Rabbits have a wide variety of items that are safe for them to eat. While pellets have become a staple, they also love eating leafy greens and other vegetables. With that being said pellets and necessary.
Pellets are not a necessary part of a rabbit’s diet and they can survive just fine without them. A rabbit’s diet must consist of high-fiber foods and leafy greens. While pellets are a way for rabbits to gain nutrients, they are not required.
We will further discuss rabbit feed pellets in this article and how they are not required for your pet.
Why Do Rabbits Eat Pellets?
Rabbits are naturally vegetarians, so it may seem odd that animals that are known for eating vegetables and leafy greens also eat pellets, which look like small brown/green lumps. Many domesticated rabbits eat pellets and enjoy eating them. To their very sensitive noses, the pellets smell like hay and other yummy foods since many pellets are made with different types of hay.
However, only domesticated rabbits eat pellets. Wild rabbits survive and thrive on only eating grass, berries, hay, and other foods easily found in the wild.
Pellets were created and manufactured for rabbits as a cheap and simple way to feed rabbits, as a diet of only vegetables can become very expensive very quickly. The pellets were especially helpful for those who bred and sold them as meat.
Today, rabbits are widely considered as great pets, and not commonly considered as something to eat. However, this was not always the case. When pellets were originally manufactured, they were made with foods filled with fat. In some cases, they were made with a variety of different animal fats. They were used to fatten them up quickly, but they were not healthy for the rabbits to eat frequently. Luckily, the pellet ingredients have drastically changed for our beloved pets.
As long as your rabbit is drinking plenty of water and getting enough hay, grass, and leafy greens — then pellets are unnecessary. If your rabbit isn’t drinking enough water, check out my article How to Get Rabbits to Drink Water for some tips on how to entice them.
Are Pellets Unhealthy for Rabbits?
While pellets are not necessary for a rabbit’s diet, they are a good way to give your rabbit nutrients depending on what the pellets are made of. However, hay, grass, and leafy greens are better for them than pellets. Pellets don’t give your rabbit a way to avoid eating something nutrient-filled.
If you give your rabbit a mix of foods, they can, and oftentimes will choose the yummier, unhealthy foods and leave the high-protein foods alone, which is not good for them in the long run.
While most domesticated rabbits eat pellets often, they should not be the majority of your rabbit’s diet. Studies show that they can cause obesity and other health issues that are associated with obesity if they are given in large amounts frequently.
TIP: Not sure how much your rabbit should weigh? Think he’s gaining too much weight? Check out the Pet Rabbit Growth Chart to see how big your rabbit can grow and what a healthy breed standard is for your specific kind of rabbit. On the other end of the spectrum, if your rabbit is underweight, read this article about how to get a rabbit to gain weight.
However, pellets are a quick and easy way of giving your rabbit essential nutrients. Young growing rabbits need a different diet than adult rabbits do. Rabbits under about 6 months of age should consume pellets as part of their daily diet.
As the rabbit grows you can reduce the pellets but at this young an age, while your rabbit is growing, it’s important to have the additional nutrients pellets provide.
Should I Feed My Rabbit Pellets?
While it is possible for rabbits to survive and thrive without pellets, and they are not the healthiest option for your rabbit, they do have many nutrients that will help keep your rabbit happy and healthy. If you are wondering if you should start, or continue, to feed your rabbit pellets, talk to your veterinarian and come up with a special diet for your fluffy friend.
When buying pellets, make sure to check the ingredients list for nutrient-filled rabbit foods.
What Kind of Pellets Should I Buy?
If you do choose to feed your rabbit pellets with their other foods, then there are many kinds to choose from. If your rabbit is still very young and under 6 months old, an Alfalfa-based pellet is one of the better options for them. They still have a lot of energy and burn calories very quickly. However, you will have to change their diet after they are 6 months old if you do choose the alfalfa-based pellet.
If your rabbit is slightly older than 6 months, there are a variety of healthy pellet options. However, make sure that Timothy grass or hay is the first ingredient on the list. Timothy grass or hay is very healthy for your rabbit. You can also choose a pellet brand with a different kind of hay as its main ingredient, but Timothy hay is one of the best kinds of hay for your rabbit and should be included in their pellets.
For specific recommendations on what you should buy, see my recommendations in the new rabbit checklist here. It has links to where you can purchase everything you’ll need for your rabbit, including pellets.
What If My Rabbit Won’t Eat Pellets?
If your rabbit will not eat the pellets that you give them, then they may just be picky and not like that particular kind of pellet. Try different brands before giving up, but it is okay if your rabbit does not like or eat any kind of pellet. Your rabbit may also be picky with their hay and lettuce, but that is normal.
However, if your rabbit suddenly has stopped eating their pellets and they have enjoyed them beforehand, call your veterinarian immediately. This can be a sign that your rabbit is very sick and needs medical attention.
How Many Pellets Should Rabbits Eat?
Pellets should be one of the smallest parts of your adult rabbit’s diet, but the number of pellets will vary based on your rabbit’s size. In addition to the amounts of pellets listed below, you should also be providing unlimited hay to your rabbit.
|Weight of Rabbit||Daily Amount of Pellets|
|1 lb.||1/8 cup|
|2 lbs.||1/8 cup|
|3 lbs.||1/8 cup|
|4 lbs.||1/4 cup|
|5 lbs.||1/4 cup|
|6 lbs.||1/3 cup|
|7 lbs.||1/3 cup|
|8 lbs.||1/3 cup|
|9 lbs.||1/2 cup|
|10 lbs.||1/2 cup|
|Over 10 lbs.||3/4 cup|
Can I Use Pellets as Treats?
Yes, you can use pellets as treats for your rabbit. However, they are more commonly used as part of a food mixture because of their high fiber and protein content. Fruits such as strawberries and apples are commonly used as treats, but they are high in sugar and should not be eaten by rabbits often. If you are looking for a low-sugar treat for your rabbit, then pellets are a great option.
What Foods Should I Feed My Rabbit?
A rabbit’s diet should mainly consist of hay and lettuce. However, hay should be 80-90% of your rabbit’s diet. Vegetables are also good options for your rabbit to eat, but they should be eaten in moderation, as well as lettuce. The greener the food is, the better it is for your rabbit. Small amounts of fruit can be given as treats on occasion. What are the best items to have for your rabbit? Here is a great checklist for what you need to buy. All of the comparison research has already been done, so this will definitely help you out!