Does your rabbit flip their bowl of pellets over, even when it’s still full? Or perhaps they just let it sit there all day, without eating even a little?
There are a few reasons your rabbit might not be eating their pellets, ranging from being a picky eater to sores in their mouth.
We have identified the five main reasons why your rabbit rejects pellets, as well as some helpful tips to deal with them. Keep reading so that you are informed!
Five reasons why your rabbit may no longer be eating pellets
Cheap pellets that are of poor quality
There are many choices out there, which makes it hard to choose the best pellets for your rabbit. However, cheap pellets are definitely ones to stay away from.
Rabbits have a lot of taste buds and are relatively picky eaters. If your rabbit is not eating the cheap pellets you bought, they may taste gross or lack any flavor at all.
Additionally, these pellets may not have the nutritional benefits that your rabbit needs, and can lead them to feel sick or lethargic.
There are also pellet options with a lot of fillers, such as a mix of food besides just standard pellets.
While these might seem a good way to give your rabbit variety, they may be making your rabbit a picky eater and not giving them the nutrients they need. Try to stick to a bag with just pellets.
Though it is hard to detect by eye alone, pellets can get stale. If they sit around in your rabbit’s bowl too long, they may become too old for your rabbit to want to eat them.
Try changing out the pellets that have been sitting there for new ones.
Pellets can be stale when you buy them, or if you purchased them in bulk, they could get stale while waiting to be used. It may be best to buy a whole new bag to see if this will entice your rabbit to eat.
As a rule of thumb, you should not keep your old pellets for more than 6 months, counting from the day you bought the pack.
Rabbits constantly need to keep their teeth trimmed through fibrous foods and chew toys. If their teeth get too long, they may have difficulty eating.
If their teeth seem fine, they might have sores in their mouth due to dental disease, which can be common in rabbits.
Or there could be some splinters from their hay that could get stuck in their gums. These can be very painful and may prevent your rabbit from eating.
As a temporary measure, add a little water to your rabbit’s pellets to see if it entices them to eat a little.
If you do suspect issues with the mouth or teeth, try to contact a vet to see if they can figure out what exactly the problem might be.
Too many treats
Rabbits need a reasonably strict diet. If they get too much of one food or another, they may not be hungry enough to finish everything. This is especially true with treats.
Not only are treats usually full of sugar, such as in fruits, or lacking in nutrients, but they can quickly fill up your rabbit to the point that they don’t want to eat anything else.
This is the same reason why parents should not give their children any snacks before meal times.
If you’ve given your bunny too many snacks, try to cut back and see if that will entice them to eat their pellets again.
Treats are good in moderation, but too much may make it difficult for them to eat enough nutritious foods every day.
Bored of eating the same food
Like people, animals can grow bored with eating the same food day after day.
If your rabbit seems to lose interest in their pellets, try to switch up brands or flavors to see if something new will help them eat more.
It is essential to introduce new brands of food slowly. Start by mixing in just a little with their old food.
Gradually, add more of the new food and less of the old food until their stomachs are adjusted. This will prevent any intestinal issues. Try rotating brands once a year or so to keep up the variety.
Does my rabbit even need pellets?
There is a lot of debate on whether or not rabbits actually need pellets. Wild rabbits never eat pellets, which means your pet can get all the nutrients it needs without them.
However, pellets are an easy way to ensure your bunny has all the nutrients they need, especially if you are new at owning a rabbit.
If you are experienced and know the types of food your rabbit needs, you can give them a specific diet of certain vegetables and hay.
So, if your rabbit does stop eating pellets for a little bit, there isn’t any reason to be concerned just yet.
Try giving them more vegetables in the meantime until you can identify the problem.
It is also important to note that adult and baby rabbits have different dietary needs. If you got your bunny as a baby and they start to eat fewer pellets, it could simply be because their needs have changed.
As your rabbit grows older, the amount of pellets they need decreases quite a bit, so try and do some research as they grow up to see what changes need to be made.
How to encourage my rabbit to eat some pellets
Introduce new food gradually
Rabbits can be finicky when it comes to eating. While they can get bored by the same food, they can also be hesitant to try new foods.
If you are going to switch to a different brand, it is best to introduce it slowly so your rabbit can get used to it, and prevent any tummy issues that might occur.
Avoid stockpiling pellets
The pellets may also be old. It is generally recommended not to stock up for more than six weeks at a time. Too much longer, and the pellets may get stale in the bag, which will make your rabbit no longer want to eat them.
Use their favorite snacks at first
You can also sprinkle a few yummy, but healthy snacks in with the pellets at first to help them eat. Eventually, they should eat the pellets on their own, but it can help entice them to at least try the new food for the first few times.
Never cut back on hay or fresh vegetables, as they are foods your rabbit needs.
However, if you’ve been feeding them a lot of fruit or treats, try cutting back on those to make sure your bunny is hungry enough to eat some of their pellets.
Specific pellet time
Another option is to only give your rabbit their pellets only at certain times of the day, making them eat on a schedule.
Most rabbits only need about a quarter-cup to a half-cup of food a day per six pounds of body weight.
So instead of having the food out all day, hoping they will eat them at some point, try just giving them out at a specific time.
This can entice your rabbit to eat them more often as it is a special food instead of something that’s always there.
If none of this is working, focus on giving your rabbit more hay daily. This will provide them with most of the nutrients they need along with their daily veggies, even if they are not eating pellets.
What kind of pellets does my rabbit need?
When picking out food, it is essential to only get pellets without assorted fillers.
Getting ones mixed with other foods, like seeds and nuts, will cause your rabbit to pick out certain snacks from the selection and not get a well-rounded, nutritional meal.
For young rabbits, having alfalfa-based hay is best. This gives them a heavy dose of calories while they are growing.
However, when they are grown, timothy hay is a better choice at preventing extra weight gain.
It is also important for any age that the pellets be high in fiber (over 18 percent) and have grass as your first ingredient, over any grains. High protein (between 14 and 16 percent) is also important.
Try and keep the fats and calcium low as well, for the best feed.
What happens if my rabbit stops eating anything?
While a rabbit can go without eating pellets as long as all of their nutrition requirements are met, rabbits need hay and fresh vegetables constantly throughout the day.
If they stop eating altogether, they risk something called GI stasis, which causes painful bloating in your rabbit and severely harms their gut bacteria.
If you notice your rabbit stop eating anything for long periods of time, contact a vet immediately, and try to entice them to keep eating fresh hay and veggies to see if you can prevent GI stasis in your rabbit.