Rabbits should not go more than 12 hours without food. This can be life-threatening for them. If you own a rabbit, you must give it a constant supply of food and water.
If you have a pet rabbit or a whole family of rabbits living in your home, you will know that rabbits are very sensitive creatures and need to have special requirements for them to survive.
Rabbits are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so they must be kept in a properly sheltered environment, and their food must be really taken good care of.
What Happens When Rabbit’s Don’t Get Food For Long?
Rabbits have a very underdeveloped gastrointestinal system as compared to humans and need to eat constantly to keep it functioning optimally.
If rabbits are not given food for too long, then their digestive system experiences a condition called G.I. stasis or gastrointestinal stasis.
This means that their food moves very slowly along their gut or almost becomes stagnant.
This results in pain, bloating, and lack of appetite in the rabbit. Once they lose their appetite they starve themselves even more, making the condition even worse.
Eventually, causing the rabbit to die within 3-4 days after first losing its appetite.
What Is G.I. Stasis?
G.I. stasis is a condition in which the digestive system of a rabbit slows down and it causes the stomach to get rid of all of its moisture.
This causes the food to become stuck in the gut, and its passing along the intestine is extremely difficult, causing bacteria to develop and build up.
Bacteria break down food and release gas, causing an accumulation of gas inside their stomach.
This can be extremely uncomfortable and can cause excruciating pain and bloating.
This can result in the death of the rabbit. If it is immediately recognized and treated quickly, then there is a chance that you can save your rabbit by ensuring that this condition does not occur.
You must maintain a regular feeding time for your rabbit and always make sure that there’s something that the rabbit has to munch or graze on.
What Are The Symptoms of G.I. Stasis?
Here are the signs and symptoms to watch out for if you suspect that your rabbit might be suffering from G.I. stasis:
- Lack of appetite
- Not drinking water
- Small, loose, or ill-formed stool
- Inability to pass stool
- Straining and looking uncomfortable
- Rabbit experiencing abdominal pain
What Are The Causes Of G.I. Stasis?
The following are causes of G.I. Stasis along with starvation:
- A diet that lacks fiber and carbohydrates
- Not drinking enough water
- Dental pain
- Long-term use of antibiotics
How Can G.I. Stasis Be Prevented?
G.I. stasis is not a common condition and can easily be prevented by maintaining a regular feeding routine for your rabbit.
You can portion control but offer frequent meals.
How Long Before A Rabbit Dies From Starvation?
Rabbits will get sick around 12 to 14 hours after starvation. Once G.I. stasis begins, the rabbit will only live for another three or four days, after which it will die.
If you notice that your rabbit has lost their appetite and is unable to eat more food, you must visit the vet and get help immediately. With urgent care, you might be able to save your rabbit, and it may recover from its illness.
It’s always best to keep the 12-hour mark in your mind, and assume that a rabbit cannot go past 12 hours without food.
What Do Rabbits Like To Eat?
Rabbits are herbivores which means they have a completely plant-based diet. They can live on grass, and they enjoy eating fruits and vegetables.
It’s a good idea to measure their food according to their weight in pounds to make sure they are getting the correct amount without the risk of overfeeding them.
Rabbits need about 2 cups of vegetables for 6 pounds of body weight. Along with that, they should have access to grass which they can graze on while they’re playing outdoors.
If you notice that your rabbit is becoming a little obese, then you can limit the amount of fruits or sugary food your rabbit takes. Rabbits like to eat leafy greens, carrots, bok choy, hay, and grass.
Your rabbit should ideally have access to food and water 24 hours a day. You can limit the amount of food but be sure to offer it frequently.
Do Rabbits Drink A Lot Of Water?
Rabbits are not very fond of water, mostly because they don’t like the way it smells and tastes.
But, their water dish must be cleaned and filled with fresh water throughout the day.
Without water, rabbits can become dehydrated, and it would be harder for their food to move along their digestive tract.
If your rabbit suddenly starts drinking a lot of water, this is not considered normal. This could be a cause for concern.
Since rabbits don’t enjoy drinking water, this could signify an underlying health condition.
They may be dehydrated, suffering from kidney disease, liver disease, or diabetes.
If your rabbit feels warm to the touch and is also drinking excess water, it might be overheating, and you must take them to the vet.
Can Rabbits Overeat?
Yes! Some rabbits can most definitely overeat. Some rabbits don’t know when to stop and may eat as much as is kept in front of them.
This is also not healthy for your rabbit and should be monitored.
It’s best to proportion the food, limiting sugary foods and food that is high in fat content, such as nuts.
But it is important to remember to keep offering frequent meals.
Should Rabbits Be Allowed To Graze?
If your rabbits are young and otherwise healthy, they should be allowed to graze and play.
Grazing allows food to move continuously through the digestive tract and keeps the stomach hydrated.
This prevents the stomach from over-drying, which causes G.I. stasis to develop. The longer the rabbit goes without food, the drier its stomach will get.
A dehydrated stomach will not be able to move food along the tract and can cause serious problems in your rabbit.
It is an excruciating condition that can easily be prevented by offering frequent meal.
What to Do If You Are Travelling?
If you are about to leave town for holiday or work, then it is best to leave your rabbit with somebody who can feed it and give it fresh water.
You can also invest in an automatic feeder, which a rabbit can operate with a collar around its neck.
Every time it wants food, the feeder will dispense out pellets. But this should only be used for a short break.
The Bottom Line
Rabbits are adorable little fuzzy creatures; if you have ever owned a rabbit, you would know how sensitive they are.
Rabbits must be well looked after as they have very weak immune systems.
They must be kept in a properly sheltered environment, and their food and water must be well taken care of.
Rabbits cannot survive long without food, and unlike bears, they do not hibernate in the winters.
Rabbits need a constant supply of food and water; otherwise, they can suffer from a dangerous condition called G.I. stasis which can cause rabbits to die.
This can easily be prevented by maintaining a constant supply of food and water for your rabbit.
But it must also be ensured that they are given balanced nutrition with enough carbohydrates and fiber.
Too much sugar and fatty meals can also be dangerous for your rabbit as it can cause them to become obese.
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