Rabbit Care 101: Feeding Your Rabbit Hay Tips and Tricks
Written by The Rabbit Hole Hay Team
Whether you're new to owning a rabbit or you've just added another rabbit to your family, it's important to remember that no two rabbits are alike. One rabbit may chew on hay all day without any issues, while another rabbit may take extra coaxing to eat their hay.
Just like humans, rabbits have their own personality and diet preferences. Learning their likes and dislikes will go a long way in helping to determine the best way to get them to eat hay.
We know that you want to give them the proper care to ensure they stay happy and healthy, and in order to do that your little guy needs to have a diet of at least 80% grass hay.
To help, we've come up with a few tips and tricks for you to get your rabbit eating hay again.
Fluffy has been with you for a few weeks now. He is simply adorable, has a wonderful personality and has already created a bond with you. However, there’s one thing wrong, the little guy won’t eat his hay! He always eats all the other greens, fruit, and pellets you leave for him, but the hay you leave for him stays untouched or he's only picked at it and eaten a little.
As a rabbit owner you've read that hay is essential for a rabbit's diet and you want to provide the best rabbit care possible. So, what do you do? You research ways to get your rabbit to eat their hay and you begin going through the list of tips to see how you can switch things up.
Ask Yourself These Questions
Go through the questions listed below and see if maybe the reason behind your rabbit not eating hay is because of the way you are purchasing or storing their hay.
Is The Hay You Order Fresh?
Just like humans, rabbits don't like to eat food that isn't fresh. Make sure that the hay you are ordering looks green, has a nice smell to it, and isn't full of dried out strands.
Are You Buying Quality Hay?
Buying high quality hay is important in ensuring that your rabbit gets the best hay available. Purchasing high quality hay will help to make sure you are receiving farm fresh hay and not dried out bales of hay that have been sitting on a shelf for 6 months or hay that has been dyed green to look fresh.
What Type Of Hay Are Purchasing?
Purchasing the right type of hay is just as important as making sure you are purchasing fresh, high quality hay. A rabbit's diet needs to be made up of at least 80% grass hay in order to keep their digestive system working properly. The best kind of grass hays for your rabbit are Timothy Hay, Orchard Grass, or Mountain Grass. You can try purchasing different types of grass hay to see if something new will get your rabbit interested again.
While purchasing fresh, high quality hay is important, you also have to consider the age of your rabbit when purchasing their hay. Grass hays are crucial for adult rabbits, but if your rabbit is under 7 months then you need to feed them Alfalfa Hay to make sure they grow up happy and healthy.
Where Are You Placing Your Rabbit’s Hay?
Are you placing your rabbit's hay only in their hutch/cage? It's known that rabbits like to eat while going to the bathroom. Try placing some in their litter box!
How Much Of The Hay Are You Giving To Your Rabbit At Once?
Are you placing all of their hay for the week in their hutch/cage? While you want to give them a sizable portion for the day, you don't want to give them too much. If they are leaving hay uneaten then it can go bad just sitting in their hutch/cage for prolonged periods of time.
Hay is an all natural product (think of it like a produce). If it's not stored correctly then it go bad quicker than normal. Making sure you store it the right way will ensure that your hay lasts and stays fresher longer.
How Often Should You Replenish Rabbit's Hay?
Make sure you are checking your rabbit's hay supply on a regular basis. Giving them fresh hay when you notice their supply is low and switching out their old hay for fresh hay is the best way to go.
The answer to any of the questions above could be the reason your rabbit isn't eating their hay. See if following along with the suggestions mentioned in each has your rabbit back to eating hay again.
If they still aren't eating hay, then check out these other tips for getting your rabbit to eat their hay!
Some rabbits are reluctant to eat hay. Early stage/low grade dental disease can cause discomfort when chewing so rabbits may be less likely to eat hay/grass.
If rabbits are reluctant to eat, take them to the vets to check there aren’t any underlying health problems.
If they’re still reluctant to eat hay, see below!
Provide constant access to the best quality hay affordable, which is dust-free/sweet smelling/slightly green with long strands.
Hay/dried grass is available in various forms, e.g. hay cubes/hay cookies/kiln-dried grass. Try various makes/types to see which ones they prefer. Variety is good; adding a fresh portion several times daily may keep rabbits healthy.
Adult rabbits need mainly grass hay (i.e. Timothy/meadow hay) containing more fibre and less calcium than legume hay (e.g. alfalfa (lucerne)/clover). Alfalfa/clover are higher in calcium and protein; long-term feeding could cause urinary/kidney problems.
For young/pregnant/nursing rabbits, legume hay is suitable.
Reduce portion sizes
Rabbits might not eat hay if other tasty food is available, or they haven’t eaten hay before. Check portion sizes:
Only feed a small measured amount of pellets/nuggets daily (one eggcup full/kg bodyweight).
Feed a handful of high fibre leafy greens daily.
Gradually reduce pellets/nuggets/leafy greens ration. Make dietary changes slowly, under veterinary advice, to avoid tummy upsets and ensure they get all required nutrients.
Know what type of hay to purchase for your little one? Find it in our store and get it shipped straight to your door! If you still aren't sure what kind of grass hay to feed your rabbit you can download our Hay is for Rabbits eBook below. You'll learn all about the different types of hay, the best ones to feed your rabbit based on their age, allergies, and more!