Do Rabbits Need Pellets To Survive?

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Do Rabbits Need Pellets

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

Rabbits in the wild tend to survive without having any pellets or specialized food that we give our pet rabbits. But that doesn’t mean that pellets are useless and unnecessary.

In fact, there is a reason that wild rabbits only live for a couple of years while pets can live up to 12 years.

One of the reasons why pet rabbits survive longer is due to a much healthier diet than their wild counterpart. As we know, rabbits have a really sensitive stomach and need a constant supply of high-quality food to prevent any major diseases.

According to this study done by the Journal of Animal Science, a balanced diet containing adequate fiber (20 to 25%), minimal starch, and optimum protein concentration is the key to preventing gastrointestinal distress.

Of course, you can get that exact blend of nutrients without buying a pellet. But doing so would be extremely hard and would cost you more money for doing basically the same thing.

Another study by Harcourt-Brown on Calcium deficiency, diet and dental disease in pet rabbits states that removing pellets and whole-grain from your pet rabbit’s diet can lead to calcium deficiency.

As you can see, pellets are an essential part of your rabbit’s diet and should be assessed for the right nutritional fact before buying one.

Here are the recommended nutritional facts according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association.

FiberFatCalciumProtein
•12% to
22%
•Not less
than 18%
•3% or less•Less than
1%
•14%-18%
Source: Understanding the Basics of Rabbit Care

We recommend that you feed your rabbits 1 serving of pellets per day and an unlimited supply of hay to provide the optimum balance of nutrition that they need.

How long can a bunny go without pellets?

Do Rabbits Need Pellets

Rabbits in the wild survive for a couple of years without ever eating pellets. What they do have is an unlimited supply of hay, water, and other natural plant life.

So it’s safe to say that forgetting to feed your rabbit pellets for a few days would be safe.

What really matters is that they have enough water and hay because, without a steady supply of water, they easily could get dehydrated. Without hay, they could have an intestinal blockage, which is fatal to rabbits.

But just because they can live for a long time without ever feeding them pellets, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best diet for rabbits.

What pellets provide rabbit owners is its convenience in delivering the right amount of nutrition a rabbit needs like protein, fats, fiber, and calcium.

How much pellets do rabbits need?

The amount of feeds a rabbit needs depends on a variety of factors including it’s size, age, and breed.

Typically rabbits should eat one serving of pellets per day and must be provided an unlimited amount of hay for optimal nutrition.

Here’s a guide to help you determine how much to feed your bunnies depending on their breed.

Small BreedsMedium
Breeds
Large Breeds
•2-3 ounces of
pellets per
day
3 ½ – 4 ounces
of pellets per
day
4 – 8 ounces of
pellets per
day
Source: Understanding the Basics of Rabbit Care

For small breeds, it’s recommended that you feed them 2-3 ounces of pellets per day and make sure that they have enough hay to eat.

Medium breeds are recommended to eat 3 ½ – 4 ounces of pellets per day. While large breeds need 4-8 ounces of pellets per day.

The guide we mentioned above is for normal adult rabbits, pregnant and baby bunnies need to eat more pellets for optimal growth and nutrition.

Another factor you need to consider when figuring out the optimal pellets to feed your rabbit is its age. Typically the older they are, the fewer pellets they should eat. In contrast, young or baby rabbits need as many pellets as they can eat.

Here’s a table to guide you on how much you should feed your rabbits as it gets older.

AgeHayPelletsVegetablesFruits
7 weeks to
7 months
Unlimited alfalfaUnlimited
12 weeksUnlimited alfalfaUnlimitedIntroduce vegetables (one at a time) in small quantities < 1/2 oz (15 g)
7 months
to 1 year
Introduce grass
hay, decrease
alfalfa
Decrease amount fed
to ½ cup per 6 lbs
(2.7 kg) BW
Increase vegetables
fed daily gradually
No more than 1-2
oz (30-60g) per 6
lbs (2.7 kg) BW
Adult
(1-5 y)
Unlimited grass
hay, oat hay, straw
¼ to ½ cup per 6 lbs
(2.7 kg) BW
1-2 cups per 6 lbs (2.7
kg) BW
No more than 2
tbsp per 6 lbs (2.7
kg) BW
Seniors
(>6 y)
Increase alfalfa hay
fed to frail, older
rabbits but monitor
calcium levels
Continue adult diet if
weight is okay; frail,
older rabbits may fed
unlimited pellets
Source: https://www.lafeber.com/vet/wp-content/uploads/Basic-Rabbit-Care.pdf

Conclusion

Rabbits in the wild can survive for a couple of years without ever eating commercially available pellets that we usually feed our pets. So it’s safe to assume that forgetting to feed them pellets for a couple of days is fine.

What’s important is that they have an unlimited supply of hay and water. It’s important for rabbits to have an unlimited amount of hay because hay is what keeps their intestines moving. And without it, they could have an intestinal blockage that is fatal to rabbits.

Water is also very important and should never be forgotten to provide your pet rabbit. Doing so could lead to dehydration.

What pellets provide pet owners is the convenience of providing the right amount of nutrients your rabbit needs.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 28, 2021) Do Rabbits Need Pellets To Survive?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/do-rabbits-need-pellets/.
"Do Rabbits Need Pellets To Survive?." Bunny Horde - November 28, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/do-rabbits-need-pellets/