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Baffled by Breakfast - Not a Morning Bunny?

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HalaBuns

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Hi All!

I have 2 buns, who both lovvve food most of the time.

Over the last few weeks though, one of them has been really quite fussy with her breakfast and i’m wondering what the cause is. She’s totally fine at other times of day.

It doesn’t happen all the time, just on odd days. When it does happen, it’s hard not to worry that it could be gas or GI stasis, so when I went away recently I would end up grilling the pet sitter about how enthused she was about her food and was going to cancel my trip early at one point because I was worried.

It is generally the case that I put their pellets down in the morning and they are both very excited by this event and run over and both demolish their way through them. When Gigi is having one of her “off” days though, she will just lay quietly, or sit in her litter box (but not eating) and totally turns her nose up at pellets offered to her.

The first 2 times this happened, I was worried, assumed it was gas and looked at all the tips on here for what to do and eventually got her eating after a few hours. Before my trip I took her to the vet who confirmed her teeth and tummy were fine and she is in good health. She had eaten apple the night before both times she was funny about pellets, so we thought it could be connected to that and they’ve both been on a sugar free diet since, other than the odd slice of carrot now and then.

Once back from my trip I had a friend come to stay, which meant I slept on the spare bed in the “bunny room”. They usually sleep by the side of my bed in my room and are quite lazy in the mornings. With me in their room however, they took great delight in waking me at 6am throwing toys around, jumping on me, chewing the bedding etc. They also both smashed through their pellets every morning without fail when I fed them 2 hours later.

Now I’m back in my room and they’re back to sleeping by my bed. Gigi would happily laze around there until 9am if it wasn’t for me getting ready for work and again twice over the last few days, she’s been really unenthused by her pellets. I actually picked her up and put her in front of them this morning before the other one gobbled them all up. She tucked into them eventually.

I thought rabbits were pretty much always hungry, but is it possible that she’s just not a morning bun? 😂. She always eats eventually and then bounces around like normal, but some days seems to just need some easing into the day (like her mum)
 

JBun

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It sounds like she's getting an upset stomach from something. I would be looking at something that happens or food they get at night that they don't have in the morning or during the day.
 

zuppa

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Hi, can you give more details about your rabbits and their diet

Age, breed/size, how long they live with you, are they both neutered, how long are they bonded

What pellets, brand, ingredients, % of fiber and protein, how much is her (their) day portion, you only feed once a day in the mornings?

What other food and what type of hay they are getting, I understood they are not getting any fruit/sweets anymore, just a slice of a carrot like once or twice a week?
What vegetables/greens are they getting and how much, when you usually feed greens (time).
What snacks/chewing toys they get and how often/much (snacks on the sticks, stuffed logs etc)
 

HalaBuns

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It sounds like she's getting an upset stomach from something. I would be looking at something that happens or food they get at night that they don't have in the morning or during the day.
Thank you Jbun. They’ve not had any new introductions to their veggies, but I vary the vegetables and herbs that they do eat from week to week. I’ll start to keep a log of what they have eaten or events that have happened the day before each time she has an episode and see if that brings anything to light.

I did transition them onto new pellets a couple of months ago. They would go crazy for their old pellets. But they were all different colours and not hay based, so probably not good for them (and why they found them so delicious). I also don’t think I was feeding them enough when they were on the old pellets. I figured the combination of both factors could be why she seemed way more ravenous before.

On the advice of the vet, I am also moving them again to another pellet brand, but taking that extremely slowly. It’s been a bit of a minefield trying to find the right pellets here as we don’t have much choice in Dubai. Her problems started before this though.

One other thing that has just sprung to mind, is the behaviour of her buddy Kiki since the 3 of us moved house at the beginning of October. Kiki is the dominant and I have witnessed her mount Gigi’s face 3 or 4 times (I’ve separated them when I’ve seen this for safety reasons). There will no doubt have been other times when I’ve not been present too. Gigi is very submissive and they always get along just fine after and groom one another etc, but would something like that put her off her food temporarily?
 

HalaBuns

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Hi, can you give more details about your rabbits and their diet

Age, breed/size, how long they live with you, are they both neutered, how long are they bonded

What pellets, brand, ingredients, % of fiber and protein, how much is her (their) day portion, you only feed once a day in the mornings?

What other food and what type of hay they are getting, I understood they are not getting any fruit/sweets anymore, just a slice of a carrot like once or twice a week?
What vegetables/greens are they getting and how much, when you usually feed greens (time).
What snacks/chewing toys they get and how often/much (snacks on the sticks, stuffed logs etc)
Hi Zuppa

My girls are rescues, so I have no idea what breeds they are, although I would be very interested to know (happy to post pics if that helps). The lady I adopted them from found them dumped behind a car park in April, with their babies and one other bunny (who she assumes was the boy and was unable to catch unfortunately). The babies were rehomed and she fostered my two until I adopted them in June. As far as I know, they were already bonded when they were found.

Their age is also a bit of a mystery. They were both spayed in June a couple of weeks before I took them and have never shown any hormonal behaviour, if that is any indicator that they could be mature bunnies. They have always been very calm, all of my furniture is intact (famous last words), totally litter trained etc. I feel I got very lucky after reading other peoples' experiences!

They weigh around 3kg each.

As I mentioned above, I am in the process of transitioning pellets at the moment. I am moving them from Supreme Science Selective Adult Rabbit to Zupreem Natural Timothy Hay pellets (I'll take a pic of the nutritional information of both). I started 2 weeks ago and the current ratio is 50/50. They have 65-75g each, mostly in the morning but I hold a little back for a treat later in the day.

They have unlimited timothy hay and are good hay eaters. Veggies, they get romaine and boston holland leaves every day and in addition I vary baby bok choy, fennel, chicory, romaine hearts and top with either mint, dill, coriander, or parsley (the parsley is not every week). I try to avoid anything that is known to cause them gas or an upset tum. They get one bowl to share early evening after they wake up and another a bit later at night.

For treats they get a few pellets, or a few sprigs of herbs, 2 slices of carrot every few days. They also love the small Kaytee compressed timothy hay treat cubes, so they share one of those 2 or 3 times a week. I've also been giving them an Oxbow Papaya Support tablet each day. Treats are almost always in the evenings.

I give them a new willow stick or two to chew every couple of days. They also have various wooden chew toys which I switch around each week, a grass mat and a wicker play tunnel which they sometimes chew on too, but are pretty bored of to be honest. Occasional cardboard box or empty toilet roll, but they go a bit nutty for cardboard so not very often.
 
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HalaBuns

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Since I last wrote, she has had 2 of her funny mornings as I described before. She had boston lettuce and mint the nights before both occasions, but I’m not sure it is those that trigger it. There were no stressful events yesterday, in fact both bunnies were the most relaxed I’ve seen them in a while.

So this morning she ate a lot of pellets eventually, about an hour after putting them down, but I checked her poop and there were quite a few mishapen ones.

I had increased her pellets a few weeks ago because she had started chewing the walls (she’s not a destructive bun usually). Do I need to be reducing them back a bit to encourage her to be eating more hay? Or make some other adjustments? Or are these poops and unpredictable appetite an indicator that another trip to the vet might be in order?

She has been turning her nose up a bit at veggies too over the last week. She’ll have about half and then eat hay instead, which I’ve put down to her being a bit fussy and not too concerned all the time hay is consumed.

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zuppa

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Hi, sorry I didn't see your comment earlier, thank you for the info.
65-75 gram is too much pellets, and if you say you've increased that because she was chewing the walls I think it is definitely too much for her since I get she is well over 6 months of age.

The poos in your latest pic are definitely no good.

I guess she is in molt now or her partner if she grooms him, since I see some of them are connected.

They are too dark for normal poos as well it usually indicates that she has too much pellets, also your pellets may be too rich on protein, are they alfalfa based? Or she gets some more foods / snacks that are too rich for an adult. This dark poos can have nursing mothers when they are on unlimited pellets because they need to produce milk for the babies, but normally poos have to be much lighter almost golden because their main menu must be hay.

I would suggest to reduce pellets, I feed my adult buns 30-50 gram a day, this depends on my observations of every individual rabbit. Basically, more active rabbits get more pellets and lazy rabbits get less. This doesn't even depends on their size, my largest girl smokey gets max 30 gram and maybe even less, she gets a half of what Peter gets and he is just a tiny bit smaller than she.

She is 2 year old and quite active girl, but when she gets a more pellets she gets lazy and has no interest in hay at all, I also can see quite quickly that she stores fat on her neck, that means her pellets need to be reduced. 25-30 gram it's about two tablespoons of pellets she gets, and she eats her hay well and she drinks her water 500-600 ml per day. If she is full after eating pellets she won't eat enough hay, in most cases reducing pellets and other foods, leaving on hay and water for a week should help improving her poos and her mood as well.

Chewing walls is not because she is hungry so you don't have to feel guilty.
Maybe get her some wood toys that you can stuff with hay, she will eat hay from them and will chew them a bit, I stuff their logs at least twice a day, they eat all hay from them. It may take some time they start liking them but make sure there's nothing more tasty than hay around and it will go faster.

Most of my rabbits will eat their pellets within 10-15 mins and they are still a bit hungry so they will start eating hay after them. If she is full with her pellets she won't eat hay. And she needs hay to stay healthy.

Imagine if you have a toddler and you offer sweets/snacks all the time, they won't be interested in your dinner, right? Because they are full of sweets, so you need to reduce or avoid them. Also if your kids are getting too much sweets they will look bored and lazy, the same thing with your rabbit, hay must be first and pellets is just like vitamins you give her, they are not her main food, they are only a supplement.

The poos in your photo can indicate some other problems as well, but those problems could also be connected with overfeeding, her body doesn't need that much pellets. And what protein they have, 13% or 16%? Are they alfalfa (lucerne) based or what ingredients?

I've just checked ingredients your pellets contain alfalfa as well as more stuff there. They have lots of vitamins in them, so she gets too much vitamins which is not healthy at all.

>>
Ingredients
Sun Cured Timothy Hay, Soybean Hulls, Alfalfa Hay, Soybean Meal, Wheat Middlings, Dried Cane Molasses, Sodium Bentonite, Rice Hulls, Flaxseeds, Salt, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (A Source Of Vitamin C), Zinc Propionate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Carbonate), Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Dried Bacillus Licheniformis Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Yucca Schidigera Extract
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Your previous pellets were also alfalfa based btw. I also feed alfalfa-based pellets but as I said they get 25-50 gram per day max. You have to be very careful with alfalfa if you want to use for adults.
I have a trio they get one fool scoop (about 60 gram) a day, they eat hay like crazy and they are very active and in an excellent shape.
 

zuppa

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And I wouldn't feed carrots for a while, as you say a few times a week, just keep her on hay and water for a week and it should improve. If you continue to overfeed her liver will have to work very hard dealing with that amount of vitamins and stuff since your pellets contain lots of vitamins, especially vitamin D, Calcium are not good for liver and heart in excess, vitamin A well there's lots of supplements listed in ingredients, and when overdosing pellets you overdosing supplements as well.

When they are in molt they should eat more hay, because hay will help pushing the hair out and hair won't be make blockages, in your pic you see two poos connected, there's lots of hair in one and it could make it hard to pass. So reducing protein in her food should make her eating more hay.

Also I see you give her papaya tablets, honestly I never used them but I don't think it would be necessary, hay and water and no other foods/supplements/sweets/snacks. I use dried herbs sometimes sprinkling on hay like dried chamomile, but my rabbits rarely have any issues with their bellies, because of their diet is healthy and they have hay available (and eat it) all the time.
 
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HalaBuns

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Thank you Zuppa. I have to say, getting their pellets right either from a nutritional perspective or amount, has been tricky.

They were on 1/4 cup of the science selective, which is 40g. She then started on the walls (literally every corner) and it was suggested that I tried increasing her pellets because she may have been lacking in calcium and thinking she could get it from that. At the same time, I read the guidelines from the RSPCA and science selective, which said I should give them 25g per kilo of bunny, so given their size (3kg), I felt terribly guilty that I had potentially been under-nourishing them and that’s why she was trying to find nutrients elsewhere, so I increased to 60g, or 3/8 of a cup. The Timothy naturals pellets are heavier, so 3/8 cup is 75g but the two are still mixed 50/50 right now.

Should I stop pellets immediately for a week and then reintroduce them?
 

HalaBuns

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Hi @zuppa

I just wanted to say thank you for the advice. Both bunnies have been on just hay, a few leafy veggies and water for the last few days and the change in both of them is noticeable. They both have more energy and are much more inquisitive and mischievous. Poor little sausages must have been feeling below par for a while.

The first day, they both became quite cranky and destructive and were chewing things they never have before (one even went for the trousers I was wearing). She went for the walls again and the other totally destroyed a pillow case. But they have settled down now and get super excited when I put fresh hay down. Although her buddy still gives me a frustrated nudge as if to say “what the hell is this?” When I put leaves down for breakfast instead of pellets haha.

Her poops are almost back to normal, but she is shedding heavily at the moment, so there are still a couple of stringy ones each day. I’m brushing at least once a day for as long as they will tolerate it.

I’ll keep this up until the end of the week and then think about reintroducing a small amount of pellets if all is looking good. But she seems a much happier and healthier bunny already 😊
 
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