Rabbits require continuous access to food, particularly the hay or grasses they munch on all day. Their highly intricate and sensitive digestive systems enable them to swiftly absorb and utilise the maximum amount of nutrients from their diet. They should ideally never go without food and always have access to fibre plant-based foods.
What is the maximum amount of time a rabbit can fast for without eating, and what is the threshold beyond which such a fast becomes hazardous? You can find the solutions in this article.
Important: Advice from doctors or veterinarians should not be replaced by this article. If your rabbit is not eating or exhibiting other concerning symptoms, get in touch with an exotic veterinarian right away.
For rabbits, going longer than 12 hours without meals can be harmful.
Any rabbit that exhibits a lack of hunger should be taken seriously as it is not a healthy indicator.
If a rabbit refuses to eat, it needs to be taken right away to an exotic veterinarian.
How Long Can Rabbits Survive Without Food?
Although they shouldn’t go longer than 12 hours without feeding, rabbits can go three to four days without food. If your rabbit isn’t interested in eating, there’s probably a problem with them.
The moment you observe a change in a rabbit’s appetite, you should take them to an exotic veterinarian. Never deprive your bunny of food in the hopes that their hunger will return quickly. Since rabbits should always have food passing through their digestive systems, this is quite harmful.
Although it may not seem like a huge concern to humans, rabbits can die from missing meals, therefore it is something that should not be taken lightly. If they stop eating, not even the healthiest rabbit at the optimal body weight will be able to survive. A rabbit may not always die of famine when there is no food available to it; instead, it may have a delayed digestive system that interferes with its ability to function normally.
Why Is It Dangerous for Rabbits to Go Without Food?
When there is little to no food passing through the digestive tract, rabbits may have gastrointestinal stasis (GI stasis), an unpleasant and potentially fatal condition. Even with the right care, GI stasis is a dangerous illness that can occasionally result in death for a rabbit. This illness may be the cause of your rabbit’s inactivity or it may be the cause of your rabbit’s inactivity.
The purpose of the unique digestive systems in rabbits is to continuously pass food through them. The movement (peristalsis) of your rabbit’s digestive tract slows down or stops if it stops eating. This is particularly true if the rabbits aren’t fed grasses or fibrous hay, which are necessary for healthy gut flora and good digestion.
Moreover, the absence of food causes pH shifts in the rabbit’s digestive system, which foster the growth of bacteria that produce gas. In addition to causing excruciating discomfort and gas accumulation, the bacteria may also create lethal chemicals that endanger their lives.
Signs Your Rabbit Is Not Eating Properly
Refusal to eat is the most overt indication that your bunny is not eating adequately. Even if they were really hungry the day before, they will start to refuse food. When a rabbit is not eating, they can quickly become unhealthy and exhibit a variety of symptoms. However, because they are prey animals, rabbits frequently conceal disease symptoms until they worsen.
It’s critical to keep an eye out for any changes in your rabbit’s behaviour, eating or toileting habits, or appearance so you can act promptly to address any issues.
Here are some worrisome signs to be aware of:
- Changes in bowel habits (such as diarrhea or constipation).
- Soiled bottom
- Hunched posture
- Abdominal bloating
- Excessive salivation
- Teeth grinding
- Hiding or abnormal stressed or aggressive behavior.
- Weight loss
- Food refusal
My Rabbit Isn’t Eating; Why?
Your rabbit may not be eating for a variety of reasons, some of which we shall address below.
Health issues: A number of illnesses, such as liver or kidney disease, might have an impact on your rabbit’s appetite. Urinary tract infections, stomach ulcers, blockages, and lung infections are further potential health issues.
Stress or discomfort: It is doubtful that a rabbit will eat much if it is under stress or pain. This could result from a sickness, an injury, or a recent operation.
Hairballs, also known as trichobezoars: In certain cases, hairballs in rabbits can obstruct their digestive systems. A rabbit may cease eating and urinating as a result of this medical problem.
Certain medications: If your bunny is taking medicine right now, there’s a chance that one of the adverse effects is making them not want to eat. But their lack of appetite can also be a result of the illness the drug is meant to cure. It is advisable to discuss this adverse impact with a veterinarian as it is not beneficial for rabbits.
GI stasis: This reason has already been addressed. Rabbits in GI stasis will turn down food.
Dietary changes: Any abrupt or significant dietary adjustments for a rabbit may throw off the delicate equilibrium of their digestive system. This could result in digestive issues, like appetite loss.
Poor diet: In order for a rabbit’s digestive tract to operate properly, certain dietary requirements must be satisfied.
Dental problems: Pain may make it difficult for rabbits to eat if they have dental problems, such as damaged or missing teeth.
What Should Rabbits Eat?
You must first comprehend how rabbits’ gastrointestinal tracts function before we can talk about what they should eat.
Because their digestive tracts are developed to separate indigestible and digestible fibre from plants, rabbits are herbivores and hindgut fermenters. A rabbit’s digestive tract breaks down food swiftly; the hindgut ferments it, and the colon separates the fibre that is digestible from that that is not. The digestible fibre is transferred to the caecum where bacteria ferment it, whereas the indigestible fibre is typically eliminated through hard stools.
Rabbits’ digestive tracts function properly only when there is a constant supply of fibrous plant materials passing through them. For this reason, they need a healthy food that they can nibble on all day.
These tiny creatures should have a food that is similar to what they would find in the wild. A rabbit’s diet primarily comprises of pellets, veggies, leafy greens, and fresh hay or grasses that are available to them at all times. Raising rabbits should mostly consist of hay and grasses (approximately 80% of their diet).
A rabbit that is reluctant to eat is seldom an indication of good health. Rabbits have sophisticated digestive systems and are hindgut fermenters, meaning they constantly consume fibre vegetation and faeces throughout the day. A veterinarian that specialises in exotic animals should be consulted regarding any changes in the animal’s diet or behaviour. If rabbits go without food for an extended period of time, they may develop GI stasis, a dangerous medical condition.