Micah Feeding

Vet Speak

In this section, Dr. Micah Kohles, Oxbow’s Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach, answers all of your animal health related questions.  If you have a question for Dr. Kohles regarding the health or behavior of your small animal, send it to web@oxbowanimalhealth.com.

What to do!!! I have eight rabbits ranging from eight years to a couple years old. They love eating their greens which I fed them only at supper and they have Oxbow pellets which are available but not as a main meal. The question is I have tried various types of hay and they will turn them all down. They appear to be healthy and the poops are normal coloring. Which type of hay could I try and they might actually enjoy eating?

Good question.  First off, I want to be sure you are limiting the amount of pellets you offer.  This is important not only from a nutritional and calorie standpoint, but also to ensure they have the appetite to eat other things.  Even great, amazing smelling hay is not likely going to get them as excited as pellets, at least not yet.  Good amounts of fresh greens are great.  

In terms of hay, I really believe that every one of these little ones likely has their own preference and taste choice even if they don’t realize it.  So, for that reason, I really like to offer a variety of species when offering grass hays.  I would start with selecting the highest quality hay you can find that is soft, green and has a good aroma.  Select a minimum of two types, such as timothy/orchard/oat/organic/etc, mix them in a plastic tub and offer them a large amount.  Each will react differently, but if we are limiting their pellet offering, they should be hungry and ready to try.  One other thought (that is not a likely cause, but still worth mentioning) is that I have seen rabbits not eat hay because they have underlying dental issues which are painful.  This is unlikely, as you have multiple rabbits, but something always to keep in mind.  As general advice, make sure your veterinarian provides them a complete oral exam during their yearly wellness checks. 

If they are still stubborn, I would try some tricks like grinding up their greens and mixing them in with the hay or even spraying a small amount of diluted low sugar fruit juice on the hay.  


Dr. Micah Kohles, DVM, MPA
Director of Veterinary Science and Outreach
Oxbow Animal Health