Top 10 Reasons Hay Is So Important To Your Rabbit's Diet
Give most rabbits a banana and, if given a choice, that’s all they would eat. That banana, filled with sugar, just tastes so good, right? Let’s face it, what’s cuter than watching a bunny chomping on a banana?
But, there’s only one food your small animal should have constant – 24 hours a day every day – access to: Hay. Just because you’re giving your rabbit unlimited hay, however, doesn’t mean they’re eating as much as they should each day. Click here to read how to ensure your rabbit eats enough hay each day.
Here are 10 important facts about hay to keep in mind:
1. Hay should comprise 80 percent of your small animal’s daily food intake. That’s a significant portion of your small animal’s diet. But, how do you know how much 80 percent of your rabbit’s diet really is? Essentially, your small animal should eat a compact pile of hay that’s equal to the size of his body.
2. What type of hay your rabbit/guinea pig should eat depends on his age. Rabbits and guinea pigs six months and younger typically eat alfalfa hay. Because it is so high in calcium and protein and wanting in fiber, alfalfa hay is not recommended for adult rabbits. It’s good for younger small animals (and sometimes vets will recommend it for older rabbits) because the calcium and protein is beneficial for a still growing rabbit or guinea pig.
3. Offer a variety of hays. Offer your small animal, who is six months and older, a variety of grass hays. Grass hays are ideal because, unlike alfalfa, they are high in fiber and lower in calcium and protein. Popular grass hays include timothy, orchard grass, oat, brome, and ryegrass. Read more about the different types of hay by clicking here. (https://shop.smallpetselect.com/blogs/blog/types-of-hay-for-small-animals-explained)
4. Hay plays an important role in your rabbit’s gastrointestinal health. We’ve all been there. Worried sick because our rabbit is hunched over, not eating or pooping. Gastrointestinal (G.I.) stasis is a common, and sometimes deadly, problem with rabbits. Hay provides the fiber necessary to promote your rabbit’s gastrointestinal health. Read more about hay and G.I. stasis here (https://shop.smallpetselect.com/blogs/blog/how-timothy-hay-for-rabbits-can-help-reduce-sickness)
5. Hay helps fight fur blockage. When rabbits and guinea pigs groom themselves, they inadvertently ingest hay. That’s why regular grooming <i>and</i> hay are so important to help prevent blockages. Unlike other animals like cats, who often cough up fur balls, rabbits and guinea pigs can’t throw up.
6. Hay promotes good dental health. Small animals chew. In fact, they often chew things they’re not supposed to like our iPhone and laptop wires, our favorite shoes, and whatever else strikes their fancy. Chewing is necessary to your rabbit’s dental health. And, nothing’s better than chewing hay to keep your small animal’s teeth healthy. Read more here.
7. Allows your rabbit to follow his natural instincts. Did you know that rabbits typically spend 75 percent of their waking hours foraging? Even though we have house rabbits, they still possess many of the same qualities, including foraging, as their wild counterparts. If your rabbit doesn’t have hay and other treats to forage, well, be prepared. They just might starting foraging and chewing things – like the carpet and the baseboards – they shouldn’t. Click here to read more about foraging. (https://shop.smallpetselect.com/blogs/blog/foraging-a-natural-and-necessary-behavior-let-s-encourage-it-and-keep-them-away-from-baseboards-at-the-same-time)
8. Satisfies your small animal’s natural desire to hay, flowers, and herbs. Many small animals instinctively love flowers, herbs, and hay. Different
9. Prevents boredom. Small animals can get bored just like us humans. Plenty of hay allows your rabbit to forage which, in turn, helps to prevent boredom (that can lead to destruction). Of course, plenty of things to mentally and physically stimulate your small animal also help.