Last Updated on November 6, 2022 by Rei Garnet
A rabbit that suddenly stops eating pellets while still eating hay could mean that your rabbit is having dental problems. It’s a common symptom for rabbits to be selective in the food they eat when they’re having dental problems.
While a rabbit not eating pellets is not an emergency because pellets should only account for 5% of your rabbit’s diet anyway, it’s still a good idea to bring your rabbit to a veterinarian if you notice any changes in your rabbit’s behavior or diet.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why a rabbit would suddenly stop eating pellets while still eating hay.
What are the reasons why rabbits would suddenly stop eating pellets?
While it’s commonly not an emergency when a rabbit suddenly stops eating pellets, it’s still a good idea to know the reasons why it happens.
Here are the possible reasons why a rabbit would suddenly stop eating pellets:
Your rabbit is having dental problems.
One of the symptoms of a rabbit that’s having dental problems is when they’ve become selective about what food they eat. Rabbits that are having dental problems would be in a lot of pain. That’s why they would only eat foods that are easier to eat.
It’s often hard to tell that a rabbit is having dental problems because rabbits are designed to hide when they’re in pain so they do not draw attention to themselves and invite predators.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s possible that your rabbit is having dental problems:
- Decrease in food consumption or change in food preferences.
- Overflow of tears from the eyes (epiphora).
- Weight loss.
- Bad breath.
- Lack of grooming.
- Uneaten caecotrophs.
- Digestive disorders.
Source: Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care, by Marit Emilie Buseth and Richard A. Saunders, CABI, 2015, pp. 126–126.
The pellets are already expired.
It’s also possible that the pellets you bought are already expired or smelly to rabbits. Rabbits will not eat anything that smells bad to them, like when a pellet is already expired.
Be careful when buying pellets that are high in protein because they often go bad fast.
Always check the expiration date before giving it to your rabbit.
Your rabbit is just bored of eating pellets.
Sometimes rabbits would get bored of the taste of pellets, especially if they’re eating large amounts of them every day.
Try adding variety to your rabbit’s diet. Rabbit experts say that the best diet for rabbits is one that closely resembles what they eat in the wild.
The pellets you bought are low quality.
Low-quality pellets are those that are mixed with nuts and other stuff to cater to a larger audience.
Also, be careful of unknown brands because most of the time, those pellets are just modified versions of other animal feeds. They just lower the calcium content to not kill the rabbit.
Your rabbit should eat pellets that are specifically made for rabbits. It should be hay-based as well.
Your rabbit is already full from eating hay or veggies.
Pellets are not really needed for rabbits to stay healthy. It should only account for 5% of your rabbit’s diet.
Most of the time, when a rabbit is well fed with hay and veggies, they will ignore or only eat small amounts of pellets.
Is it okay for rabbits to not eat pellets?
What pellets provide to rabbits is their efficiency in delivering high amounts of nutrients to rabbits at a lower cost. While it’s advisable for young, growing rabbits to eat pellets to maximize growth, having no pellets in their diet is also fine.
After all, wild young rabbits survive all the time without eating a single pellet while growing up.
For adult rabbits, it’s advisable to lower the amount you give them or remove pellets altogether if they’re obese.
Diet Portion Calculator For Rabbits
Here’s a table to guide you on how much pellets you should feed your rabbits as they get older.
|7 weeks to|
to 1 year
|Decrease amount fed|
to ½ cup per 6 lbs
(2.7 kg) BW
|¼ to ½ cup per 6 lbs|
(2.7 kg) BW
|Continue adult diet if|
weight is okay; frail,
older rabbits may fed
When to call a veterinarian?
Knowing when to call a veterinarian is critical when you notice any changes in your rabbit’s diet because rabbits are susceptible to digestive distress and it could lead to death extremely fast.
You should call a veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms:
- If your rabbit is refusing to eat hay. Hay being the major part of a rabbit’s diet should be considered an emergency when your rabbit suddenly stops eating it. It could be a sign of dangerous digestive distress like diarrhea and GI stasis, so bring your rabbit to a veterinarian if you notice this.
- If your rabbit is suddenly lethargic. Rabbits are naturally energetic and playful, but lethargy is a major concern because it’s a sign of dangerous digestive distress like GI stasis and diarrhea.
- If you notice any changes in your rabbit’s stool. If you notice any changes in your rabbit’s stool, both in consistency and amount, bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.
A rabbit not eating its pellets but still eating its hay could mean the following:
- Dental problems
- Expired pellets
- Bored of eating pellets
- Low-quality pellets
- Full from eating hay and veggies
Bring your rabbit to a veterinarian if your rabbit is not eating hay or if you notice any changes in their stool.
Cite this article:
- What To Do If Your Rabbit Won’t Eat After Being Spayed?
- Can Rabbits Eat Asparagus? 9 things you need to know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Tomatoes? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Grapes? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Broccoli? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Apples? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Cabbages? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Strawberries? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Bananas? What You Need To Know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Oranges? 9 things you need to know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Blueberries? Here’s Why.
- Can Rabbits Eat Spinach? Your Questions Answered.
- Can Rabbits Eat Cucumbers? Here’s Why.
- Can Rabbits Eat Celery? What you need to know.
- Can Rabbits Eat Radishes: Everything You Need To Know