10 Reasons Your Small Animal Craves Hay
Have you stopped to listen to what your small animal’s been trying to tell you? Listen closely. You might just hear something like this: Hay! What do I want? Lots and lots of fresh hay! When do I want it? NOW! Gimme hay now!
Yep. Rabbits don’t only NEED hay – constant access to it, in fact – but they crave it. All kinds of it. Timothy hay. Orchard grass. Oat. Brome. Ryegrass. A buffet of choices will keep your little one munching on hay all day long and that’s exactly what you want.
Hay is a such important part of your small animal's diet but the reasons it's important to you and the reasons it's important to your small animal are vastly different.
If your small animal could talk, she'd certainly be shouting Hip Hip Hooray for Hay! Here's why:
1. What? Timothy hay again? But, mom….that's soooo boring. The curse of the leftovers. We want lots of different types of hay. The same thing every day bores us silly!
Grass hays – like timothy, orchard grass, oat, brome, and ryegrass – are some of our favorites.
2. Oh, that sweet smell of fresh hay. Give us more! Fresh hay just tastes sooo much better. We’ll eat more if it’s fresh, we promise! And the smell? It’s like heaven. Fill our basket up with plenty of fresh hay from Small Pet Select, please!
3. Please, please, just let me forage and be a real rabbit! Wild rabbits spend a whopping 75 percent of their time foraging and we have some of those our wild counterparts’ traits. Give us plenty of fresh, sweet smelling hay to forage through throughout the day and guess what? We’ll totally be less likely to forage your baseboards and your carpet. Good deal?
4. Mmm…mmm…those brand new shoes look delightfully yummy. Maybe they’re meant for me? Should I eat them? *Eyes hay basket and litter box.* Ohhh, look there’s a bunch of new hay that just arrived from the deliveryman and even some toys mentally and physically stimulate. Let’s check them out instead.
5. C’mon, surprise us! You know what we’d really, really love? Some flowers and herbs hidden in our hay. You might even catch us binkying and popcorning; that’s how much we love the different smells, textures, and tastes of the flowers, herbs, and gourmet hays.
6. Small animals just wanna have fun. You guys get to go out to dinner for a change of scenery and something different to eat, right? Well, what about us? Imagine spending the rest of your life eating the same foods from the same spot. Snooze. We want hay – lots and lots of it – and we want it in a bunch of different places like our litterboxes (don’t judge – you read on the toilet and we eat), in a basket, in a hay manger. Be creative. It’ll make us happy.
Now that you know how your small animal feels, here's why you really, really want to make sure your small animal gets enough fresh hay:
7. Savor the sound of those little teeth munching hay, something she should be doing a whole lot of. Enough to fill 80 percent of her daily food intake. Sounds like a lot, right? Look at it this way. Your small animal should eat a compact size of hay that’s equal to the size of her body. Your mind’s probably racing now: Is my little one eating enough? How do I tell? Here’s a great article to help you determine if your small animal is munching enough hay each day.
8. Age matters. Just like we humans have different dietary needs at different stages of our lives, so do rabbits. Alfalfa’s a great example of that. Because it’s rich in calcium and protein, it’s beneficial for growing (and sometimes elder) rabbits and guinea pigs under six months old. But, for the rest of ‘em? Grass hays all the way (more in a few).
9. What are the two words we as rabbit parents never want to hear or to say? Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. Hay – and lots and lots of it – gives your little one the fiber she needs to promote her gastrointestinal health.
10. Sometimes it seems like we’re wearing just as much fur as our rabbit or guinea pig, especially during shedding season. All that fur can lead to a
nasty fur blockage - well, for them, not us. Fortunately, all of that hay you’re providing – along with regular grooming – will help your little one fight fur blockages.
11. Virtual hands up. How many phone cords, wires, shoes, and books, have you lost to restless little teeth? Hay – and lots of it (yep, keep repeating that) – will keep your small animal chewing, which is really so important for her dental health. And, she'll love it. Everyone wins.
Tada! Those are just 11 awesome reasons to keep your small animal’s bowls filled with fresh hay, flowers, and herbs while promoting a better health and life. It really is a win-win, isn't it?