How Much Pellets Should A Rabbit Eat?

Categorized as Bunny Diet
Two black and white rabbits are eating large amounts of pellets in the same bowl. This amount of pellets should never be fed to rabbits.

Last Updated on May 13, 2021 by Rei

Rabbits that are 7 weeks to 7 months should be given unlimited amounts of pellets for optimal growth. While 7 months to 1-year-old rabbits should decrease the amount of pellets to 1/2 cup per 6lbs of body weight.

For rabbits that are 1-5 years old, you can decrease the amount to 1/4 to 1/2 cup per 6lbs of body weight if your rabbit’s weight is within the normal range.

Finally, senior rabbits whose >6 years old, can be fed 1/4 cup per 6lbs of body weight if they are not obese.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more details how much pellets to feed your rabbits:

Things to consider when deciding how much pellets to feed your rabbits.

A black and white rabbit eating a large amount of pellet without hay. THis is to show that rabbits should never be fed large amounts of pellets without hay.

There are three variables that every rabbit owner should take into account when deciding how much pellets to feed their rabbits. The reason is that pellets should only account for 5% of a rabbit’s diet.

While pellets are a great supplementary diet to rabbits, overfeeding pellets would cause more harm than good.

Age

The age of your rabbit is the most important factor when deciding how much to feed your rabbits. The general rule is, the older the rabbit the fewer pellets they need.

Older rabbits are more prone to obesity, overfeeding pellets whose high in carbs, could exacerbate this problem.

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

AgePellets
7 weeks to
7 months
Unlimited
12 weeksUnlimited
7 months
to 1 year
Decrease amount fed
to ½ cup per 6 lbs
(2.7 kg) BW
Adult
(1-5 y)
¼ to ½ cup per 6 lbs
(2.7 kg) BW
Seniors
(>6 y)
Continue adult diet if
weight is okay; frail,
older rabbits may fed
unlimited pellets
Source: Basic-Rabbit-Care

Breed

Another factor to consider is the size of your rabbit. As a general rule, the larger the breed the more pellets they need to consume.

Here’s a guide to help you determine how much pellets to feed your bunnies.

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

Pellet quality

Another factor to consider when deciding how much pellet to feed your rabbit is the quality of the pellet itself. When buying pellets for your rabbit, you need to read the label at the nutritional fact and it needs to meet these criteria.

Here are the recommended nutritional facts to look for when buying pellets 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

Can rabbits overeat pellets?

A brown and white slightly overweight rabbit eating a lot of pellet in a bowl.

Yes, rabbits can overeat pellets. While this is not much of a concern for younger rabbits who can eat a lot of pellets for optimal growth.

Overfeeding pellets to older obese rabbits is where it starts to become a problem. Pellets, being high in carbs and low in fiber could lead to a variety of digestive conditions like diarrhea, GI stasis, and soft uneaten cecotrophy in addition to increased risk of obesity.

Risk of overfeeding pellets to rabbits.

Two white rabbits eating a large amount of pellets without hay. This is to show that Feeding large amounts of pellets without hay is not recommended for rabbits.

The risk of overfeeding pellets to rabbits is mainly due to the fact that rabbits would often prefer to over-eat pellets if they are given the choice between pellets and hay.

Pellets alone would not be able to meet the required amount of fiber to rabbits without eating an amount so large that could lead to more problems like:

Obesity

Pellets being high in carbs should only be fed in controlled amounts or non at all in older rabbits. This is because older rabbits have a slower metabolism and are more prone to obesity.

Obesity in rabbits could lead to dermatitis because obese rabbits would have a hard time cleaning themself under their skin folds. Obese rabbits could also have difficulty breathing and lower energy levels.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea in rabbits is often caused when a sudden shift in their diet happens. If your rabbit suddenly eats more pellets than usual, it could lead to an imbalance in their gut flora leading to softer stool.

To know if your rabbit has diarrhea, look at its bottom. Rabbits with diarrhea would often have what’s called “poopy bottom” where soft stool would stick in their fur.

But poopy bottom could also be soft uneaten cecotrophy. To know the difference, look at their litter box if there are any solid poop pellets in there.

Rabbits with diarrhea would not produce solid poop pellets, while soft uneaten cecotrophy would still produce solid poop pellets.

Gastrointestinal stasis

GI stasis is mainly caused by low-fiber diets. Overfeeding pellets can lead to GI stasis because pellets won’t be able to meet the required fiber your rabbit would need per day.

If you notice any of these symptoms of GI stasis, bring your rabbit to a veterinarian:

  • Depressed
  • Hunched posture
  • Bruxism
  • Decreased appetite/anorexia

Conclusion

Rabbit’s pellet requirement is based on their age and weight. Young rabbits or rabbits that are 7 weeks to 7 months old should be fed unlimited amounts of pellets for optimal growth. While 7 months to 1-year-old rabbits should have 1/2 cup of pellets per 6lbs of body weight.

Older rabbits could skip pellets altogether if they are obese. Otherwise, you can feed older rabbits 1/4 cup of pellets per 6lbs of body weight.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 15, 2021) How Much Pellets Should A Rabbit Eat?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-much-pellets-should-a-rabbit-eat/.
"How Much Pellets Should A Rabbit Eat?." Bunny Horde - November 15, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-much-pellets-should-a-rabbit-eat/

Sources and further reading

  • Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
  • Lebas, F. The Rabbit: Husbandry, Health, and Production. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1997.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
  • Understanding the Basics of Rabbit Care
  • Basic-Rabbit-Care