a level where he is so hungry he chases us around desperately for something to eat, we have tried mixing hay with his pellets and mixing greens with his hay, but he still flatly ignores the hay however its presented and however hungry he is.

    He does have dental problems, maybe as a result who knows, and we would love to find a way of getting him to change his habits. I have just sent of for a sampler pack of different hays in case there is something he will eat but i dont hold out much hope.

    So my question is a bit different – if Max point blank wont eat hay then is there something else that has similar characteristics in terms of making him grind his teeth down and which he can eat in decent quantities? He would for example be very happy to munch on carrot tops all day but i suspect thats not going to do his insides much good so we limit the amount we allow him.

    • Tamsin says:

      It can be tricky to change the habits of a rabbit that is firmly against hay. Sometimes they just don’t see it as food.

      Have you tried fresh grass? It’s just as good as hay, and some bunnies that like fresh foods (like carrot tops) prefer it.

      The more he chews the more wear his teeth will get, so although grass/hay is the best, anything he eats will create some wear. Pellets are very concentrated and break up easily so he doesn’t need to chew many times to eat all the nutrients he needs. Green foods are less concentrated so he needs so eat a bigger volume (and chew more times) to get the same number of nutrients. So, even if you can’t persuade him to eat hay, you may find that decreasing pellets and increasing the portion of fresh foods in his diet will help overall as he’ll have to chew more.

      The best types of food for this are often natural leaves, so things like blackberry, raspberry, hazel, apple, pear, hawthorn, thistle. You can also dry these to give you spare for the winter. There is a forum topic here where several rabbit owners are discussing collecting plants to feed you may find helpful: http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/showthread.php?t=274136

      • rawzer says:

        Thanks for the reply. We have tried fresh grass in the past though may be worth another shot in case. He does hunt down dried leaves in the garden so we can try some of your suggestions in that area too.

        If we decrease his pellets and increase his green foods to make him chew more do you think its likely his digestion will suffer? thats the reason we have limited him on carrot tops in the past, the assumption it will cause him to start producing much looser droppings (to put it nicely).

        As far as he is concerned I suspect he would be happy in a world where he only ever had to eat carrot top and if that were a valid subsititue for hay we would be able to make that change pretty easily.

        • Tamsin says:

          Rabbit’s natural diet is grass and leaves (particularly weeds) so it’s actually better for his digestion to eat these rather than pellets. A good variety and increasing the quantity gradually is the key factor. Just eating carrots tops isn’t really any better than us humans just eating carrots. Several different types of vegetables/leaves per day and not necessarily the same ones every day, will make sure he gets lots of fibre, does lots of chewing and gets a range of different vitamins and minerals. Providing you do this it’s actually okay to cut out pellets completely! Try google the ‘hay and veggies’ diet for more information. Sudden diet changes (even for the better) can cause poop issues so introduce new things slowly and hopefully you should avoid a repeat.

  16. help :( says:

    my rabbit is 3 years old. she came to me from a rescue and has always been a massive hay eater. middle of april i noticed she was very skinny, i had a feeling her hay habits had changed slightly but she was still eating the dry food and veg so i was convinced my doubts were just paranoia.

    She went to the vets and needed a dental she was a tiny 1.44kg and even the vet seemed worried. she had teeth burred, some damaged tooth removed and there was an infection where the tooth was growing into her cheek. she was given a weeks supply of baytril and she also had metacam.

    one week after her op she went back and the vets were pleased with her mouth, no sign of infection and scar tissue was growing fine. her weight had risen to 1.63kg and she even had a few days eating her soft poops, they told me to bring her back in two weeks for a weight check.

    it has almost been 3 weeks now and she still seems wrong, she eats pellets and grazes at veg. she has not been near the litter tray so has not eaten a scrap of hay, she refuses grass and even a carroty treat, her weight has not changed and she is still 1.63kg but due to the pellets being increased she is leaving at least 5 soft poops every day, she is drinking well and we are back to the vet on Tuesday but I am starting to worry this vet will miss something like what happened to a previous rabbit with a different vet even though they seem very good. Everyone is telling me she will be fine but 3 weeks seems far too long to recover im so scared im going to lose my bunny and no one else thinks there is a problem :'(

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi there, I would go with your instincts, if you think she’s not right still then go back to the vet and get them to recheck. It’s possible they missed a small spur or she’s grown a new one.

      It can be tricky to get enough fibre when they are feeling picky about what to eat. You might try some foods like bramble/blackberry leaves which are high in fibre. Also a product called fibreplex which contains fibre and probiotic. Fresh grass also often goes down better than hay in situations like this.

      A tablespoon of rolled oats can help with weight if she’s still under.

  17. Sedi says:

    my rabbits like only fresh vegies. how can i change their diet to hay?
    I tried not to give them fresh vegies and give them only hay for one day, but they don’t want anything to do with hey. they would rather not to eat anthing then eating hay

    • Tamsin says:

      Hay can seem a bit boring compared to veggies, have you got access to fresh grass? I expect that if your rabbits like veggies they’ll like fresh grass. Introduce it a little at a time and then build up the quantity. Once they are used to grass, start mixing some hay in 🙂

  18. Makayla says:

    Hi guys! I need help !!! My bunny has been having pooping problems ( she’s having very soft poops) and they are sticking to her butt:( I’m worried about her bum. Me and my mom tried to cut it off but she was kicking and scratching. I’m scared that when she poops it’s just gonna stick to the clump and soon she’s just gonna be all plugged up. Please help me! My rabbit has some really serious pooping problems

    • Tamsin says:

      If you can’t get her clean yourself you need to get a vet or groomer to help.

      You also need to address the issues causing the problem – it’s often not enough hay and too much dry food. Try cutting back on the dry food and increasing the hay. If she doesn’t eat much hay you might need to do this gradually. If she’s already a good hay eater, cutting out the pellets completely for a week may help.

    • Eric Gordon Schwarz says:

      I agree with finding out with what is causing the initial problem. You might want to check your bun for teeth problems which change her eating habits causing sticky poop and could make it difficult for her to clean herself. My fist bun was a Neatherland Dwarf who was with me for 11 years, during which time I had to trim his teeth every 6 to 8 weeks. In the beginning while trying to figure out how often to trim i found If I let too much time go between trimmings the subtle change in his eating ha bits would cause the same symptoms you are experiencing with your bun. I would give him a bunny butt bath in the bathroom sink using lukewarm water to fill it half full. I put a small hand towel in the bottom of the sink to keep his feet from sliding around, another towel folded and draped in front of the sink, another one draped over my shoulder and one within reach to wrap him in when it was done. It helps to have the house quiet and calm and to prepare a favorite treat to apologize afterwards. Once everything is set up I would lower his back side into the sink with him facing me, keeping myself very close to him, while speaking in a soft reassuring tone the whole time. I used a little bit of hair conditioner on the soiled area and would gently work it out of his fur with my fingers as the water would help resolve it. This is obviously a very personal procedure which required a lot of patience. I usually did not need to rinse and would wrap him in a towel for a few minutes then let him air dry making sure the house warm enough for him to so.

  19. Marv says:

    We also had a problem getting our mini rex to eat hay and our daughter told us that a friend who had horses and rabbits would mix the rabbits’ hay with a bit of sweet feed when the rabbits weren’t eating enough hay. So I decided to try soaking our rabbit’s hay in apple juice and it worked! All I do is pour in 3 or 4 tablespoons of apple juice (frozen container of apple juice mixed 8:1 with water) into a storage container, put in his daily amount of hay, put the lid on and shake for a minute (he prefers shaken not stirred!), pour off the excess juice. He can’t get to his hay fast enough now!

    • Tamsin says:

      Thanks for sharing the tip – what a great idea! Apple flavoured hay sounds really tasty and I imagine it would be a very good way to get your rabbit into the habit of eating hay if they hadn’t had much before. Apple is one of Scamp’s favourite things to eat 😀

  20. Julie says:

    I have a 2 and half year old big boy rabbit (lop eared) he is free all day and all night so can eat the grass all he wants. Every night when it gets cool I take out a bunch of bok choy and peeled , washed and chopped up carrot, washed , peeled and chopped up apple has to be pink lady, a whole corn on the cob. He also has as much pellets and hay as he wants. At about 10am when it starts getting warm and the flies come about I through whatever is left on the paper in the bin, usually not much is left, although sometimes the corn will last him 2 night, I just put it back in water for the day to stop it drying out. He has a dogs kennel he can get into with hay in it under the back verandah if he wants to. If the weather to wet I lock him in it because he doesn’t seem to have a brain and will go out in the rain. Reguarding Pooy bums I just put him in a bowl of warm water about 4 inches deep and gently soak it off and then brush him, but it does stop the flies annoying him. He is a big boy and loves his food.

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Julie,

      He sounds like a very lucky bunny with all those tasty things to eat and space to play 🙂

      That he gets a pooy bum sometimes though, to me indicates that his diet might be a little too rich. Rabbit’s naturally have food quite low in nutrition (grass and leaves) and their tummies are designed to process this to squeeze out all the nutrition that they can. So when they get foods high in energy such as carrot, apple and corn (fruits and seeds are where plants store energy) it can upset the balance. Pellets are the same – concentrated nutrition.

      I think if you limited his pellets (he really won’t need many with access to grass and lots of fresh foods) and swapped out some of the fruit and corn for more leafy greens like the bok choy you’d find his pooy bum issue completely disappeared 🙂


  21. Kris says:

    I have tried all these tips suggested, nothing is working, I don’t know what to do next. I have tried different types of type, even spraying with water and cutting the hay into shorter strands. The only thing he will chew is timothy hay cubes. I have to get his molars filed down every month because of bone spurs. Is there any other suggestions.

    • Tamsin says:

      Have you tried fresh grass? Another thing someone suggested to me was dipping a strand of hay into apple juice and then offering it to your bunny. Then once they’ve got into the habit of eating hay you can cut out the juice.

      There is a product called Supreme FibaFirst you could try which is a bit like a combination of dry food and hay cube.

  22. Sarah says:

    I have a rabbit, and I`m worried about him! One of his teeth grew longer than the other, so I took him to the vet and they tried to make the two teeth as level as possible. My vet told me to put a few pellets in my rabbit’s bowl to cover the bottom of the bowl. He instructed me to put it leave it in his cage for the morning, take it out for the afternoon, put it in again in the evening, and take it out for the rest of the night. He said this would encourage my rabbit to eat more hay. But even after following his instructions, I hardly ever see my rabbit eating any hay, and the hay pile I put in his cage doesn’t look like it’s getting any smaller. I’m really lost here on how to get him to eat more hay.

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Sarah,

      It can be tricky to get a rabbit unused to eating hay to start. Have you tried some of the ideas above?

      I would try putting a few pellets in the bottom of the dish as your vet suggested, and then put a small handful of fresh hay on top – see if your bunny accidentally starts munching when trying to get the pellets.

      Another thing you could try is holding a strand of hay and tickling your bunnies nose with it, sometimes they’ll grab it and start chewing. Often the problem is they just don’t think of hay as food and once you can get them trying a little bit they’ll start eating more. Someone told me they tried that but dipped the hay in apple juice first to make it smell even better!

      I’d also try some fresh grass – introduce it really slowly just a little to start with, again I’d pop it in the bowl as that’s what your bunny associates with food. You might find he likes fresh grass better, particularly if he’s got wonky teeth. If he’ll eat that it’s just as good as hay for wearing his teeth.

      Good luck!

  23. Stella says:

    My name is Stella and I have a 4 y.o. and a 3.5 rabbit, both males. 🙂

    For the past 3,5 years my rabbits have been addicted to inappropriate fancy commercial food, as I was not well informed and I gave them that..6 months earlier I managed to convince them eat some good quality pellets( the trade is “bunny nature”) despite their intense refusal to eat it..

    But still I can’t manage to make them eat hay. As a result we have dental issues and we have to visit the vet for dental strikes every 3 months or less!!

    I noticed that you ve said that rabbits can eat fresh grass instead of hay. Is it the same as far as the dental wear is concerned? Also, my rabbits dont eat fresh vegetables, and i am afraid that even if I introduce the fresh grass gradually, they will encounter gut problems as they have never again been fresh-vegetable-eaters.

    I know I have made many mistakes, but I am trying to fix this up the best way I can. In my country there are not many specified people in rabbits, and it took me 3 years to understand that i should search in articles like yours, from foreign countries. So, it would mean the world for me to get an answer.

    Thank you.

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Stella, I started out just the same way when I first got rabbit’s. They are a big learning curve.

      Well done on getting them to eat pellets, that’s a great start!

      Fresh grass is just as good as hay for both dental wear and providing fibre for the gut. And many rabbits think it tastes nicer too!

      The only way to find out how your rabbits will react is to try it. Some rabbit’s do have sensitive stomachs but that your rabbits haven’t had fresh food before doesn’t mean they can’t.

      Try feeding a one piece of grass and then see how their poop is. If it goes runny then their gut doesn’t like it. For such a small quantity of fresh food you shouldn’t experience anything other then soft poop which will stop when you stop the new food.

      Let me know how you get on 🙂

      • Stella says:

        Hi Tamsin!
        I have some Good news!
        Both of nu bunnies eat hay! Of course they liked fresh grass and or didnt seem to affect their gut in a bad way..
        But the way i made them eat hay was…hunger. it was not easy and i think ut was a bit dangerous but i decided to risk.so i gave them their pellets but not as many as usual in the morning. By the end of the day they were so hungry they could eat the cage itself.. that was the point i gave them gay and they ate it pleasantly. I have to mention that it was an expensive good quality alpine hay in the beginning but now they can eat regular hay
        A month ago we visited the vet and i was shocked when he ejected One of nu bunny’s teeth wich was ready to fall…. I think this was really bad and still i dont know if the fact that he eats hay can really improve his bad dental health. If only i knew earlier……
        A week later we visited again the vet and he ejected two more of the bunny’s teeth which were ready to fall too… I am really worried about him and i hope eating hay makes him better.

    • Tamsin says:

      That’s wonderful news! I’m so glad to hear you managed to persuade them into eating hay.

      Even if it doesn’t cure their dental issues, hopefully it will mean they need treatment less often than they would otherwise.

      It’s unusual for rabbits teeth to fall out, were they the front ones? Sometimes they can break but they grow back!

      Sometimes the poor quality foods can be lacking in the necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and bones, so now you are feeding good quality pellets and hay, you may find it helps the teeth from that point of view too.

      I also run a web forum, for rabbit owners who like to discuss rabbits and help each other with advice. You are welcome to join us: http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/

  24. Stella says:

    And Tamsin thank You so much!
    Your reply made me feel encouraged! 🙂

    Ps excuse my grammar and spelling mistakes! Auto corrector embarrased me again! So it was hay instead of “gay” and “my” instead of “nu” etc.. 🙂

  25. Stella says:

    the teeth which fell out were not the front ones.. :/
    I hope I see them improving 🙂
    of course I m joining your forum, thanks for inviting me.
    Thank you so much!

  26. Michael says:

    Hello I bought a male Netherland dwarf Rabbit I had his bits done so he can go in with his sister since I had him done he’s stop eating his pellets but he will only eat bit of hey took him back to to vet and I have to feed him by hand and that’s a job at times he’s 8 months old if 9 months what would be the best thing for me to do I’m getting worried about him many thanks ps please help me out

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Michael, sometimes after the stress of an operation a rabbit will stop eating and get something called stasis where their gut stops moving food through it. When that happens the vet usually gives a painkiller (particularly important if he’s had an op), drugs to encourage the gut to move again and you handfeed to make sure food is going in to keep it moving until he starts eating on his own. If you rabbit hasn’t improved then you need to go back to the vet as it can be quite serious.

      Anything you can give him that encourages him to eat will help too, so try out different foods to see what he feels like. He might like fresh herbs or his own pellets softened with a bit of apple juice. The important thing is to offer him anything he’ll eat as the more he eats, the more he’ll feel like eating as his gut gets back to normal.

  27. Michael says:

    Thank you I will try that I will keep you posted

  28. Michael says:

    Iv put my male rabbit back on his old food now when I first bought him and his started to eat again I’m glad he is now thank you for your help

  29. Jenni says:

    hello there, i recently bought a 8 month old male rabbit, he was kept in a stable with 2 guinea pigs and when i went to visit him he was happily eating on hay, i have had him 2 weeks and he wont touch hay 🙁 they gave me a bag of food tide him over a few days (i suspect guinea pig food) and he didnt eat for 48 hours, then he munched a whole bowl and had hard pellet poop, but hes still not eating hay and the food they gave me has run out so i replaced with a rabbit food which appears to have lotsa of dried fruit in it such as bananas and smells sweet and he wont touch it, hes not drinking huge amounts of water, he will eat grass i pick for him, and he eats carrots, broccoli, dandelions, but wont touch the hay, and in the last 3 days i have noticed a large increase in runny poops, he also uses his bed area of the hutch to poop in and then sleeps in the exposed part of it. can someone please help me, the vets here are terrible and charge a rather large amount for a consultation xxx thanku xx p.s it should be noted that i have just found out he hasnt had his mixi jab so i am sorting that this week xx

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Jenni,

      I suggest you have a read through my diet section here: http://www.therabbithouse.com/diet/

      That will give you a better idea of what you are aiming for and help you pick a good food brand.

      It’s important that rabbits eat plenty to keep their gut moving, so keep up the foods he will eat and build on that – if he’ll eat dandelions he may eat other rabbit safe weeds and grass and that will work as a diet to start from. I would suggest going back to the place you got him and see if they’ll sell you some hay/food to use temporarily or ask where they buy their hay – different brands/types can be very different so they may just have tastier hay.

      If he stops eating or pooping then he’ll need to see a vet asap. Where are you? Sometimes rescue centres or other rabbit owners can recommend a good vet locally.


  30. Taina says:

    Hi my name is Taina,

    I bought a pet rabbit one week ago it’s a 4 month male, I don’t have very big problems – just very small worries about my bunny. I don’t know if the pet shop I bought my bunny from ever fed him hay but it’s slowly eating it, it mostly eats dried bunny food or pallets. 50% hay 40% pallets and 10% dried fruit – I tried almost all the things it said on the website but it’s not really working ???? I feed the pallets in a size 1/8 cup and for the pallets half of 1/8…
    I shake the pallets in a plastic he comes running towards it but whenever I do it with the hay he is just doing his regular things ???????????? I am not sure what to do but if anything else happens to him during the next couple of days I will inform you! ????

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Taina,

      I would cut out the dry fruit for now and just stick with the hay and a small amount of pellets. Dry fruit is quite high in sugar. Once your rabbit has had another week or so to settle in, if he’s doing well you could introduce a little bit of rabbit safe fresh vegetables.

      The pellets are super tasty so rabbits will often come running for them, as a good bunny owner you have to be mean and insist he eats his hay too, even though it’s not quite as tasty. It’s like making sure children eat their vegetables as well as cake!

      Again, once he’s had time to settle you could also try introducing some fresh grass if you have access to it – it can just be from your lawn as long as you don’t use any pesticides. Hay and grass are interchangeable but some rabbits like the taste of fresh grass better.


  31. Elle says:

    Hi, I have a Netherland dwarf rabbit, she recently had surgery on her jaw as her teeth didn’t line up at all so she was having a hard time eating, they are now slightly more in line and she is able to eat a bit better, however I am really struggling with getting her to eat hard foods such as hay, and hard veggies such as carrots and even broccoli etc. She likes to eat apples, and because they are softer to chew through she doesn’t really have a problem eating them. My problem is that in order for her jaw to line up better she needs to continue to wear down her teeth and she isn’t really doing that with the food she is eating. I usually feed her a hard feed mix as well which contains seeds, chopped hay, and pellets etc. She doesn’t have much of a problem eating that, however she seems to choose the pellets mostly. Now I can get her to eat carrot, but only if I peel them so they’re softer to eat. I really need her to wear down her teeth though, so I tried taking out all the soft things to eat including her pellet mix, and just leaving hay, (including an oxbow hay stack), carrots and hard wood things to chew on that I washed with molasses to encourage her to chew on it. I left her like that for a whole day, I saw her scratching round in the hay, but I couldn’t really see if she ate anything, other than that she just sat in her cage and wouldn’t touch anything all day that I could see.
    I was wondering if you having any tips for me to encourage my rabbit to eat harder foods to help wear down her teeth.

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Elle,

      I’m sorry to hear about your bunnies teeth troubles. It’s not actually hard food that creates the wear it’s the rough surface of hay and grass. Grass has tiny spikes on the surface – too small to see but you can feel the roughness in the way grass catches if you try and pull a piece through your fingers. Have a read here for the details: http://www.therabbithouse.com/blog/2011/10/07/grass-hay-tooth-wear/

      So the key is lots of grass or hay, hard foods like carrots won’t help with wear. I’d suggest trying her with fresh grass, I know that seems softer than hay but it’s the best thing at wearing teeth because of the roughness. After all that’s why teeth grow so fast – the grass wild rabbits eat wears them down! And most rabbits think it’s very tasty. You can cut grass by hand with scissors (don’t use mower clippings).

      Ideally her diet would be lots and lots of grass, a small amount of pellets (about 15-20g per day) and then some leafy greens. For the leafy greens forage would be best – that’s bunny safe wild plants like dandelion, willow, apple tree leaves, blackberry leaves. They are also tougher that human foods. You’ll need to swap gradually, making sure she’s eating something, as it’s important she does eat during the day to keep her gut functioning.

      I would start by removing the seeds and carrots as they are high calories, gradually introduce some grass but build up the quantity over a few weeks so her gut can adjust. You might like to look at fibrefirst for pellets as they are made differently with hay so better for teeth.

      I hope that helps 🙂


  32. Karin says:

    HI Tamsin

    My almost 2yr old Netherlands dwarf bunny, Angel is suffering from GI Stasis. We had him at the vet last weekend and she prescribed, pain meds, Gut meds, Fever & anti-inflamatory meds as well as Antibiotics. She also had him on a drip for dehydration (1/2 bag on Saturday and 1/2 bag on Sunday.
    I syringe fed him some (recommended by vet) pumpkin puree through that first night and he made it ok.

    It is now 5 days after starting the meds and he is now only eating some lettuce now and then, but absolutely nothing else. I gave him a teaspoon of his favourite treat, oats, this morning and he absolutely gobbled it up and then just flopped over on his side again. He drinks very little water from his bottle, but wets the cage quite a lot.

    My Questions are:

    1. Should we continue with the Antibiotics if the gas bubbles in his tummy have already subsided?
    2. Would the excessive wetting be from the water bags at the vet?
    3. What is SAFE for a bunny to eat with GI stasis to keep the gut going until he is read to start eating on his own.. i.e. can we give more oats, or will this do more bad than good at this point?

    Thank you

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Karin,

      Sorry to hear your bunny is poorly. It’s probably a good idea to have a chat with your vet again and give them an update and see what they suggest. As he’s still not eating normally they may want to investigate further and see if they can find an underlying cause.

      Stasis can be a symptom of something else – a rabbit feels poorly or in pain and they stop eating and that stops their gut moving and then they end up in stasis. Antibiotics don’t treat stasis, but they are sometimes given in case the underlying problem is something they will resolve e.g. a bladder infection. Check with your vet how long a course they want you to give.

      Generally with stasis you want them to eat as much as possible so you throw out most of the usual healthy eating rules. So if he’ll eat oats that’s better than nothing. I’d suggest soaking the oats with water as they swell when they get wet so you don’t want to feed too many dry. If he likes that, you could also try crushing or soaking some of his normal rabbit pellets and mixing them with the soggy oats – it’s makes a lovely green porridge like food which many rabbits like! Sometimes just pellets soaked with water on their own will tempt them too. It’s also worth trying normal food immediately after he’s eating some oats, as sometimes having had a nibble they will feel more like eating something else.

      Try lots of different foods as their preference often change when unwell – scamp likes dandelion leaves, grapes, willow and the bark off apple twigs. But try fresh herbs, different veggies anything like that. It’s a bit odd but I also find that sometime making a fresh cut/tear/break in leaves and offering the edge will get him to eat – I’m guessing it releases the smell more and that maybe triggers appetite.

      Try providing a bowl as well as a bottle as that encourages drinking, adding a little pure apple juice can encourage drinking too. The wetting may just be as he’s not feeling up to visiting his tray combined with he’s had a lot of fluids – mention it to your vet though.

      I hope that helps and Angel feels better soon 🙂


  33. Karin says:

    Thank you Tamsin

    I’ll try the different food options and have another chat to my vet, specifically about the antibiotics.


  34. Makenna says:

    I have a Flemish Giant named Cosmo, sadly as a young 9 week old he was attacked by a Rottweiler and nearly killed. He has lost most of his teeth, and as I know is a death sentence for rabbits. Before he was attached he loved hay, but after he never took another bite of hay. For the past few months he has been losing weight, a pound every month, and to top it off due to the dog attack his growth was stunted and only grew to half size and has no weight to spare. I have spent over one hundred dollars and a large verity of hay for him to eat, but to no avail. I have tried many meathods like putting his favorite foods in the hay, lining the litter boxes with hay, keeping a large always full bowl a hay in his favorite relaxing spots, but all of them together don’t work with him. My other rabbits have loved almost all the hay I’ve bought, but not Cosmo. I would love for someone to help me out and give me some ideas, because my vet and I are stumped. Please and Thank You.

    • Tamsin says:

      Poor chap! Has the vet checked his back teeth recently? Rabbits teeth grow continually and wear down by rubbing against the corresponding teeth above/below. So if he’s lost some teeth the matching ones may be overgrowing and that can leave them sharp and causing sores in the mouth. The teeth grow a few mm a month so they can overgrow quite quickly.

      If he’s losing weight, I would recommend focusing on bringing that back up. There are some tips here: http://www.therabbithouse.com/diet/diet-weightgain.asp With his teeth issues, I’d recommend picking pellets that are high in protein (16-18%) – usually aimed at young rabbits – and soaking them with water to make eating easier. You can then mix in rolled porridge oats (also soaked). This will increase his calorie intake. If you need to change pellet brands to find a higher protein one make the swap gradually.

      Hay is important for two reasons – teeth wear and for gut mobility. For the second it’s the fibre content you need – I would try very finely chopping hay or fresh grass using scissors into pieces 2-3mm long and mixing them in with the mush of oats and pellets. I expect this will by-pass his teeth issues and allow you to get the fibre to his gut.

      In terms of teeth wear it will depend on what teeth he has left – he needs matching sets for the hay to do any good so it’s ground between the upper and lower ones. If he doesn’t have these then hay for tooth wear isn’t something you’ll need to focus one, but he’s likely to need them filed by the vet regularly instead.

      • Makenna says:

        He goes to the vet every month to get his teeth floated for him. I do have him on 3rd cut hay, rolled outs, and on high fiber pellets. He used to be on a liquid diet and might have to be on it again. Sadly his jaw was damaged, meaning he will continually get worse. My vet is trying to stay ahead of the problem, but sadly for the past 5-7 months he started going down hill fast.

  35. Rohoney says:

    Hi, my name is rohoney and I have a rabbit that is 4 months old. We brought it from a farm when it was 2 weeks old. The problem is that since we brought, he got so addicted to eating carrots. He eats little bit of hay and hates eating rabbit pallets. This continued for about 3 months. We took him to animal doctor and they said his health is great but we have to make it eat more hay and pallets. He doesn’t want to eat pallets. What can I do to make my rabbit eat pallets. What can I do to make him eat more pallets and hay?

    • Tamsin says:

      Carrots aren’t a very health option but they are high in sugar – which is why your rabbit likes them. I would try with some fresh grass he may like that better.

      I’d also try increasing the range of fresh foods he eats, introducing some leafy greens so he gets a wider range of foods and also more fibre. You could even give carrots tops a go. You could also try some ‘weeds’ have a google for rabbits safe ones that grow where you live, things like dandelion and thistle. These aren’t as good as grass and hay, which should be your ultimate aim, but they’ll improve his diet in the short term whilst you work on it.

  36. Daisy says:

    Daisy eats Timothy hay but is very choosy with it so there is lots of waste. She isn’t choosy with long fresh green grass from a farm at all-there is zero waste. However when I told my vet I give her a combination, she said fresh grass can cause abdominal problems due to excess water and that I should feed hay instead? This has confused me as I thought I could use hay & grass in combo as the 80% with 15% greens & a handful of pellets a day…is the grass part of the greens?
    Incidentally I am a new (less than 2 months) pet owner but lots of prep before with adoption & Daisy will eat virtually everything vegetarian (including trying to grab food off my plate!) so I have to limit her.

    • Tamsin says:

      I’m not sure where you vet has come up with that idea, but I would completely disagree. Rabbit’s guts are designed to process grass – that’s what a wild rabbit eats, they don’t wait for it to dry out. Keeping the gut hydrated is a good thing, as if food dries it compacts and that can contribute to stasis and blockages.

      You are absolutely right, you can use any combination of hay and grass for the ‘hay’ portion of their diet. You’ll find your rabbit will adjust their water intake – if you feed mainly dry hay your rabbit will drink a lot more water to compensate for the lack of it in their food.

      The only issue with feeding grass is introducing it suddenly – so if a rabbit wasn’t used to eating grass and then you gave them a big pile to eat or free access to graze that could cause abdominal problems as they weren’t used to it. That’s the same for any new foods though – it just needs introducing gradually. Perhaps your vet is just being over cautious as not everyone does their research first (well done!).

      My advice would be to stick with the fresh grass – it sounds like Daisy has already made her preference clear 😉

  37. Daisy says:

    Thanks so much, yes she drinks less water when fed grass / combo than when hay alone but her poos are no different nor her urine so assumed she just compensates for water content. She has little zeal for hay (like a child being force fed!) yet goes mad for & eats grass so quickly so I will go back to a combo & gradually increase grass proportion. The only down side to Daisy not drinking as much water is missing the cute way she licks her lips when drinking ????

    • Tamsin says:

      I’m sure she’ll be pleased grass is back on the menu. For cute lip licking you could try a juicy grape or piece of strawberry – not too often as fruit is high in sugar but as an occasional treat is fine and I’d expect she’ll be quite enthusiastic about it.

  38. Betty Shaw says:

    I have an almost 8 year old netherland dwarf, named Snowball. For most of his life he has eaten the same things everyday: 1 tbsp of pellets, a large handful of cilantro, 1tbsp of fresh fruit/vegi treat, and buckets of timothy hay. He has had no health issues, until I had his molar spur removed. Now he doesn’t seem to want much hay. By the end of the day, out of desperation, I slip him a few more pellets and greens. Which he gobbles up. I’ve taken him for a follow up visit. The vet can find no reason for this change. Any ideas?

    • Tamsin says:

      I’d discuss with the vet trying metacam, that’s a painkiller/anti-inflamitory. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a rabbit is in pain and if you find he suddenly starts eating hay on it then you know something is a bit sore. It could be the tooth roots rather than surface that’s causing the problem and that would need an xray to be visible.

      Have you tried him on fresh grass? If he is happy to eat greens he may well be happy with fresh grass. It needs to introducing gradually, like any new food, but you can completely replace the hay portion with grass and that will make sure he is getting enough fibre/tooth wear.

  39. Michelle Nguyen says:

    Hi Tamsin! New rabbit mom here! I recently started my netherland dwarf, Hiro, on a more hay diet but I’m feel discouraged. Hiro came from a breeder that only fed him pellets so getting him to eat hay has been an ordeal! I’ve followed your tips by limiting his pellets to only 1/8 cup before bed and fresh hay during the day but he seems to starve himself all day until around 4pm when he will eat hay bc he knows I won’t give him pellets till bedtime. Is this ok, or will it cause digestive issues later? Lol I just feel I’m not doing it right. He eats a fair amount but I feel it isn’t enough. Thank you!

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Michelle,
      Congratulation on the new addition. It might be more of a case of rabbits naturally are more active in the late afternoon/evening and early morning, rather than he’s deliberately waiting you out. They often sleep/doze from mid morning on so I would expect you don’t see lots of eating then as they would usually be tucked up in a warren sleeping. As long as he is a healthy body weight and poops well I wouldn’t worry.

      You could try introducing some fresh grass gradually – bunnies that are very keen on hay can sometimes like that better and it’s just as good for the digestion 🙂


  40. Kat Tschauner says:

    Worked for 3 days to get my rabbit to eat hay after pulling her pellets and veggies. We tried 3 different grass. She’d have nothing to do with any of it!

    Finally, I braided a blend of Timothy and Orchard Grass with a strip of cilantro. Got her!

  41. Soro says:

    What would you recommend for a rabbit with only 3 teeth? I am fostering a rabbit for a rescue who previously had terrible dental disease, resulting in the extraction of almost all his teeth. He has a very difficult time chewing anything. He will try to eat but the hay/leafy greens/vegetables just fall out of his mouth. The only thing he can eat reliably is soaked pellets. I am giving him more pellets than I would like to because he is already thin. He is eager to eat and always excited when his leafy green and vegetable plate is delivered, but he just cant eat it. I cut the leaves and vegetables into small bite sized pieces, but he still can’t grasp the pieces well enough to eat nearly enough. Would you recommend trying blending up some hay/leaves/veggies with water to make a sort of soup, or something else? Thank you

    • Tamsin says:

      You might have to do a few tests to see what works. For an underweight rabbit I’d advise adding in some porridge oats – they can be mixed with cold water to make ‘porridge’ and you can add other things e.g. crushed/blended up pellets, finely chopped hay/grass/veggies to it. Vegetable baby food (get the pure veggy stuff) might work too – or blend or mash your own. If you can get a goopy base rather than runny soup you will hopefully find you can add things like chopped hay and the goop will hold it together for easier eating.

      I’d advise using scissors to finely chop the hay so it’s about 5mm lengths – I’d be concerned blending it might make it too fine to provide the bulk that helps with gut movement. Have you tried fresh grass? Some rabbits can manage it with missing teeth so worth a try – although he may have too few left. If you put it stood upright it a cup he may find that easier to pick up than off a flat surface.

      If your in the UK you could try Supreme FibaFirst (might send you a sample if you email them and ask) they are more hay based and softer (though it’s been awhile since I had some).

      I hope that helps – let me know how you get on 🙂

  42. Hippo says:

    Hi,I just got my first bunny from a breeder,sadly he’s only a month and two weeks old. But he’s been fed pellets all his life and I’m getting fresh hay soon for his litter box. Will introducing hay suddenly be bad for him? Oh should I try to limit the pellets and maybe put the hay in his food plate instead? I’m trying to get him the healthiest diet possible,so it’s best for me to Star asap while he’s young

    • Tamsin says:

      I would introduce hay straight away, it’s healthy and very gentle on the digestion so not a problem to introduce suddenly. Putting the hay in his litter box and on the plate he is used to eat from is a good way to start him off so he gets into good habits. See what he thinks, you may find that he tucks right in or you may need to gradually reduce pellets to encourage him to eat more. It is important that he does eat something, so keep an eye on his intake – it may even help you to weigh him weekly to check he is gaining weight. It doesn’t have to be a specific increase, just that he’s gradually growing. I’ve an article on feeding baby rabbits here that may help: http://www.therabbithouse.com/diet/diet-baby.asp

  43. Noah says:

    Hello! I wanted to ask for advice about a concern with my bunny. I have 5 buns in total. These past few weeks, I had some struggle maintaining my stock of hay due to a typhoon that passed by and the onslaught of christmas sales. In my country, there’s not a lot of timothy hay to go around, so I usually order it from a place farther from where I am. I made do with grass (but even that wasn’t enough most nights) and emergency hay (that didn’t last long either). Now, I’ve got some hay the other day and am working on getting the stock on track but one of my bunnies isn’t eating it. He’s active, very active, keep running around the place and would even respond to pellets and treats but he would barely eat his hay! I’d push him to eat it and he would but only a bit for a few minutes and then ignore it. Before, when I give him a bucket full, he’d ravage it—I would even need to refill it 3 times a day! Now, when I gave him a bucket full, he didn’t even go through half of it for the whole day :(( I don’t know what to do! They normally don’y complain what type of hay they’re eating, they don’t mind what type I give them as long as it’s hay so this is absolutely new for me. Help?

    • Tamsin says:

      If you can I’d be tempted just to get a vet to double check his back teeth – just to make sure it’s not a physical issue. As I imagine you know bunnies teeth grow all the time and wear from hay eating so it’s possible he could have some little spurs on the sides where they haven’t worn evenly and that’s effecting his eating. Sometimes it can be a bit of a cycle – they slow down eating so their teeth wear less and then they get a sore mouth and eat less. Just because you said they wouldn’t usually be fussy so it would be good to be sure that wasn’t a factor.

      Mixed local hay is just as good in my opinion as timothy, so don’t feel bad that you haven’t been able to get it. Using grass was a very smart move – it’s surprising how much they eat though – it can be hard to collect enough depending where you live. Did you find he enjoyed the grass? If so I would try adding that back in and see if that helps increase the overall quantity. If he was eating the other hay and you have some left you could try mixing the two together or providing a pile of each and see if he doesn’t have a strong preference. Mixing in the pellets with the hay might encourage him to remember to eat it too.

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