Get Your Rabbit To Eat Hay - 6 Tips To A Better Bunny Diet

Get Your Rabbit To Eat Hay – 6 Tips To A Better Bunny Diet

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Rabbit Eating Hay

Rabbits must eat hay to remain healthy and fit. Hay is high in fiber which helps keep a rabbit’s digestive system working and avoid GastroIntestinal Stasis (GI) which can be a deadly condition. Eating hay also grinds down your rabbit’s teeth, which is also essential to health. Finally, adequate hay keeps your rabbit from getting fat.

If your bunny won’t eat hay, you have a problem which could lead to much more serious problems in the future. The sooner you get your bunny to start eating hay, the better off you’ll be.

Let’s start with understanding why some rabbits won’t eat hay then will dig into how to get your rabbit to start eating hay.

Why Your Bunny Needs To Eat Hay

Rabbits are herbivores, which means that they only eat plants as food. However, like us humans, they can develop bad eating habits, and as their guardians, it’s part of our job to help them break these bad habits.

Hay should make up about 80% of a rabbit’s diet. The remaining 20% of a rabbit’s diet should be in the form of rabbit pellets and fresh greens or vegetables. Rabbits should have unrestricted access to hay with pellets and fresh greens and vegetables being fed in limited quantities once or twice daily.

The long fiber content of hay is essential to keeping your sweet bunny’s gut healthy and happy.

A rabbit’s digestive system is complex, and instead of eating a few meals a day, they ideally will snack all day long, but not pellets or treats but on hay.

The long fiber hay keeps their digestive tract working properly, avoiding both stool blockages (which can be fatal for a rabbit) and getting their gut bio all out of wack which can affect their health in countless ways.

Finally, having your rabbit eating hay and chewing on twigs is going to save you money at the veterinarian to have their teeth trimmed!

Rabbits have 28 teeth, and those teeth continually. A rabbit’s teeth can grow up to 12 cm every year!

The side-to-side chewing action of eating long fiber hay is the natural and best way to wear these teeth down so it doesn’t become an expensive and stressful visit to your vet.

Your rabbit should have easy & engaging access to hay 24 hours a day.

How much hay? In general, if your bunny has good eating habits, she will eat a pile of hay nearly her own size every day!

Now let’s dive into the ways to encourage your rabbit to eat hay.

How To Get Your Rabbit To Eat Hay

To get your rabbit to start eating hay, you should try each of these strategies. Don’t be shy about trying them all at once, because eating hay is essential for your bunny’s health.

1. Keep Your Rabbit’s Hay Fresh

We all know that aroma adds to the enjoyment and flavor of our food, and rabbits’ sense of smell is superhuman compared to ours.

Many times a rabbit will quit eating hay that doesn’t smell fresh and yummy.

The first step to keep your bunny’s hay fresh to store it in an airtight container.

We like to move our rabbit hay from the bag we bought it into a large plastic tote with a good lid that seals well. A five-gallon storage container will hold most bags of hay. If you are having trouble picturing what I’m talking about, you can see a good hay container here on Amazon.

Now to be clear, your hay storage tote doesn’t have to be air-tight, just well sealed.

The next step to assure that your bunny has fresh hay is to keep an appropriate amount out for her to eat.

We mentioned above that a rabbit will eat a pile of hay about her own size every day. That means that she should have access to slightly more than that each day.

Putting out way more hay than your rabbit can possibly eat in a day will assure that it is not as fresh.

Then each day, empty out the left-over hay back into your tote of fresh hay! I’m pretty frugal, so I don’t want to waste hay, and I’ve found that mixing yesterday’s hay with fresh hay renews it with a fresh aroma and our bunnies start eating right away.

If you don’t want to mix staler hay with fresh hay, then just use yesterday’s hay in your rabbit’s litter box and put fresh hay out to eat.

2. Change Your Rabbits Brand Of Hay

We’ve tried lots of brands of hay, and have finally landed on Oxbow hay as the best quality for the cost.

We use the Oxbow brand of hay and pellets. If you’d like to learn more about why we recommend Oxbow rabbit feed visit our recommended rabbit gear pages which contain way more than just rabbit feed recommendations.

3. Change Your Rabbits Variety of Hay

There are many varieties of hay, and some rabbits prefer one over the others.

This is going to take some trial, but it’s worth it to keep your sweet bunny healthy.

We are big fans of the Oxbow brand of rabbit food for both hay had pellets because of the high-quality long hay fibers and low dust to hay ratio.

Oxbow offers a number of varieties of hay, including:

  • Timothy Hay – The standard rabbit hay
  • Oat Hay – Similar to Timothy but with slightly less protein.
  • Orchard Hay – A sweeter hay that many rabbits love, but still very healthy.
  • Organic Meadow Hay – This is really just grass hay, and it’s wonderful for rabbits.
  • Hay Blend – As the name suggests, a blend of a variety of hays.
  • Botanical Hay – This is a blend of varieties of hay with herbs added for more aroma and flavor.

NOTE: Oxbow also offers Alfalfa Hay, but it should be fed with caution.

Alfalfa is higher in both calcium and protein, while also being lower in fiber than Timothy Hay. It’s a very sweet hay that most rabbits love. In moderation to young rabbits, it can really help them grow faster. In that same moderation to adult rabbits, it will get them fat.

So try a few different hays until you find the one that your bunny loves. Then try to mix other varieties into their favorite until they learn to love them all.

If you’re looking for where to start, I’d suggest Oxbow Orchard Hay. It’s a favorite of many picky eaters. { See it on Amazon >> }

4. Restrict Your Rabbits Favorite Foods

Lots of rabbits get the bad habit of just eating pellets and fresh veggies.

As long as your bunny knows that it has the ‘good stuff’ coming soon, instead of eating their hay, they’ll just choose to wait.

Your bunny won’t starve itself to death. Give it a day or two with only hay and watch your bunny start eating hay!

5. Feed Your Rabbit Hay In Fun Ways

Some rabbits prefer to eat hay in piles on the ground, but most like something more interesting.

A hayrack { See one on Amazon >> } helps contain the hay mess and keeps the hay high and dry.

Other ways to make hay more fun and interesting to your bunny include:

  • Put hay in a box with holes cut into it for your bunny to pull it out.
  • Stuff a toilet roll with hay.
  • Put it inside a rabbit toy with openings for your rabbit to work at.

You will be surprised how mixing in a little bunny playtime with feeding hay makes a huge difference for some bunnies.

6. Mix Your Rabbits Favorite Foods With Hay

Use this one with caution, but for a really bull-headed bunny it can be a game-changer.

Instead of feeding hay separate from pellets or veggies, put those pellets and veggies in the hay feeder with the hay.

At the very least, your bunny is going to be digging through the hay to get to the treats and might learn to eat the hay in the process.

Warning: This is going to make a mess.

7. Place The Hay Over The Rabbit Litter Box

Ok, I admit that this one sounds a little weird, but it really does work for many bunnies.

You’ve probably noticed that your rabbit tends to go to the bathroom while eating. Nearly all rabbits do this.

Take advantage of this natural behavior, and suspend your hay above the litter box. We like keeping the litter box in the corner of the rabbit cage, with the hay in a hay feeder on the wall over the litter box.

8. Try A Hayrack Made Of A Different Material

It may be that your bunny doesn’t like the smell of your hayrack. Maybe they don’t like plastic, or maybe it’s metal that feels cold on their nose.

Every rabbit is different, just mix things up.

P.S. There are lots of great custom wooden rabbit hayracks, feeders, and toys on Etsy. I’ve created lists of my favorite ones that you can find in this article on Rabbit Pros.

9. Mix Hay With Fresh Greens

Nearly all rabbits like fresh greens more than hay, so mix a little fresh greens into the hay.

Rabbits love dandelions and lots of other weeds, just make sure you’re not feeding them greens that have been sprayed with lawn chemicals.

Also remember that greens need to be less than 15% of their total diet, so as you mix it into their hay it should be less than 10% of the total hay by volume. Part of the fun is digging through the hay (and eating some of it) to find the rare greens.

Conclusions about Getting Your Rabbit To Eat More Hay

First, remember that you and your rabbit are not alone in this problem. It’s a common problem for rabbit lovers.

Like us humans, when choosing food, many rabbits will choose convenience over health.

Still, it’s our responsibility as bunny owners to help them make better eating habits.

Not only will they be healthier and happier, but it will save you a bunch in veterinarian expenses and, perhaps, heartbreak.


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My name is Stacey Davis and my family has kept rabbits for decades. Here on 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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