Rabbits eat quite a lot during the day and they eat continuously too. So you may find yourself wondering how long can a rabbit go without food if you can’t make it back home for dinnertime. Or perhaps, you’ve found a rabbit that’s been dumped and it looks quite skinny.
While a rabbit can survive 3-4 days without eating, it should not go without food for 10-12 hours. If a bunny doesn’t eat, its digestive system dries up. This causes GI stasis, which results in a decreased appetite. Their organs can fail and your rabbit can die if you don’t act swiftly.
Let’s see how long your rabbit can go without eating or drinking water, what you can do to help your rabbit, and why it is dangerous for them to stay without food for long.
How Long Can Rabbits Go Without Food?
Ideally, a rabbit should not go without food for longer than 10-12 hours; however, they can live 3-4 days without eating.
What Happens If A Rabbit Doesn’t Eat for 24 Hours?
Rabbits are grazers. They should be grazing continuously throughout the day to keep their digestive system working optimally since their gastrointestinal (GI) tract remains hydrated.
If your bunny goes 10-12 hours without eating anything, their GI tract gets drier and the pH in their GI tract causes gas and bloating.
This, in turn, leads to a decrease in appetite. Bacteria will grow, and eventually, Ms. Fluffles may not eat anything at all.
Called GI stasis, your bunny’s metabolism will slow down and food will pass more slowly through their digestive system since it is dry. Your bunny is slowly starving to death and the risk for infections increases.
If you don’t act immediately for this medical emergency and help your bunny start eating again, their organs may fail. And your rabbit could die as a result.
Also, if food isn’t passing through your rabbit’s digestive tract, it will solidify, and this “food” will be even more difficult to digest. This leads to another serious condition as this solid food obstructs your rabbit’s digestive system.
How Long Can Rabbits Go Without Water?
A rabbit should not go longer than 24 hours without drinking water. This period should be shortened if the weather is extra hot.
If your rabbit doesn’t drink any water for this period, it could lead to organ failure. It is best to act when the first signs of dehydration appear in your bunny.
What to Do When Your Rabbit Is Not Eating
What to do when your rabbit stops eating depends on whether your bunny was without food for a while or whether they don’t want to eat their hay or pellets.
Do the Treat Test
Try the treat test if you are noticing that your bunny doesn’t want to eat or is refusing their normal food.
So get your bunny’s favorite food or treat and offer it to Ms. Fluffles. If she comes over, takes the treat, and acts normal, then you don’t have to worry.
If your bunny eats the treat but in a hesitant manner, keep an eye on your rabbit for the next few hours. See if your rabbit’s behavior and appetite returns to normal. You can also tempt your rabbit with some yummy leafy green veggies.
Give Your Rabbit Simethicone
Simethicone is baby gas drops. Give this to your bunny if they refuse to eat the treat. Together with the baby gas drops, give your bunny small amounts of leafy greens.
The baby gas drops will help your rabbit pass any gas that has built up in its GI tract. This may mean it isn’t GI stasis that your bunny is suffering from, but simply just an inability to pass gas.
You may see Mr. Fluffles lying with his tummy against the ground and to help him pass gas, you can syringe feed your rabbit 1 ml of simethicone. Do this hourly for 3 hours.
If your bunny still isn’t eating within a couple of hours after you’ve administered the simethicone, then call the vet and schedule an emergency appointment.
Take Your Bunny to the Vet
If it has been quite a while – nearing that 12 hours period – and your pet rabbit hasn’t eaten anything, then you need to take Mr. Fluffles to the vet.
The vet will give your bunny medication to get their digestion moving again and they will let you know what the next steps are so you can help your bunny start eating again.
What to Do If Your Rabbit Doesn’t Want to Eat Certain Foods
Sometimes, your bunny is simply being a picky eater. If they don’t want to eat their hay or pellets, you can follow the advice below.
It might still be worthwhile to get your bunny checked out by a vet to rule out any underlying health issues.
Rabbit Doesn’t Want to Eat Hay
Hay is an important part of a rabbit’s diet. To help your bunny eat hay:
- Mix in some oat or orchard hay with the Timothy grass hay.
- Get fresh hay for your bunny.
- Place the hay bin next to your rabbit’s litter box. They prefer to eat and do their business simultaneously.
Your rabbit’s teeth may also be overgrown, which means they struggle to chew the hay. A visit to the vet should be on your to-do list.
Rabbit Doesn’t Want to Eat Pellets
A bunny may refuse to eat pellets, but this isn’t as serious as a rabbit being picky about or not eating their hay.
Pellets aren’t a necessary part of a rabbit’s diet, and while they do provide some vitamins and nutrients, you can include more leafy greens to get your bunny the nutrients they need.
Schedule a visit with your rabbit vet to see if there isn’t an underlying health problem.
Other Tips to Help Your Rabbit Eat
Other things you can do to help your rabbit eat are:
- In a syringe, feed your rabbit some mixed-veggie baby food.
- After eating (even if it’s only a little bit), encourage your bunny to move around.
- Massage its tummy so the gut can start moving and digesting food.
- Ensure your rabbit drinks more water.
- You can feed your bunny an electrolyte solution in a syringe (like unflavored Pedialyte).
- If your bunny starts to eat, feed it leafy greens like celery and cucumber that have a high water content.
It’s important to take good care of your bunny and make sure they continuously graze. This helps ensure your rabbit’s digestive system works optimally.
If Ms. Fluffles stops eating, try the treat test and give her simethicone. Continue to monitor your bunny to see if there is an improvement and offer her leafy greens with high water content.
If your bunny still doesn’t eat, call the vet for an emergency appointment.