Nothing beats the satisfaction of having a pet who eats without any fuss and for that purpose rabbits are a great pet to have around. Rabbits love to eat and sometimes they love food a little too much.
But who doesn’t love a nice chunky rabbit? We often end up overfeeding our pets just to fatten them up since the fatter the animal the more adorable they look. However, what we don’t realize is that rabbits are rabbits and will eat any amount that you offer them without knowing when to stop.
Is there any harm in overfeeding your pet rabbit? Rabbits can’t possibly die from eating too much, can they?
You’ll be surprised to learn that there are numerous health risks that come associated with overfeeding your pet and too much food can be fatal for them. So, the question is: how much food is too much food?
What do rabbits eat?
Rabbits are herbivores which means that their diet consists mainly of green. That means vegetables, pellets, and hay for most of the parts and fruits as a snack.
Rabbits spend a chunk of their time grazing and foraging and so eating comes naturally to them. To complicate things, they will be more likely to prefer high-calorie food as opposed to healthy food. Greens might be healthy for most of the part but too much of anything, even healthy food, can take a toll on their body.
As their guardians, we need to be careful with their diet because rabbits have a sensitive digestive system and with their tendency to overeat, not only will that lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, it can also cause obesity. While they might not sound like a big deal, if not taken care of, can be fatal.
Hay is one element of their diet which is a staple and should be given to your rabbits generously. It is not high in calories and is the safest thing you can offer them. Hay makes up 80 to 90% of a rabbit’s diet. Grass hays such as timothy, brome, and oat hay should be the most frequently fed while alfalfa hay can be given as a treat.
Pellets should be fed in a controlled quantity. The amount usually depends on the size and weight of the rabbit, but typically no more than a quarter cup should be offered at most. The best kind of pellets are those rich in fiber.
Vegetables and herbs are a rabbit’s favorite food and most of them are safe with the exception of potatoes, corn, and beans. The general feeding instructions when it comes to vegetables is that one to two cups should be offered to rabbits daily but no more than two cups. A variety of vegetables, two or three at a time is a good idea to offer. However, there are some vegetables that can be offered every day while some can only be offered sparingly, once or twice a week. These include carrots (shocking, right?), kale, and spinach to name a few. So, make sure you read up on vegetables appropriate for your rabbit before feeding them.
Rabbits are known to have a sweet tooth; however, high-calorie food shouldn’t be a part of their regular diet. In order to satisfy their sugar cravings while maintaining a healthy balance, fruits are the best treat to offer your bunnies. These can be given in small quantities, once or twice a week at most.
Overfeeding and the dangers:
Rabbits love munching away and as soon as they’re done with their meal they’ll stare longingly at you asking for more. Part of you will be tempted to give in to those looks because they’re so adorable and also partly because you’re worried that you haven’t fed them enough. The question thus is: what will happen if you don’t follow the feeding instructions given to you? In simple terms: lots and lots of health problems that can cut down their life span. Healthy rabbits can live anywhere between 7 to 12 years. But overfeeding can drastically shorten this life span. Here’s a list of possible health problems associated with overfeeding.
- Obesity: rapid weight gain will make your rabbit lazy and unable to hop around and about. Lack of exercise and increased weight can put pressure on other organs such as their heart and liver.
- Heart Problems: Rabbits can end up with congestive heart failure which is fatal and will kill your rabbit. They can also develop other problems such as atherosclerosis.
- Tooth decay: This can be caused by eating too much sugar and will cause distress to your rabbit.
- UTIs: Too much calcium intake can result in your rabbit developing UTIs.
- Gastrointestinal stasis (GI): This is potentially fatal in rabbits in which your pet’s digestive system will shut down completely. This is caused by an imbalance in the proportion in which carbs, fiber, and protein are offered to them.
How to stop rabbits from overeating:
Rabbits can overheat for a number of reasons, some of which can be controlled. Some rabbits eat too quickly and then want more without realizing how much they’ve eaten. Space out your rabbit’s meal and try to invest in a food dispenser to regulate the supply.
Some rabbits eat too much because they’re bored and this is usually because their cage is too small and thus all they can do is eat and sleep. Make sure to buy a cage according to their size and keep toys that they can play with.
Sometimes as their owners we offer them too much food unknowingly. Educate yourself about the proportions and consult your vet for a diet plan.
It is essential to your rabbit’s health and even to their life that you control their eating habits. Dramatic as it sounds, overeating can kill them. You can keep your rabbit healthy by simply educating yourself and following feeding instructions. It is always better to play it safe than sorry.