The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Rabbits have a very fast metabolism that requires them to eat throughout the course of the day. Rabbits are herbivores that are regarded as grazers; they like to munch on one thing or the other throughout the day.
If your rabbit is not eating or if there has been a sudden loss of appetite, you will want to notice and take action right away.
Now, there can be a number of different reasons why a rabbit may stop eating all of a sudden. It is imperative for you to first identify this reason and make changes. Pellets are arguably the most common food item that people feed to their animals. Pellets, for those who don’t know, are a popular type of pet food.
Remember, pellets are not really critical to the animal’s diet, mainly because they don’t find these pellets in the wild. However, you should know that these pellets primarily contain a variety of different nutrients that are designed to support the rabbit’s immune system and to make sure that the rabbit remains healthy.
Apart from the leafy greens and the fresh hay that is available in the market (which you are going to need to provide to your rabbit), pellets are also important for your rabbit. However, it can be concerning when your rabbit suddenly decides to stop eating their pellets out of the blue.
As mentioned, if the rabbit stops eating the pellets overnight, it might be worth investigating and figuring out just what’s wrong.
Are Pellets Important for Maintaining the Rabbit’s Diet?
When the rabbit is young and still growing, pellets play a very important role in their diet. For the first few months of your young rabbit’s life, the animal should have unrestricted access to the number of pellets that it wants. They are critical for its growth, and provide the animal with all of the nutrients that they need to grow quickly.
Remember,pellets are incredibly beneficial for the animal while it is still young. The rabbit gets an unlimited amount of calcium and protein, and these pellets also contain a higher amount of calories. This is needed because the rabbit is still growing and needs to put on muscle mass as well as gain more weight.
However, you should know that while they provide a healthy amount of calories, pellets are still not as important as the leafy greens and fresh hay, which the rabbit is going to munch on around the clock. Some rabbits are obviously going to love the pellets even more but they don’t have to be a mandatory part of the animal’s diet.
As your rabbit hits maturity, you might want to restrict their access to pellets over time as well. Because these pellets contain a considerably higher amount of calories, there is a strong chance that providing unrestricted access will cause the animal to gain weight quickly. Before you know it, your rabbit will become morbidly obese.
Furthermore, you should know that adult rabbits don’t need as much calcium and protein as compared to their younger counterparts. In fact, when the animal is an adult, too much calcium and protein can be detrimental to their growth. Adult rabbits need larger amounts of fiber and that’s about it.
What’s Included in the Ideal Rabbit Pellet?
Understanding the chemical composition of the ideal rabbit pellet is important because if you are going to feed your rabbit these pellets, the least you can do is to make sure that they are of the highest standards of quality. There are a few pellet brands that are better for your rabbit when compared with others.
For instance, you need to avoid pellets that contain nuts or dried fruit. The rabbit is simply going to opt for these and will throw away the healthier parts of the pellets. There are a few important things that make pellets healthy, such as:
- They should be fresh: pellets can get moldy within a short amount of time. You need to make sure that your stock is not older than six weeks. Furthermore, you have to make sure that your pellets are stored in a cool, dry location away from the sun.
- They should contain fiber: This one is important: the pellets you feed your rabbit should contain at least 18% fiber. The more fiber inside, the better for your rabbit.
- They must contain protein: Similarly, you should choose pellets that contain larger amounts of protein. If you have a younger rabbit, the protein levels should be around 16%. If you have an older rabbit, the protein levels should not be below the 12% mark.
- They should contain fat: The fat percentage should be there but it should be as low as possible. Ideally, pellets with a fat percentage of 5% or below are suitable for rabbits.
- They should contain phosphorus and calcium: You should make sure that both of these nutrients are included within an appropriate ratio. Ideally, they should contain anywhere between 1.5% or 2% calcium. Anything more is going to be harmful for the rabbit.
- Finally, you should check the ingredients and make sure that they are grass-based. This is going to increase digestion levels and as long as you stick to these pellets along with the leafy greens, it’s dramatically going to improve the life of your rabbit and also avoid issues related to indigestion for the animal.
Why Is Your Rabbit Not Eating Pellets?
Rabbits usually have a very high appetite and you will find them eating more often than you would like. In fact, many people are surprised at the sheer volume of food that a tiny animal is able to consume.
However, despite the fact that they eat so much, you should know that rabbits are generally picky about what they consume. There is always a chance that your rabbit will reject a former food that they loved to eat before.
There are also many cases where rabbits just stop eating the pellets overnight. By this time, it is important to note that rabbits will stop eating many things and pellets aren’t even essential for the animal any more. If your rabbit stops eating the pellets, you might want to consider increasing their hay intake.
On top of that, you should provide the animal with more leafy greens and fresh vegetables. Remember, hay and fresh greens need to make up to 80% of the animal’s diet and it’s important that you focus on those. However, if you have a baby rabbit who has just stopped eating their leafy greens, you might want to consider why this is happening.
There could be several causes for this and not all of these have to be concerning. For instance, if your rabbit is eating hay and consuming it normally but not eating the pellets, there’s not a lot for you to worry about.
You should know that the rabbit is getting all of the nutrition that they need. But you will still want to consider the reasons why your rabbit is not eating the pellets. There can be quite a few reasons, some of which are described below.
1 – The Pellets Might Have Gone Stale
You should know that rabbits are incredibly particular about what they eat and if they notice that the pellets have gone stale or mold has developed on them, the rabbit is going to avoid them. Rabbits don’t like eating moldy pellets and they are simply just going to steer clear of them.
If you have put pellets in the animal’s enclosure and forgotten about them, you might want to look at them closely to determine whether they are fresh or not. If not, you need to replace them. Then check to see if the rabbit starts eating the pellets.
If yes, it’s simply because the rabbits were stale and needed to be replaced.
2 – They Are Dusty
If the pellets have dust on them, they are going to make the rabbit sneeze every time they try to eat one. After a few tries, you will notice that the animal will simply avoid eating the pellets and will keep their distance.
If they are dusty and kept in an open place, you can simply clean them yourself and then put them back again to see if the animal will eat the pellets.
It’s usually a pretty safe way to determine whether this is the reason why the rabbit isn’t eating the pellets. More importantly, if you are going to put the pellets in water to remove the dust, you have to make sure that you dry them thoroughly; otherwise, exposure to the water will simply cause mold growth to appear.
3 – They Have Been Urinated on
Rabbits have a bad habit of urinating on different kinds of surfaces and you should know that there is always a risk that the animal is going to urinate on the bowl of pellets.
When that happens, things are going to get a bit awkward. The rabbit will start avoiding the bowl of pellets and you will find it difficult to pinpoint the exact spot from where the smell of urine is coming.
Urination on different surfaces is common among rabbits and you will have to get rid of all the pellets, disinfect the bowl, and then put fresh ones in. it’s important that you take appropriate steps and keep a close eye on the rabbit so that they don’t defecate or urinate within the bowl.
4 – They Have Been Contaminated by Foreign Objects
Rabbits have a pretty sharp eye when they are eating food and if a foreign object enters the bowl of pellets, it is going to taint the bowl in the rabbit’s mind. You have to make sure that you get rid of all the pellets in the bowl and then clean it properly before filling it up.
The rabbit should be able to see that the bowl is clear. If you still see that the rabbit is not eating, you might want to consider changing the bowl.
5 – The Rabbit Isn’t Hungry
There are two plausible reasons why an adult rabbit might not eat the pellets. For starters, the animal might find that the pellets are incredibly filling and the animal usually gets full within a short amount of time. If that happens, the rabbit is probably going to avoid eating the pellets.
Secondly, the rabbit might not be getting enough exercise that would allow it to work up a hunger enough to eat the pellets. Remember that rabbits that are kept indoors have a very different lifestyle as compared to those that live outdoors.
Indoor rabbits don’t really get to move around as much, whereas outdoor rabbits have to constantly burrow deep into the ground and forage for food.
More importantly, they have to avoid predators, which gives them plenty of exercise. Needless to say, indoor rabbits don’t have to worry about all of this and it is one of the main reasons why these rabbits simply don’t work up such a ferocious hunger.
6 – They Are Bored
Quite possible, the main reason why your rabbit may stop eating pellets is because they are bored. Remember that, as mentioned before, rabbits are picky eaters and they will stop eating things at spontaneous times. It is important for you to make sure that you change up their food from time to time.
Give it a few days if the rabbit stops eating; they will get back to their eating ways within a short while. You might want to consider removing the bowl of pellets from their cage or their enclosure for a little while. The rabbits will deal with the absence by focusing on other foods.
If you have other fresh treats that you can give to the animal, you should do so. This will make the animal happier too. It’s a great way to boost your bond with the rabbit too. After a few days, just return the bowl of pellets back to the enclosure and see if the rabbit starts eating.
7 – The Rabbit Has Dental Pain
This is slightly more difficult to detect but one of the main reasons why a rabbit may stop eating pellets is simply because they are experiencing dental pain. Biting into the pellets might cause the rabbit pain so they will simply stop eating these pellets and opt for softer things, such as hay or leafy greens.
You might want to schedule an appointment with the vet in order to get your rabbit checked and see if the animal has something lodged in its teeth or if there is something wrong with the teeth.
This will make it easy for you to determine whether the animal is suffering from any kind of pain. More importantly, you should always talk to your vet about dental hygiene when the rabbit is involved.
8 – The Rabbit Has Stomach Pain
If the rabbit is suffering from a stomach bug, they might be struggling to digest the pellets. As a result of that, the animal may stop eating the pellets altogether. You might want to check the rabbit’s stool closely in order to see if undigested pellets are being released by the animal.
This might be due to stomach pain and it would be a wise idea to visit the vet to see if there is any kind of medication that you can give to the animal for relief. It is important that you take this seriously because stomach pain over a prolonged period of time is going to have an adverse impact on the animal.
Remember, if your pet continues to drink water and is eating hay regularly, the animal is doing fine. There could be any number of reasons why the animal isn’t eating the pellets but if the rabbit also stops eating hay or drinking their water, then you know something is wrong and taking remedial action is necessary.
What Can You Do About it?
Now, there are a number of different things that you can do in order to convince your rabbit to eat the pellets. For instance, if the rabbit doesn’t eat the pellets, you should take them away within one hour. Don’t leave them in the rabbit’s enclosure for a longer period of time.
Remember that these animals tend to get very bored, very quickly, and if you leave the pellets in their cage for a greater period of time, the animal is simply going to get bored and will stop noticing them altogether. Furthermore, you might want to consider replacing the brand of pellets that you buy for your rabbit.
Different branded pellets usually have a unique smell and your rabbit might sniff it out and even try it if they really like it. It’s best to shake things up a bit and always mix one or two different brands of pellets in your rabbit’s bowl so that the animal never feels that they are eating the same thing over and over again.
More importantly, you need to give the rabbit some exercise, especially if you notice the animal becoming a bit obese. It’s important that you give the animal some toys to play with!