Making hay-time playtime for bunnies

Rabbits need to eat their own body size in hay every day to stay healthy. Our in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes advises on how to help your bunnies munch their way through their daily ration by making hay-time a fun experience

Posted: 28 February 2019

Making hay-time playtime for bunnies

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Having fresh, irresistibly tasty feeding hay every day is an absolute essential for fibrevores like bunnies. In fact, around 85-90% of a rabbit’s diet should be high quality feeding hay and grass. Astonishingly, that’s equal to their own body size in hay every day.


DID YOU KNOW?

Many people provide their rabbits with hay for bedding, but don’t realise they also need high quality feeding hay to eat too. 


Top quality feeding hay – not to be confused with lower grade bedding hay – is an excellent source of fibre and helps your rabbits to maintain a healthy gut. Munching on it also keeps their continuously growing teeth in check, thereby helping to prevent dental disease.


DID YOU KNOW?

Most of the medical and surgical problems that occur in pet rabbits – such as dental, gut, eye, behavioural, urinary, weight and skin problems – are due to poor nutrition and could be prevented with an improved diet.


Chomping on hay also does wonders for your bunnies’ emotional wellbeing. In the wild, fibrevores spend around 70% of their time foraging and eating grass and other plants. For pet rabbits, being given the opportunity to forage and chew keeps them physically and emotionally stimulated and enables them to express their natural behaviours.

How to increase your rabbits’ hay intake

  • GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT? Poor quality hay that’s only suitable for bedding does not make for good eating – so your rabbits will be less likely to consume the amount they need. Choose tasty long-stemmed varieties such as Dandelion & Marigold  or Chamomile and mix and match to keep things interesting.
     
  • POO AND CHEW Rabbits generally prefer to munch on hay while they’re resting and they also like to ‘poo and chew’, so put a pile of hay in their favourite resting places and hang a hay rack above their litter tray.
     
  • PLAY FOR THE HAY Most fibrevores like to play and throw toys around, so incorporating hay as part of play activities is a great way to encourage your bunnies to pull, bite and chew at it. A willow ball or cardboard tube filled with hay is ideal for batting about. Try putting a bunch in a sheet of brown paper and tie the ends with a strand of hay to look like a Christmas cracker. Your rabbits will love chucking this around and then ripping it open to get to the hay inside.
     
  • WOULD YOU LIKE GARNISH WITH THAT? Mix in a tasty garnish such as a few of their dry rabbit nuggets, some fresh greens or yummy dried herbs such as Country Garden Herbs or Parsley Pieces so they can search out the extra special bits, munching on some of the hay as they do so.
     
  • TOO MANY NUGGETS? While dry food tastes good and ensures your rabbits are getting all the vitamins and minerals they require, it doesn’t provide the same fibre levels and chewing action they need to keep them in tip top condition. Reducing the amount of nuggets you provide can help encourage your bunnies to eat more hay.

Follow the Burgess Excel 5 Step Feeding Plan

Check out this simple guide, which we’ve designed to help owners understand the high levels of beneficial fibre required by small animals such as rabbits.


  • Find out more about the Burgess Excel range of rabbit feeding hay and treats here >>
     
  • Burgess Excel provides nutritionally-balanced rabbit nuggets for adults, juniors, dwarfs, mature and indoor bunnies – there’s even a light variety for bunnies on the tubby side. View the full range here >>

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