Why Do Rabbits Dump Their Food and How To Stop It!

Why Do Rabbits Dump Their Food and How To Stop It!

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It is not unusual for pet bunnies to dump their food bowl. At first, it feels alright and is even kind of adorable to see the rabbit tip over its food bowl every time you come to see your bunnies.

However, in time, the cuteness fades and all you see wasting rabbit food and another mess to clean up. That gets really annoying.

So what can you do about this behavior?

First, don’t stress yourself out — Your pet is not showing unnatural behavior. 

It is common for rabbits to chew on, bite, play with, and even toss bowls full of food. First, let’s dig into why they might be doing these things, and then we’ll explore how to stop this annoying behavior.

This article does contain affiliate links to third-party stores including Amazon. When you make a purchase through these links we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

6 Reasons That Rabbits Dump Their Food

When a rabbit dumps their food bowl it’s usually because they are bored or want attention, though it could be because they are angry or annoyed by something. Rabbit’s also sometimes flip their food bowl when they smell rotten or expired food. Finally, if they don’t like the bowl size or its texture, it’s possible that they’d rather eat from the floor than the bowl.

Let’s look into each of these potential reasons that your sweet bunny is dumping their food bowls so you can narrow down the actual cause for your rabbit.

1. They Are Bored

If your bunny spends extended periods of time alone or they do not have other things to play with then they just might bored and looking for a little excitement.

Boredom is the most common cause for rabbits flipping their food bowls.

Hence, they might play with things that are within their reach. Unfortunately, food bowls are among those available things that catch their attention. Therefore, they start to kill their time by kicking it.

If you see that your bunny isn’t just tossing their bowl, but anything else you leave in their space, then you might have a bored bunny.

2. They Are Energetic & Playful

Naturally, Rabbits have a happy soul — Most of the time, they show their joy by hopping, jumping, hiding, running, and kicking their heels up (literally). Their curious and playful nature keeps them active and energetic.

If this is your bunny’s nature, then the flipped food bowl might not be an intentional behavior, but just innocent collateral damage from a spirited session of zooming around.

If you see that your bunny is zooming around even when it’s not dinner time, then this might be the cause of your problem.

3. They Don’t Like Their Food Bowl

Bunnies have sensitive whiskers and noses, and your bunny might be trying to get rid of a food bowl that they simply don’t like.

Perhaps the food bowl is too small and bugs their whiskers.

Maybe its texture is rough or cold on their nose.

Or perhaps it smells odd.

If you see that your rabbits starts to eat off the floor after turning the bowl over, then that might suggest that the bowl is the cause of the problem.

4. They Are Angry

Like humans, bunnies can show temperament. Dumping food bowls might be a way for your bunny to throw an emotional fit to express their feelings.

Rabbits are not aggressive by nature but they can act out if they are unhappy about something.

Perhaps it’s a lack of attention that may make them angry.

Or maybe there is something in their environment that they don’t like. A new pet? A visitor? Loud noises? Too much light?

If the bowl flipping behavior comes and goes, then maybe you should look their emotional well being and what may be effecting it.

5. Dislike Of Their Food

If your bunny is used to getting a variety of foods, then they might develop the habit of simply getting rid of their least favorite foods in hopes of getting their favorites.

However, there are other reasons that they might not like their food.

Did you buy a different brand of rabbit pellets? We’ve tried lots of different brands of rabbit pellets, and our rabbit’s favorite is Oxbow. Well, they have other favorites to, but Oxbow is the best combination of value and quality. { Click Here To See Oxbow On Amazon. >>> |

Click Here To See On Amazon.

But maybe it’s not just the brand of rabbit feed that’s leading to this problem.

Perhaps some of the food is rotten or spoiled? No one likes to eat expired and rotten food. How can you expect your rabbits not to show their dislike when you are giving them spoiled food?

Or maybe the food is just stale. We find stale food most common with hay since our rabbits have free access to hay all of the time. Most of our rabbit’s will just ignore stale hay, but a few have actively dumped stale hay hoping for fresher hay.

Remember that research shows that rabbits have more taste-buds than humans which means that they can be very picky and create quite the fuss when deciding what to eat and what not to eat.

If your bunny only flips their food bowl sometimes, look to see if their are patterns associated with the types of food in their bowl when this happens.

6. Maybe They Are Just Clumsy

While it’s tempting to look for a behavior that is the root cause of bunny bowl flipping, maybe it’s just simple clumsiness.

We’ve seen bunny’s who just lean on their bowls when eating or drinking, and some bowls just aren’t shaped for any pressure on the edge.

Or maybe your bunny is just flopping down too close to their food bowls when they’re ready for their afternoon nap.

You’ll just have to watch your bunny to see if this is the cause of your messes.

RabbitProTip: Setting up a camera recording might give you a better feel for their true behavior when you’re not in the area.

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11 Tips to Stop Rabbits From Dumping Their Food

When your bunny rabbit develops a habit of dumping its food, not only do you have continual messes to clean up, but your rabbit is wasting feed. You are not alone in not wanting to spend your bunny-time cleaning up messes and also being tired of wasting money on wasted food.

So let’s figure out how to stop this behavior!

To stop your rabbit from dumping their food, you should first make sure that your bunny’s food bowls are secure and difficult to knock over. Then you should consider if your rabbit is bored or agitated and if so address those issues. Finally, you should consider changing their food to one they like more or that is easier to clean up.

Now let’s dig into the details about how to stop your rabbit from dumping their food.

1. Secure Bowls To Cage

This is a kind of a rabbit-life-hack; you can use your existing bowls, or even use used cans or lightweight plastic bowls as long as they are secured well to larger immovable objects like the sides of your bunny’s cage.

Consider using wire to tie your food and water bowls to the side or bottom of the cage to keep your bunny from being able to turn them over. This is the cheapest solution to this problem.

If you want something designed to be secured to the side of your rabbit cage look in our recommended bunny gear.

Click Here To See On Amazon

2. Use Heavier Stone Food Bowls

You can use a heavy bowl made of stone instead of the standard and lighter metal pet bowls.

Honestly, it’s just easy and fun for your rabbit to play with lightweight bowls. The downside is that these kinds of stone bowls are more expensive. { Click Here To See Stone Bowls On Amazon. >>> }

If new stone bowls don’t fit into your budget, you can use your existing bowls but increase their weight by putting a stone or brick inside the bowl under the food.

Click Here To See On Amazon.

3. Get A Flat No-Tip Bowl

Flat “no tip” bowls are easily available in pet stores and on Amazon because flipped food bowls is a common problem for all kinds of pets. If your rabbit is struggling to eat because of high-edged bowls. This can be the solution. 

These bowls are designed so that pets cannot easily tip them over. If they stand on the edge, they won’t tip over, and there isn’t a good edge for them to get ahold of and toss the food bowl.

As an added feature, these bowls aren’t very expensive. { Click Here To See Price On Amazon. >>> }

Photo Credit: PhillyCreations On Etsy

4. Use Heavier Food Bowls With Built In Hay Manger

This is the best solution because it contains the four things that you bunny can most easily make a mess of: Food, Water, Hay, and Litter Box. However, it’s not an inexpensive solution.

Not only will this custom-made rabbit feeder stop your bunny from tipping over its food bowl, but it will help contain poop messes because rabbits often poop while eating. With this setup, your bunny will be in the litter box when it’s eating either rabbit pellets or hay.

Honestly, it’s genius. If it fit’s into your budget, this is a great solution to the problem of your rabbit dumping it’s food bowl. { Click Here To See This On Etsy. >>> }

Be sure to select the right size litter box for your bunny. These custom feeders come in multiple sizes.

P.S. If you’d like to see all of our favorite handcrafted bunny stuff on Etsy, jump over to this article.

5. Provide Rabbit Toys

Getting your bunny new toys can solve problems most of the time because most of the time rabbits dump their bowl because they are bored. Toys will keep them distracted and draw their attention from food bowls. This will help them to stay vibrant and cheerful.

You can find free rabbit toys around the house in the form of cardboard boxes, empty toilet paper rolls, sticks, and countless other items. There are also some great toys you can buy. We have both types of bunny toys listed in our recommended bunny gear.

6. Keep Food Cans Within The Boundary Of The Cage

It is okay to let the rabbits roam around the house all day, but when it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner time, confine them in their cage. 

If you don’t want to be cleaning mess all over the house, never let them have their food outside their cage. They are so unpredictable and moody and might create a mess within a split second. 

7. Try A Higher Quality Rabbit Feed

As I talked about above, my family has tried lots of different brands of rabbit pellets. Some our rabbits like, others they don’t like. Some brands are liked by some of our bunnies, but not by other bunnies.

In our opinion, the best rabbit pellets for the price are Oxbow pellets. It’s worth getting a small bag and trying it with your bunny while controlling portion size (see below). { Click Here to see Oxbow on Amazon. >>> }

8. Control Food Portion Size

If you think you can save your time by pouring a lot of food at once, you are mistaken. Rabbits should mostly eat hay with just a small portion of pellets once or twice a day.

Rabbits are not thrifty animals that will save the leftovers for another meal. Instead, they feast on their meal and turn the leftovers into playthings.

Giving your rabbit free access to pellets will result in a mess to clean up, and probably lead to having a fat rabbit.

Rabbits are healthier and happier when they have free access to quality hay, once or twice daily small servings of high-quality pellets, and very occasional treats.

~Stacey – Recommended Rabbit Food

9. Bigger Chunks of Food

Instead of giving your bunny small pellets or chopped veggies, offer them large big chunks of food that are less fun to dig in and easier to clean up.

Rabbits are natural nibblers and they can easily nibble and chew on larger pieces of food like they would in a more wild environment.

Find recommended Rabbit food here.

10. Use Fresh Food and Water

One of the reasons that bunnies dump their food is because they don’t like their food. Stale food or water is not good food or water.

Give your rabbit small portions of food once or twice a day. With water, dump the old and give them fresh water every day.

11. Wash Your Food & Water Bowls Regularly

You don’t like eating off of a dirty plate, and your bunny doesn’t like it either. Wash their food and water bowls with soap and water at least once a week to keep both clean and fresh smelling.

Be sure to rinse the bowls very well after washing to assure that your bunny isn’t ingesting soap.

I hope you found these tips to stop your rabbit from dumping their food helpful. If I missed a tip or trick that you know, PLEASE let me and your other rabbit friends know in the comments below.



My name is Stacey Davis and my family has kept rabbits for decades. Here on RabbitPros.com we share our love of rabbits, our experience, and lots of research to help you enjoy your pet bunny even more.

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