Hay should make up at least 80% of a rabbit’s diet. Do, the oldest rabbit recorded in Guinness World Record, lives to a ripe 17 years and 2 weeks with a very simple diet of only ‘timothy hay and some pellets’. A proof that hay plays a very key role in keeping our rabbits healthy!
While some of us are lucky to have very good hay munchers, we have heard of rabbits who are not as keen in them. It’s NOT ok to just let it be as insufficient hay can create complicated health issues such as overgrown teeth and poor digestion. So here’s some tips we have to help our rabbits eat more hay:
1. Finding The Right Flavor!
There are many varieties of hay and all of them have a unique flavor. Some rabbits like it crunchy, some like it soft, some like it sweet while some like it fresh and crisp. If you have a picky hay eater, we suggest you patiently introduce different flavors to your rabbits to find out which one is her favorite. Give her max. 2 types each time and give her at least a week to get used to it. Frequent change of food may end up confusing her more!
2. Make it Easy To Eat!
Many rabbits don’t enjoy eating hay because they are hung high up on baskets or metal balls. It’s like dangling broccoli in front of a child. He much rather not eat it. At the wonderland, we simply place a handful of hay directly on the litterbox and let him dig through it, lie on it, do whatever he wants to it (this is how we litter train them too!). We are often rewarded with little to no hay left at the end of the day which is exactly what we want! For those owners who like it clean, a low and wide basket may serve the purpose as long as you don’t mind the rabbit sitting in it!
3. Keeping Things Fresh!
Our rabbits have very sharp nose to tell which hay are fresh and which are just old and stale! We strongly suggest you develop a good relationship with your hay vendor to ensure they save you a fresh bag every time! In addition, to keep things fresh in your home, each time you walk by your rabbit’s hay rack, grab a fresh bunch from the bag and mix it in to keep things smelling fresh and green!
4. Make It Fun To Eat!
We have seen creative ideas to make it fun for rabbits to eat hay! Stuff it in a willow ball, cardboard tube or even wrap it with some herbs to entice their appetite! These are awesome ways to encourage a rabbit to eat more hay while keeping them active. You can also sprinkle some treats such as fresh herbs and dry fruits or even spray some pineapple juice on the hay to make it sweet and tasty! Try it!
5. Feed Less Other Stuff!
Most rabbits choose not to eat hay because they are too full from everything else. For a rabbit, we recommend 2 cups of vegetables, 1 tablespoon (or max. 2) of pellets and 1 teaspoon of treats every day. The rabbit may beg you for more of which you should tell her firmly “Go eat some hay!”.
As much as we should encourage our rabbits to eat hay, if your rabbit is truly not enticed, you shouldn’t just leave him alone to sulk in a corner. For the sake of sustaining mobility in his tummy, we suggest you include supplements like Oxbow critical care to sustain his fiber intake, add on Fiberplex to give him healthy pre/probiotics and feed him some appetite stimulants such as Applelin. All these items can be obtained from a rabbit-savvy clinic.
We hope that these hay-munching tips can help your rabbits stay heathy and happy!