Rabbit Not Eating Pellets But Eating Hay? 5 reasons(with proven solution)

Categorized as Bunny Diet
A brown Holland lop not eating pellets.

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

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 on 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/diet.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more details why a rabbit would suddenly stops eating pellets while still eating hay.

What are the reasons why rabbits would suddenly stop eating pellets?

A white new zealand rabbit not eating his 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 on 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 to 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.
  • Anorexia.
  • Overflow of tears from the eyes (epiphora).
  • Weight loss.
  • Drooling.
  • Bad breath.
  • Pain.
  • 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 would 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 goes 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 it every day.

Try adding variety to your rabbit’s diet. Rabbit experts say that the best diet for rabbits is those that closely resemble 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 would ignore or only eat small amounts of pellets.

Is it okay for rabbits to not eat pellets?

A brown new zealand rabbit not eating the pellets in its bowl.

What pellets provide to rabbits is their efficiency to deliver 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 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

When to call a veterinarian?

A black and white new zealand rabbit being checked by a veterinarian for possible digestive distress because of not eating pellets.

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, 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.

Summary

A rabbit not eating their pellets but still eating their 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 when you notice any changes in their stool.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 14, 2021) Rabbit Not Eating Pellets But Eating Hay? 5 reasons(with proven solution). Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/rabbit-not-eating-pellets-but-eating-hay/.
"Rabbit Not Eating Pellets But Eating Hay? 5 reasons(with proven solution)." Bunny Horde - November 14, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/rabbit-not-eating-pellets-but-eating-hay/

Sources and further reading

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