How Many Days Can a Rabbit Go Without Hay? {What Is GI Stasis?}

Sometimes I run out of hay for my rabbits and need a day or two to pick up some more from the store. How many days can a rabbit go without hay?

Is hay absolutely necessary for a rabbit’s diet? What happens if my rabbit doesn’t eat hay? I’m wondering if rabbits can survive on just pellets.

I have restocked on hay and will write this article to help anyone else who is also wondering, “How Many Days Can a Rabbit Go Without Hay?”

How Many Days Can a Rabbit Go Without Hay?

Hay is an essential staple food for a healthy rabbit. They should not go 12 hours without eating some hay. Rabbits graze and nibble without overfeeding on hay.

GI Stasis is a terrible condition that inflicts rabbits who do not eat a healthy diet of hay and greens. It slows the passage of food into their gut and alters their digestive bacteria.

A rabbit can survive 3-4 days without eating hay or any other food, but they could become ill or die suddenly from malnourishment and starvation.

What Happens if I Don’t Give My Rabbit Hay?

Not giving a rabbit hay deprives them of a staple diet that balances their gut bacteria and keeps them healthy. It’s cruel to forgo hay.

There is enough evidence to suggest that rabbits can live without pellets, but do not get rid of hay. A rabbit’s intestinal functions depend on it.

A physiological change to their gut bacteria can occur resulting in a potentially fatal condition known as GI Stasis.

How Often Do Rabbits Need Hay?

Rabbits should be supplied with an endless supply of hay. When their stores of hay in their enclosure are running low, simply top it up.

You can design your hay distribution for your rabbit in several ways. You can set up hay containers, dispensers or simply keep it out for your rabbit to relax on or graze at will.

One bundle of hay per day is about the right size, but your rabbit will let you know when the hay is running low depending on his or her appetite.

Can You Have a Rabbit Without Hay?

A rabbit cannot survive without some hay or grass to supplement its diet. You can try to defy the odds and be the exception to every rule by focusing more on healthy greens and pellets instead, but hay is crucial for its fibrous material and overall intestinal health of a rabbit.

The digestive system of a rabbit is sensitive and the bacteria within can become altered without hay. This could result in illnesses such as GI Stasis or lethargy.

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Can Rabbits Survive on Just Pellets?

A pellet based diet will not provide your rabbit with the full macros and micronutrients to keep your favorite little friend healthy and full of vitality.

Keeping rabbits as pets is already a new adaptation for these creatures who have grown accustomed to it, but drastically altering their staple diet of hay is not recommended.

Include veggies like leafy greens and always keep hay stocked in their enclosure to promote healthy intestines and digestive tracts to prevent illness and discomfort.

How Much Hay Does a Bunny Eat per Day?

The size, age and activity of each rabbit varies and these are major determiners of how much hay a rabbit should eat.

  • 13 ounces of hay are usually consumed per week, per 2-3 pounds of body weight.
  • Rabbits usually eat 5% of their body weight in hay each day. 

What to feed a rabbit:

  • A bundle of hay should be supplied each day.
  • 1-3 cups of leafy greens
  • ⅛-¼ cup of pellets
  • Carrots or fruits as weekly snacks 1-3 times a week.

Your rabbit will graze on hay throughout the day and nibble on the rest of the food you provide.

What Do You Feed Rabbits When Out of Hay?

When you suddenly run out of hay, like I did, you can focus on giving your rabbit 10-20% of its total daily diet consisting of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables. You can supply your rabbits with the following foods:

  • blueberries
  • arugula
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • endives
  • carrots and carrot tops
  • apples
  • dark leafy vegetables

Please try not to go more than 12 hours without giving your rabbit hay. If it’s necessary to wait a day or two until you receive your next supply of hay, focus on leafy greens as a fibrous substitute.

How Often Should I Change My Rabbits Hay?

Hay serves as a staple food and a comfortable bedding at the same time. Look into your rabbits living space and see if the hay is moist, discolored or soiled.

Change the hay every 2-3 days regardless and keep it fresh for your rabbit. Add more hay into the dispensing area or your chosen delivery method to make sure your rabbit is enjoying copious amounts of hay each day.

How Many Days Can a Rabbit Go Without Water?

Rabbits need to drink daily. 24 hours without water is the absolute limit, but it could be fatal for your pet if the weather’s hot and dry. A steady supply of water is essential along with an unlimited supply of hay to graze on each day.

A rabbit will die without drinking water for anything longer than a day and it will be stressful to go through any period of dehydration without replenishment.

What is GI Stasis?

GI Stasis refers to Gastrointestinal Stasis when the food your rabbit is eating doesn’t move quickly enough in their intestines. This happens when a rabbit runs out of hay.

The gut can be impacted and the physiological changes in gut bacteria can prove to be fatal. Very small fecal droppings, constipation, stinky poop, gas pain and bloating are some of the first signs of GI Stasis in rabbits.

We hope you can keep a steady supply of hay to avoid GI Stasis and we wish the happiest and healthiest days for your rabbit to enjoy with you.


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.