How much hay do rabbits eat?
The average pet rabbit should be eating about a large handful of hay per day. This is about 13 ounces per week or 3 ¼ pounds per month for a 2 to 3 pound rabbit. If you have a larger breed you may find that they consume up to 5 pounds of hay per month.
Keep in mind that rabbits tend to waste some of their hay also. A hay feeder can help minimize waste and keep the hay from being contaminated by urine or poop pellets.
What is the best hay for rabbits?
I have an entire article dedicated to what the best hay for rabbits is, but the short answer is Timothy or Orchard hay. There are several other options also like oat grass. Alfalfa should only be bed to young rabbits under five months old since it has to much calcium and protein in it for adult rabbits.
Here are a few posts about different hays.
Grass vs Hay
What’s the difference between grass and hay? Hay is grass that has been cut, dried and stored. That’s it! Often times you will read “Orchard grass” or “Timothy hay” when researching or buying rabbit products. Both Orchard and Timothy are a hay even though Orchard is often followed by “grass” rather than “hay.”
What cut of hay is best for rabbits?
There are three cuts of some hays called the 1st, 2nd and 3rd cut. You will often see these cuts with Timothy hay. There are differences nutritionally between all cuts, I have an article about what cut of hay is best for rabbits that dives into this subject but here is a brief overview.
- 1st Cut Hay – This is the first hay cut for the year and has the lowest amount of fat, lots of fiber and lower in protein. This is not the best choice for an active rabbit and should only be used if your rabbit is obese.
- 2nd Cut Hay – Most veterinarians and pet rabbit owners recommend the 2nd This is the standard hay that has the right amounts of fat, fiber and protein for adult rabbits.
- 3rd Cut Hay – This cut of hay has less fiber, more fat and more protein. If you have a rabbit that doesn’t like to eat hay, then this cut may be answer to your problem. Yes, it is not as good as the second cut, but some hay is way better than no hay.
Bottom line is that all three cuts are acceptable for rabbits, but 2nd is best.
Hay based pellets
Timothy hay-based pellets are the best pellets for rabbits even if you are feeding timothy hay, or any other hay for that matter. Rabbits can not have too much fiber! Beware of the many “junk food” pellets out on the market. Many manufactures will add corn, nuts and seeds to their pellets to get your rabbit hooked. These types of pellets are very dangerous for your rabbits health and will shorten their lifespan. I have a list of high quality rabbit pellets here if you need a recommendation. Remember to feed the proper amount of pellets daily, it is very easy to over feed pellets.
Why hay is important?
Rabbits, most herbivores for that matter need to eat a lot of grass or hay every day to stay healthy. Their bodies are specifically designed to digest and extract energy from vegetation that we would consider inedible. Hay and grass contain large amounts of fiber that is critical to rabbit’s digestive health.
If rabbits do not get enough fiber it is possible that that their digestive system will slow down and then stop working, this is called GI Stasis. GI Stasis is a medical emergency that can only be treated by a qualified rabbit veterinarian.
If your bunny has not pooped in 12 to 24 hours your rabbit is near death and must be treated ASAP!
Hay is vital to a rabbit’s dental health. When a rabbit chews hay it grinds it with his or her 28 rear molar teeth and cuts it with its four front teeth. If a rabbit does not eat enough hay their teeth can become crooked and/or overgrown. If this happens, they will not be able to digest their food properly and will slowly die of malnutrition. Keep in mind that rabbits’ teeth never stop growing.
On another note, most cardboard is safe for rabbits to chew on, eat, play with and will help improve dental health.
You should be asking yourself “how much hay should my rabbit be eating” rather than “how much hay do rabbits eat”. Remember, hay should make up 80% of your rabbits’ diet not including hay based pellets. For more information about hay check out these posts.
About the Author
My name is Vanessa and I love my buns. My current house rabbit is Mr. Bunny, he is a black and white Dutch that just turned 9 years old.
I believe that rabbits are a magnificent animal that make great pets for SOME people. My mission is to share what I have learned about rabbits over the past 20 years to improve the relationship between our pets and us. Please contact me or comment if you have any questions or comments.