How do I motivate my rabbit to eat more hay?

  • I'm well aware that hay is a fundamental part of a rabbit's diet. However, my rabbit has become very picky with its food, over time. He eats mostly fruit peels, some vegetables, carrots, and about half of the contents of pellet mix foods, leaving most of the hay untouched. That is, unless it is alfalfa hay.

    The vet said this alfalfa hay should only be used as a treat, mixed with the other hay (orchard, if I remember correctly). The rabbit used to eat more hay when younger, and he had some teeth problems quite recently.

    I already tried punishing him, giving him only hay, but he just waits until I give him more treat foods. As I'm also aware that rabbits shouldn't spend much time without eating, I end up giving him what he wants.

    How do I motivate my rabbit to eat more hay?

    Someone suggested me to sprinkle his hay with water, or water and honey, so as to freshen up the scent, or make it sweeter. I haven't tried honey, but the water trick seems to have no results.

    If your rabbit gets a lot of fresh greens (grass, herbs, this ones of what the hay be made) it do not need this high amount of hay. The likewise high amount needs a rabbit which is only fed with vegetables, pellets or fruits. I would like my meals fresh, instead of dried and the water apart in a glass :)

  • You are correct the keeping food moving through the rabbit is critical. The primary foods you are feeding are closer to treat foods than the are to an optimal diet. Some arguments are even made to move to a completely pellet free diet

    Giving your rabbit a healthy diet is not Punishment, it is the most kind thing you can do (see case study of poor diet. It is important that you make a slow transition from the current diet to healthy diet (see Do I need to do anything special when I change what I feed my rabbit?). If your rabbit has not had enough hay he may any of several issues (see Why is adding hay to a rabbit's diet important?) a visit to a qualified rabbit vet may be warranted. If he has teeth issues, it will take a vet to address the issue.

    The first step in correcting the diet, is to begin substituting old favorites for newer healthier choices. One healthy treat that should be easily transitioned in is hay cubes, over a few days replace carrots and fruit peels with hay cubes. The carrots and fruit peels are the are probably the worst part of your you rabbits current diet (see Are carrots a healthy part of a rabbit diet?) as is any high sugar item (like honey).

    Next step is to include high quality leafy greens vegetables, this should be a cup a day.

    Timothy hay is probably the best choice for a mature rabbit, but orchard hay will also work. It should be avaible at all times for your rabbit. As he moves away from the sweet foods, and gets appropriate quanties of healthier foods, he should migrate to eating more hay. He should never have an endless supply of pellets or greens, so durring the times those are not available he will naturally eat the hay to fill out his diet.

    Lastly, consider the type of pellets you are feeding. There are a lot of different choices out there. Oxbow and zupreem are two quality brands. Anything with bright colors and lots of different items in the bag are marketing to the consumer, not to health of the rabbit. Bulk feed from a farm supply store, is a slightly better option than color pet food feeds, but it is formulated for putting weight on production rabbits quickly, not for long term maintenance of a pet rabbit. Quality foods are dark uniform shaped and formed pellets with a timothy hay base.

    If you should encounter any difficulties in the transition.

    1. If your rabbit stops eating, get to the vet immediately 24 hours can be fatal.
    2. Post more questions with the same clarity that you used here, we will be happy to help.
    3. Browse the existing questions on the site tagged "rabbits".

    Just added this bit, some how I missed including it "As he moves away from the sweet foods, and gets appropriate quanties of healthier foods, he should migrate to eating more hay. He should never have an endless supply of pellets or greens, so durring the times those are not available he will naturally eat the hay to fill out his diet."

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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