Rabbits need a very specific diet to be healthy. A key part of getting these necessary nutrients comes through pellets. With that being said, how long should you expect your rabbit pellets to sit on the shelf for years before they expire?
Rabbit pellets do expire. They usually last for 6 months until they hit their expiration date. You can find this date printed on the pellet bag. It is usually not harmful to feed expired pellets to your rabbit, but it will lose some of its nutritional value over time and be less beneficial overall.
Rabbit pellets usually expire within 6 months, but there are many times where this life expectancy can vary. There are also ways you can make the pellets last longer! If you have more questions beyond pellet expiration, we will also talk about the diet of your pet rabbit below.
Do Rabbit Pellets Expire?
To put it simply, rabbit pellets do expire, but they can still be eaten after their expiration date.
Typically pellets last for about 6 months. According to a popular rabbit forum “Pellets should not be stored for longer than six months from the time of purchase to maintain nutritional value.” Source
While this is the case, and it is best if you feed the pellets before 6 months, you can still feed them those 6-month-old pellets.
“You can still feed pellets older than 6 months — it won’t be toxic, but they’re just stale.” Source
With this being said, it is not always 6 months for an expiration date.
“Every expiration date will be different for each bag, as different batches are constantly being produced.” Source
Some are simply different from others because of the variety of when and where they are made. As a general rule of thumb, it should be a 6-month period from when they are packaged.
Use common sense and logic when considering feeding your rabbit something old. Of course, if it’s 7 months old, you may consider feeding them those pellets. This is not the case if it’s been sitting on the shelf for a couple of years and you can see mold growing on the pellets.
How To Make Them Last
To allow your pellets to continue to remain fresh, there are certain steps you can take.
Pellets need to be kept in a cool, dry place that is usually airtight. This will allow the pellets to remain as unharmed by natural causes as possible. By doing this you can maintain and maybe even extend the shelf life of the pellets.
My first thought when trying to keep something fresh for a longer period of time is to freeze it. So, when researching this topic, I thought that was the easy answer. I was surprised to hear that experts specifically tell people not to freeze their pellets!
“It is not recommended that you freeze your rabbit’s pellets to prolong shelf life because the introduction of moisture during the thawing process and fluctuating temperatures may be conducive to mold growth and subsequent formation of mycotoxins.” Source
The moisture is an actual problem so this isn’t the best idea when trying to keep pellets for as long as possible.
What Is In Rabbit Pellets?
All of this talk about rabbit pellets and we haven’t even talked about what’s in them! Below will be a list of the top 9 most commonly found ingredients in rabbit pellets.
- Bran and pollard
- Hay and grass
- Lucerne crumbles
- Vegetable protein meals
- Vegetable or animal oil
- Choline chlorine Source
As you can see there are a lot of ingredients and substances in rabbit pellets. This could be a surprise to those who aren’t familiar with rabbit pellets. The next question you may be wondering about is how often and how much rabbits should be fed with pellets.
What Should I Feed My Rabbit?
A rabbit needs certain nutrients to survive and to be healthy. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, “the rabbit requires high levels of fibre in its diet…Rabbits (also) absorb calcium at a level that directly relates to the level offered in their food” Source
Fiber and calcium are essential in a rabbit’s diet long term. Every website states it as a necessity. Rabbits also have a hard time digesting food. This is easily solved with an increase of fiber in their diet.
They also do not supply their own calcium so it must be added to their diet as well. These 2 ingredients are being targeted directly in the ingredient list for the pellets.
Where To Find Nutrients
Below is a great YouTube video where rabbit experts and dieticians are discussing what to feed a rabbit every day.
The bottom line is that according to multiple experts and websites, the main foods that should be fed to rabbits are hay, vegetables, and pellets. Among these 3, the main food that should be fed is hay, with only a quarter of a cup of pellets being fed every day.
These foods seem to be directly targeting fiber and calcium as a nutrient. It goes to show how much they are needed for a rabbit.
How Long Should Rabbit Pellets Last If Fed Everyday
I wanted to end this off with a little information of my own! I wanted to figure out how long a 10-pound bag of pellets would last if the rabbit was fed a quarter of a cup every day.
According to a popular post on an animal food website, “One pound of pellets is approximately 3 cups”. Source
That means that there are 30 cups of pellets per 10-pound bag. If you stick to a quarter of a cup each day, that should last about 120 days. That 120 day is around 4 months, which is 2 months short of the expiration date.
This means that if you were to buy a 10-pound bag of pellets, and fed your rabbit each day, you should not need to worry about the expiration date! I hope that information can help you determine how much feed to buy. Remember to make sure that your rabbit is getting fed what they need and from a variety of different food sources.