Do you want your little bun to be sturdy and strong? It comes down to what type of hay you're feeding your rabbit. You’ve probably already heard that you need to feed your rabbit hay every day, but are you feeding them the right kind?
Grass hay, such as Timothy Hay, Orchard Grass, and Mountain Grass, should make up 80% of a rabbit’s diet to keep them healthy. The constant foraging and grazing encouraged by hay helps to keep them physically active and mentally stimulated.
Your mature adult rabbit should have unlimited access to fresh grass hay, like Timothy or Orchard, and clean water. You can give them small amounts of good quality pellets, no more than a ¼ cup per every six pounds of body weight daily. You can also give them approved vegetables (2 cups per every six pounds of body weight daily). Fruits can be given in very small moderations, max of 2 tablespoons per six pounds of body weight daily.
Did you know that a rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing? Healthy rabbits that eat a large amount of coarse hay have teeth that are an appropriate length because the large amount of chewing that is required, combined with the coarse texture of the hay, actually helps grind down their teeth to a healthy length. When their teeth aren’t being grinded by coarse hay or chew sticks, they are in danger of sharp teeth causing cuts to their lips or gums that can then lead to infections. If your rabbit’s teeth have grown to an unhealthy length, a visit to the vet could be in order to trim the teeth.
Did you know that rabbits don’t pass gas or burp? Rabbits have a very complex digestive system that can easily get backed up and slow the system. It’s because of their complex digestive system that your rabbit needs to eat a high fiber and low carbohydrate/protein diet in order to avoid painful gas or Gastrointestinal (GI) Stasis.
Both of these health problems can cause your rabbit to get very sick and potentially die if you don’t feed them a healthy diet of mostly high quality hay.
Additional Benefits of Hay in a Rabbit’s Diet
Grass hays also help to prevent your rabbit from producing excess cecotropes. These are fecal droppings that look like brown blackberries and are essential to your little bun’s nutrition. The cecotropes carry the extra nutrients that your bunny didn’t absorb the first time their food was digested. If their diet isn’t well balanced (too many carbohydrates, proteins, or sugars) and doesn’t consist mostly of hay and water, then there can be an excess amount of cecotropes. While you may think that’s okay, it’s not. When a rabbit doesn’t have the desire to eat all of their cecotropes because there are too many, then they end up laying or sitting in the cecotropes. Your rabbit will then have a poopy butt which leads them to be prone to fly strike.
Fly strike is a health concern because a rabbit’s unclean bottom attracts flies to lay their larva in the unclean area which then hatch and feed on your rabbit. This is a very serious condition which results in the need to constantly check on your rabbit’s body, diet, and eating habits.
Whenever you notice that your rabbit isn’t eating, behaving differently, or something is growing or living on their body, immediately take them to the vet! Time is crucial to a rabbit’s likelihood of surviving any life-threatening health problem. Please be observant to show your little bun you care!
Preventing these common health problems is key. You can help your rabbit live a long, happy, and healthy life by giving them a nutritious rabbit diet consisting mostly of grass hays like Timothy Hay, Orchard Grass, and Mountain Grass.
Timothy Hay is the most recommended grass hay to get your rabbit back to a healthy diet, but sometimes they just don’t seem to want to eat it. Read this to see if your rabbit is actually allergic to Timothy Hay, if so then Orchard Grass is the way to go!
To learn more about our different types of hay, download our free eBook below!