Bunny blogger Selma discusses how to get your rabbit to eat more hay.
It’s all very well being told that your rabbit’s diet should be at least 80% hay, but what do you do if they don’t want to eat it? Eating hay has never been a problem for me – I love it! However, my husbun Linus was not so great at eating his hay, so I thought I’d share some tips he found helpful to ensure he upped his quota of fibre.
1. Experiment with different types of hay
I guess to you humans all hay looks and smells the same – WRONG! Sometimes it’s worth trying different brands and mixing it up for variety. Ideally the hay should have long, green strands and smell sweet; if it doesn’t then there’s no way us bunnies are going to be interested.
2. Location, location, location
Okay, so I know we’re cute but us rabbits enjoy nothing more than munching while we are pooping! I have a huge litter tray with a hay bowl in the middle – perfect!
3. Add extra flavour to food
Why not try mixing some of these in with your rabbit’s hay to encourage them to forage, while eating some hay at the same time.
- Dried herbs
- Alfalfa hay – this should only be used as a garnish and not as your rabbit’s regular feed due to the high calcium and protein content which is not good for us (plus it’s pretty calorific).
- Fresh veg
- Add fresh grass and dandelion leaves (just remember not to use lawnmower clippings)
- Some of your bunny’s daily allowance of pellets could be sprinkled in the hay.
4. Reduce your rabbit’s allowance of pellets
If you are still feeding your rabbit muesli, then we need to have serious words – read this blog: www.lowesmoorvets.co.uk/lowesmoor-blog/june-2018/what-s-the-deal-with-muesli. (Spoiler alert - there are no redeeming features in feeding this to your rabbit).
So, back to allowances – in all honesty, how much are you feeding your rabbit? Pellets should only be a supplement to their diet. The more pellets they fill up on, then the less likely they are to eat hay. As a guide I eat roughly an eggcup full every day. Just remember if you are reducing your bunny’s allowance of pellets, then do it slowly and you will need to ensure that they are eating their hay.
5. Rabbits are allowed to play with their food!
Us bunnies love playtime and foraging, so including hay into this will encourage them to nibble at some hay at the same time. I particularly love a willow ball or a cardboard tube filled with hay – great for chucking about & chewing on!
A lack of fibre in your rabbit’s diet can cause a host of problems comprising gut stasis and dental issues, so if your bun’s not eating its body size in hay, every day, then it’s very important to address the issue.
Nom, nom, nom – keep munching (hay) bunnies!