Rabbits are very adorable creatures. They love to eat a lot. But sometimes their sudden change in eating routine can makes us worry. So, the question is, why is my rabbit not eating? What are the reasons behind this? Let’s find out all your answers in this article.
Rabbits do not eat because of stress, pain, and gastrointestinal problems. However, other factors like stomach blockages, dental issues, and diet changes can also play an important role in your rabbit not eating. Consider visiting a vet in such a condition to ensure the well-being of your rabbit.
In this article, we will discuss what causes a rabbit not to eat; how can we prevent and treat this type of behavior? So, let’s find it out.
- 1 My rabbit is not eating.
- 2 How to identify your rabbit is not eating?
- 3 What are the reasons behind my rabbit not eating?
- 4 How to make my rabbit eat?
- 5 How often should you feed your rabbit?
- 6 How long can a rabbit survive without food?
- 7 Conclusion:
My rabbit is not eating.
Usually, most rabbits eat frequently throughout the day, whenever we often food to them. But, if they stop or refuse to eat anything, it causes severe health issues like internal blockages, dehydration, and liver infections.
There are many possible reasons behind your rabbit not eating behavior, of which the primary reason is a gastrointestinal issue, also known as Ileus.
The Ileus slows down or decreases the functioning of a gastrointestinal system that pushes the food from the intestines (peristalsis). Therefore, treating Ileus ( gastrointestinal problems ) is essential as soon as you identify it. Otherwise, it can cause life-threatening issues.
If you identify that your rabbit is not eating, you must contact or visit the vet immediately.
How to identify your rabbit is not eating?
If you notice that your rabbit’s bowl is still full, and their bunch of hay is the same as given before, this indicates that they are not eating.
But if you keep waiting to see the food left, it could be too late for your rabbit’s health. Therefore, poops are another way to identify your rabbit is not eating.
Usually, rabbits poop 300 times a day. But, if you notice that their poop schedule is decreasing and the consistency of poop is sticky, watery, hard, or small in size, it could be a cause of concern.
Solid and small fecal pellets indicate that your rabbit is not getting enough food from their gut. Also, here are some other symptoms that your rabbit is not eating.
- Less active
- Dirty or wet bottom
- Not drinking enough water
- Grinding teeth
- Hiding away
- Refusing their favorite treats
- Weight loss
- Wet chin
You must visit your vet immediately if you find these symptoms in your rabbit.
What are the reasons behind my rabbit not eating?
When a rabbit does not eat its usual diet, this indicates that they are very sick or stressed, which can lead to severe health problems like dehydration, gut blockages, liver infection, and gastrointestinal stasis.
If your rabbit is not eating anything, it may result in many sickness issues, which some rabbits recover independently and return to their normal behavior in a few hours. However, some may need professional help to treat this type of problem by the vet.
There are many possible reasons behind your rabbit not eating, but here are some common causes:
Also known as Ileus, it is the primary reason for loss of appetite in rabbits. In this condition, the gut system of a rabbit slows down and even stops functioning.
Loss of appetite in rabbits is both causes and caused by gastrointestinal stasis. In addition, it can be the illness in and of itself or can be the symptom of many other diseases.
If your rabbit has any gastrointestinal stasis symptoms or another underlying cause of the situation, it may need a visit to the vet as soon as possible.
If your rabbit refuses to eat anything, even its favorite treat, then your rabbit may be in pain.
Rabbits are prey animals. They usually try to hide their pain to avoid being weak in front of their predators. However, if they stop eating or become very quiet, then they may be suffering from pain.
Pain can occur anywhere. It can be internal, like joint or post-surgical pain, and external, like physical scratches or cuts that can lead a rabbit to refuse its dietary food.
If the cause of the pain has not been detected, and your rabbit does not eat its food for a long period, it may lead to gastrointestinal stasis, which can also cause life-threatening problems.
Another common problem in rabbits that causes loss of appetite is overgrown teeth.
In dental problems, some rabbits refuse to eat only those food items ( like tougher hay) which are hard for them to chew. So instead, they eat only soft pellets that you provide to them.
Dental problems are very painful and can be caused by a poor diet with low fiber, leading a rabbit to stop eating anything. Therefore, if the teeth remain overgrown, they might be unable to eat.
Overgrown teeth can cause pain in the rabbit’s jaw and soreness on the cheeks and tongue, which hurts your rabbit whenever they try to chew anything. Therefore, bringing your rabbit to the vet for teeth checkups is essential before it’s too late.
Any sudden change in your rabbit’s environment can stress them. Your rabbit can easily get stressed by changes in a house or routine, a new pet in the house, the sound of fireworks, or other minor events.
Rabbits are very sensitive creatures. They can become anxious or depressed because of scary smells or loud sounds that lead them to lose their appetite, and their poops become smaller, which also develops a high risk of gastrointestinal stasis.
Another common cause of stress in rabbits is stomach ulcers. Ulcers are usually seen with other clinical disorders like typhlitis, bronchopneumonia, enteritis, and intussusceptions. They are extremely painful and cause them to lose their appetite.
So, it is essential to create a safe and happy environment for rabbits to prevent stress behavior.
Change in diet
Sudden change in their dietary plan can make them stressed and stops them from eating. Also, some rabbits do not have proper digestion and may become choosy in food.
Most rabbits dislike new food because they can’t digest it until their gut bacteria get used to it and break down the food for digestion. So, it is essential to slow down while introducing a new food item to your rabbit.
Also, some rabbits have a habit of eating carpets or inedible bedding, which causes impaction or stomach blockages. In addition, this condition can cause severe life-threatening problems which require emergency surgery.
Also read: Why Is My Rabbit Only Eating Hay?
How to make my rabbit eat?
When you find your rabbit is not eating properly, it is essential to bring them to the vet. Depending on their underlying condition, your vet may examine your pet rabbit and suggest urine tests, blood tests, or x-rays.
It is essential to make rabbits eat their food to prevent severe health problems like liver infection, dehydration, dental issues, or gastrointestinal stasis.
For this, your vet can admit your rabbit to the veterinary hospital for intensive nursing care, or they may prescribe some medication for home treatment.
If gastrointestinal stasis is the reason for reduced appetite, they may need pain relief because this condition is very painful and requires some fluids and gut stimulants. However, if a dental problem causes loss of appetite, then your rabbit may need a dental operation.
For home treatments, if your rabbit is not eating their regular diet and drinking water, you can feed critical care food to your rabbit with the help of a syringe after consulting your vet.
Critical care(TM) is a powder-based food formula mixed with water to make a consistency like pudding which is fed to those rabbits who are ill, recovering from surgery, or not eating properly.
Critical care food is used as an emergency feeding, ground with alfalfa and timothy-based meals containing enough calories and water to feed your sick rabbit to treat their digestive system to function normally after surgery or medical diagnosis.
You can feed a critical care mixture to your rabbit every three to four hours. However, if your rabbit becomes stressed, you should provide it only three times a day.
When your rabbit’s digestive system comes to its normal functioning, you must focus on its dietary requirements.
|Rabbit Food||Serving Quantity||No.of times|
|Green leaf lettuce||Two cups||per day|
|Zucchini||1-2 Slices, about 1/8 to ¼ thick||2-3 times/week|
|Cucumber||one small size, a few millimeters thick||2-3 times /week|
|Basil||1-2 stems||Once or twice/week|
|Watermelon||½ cup||Once or twice/week|
|Mango||1 to 2 tablespoons||Once or twice/week|
|Apple||1 or 2 Slices||Per week|
|Strawberry||Two tablespoons of chopped strawberries||Once or twice a week|
Hay is the staple food of a rabbit, whereas vegetables and greens contain beneficial nutrients which fulfill the rabbit’s dietary needs. However, leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits should always be served as an occasional treat.
The staple diet of the rabbit should contain at least 80-90% hay, 5% pellets, and 5% fruits and vegetables or leafy greens and served according to the rabbit’s body weight.
The above table shows the Ideal dietary requirement of a rabbit. It would be best if you served hay to your rabbit according to its body weight. Therefore, the dietary food requirements are according to the rabbit’s body weight.
|Rabbit Weight||Pellets||Hay||Veg (e.g., bell peppers, cabbage, zucchini squash, cucumber, etc.)||Greens ( parsley, Leafy green lettuce, watercress, basil, etc.)|
|1 pound||1/8 cup||Unlimited||1/2 tbsp||1/2 cup|
|2 pound||1/8 cup||Unlimited||1 tbsp||1 cup|
|3 pound||1/8 cup||Unlimited||1 ½ tbsp||1 ½ cup|
|4 pound||1/8 cup||Unlimited||2 tbsp||2 cup|
|5 pound||1/4 – 1/3 cup||Unlimited||2 ½ tbsp||2 ½ cup|
|6 pound||1/4 – 1/3 cup||Unlimited||3 tbsp||3 cup|
|7 pound||1/4 – 1/3 cup||Unlimited||3 ½ tbsp||3 ½ cup|
|8 pound||1/4 – 1/3 cup||Unlimited||4 tbsp||4 cup|
|9 pound||1/4 – 1/3 cup||Unlimited||4 ½ tbsp||4 ½ cup|
|10 pound||1/4 – 1/3 cup||Unlimited||5 tbsp||5 cup|
|11 pound||3/4 cup||Unlimited||5 ½ tbsp||5 ½ cup|
|12 pound||3/4 cup||Unlimited||6 tbsp||6 cup|
|13 pound||3/4 cup||Unlimited||6 ½ tbsp||6 ½ cup|
|14 pound||3/4 cup||Unlimited||7 tbsp||7 cup|
|15 pound||3/4 cup||Unlimited||7 ½ tbsp||7 ½ cup|
Also read: Rabbits Won’t Eat Critical Care.
How often should you feed your rabbit?
We can feed growing or adult rabbits once or twice a day. At the same time, pregnant rabbits should consume food three times a day.
Feed your rabbit in a proper quantity so that they can finish eating in two to three minutes. However, if your rabbit is taking much time to eat, it means you are overfeeding them, and if they eat in less time, then you are not giving enough food to them.
Overfeeding can cause obesity, dental diseases, and gastrointestinal problems. Conversely, Underfeeding can lead to dehydration, liver diseases, and weight loss.
Rabbits should eat a large amount of hay, a less amount of vegetables, and pellets regularly. A rabbit’s staple diet should include at least 80% hay, 10% leafy greens, 5%fruits as a treat, and 5% pellets.
How long can a rabbit survive without food?
A rabbit can survive 3 to 4 days without food and 24 hours without water and may die after. However, if a rabbit does not eat within 12 hours, it may cause a severe life-threatening problem like gastrointestinal stasis, leading to death in 2 to 48 hours.
Rabbits usually eat many times a day. But if your rabbit is not eating for 4-6 hours and there is a change in their regular eating habit, then you must contact your vet immediately or try to feed critical food by syringe.
- Rabbits do not eat because of stress, pain, and gastrointestinal problems.
- Loss of appetite in rabbits can cause dehydration, liver damage, and gastrointestinal problems.
- Stress, pain, GI stasis, dental issues, and change in diet are the reasons behind reduced appetite in rabbits.
- If a rabbit is recovering from any illness and not eating because of pain, it is essential to feed critical care with the help of a syringe.
- An adult or growing rabbit should eat once or twice a day, whereas a pregnant rabbit should eat three times a day.
- If your rabbit is not eating its dietary food, it is a cause of concern, requiring an immediate visit to the vet.
Reference: NCBI, ResearchGate