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Thread: I have two free-range rabbits - how will I know if one stops eating?

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    Default I have two free-range rabbits - how will I know if one stops eating?

    This might seem an odd question, but it recently occurred to me. I have previously had solo bunnies but now have a pair of Netherland Dwarfs.

    They are generally not greedy when it comes to pellet food, but I'm slightly concerned that if one was to stop eating the other might just finish what's in the bowl during the day while I was at work, and I might therefore be unaware there was a health issue. They both eat plenty of hay but it's quite difficult to keep track of consumption levels.

    In the past it's always been very clear to me when my bunny was off his or her food, but now there are two I'm worried I might not realise. I suppose if there was consistently even a small amount of food left over I could separate them for a day or two to check who was eating, but this would feel a bit cruel as they are free-roaming. I could also tempt them both with greens, although I think if I remember correctly sometimes in the past a bunny who was off pellets would still take greens.

    Any advice greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Wise Old Thumper MightyMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShonaC View Post
    This might seem an odd question, but it recently occurred to me. I have previously had solo bunnies but now have a pair of Netherland Dwarfs.

    They are generally not greedy when it comes to pellet food, but I'm slightly concerned that if one was to stop eating the other might just finish what's in the bowl during the day while I was at work, and I might therefore be unaware there was a health issue. They both eat plenty of hay but it's quite difficult to keep track of consumption levels.

    In the past it's always been very clear to me when my bunny was off his or her food, but now there are two I'm worried I might not realise. I suppose if there was consistently even a small amount of food left over I could separate them for a day or two to check who was eating, but this would feel a bit cruel as they are free-roaming. I could also tempt them both with greens, although I think if I remember correctly sometimes in the past a bunny who was off pellets would still take greens.

    Any advice greatly appreciated!


    Hi Shona and welcome to the Forum

    I usually go by the rule that if bunnies have any pellets left after 15 minutes, I am giving them too many

    Mine usually gobble them up within five minutes.

    Pellets should be the smallest component of a rabbit's diet ...

    http://www.therabbithouse.com/diet/c...abbit-diet.asp


    How much dry food are you giving them?
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  3. #3

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    Hi MightyMax, thanks for your reply!

    They get two egg cups each per day, but generally prefer hay and greens. I could probably given them less, but they are a healthy weight (the little one is very little) and just not that greedy. If I started giving them less it might be even harder to detect problems, because the healthy one would be more likely to manage the full bowl. Maybe I should start cutting back now...

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    Warren Veteran DemiS's Avatar
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    If a rabbit is poorly enough to stop eating, you'd probably be able to tell from other signs anyway (e.g. hunched in a corner, not moving around much). You could just wait until you're home to give them their pellets? They need constant access to hay and water but definitely not pellets, mine get fed a handful of pellets and veg each night, eat it in about ten minutes and just eat their hay the rest of the time and they're very healthy, if anything leaning towards the chubby side Also I like to be there when they eat their pellets because one time my boy wolfed down his pellets and started making the most horrible sounds, he sometimes coughs/sneezes if he gets water up his nose but I could tell this was different and he wasn't clearing it on his own, he was choking on a pellet and if I hadn't been there to do the bunny Heimlich maneuver I don't know if he would have survived
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    Wise Old Thumper MightyMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShonaC View Post
    Hi MightyMax, thanks for your reply!

    They get two egg cups each per day, but generally prefer hay and greens. I could probably given them less, but they are a healthy weight (the little one is very little) and just not that greedy. If I started giving them less it might be even harder to detect problems, because the healthy one would be more likely to manage the full bowl. Maybe I should start cutting back now...

    You're welcome

    Yes, I wouldn't give them that much (and I have kept a few Nethies). My rabbits twice that size get a half an egg cup full every day. I give a lot of forage and of course loads of hay and readigrass.

    Hints on foraging, in case you're interested ...

    https://www.harcourt-brown.co.uk/art...od-for-rabbits


    Rabbis in the wild don't eat pellets. I give them to mine to ensure they get adequate vitamins and especially vitamin D. However, rabbits with a varied diet don't actually need pellets
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  6. #6

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    Oh yikes, the bunny Heimlich maneuver sounds very scary!

    Feeding them in the evening would make sense but unfortunately I often work into the late evening and I'd feel guilty thinking of them waiting for their dinner. I think I will cut back the pellets a bit just now, while they are both in tip-top condition.

    They are unlike any bunnies I've had before in that neither of them ever swoop on the food bowl, and they're are also very fussy about treats. They completely turn their noses up at cheap hay and things like bunny/milk chocolate drops, much preferring kale, spring greens and the superior forage hay with rose petals. Basically they are like little hipsters.

    My previous bunny seemed in good health right up until she started losing her appetite, and within days the vet discovered she had cancer and it had already spread. She was pretty much her usual self except for the fact that the bowl wasn't empty. The only other sign was that she didn't smell quite the same (and I guess that was directly related to her diet).

    Having said that, thinking about it more, my current two are so close that I feel I'd maybe notice in their behaviour if one or other was ill.

  7. #7

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    Thanks MightyMax, I think I will cut back. It is special food for juniors/dwarfs but I'm not sure if the composition is different to the normal pellets or if they are just more bite-sized.

    Vitamin D is certainly in short supply for most of us here in not-so-sunny Scotland. I think the official advice is that us humans should be supplementing!

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    Wise Old Thumper MightyMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShonaC View Post
    Oh yikes, the bunny Heimlich maneuver sounds very scary!

    Feeding them in the evening would make sense but unfortunately I often work into the late evening and I'd feel guilty thinking of them waiting for their dinner. I think I will cut back the pellets a bit just now, while they are both in tip-top condition.

    They are unlike any bunnies I've had before in that neither of them ever swoop on the food bowl, and they're are also very fussy about treats. They completely turn their noses up at cheap hay and things like bunny/milk chocolate drops, much preferring kale, spring greens and the superior forage hay with rose petals. Basically they are like little hipsters.

    My previous bunny seemed in good health right up until she started losing her appetite, and within days the vet discovered she had cancer and it had already spread. She was pretty much her usual self except for the fact that the bowl wasn't empty. The only other sign was that she didn't smell quite the same (and I guess that was directly related to her diet).

    Having said that, thinking about it more, my current two are so close that I feel I'd maybe notice in their behaviour if one or other was ill.

    Shona, you seem quite clued up about bunnies, so I am sure you would know if anything was wrong

    The very fact that you're here and concerned is a huge cut above most rabbit keepers.

    I'd love to see some photos when you can ...
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    Harold and Betty thank you for the advice! (This is them looking typically confused/alarmed to be outside, on a rare sunny-ish day)


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    Wise Old Thumper MightyMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShonaC View Post
    Thanks MightyMax, I think I will cut back. It is special food for juniors/dwarfs but I'm not sure if the composition is different to the normal pellets or if they are just more bite-sized.

    Vitamin D is certainly in short supply for most of us here in not-so-sunny Scotland. I think the official advice is that us humans should be supplementing!

    That usually means it has more calories, which is good for Nethies as they burn their calories faster than larger buns

    However, I've only ever had Nethies who have lived with other breeds of rabbits together, so they ate the same small amount of high fibre pellets.

    Some people prefer not to use Science Selective because of the danger of choking. With a smaller pellet it's very unlikely to happen.
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