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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > DIET & CARE > Super picky bunny won't eat hay
Last Post by tanlover14 at 10/17/2012 5:58 AM (22 Replies)
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 11:35 AM

It's me again with my super snooty bunny Sir Rupert. He basically won't eat timothy hay at all (only in pellet form) and he'll kind of eat orchard hay if he's "bored". I started him off on alfalfa because of his age and then switched him to timothy/orchard. He used to eat all of the alfalfa and there was hardly ever any waste if I gave it to him in a rack instead of in the litterbox. However his pee was much, much thicker/whiter so I switched him out early (he's about 7 months old by my estimation).

As a younger <1 year old his current diet now is about 1/2-1 cup of pellets a day, half Oxbow Young Rabbit and half Bunny Basics T split into morning and night. He regulates his own eating so sometimes he eats a bit more and sometimes a bit less. He gets a handful of leafy veg every night.

What are some tips to get him to eat the hay? I still have a bunch of timothy/orchard hay left so I would prefer to exhaust any tricks to get him to eat it first rather than going out and buying entirely new hay. I know their digestive systems have to be constantly working so I don't withhold other food on purpose, but sometimes he finishes his pellets when I'm not around and it still seems like he'd rather starve than touch hay.

Of course, if those tricks don't work, what are some okay options for hay? I know he'll eat oat hay (got it in a free gift bag from Binky Bunny) but I've heard it's more of a treat hay. I haven't tried brome or any blends but knowing Rupert he might just pick out everything he likes and won't eat the rest.

Also, on a related diet question, how bad is it for rabbits to only be fed pellets and hay with no fresh veg? Or only pellets and fresh veg with no hay? Or only pellets? I'm not considering putting him on such a diet if I could avoid it, but given that he just won't eat the hay, I want to know how bad it is for them and how I could possibly supplement him with something else in the meantime.


User is Offline Stickerbunny
3217 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 11:46 AM
Brome hay is the local horse hay, so that is what my buns get, they love it, I buy the big horse bales. They won't eat timothy and orchard they like, but lately oxbow orchard has been a lot drier than usual here and they shun it due to that.

To entice him to eat his hay you could try hiding dried fruit in it, which will encourage him to dig around it. He really needs the hay in his diet since it keeps their teeth down and also keeps their digestion working properly. They can be picky when you switch them off alfalfa, so just keep being stubborn about it and try different hay mixtures to find the one he likes.

And one thing - how big is he ? 1/2 cup or 1 full cup of pellets is A LOT unless he's a big 'ol boy. Might be he's filling up on pellets and that is why he shuns the hay.

User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 12:02 PM
It's closer to about 1/2 cup per day: 4 tbl morning, 4 tbl evening, only giving him food when the bowl is empty which sometimes it isn't when I check, so he might actually be eating 1/4-1/3 cup. I used to give him much more but scaled back, but I'm still confused by the conflicting information of "unlimited" pellets. The reason why I don't limit his pellets to get him to eat hay is because of the whole "unlimited pellets" guideline (and again, he used to eat his alfalfa even if there were pellets left in the bowl). If he were older I would follow the 1/4 cup guideline and force him to eat the hay that way, but I'm just worried that withholding food is bad for him since he's still fairly young.

He weighs about 4 pounds now.

User is Offline Stickerbunny
3217 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 12:13 PM
Alfalfa is a treat for them, they love it because it's super rich and mine will eat it no matter how much else they've had to eat. As for the unlimited pellet guideline... that is only for bunnies UNDER 7 months old. Since he is 7 months, it is time to start limiting his pellets. 1/2 a cup for a 4lb bunny is a ton, he's probably way too full to eat his hay. It's ok to still give him a little bit of alfalfa as well, until he switches fully to grass hays.

From house rabbit society:

What quantities of food should I feed young adults? (7 months to 1 year)

introduce timothy hay, grass hay, and oat hays, decrease alfalfa
decrease pellets to 1/2 cup per 6 lbs. body weight
increase daily vegetables gradually
fruit daily ration no more than 1 oz. to 2 oz. per 6 lbs. body weight (because of calories)

User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 12:39 PM
I'm actually not 100% sure of his age which also makes me nervous about changing his diet; the shelter said he was 2 months in August, so 3 months when I got him in September, but he was fairly big for a 3 month old so I decided to play it safe and assume he was older instead of younger and put his birthday in March. He was also already neutered at that time so he must have been at least 3 months old. I'm a little OCD when it comes to things like this so you can see why I'm freaking out a little about figuring out his diet.

ETA: Although I'm guessing that it would be safer to put him on an adult diet regardless of his age because of his size?


User is Offline tanlover14
3156 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 1:41 PM
Do you know what breed he is? Sorry if you mentioned it before and I'm just forgetting? Could it be possible that he's just a bigger bun than you expected? My three buns all just turned 7 months old and they are all around 4.25 pounds. Which isn't really that large for a bun at all unless he's a Dwarf, of course.

He should definitely be getting his pellets reduced now -- we actually started reducing at 6 months so BY 7 months they were completely reduced. It's very likely that he's just filling up on pellets and shunning his hay. Until we limited our buns pellets we didn't really realize JUST how much hay they could eat! Since their pellets have been reduced they have GOBBLED up the hay, no matter what kind. Before they seemed partial to Oat Hay but now they have been going nuts over anything! Hahaha.
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 1:53 PM
He's a Himalayan mix Mixed with what, I don't know, but mostly likely something bigger than a Himalayan rather than smaller. After Googling it he should be about 5-6 pounds at his max weight (I should weigh him again when I get home).

I guess I'll just have to suck it up and reduce his pellets and see if that helps any. My roommate says I spoil him and in this case she's probably right, but I'm just overly protective lol.

User is Offline tanlover14
3156 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 2:16 PM
Hahahaha, I know the feeling. I was so worried I was starving my little bunbuns when I had to reduce their pellets... but as long as they have unlimited hay he'll be fine.
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 2:24 PM
Haha thanks for that

User is Offline lindsay715
NJ, USA
149 posts Send Private Message
10/08/2012 6:45 PM
try putting some in the litter box. I have one bunny who loves hay and one who is a bit indifferent to it - but he will often nibble on it while he's in the litter box.

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
Forum Leader
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10/09/2012 1:19 AM
What brand of hay are you feeding? My buns can be very picky and will only eat Oxbow hay.

Or only pellets and fresh veg with no hay?
Hay is vital to the health of a rabbit. Hay should be at least 80% of their diet. They need hay because of the high fiber, it keeps their GI tract moving.
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/09/2012 7:13 AM
Well I'm starting him on a regimen of less pellets and more hay, we'll see how this goes...

Lindsay: I've tried putting it in the litterbox and he'll just ignore it and pee on it. XD
LittlePuffyTail: I feed him exclusively Oxbow (it was the only thing they had at the shelter I got him at, so that's all I knew).

User is Offline tanlover14
3156 posts Send Private Message
10/09/2012 1:48 PM
Let us know how the changes go !! I'd be surprised if his hay intake didn't increase.
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/10/2012 7:10 AM
After day 1 it seems like he has a lot less poop because he's just not eating the hay. I've lowered his daily pellets to 3 spoonfuls (from 8) just in the morning and I still give him his handful of greens at night. He's even picky about the greens but he'll eventually eat all of it, unlike his hay. I was and still am kind of worried so I gave him a bunch of oat hay, and he'll eat that but not the orchard or timothy still. All he'll do is dig through it looking for treats or stand on top of the hay.

Also, I just emailed the rabbit care specialist from the shelter and she said all of the rabbits got oat hay, but I'm led to believe that oat hay is pretty far down the "acceptable hay" list (something like, timothy -> orchard -> brome -> oat). But since he'll definitely eat it, would it be acceptable to feed him only that?


User is Offline tanlover14
3156 posts Send Private Message
10/10/2012 7:41 AM
Oat Hay is fine for him! If that's what you can get him to eat. Hay isn't really for nutritional value -- it's more for keeping their GI tracts active and helping them wear down their teeth since they're constantly growing.
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/10/2012 7:52 AM
Oh yay! Phew! So much worrying about nothing lol. And good for me too because oat hay is probably the least floaty hay I've dealt with so far... everything else just flakes up and gets everywhere -- thank goodness I'm not allergic to grass. Thanks everyone~

User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
Forum Leader
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10/11/2012 1:07 AM
I tried Oat hay when one of my buns was being picky. It was a big hit. Maybe if you mix the oat and timothy he will be fooled into eating both of them?
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User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/11/2012 7:14 AM
Day 2: He definitely wasn't eating the hay. A lot less poop and lots of digging around and in his food bowl. He eventually found some leftover oat hay in the hay rack but I could tell that he didn't eat any more when I went to bed. He's also started pooping kind of around his box and sometimes in it but would leave piles everywhere else (might not be related).

LittlePuffyTail: Yeah, Oat hay gets him really excited. Maybe it reminds him of home lol. Unfortunately he's a little smart bunny and he'll dig through orchard and timothy just to get at the oat. What am I going to do with my leftover hay D:

User is Offline Aylnine
60 posts Send Private Message
10/14/2012 12:48 PM
Update: he still won't really eat the hay. I'll see him kind of stress eat it sometimes (i.e. if I'm brushing him and he happens to be near the hay rack, he'll chew on some hay) but otherwise that hay isn't going anywhere. It's really obvious because I'll see loads of poop in the morning/afternoon when he gets his pellets but very little to no poop in the evening until he gets his veggies.

Another side effect of him getting way less food now is that he'll get WAY excited in the morning when I put down his food bowl. As in he'll chomp down hard on my hand to get to the bowl. How can I get him to not do this? I don't think he does it on purpose, more like his mouth is just open and ready for munchies and he happens to run into my hand that way. Also, if he's getting THIS excited, am I overdoing the food reduction and maybe should split up my feeding instead? As I said above I reduced from about 8 tbls (1/2 cup) per meal to 3 tbls per DAY (plus 1-2 handfuls of lettuce).

To this day I still think he's not quite old enough for food reduction but since I don't know his real age it's hard to be sure. He doesn't really flop anymore and nowadays he'll rest by his hay rack/food bowl instead of his usual spot.

User is Offline kinggoblin
406 posts Send Private Message
10/14/2012 2:17 PM
My rabbit is 5 lbs and only get 1 very small scoop of pellets ( about a tablespoon or less ) in the morning. He is always very excited for it and runs around jumping and flipping off his x-pen but that is how he reacts 24/7 when he thinks food is near. I usually just throw his pellets in his pen and he runs around looking for them..... he broke all his food bowls anyways because he use to pick them up and throw them ( even those "heavy" ceramic crocks ). He gets a few cups of vegetables at night & unlimited hay. He has been on this diet since around 6 months.

Mine eats a whole 1.5 lb bag of hay in about 4-5 days, his favorite hays are botanical mixes and oat. His vet is happy with his weight and eating.
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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > DIET & CARE > Super picky bunny won't eat hay

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