Why rabbits need to nibble all day long

September 21, 2023

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September 23rd is International Rabbit Day, so we thought it might be a good time answer one of the most frequently asked questions about rabbit care – why do rabbits need to eat all day?

Why does my rabbit need to constantly eat?

Like some other herbivores, rabbits have evolved a unique digestive system that allows them to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from grass and other vegetation.

These plant materials contain a lot of cellulose and are hard to break down but with their specialised digestive systems, rabbits are able to process these readily available foods.

Rabbits are hindgut fermenters which means they need a constant supply of food passing through their digestive tract to keep their digestive system working properly.

In their gut they have a delicate balance of bacteria that is essential in breaking down fibre. Without the constant passing of food, these bacteria can become imbalanced, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition known as gut stasis.

What is gut stasis?

Gut stasis is a common but potentially very serious problem in rabbits. It can be caused by a variety of different factors, such as dental problems, poor diet, stress and gastrointestinal blockages.

If you notice your rabbit has any of the symptoms below, contact us on 01223 359021 straight away. The longer gut stasis is left untreated, the more serious the condition becomes.

  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • A reduction in the number of droppings

How do I prevent gut stasis?

Ensuring your rabbit has free access to hay and fresh water is essential in reducing the risk of gut stasis. Rabbits also enjoy good quality pellet food and fresh vegetables, but the majority of they diet should be grass and hay. Fresh fruit should be used as a treat. An appropriate diet also helps prevent dental problems. Rabbits’ teeth grow throughout their life and are designed to be worn down by constant chewing of fibre rich materials such as hay. If the diet consists instead of too many pellets or soft fruit and veg the teeth may become overgrown.

Further ways to help your rabbit remain healthy and unaffected by gut stasis are regular veterinary check-ups with the Clarendon Street Vets team. This will help to identify dental or digestive issues early on.

If after reading this article you have any further questions about rabbit health, we are always happy to hear from you …

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