There isn’t one single answer to how much a rabbit should weigh. It’ll vary between rabbits and is affected by the breed, age, genetics, diet, environment, and how active the rabbit is.
There is, however, a rough range that your rabbit should be in for them to be at a healthy weight. They can be overweight or underweight, and both can negatively impact their health.
Fun fact: Rabbits gain almost 90% of their adult body weight in the first four months of their life.
Is My Rabbit a Healthy Weight?
A vet will check three areas of your rabbit to assess their weight. This body conditioning scoring is better than a visual judgment since some breeds of rabbits have long hair that disguises the body shape underneath.
You’ll need to check the ribs, hips, and spine of the rabbit. The ribs are the easiest part to assess since the spine and ribs are only obvious in overweight or underweight rabbits. The scale is 1-5, with 1 being very thin, 5 being obese, and 3 being an ideal weight.
If you’re worried about your rabbit’s weight, check with a vet for further advice.
Generally speaking, to check your rabbit’s weight:
- Ribs: Apply gentle pressure behind your rabbit’s elbows. This is where you’ll notice if there are any changes in body fat. If your rabbit is overweight, you’ll have to apply more pressure to find their ribs. If they’re underweight, their ribs will feel sharp and pointy.
- Hips and pelvis: Underweight rabbits will have a flat or concave rump, and their pelvis bones are sharp easy to feel. While overweight rabbits will have convex rumps and it’ll be difficult to find their pelvis bone.
- Spine: Ideally their spine should be softly rounded – if it’s sharp then they’re underweight, and if it’s hard to feel then they’ve probably overweight.
Why Should I Monitor My Rabbit’s Weight?
It’s important to keep an eye on your rabbit’s weight to ensure that you’re feeding them the right amount and that they’re getting enough exercise.
Though their weight will naturally fluctuate, anything more than a few pounds without an obvious cause (like missing food or being stuck in their cage) then it’s a sign of a health issue.
A vet can let you know if you should be worried about your rabbit’s weight and can advise you on food portions and what their balanced diet should include. If you notice a problem, it would be a good idea to keep track of exactly what they’re eating, how much they’re moving, and what their weight is (if you have a way to weigh them).
What If My Rabbit Isn’t a Healthy Weight?
If your rabbit’s weight isn’t right (and it isn’t a result of a medical issue) then you can make some changes to help them get it under control.
A balanced diet for a rabbit includes:
- Hay: They need an unlimited supply of fiber-rich hay.
- Fresh vegetables: A variety of vegetables will give your rabbit all the nutrients that they need.
- Pellets: A bowl of store-bought pellets to top up their diet.
- Treats: Once or twice a week your rabbit can enjoy a treat like a slice of apple, two teaspoons of melon, or similar rabbit-friendly fruit.
- Water: Every rabbit needs plenty of clean, fresh, drinking water.
In addition to a good diet, rabbits need space and time to run around and stretch their legs. By letting them play in your secure yard, in a playpen, in your house, or however you can do it, a few hours a day is needed for rabbits to be active.
Wild rabbits usually forage for the food they need and are significantly more active than domesticated seeing as they’re digging warrens, searching for food, escaping predators, and together needing to be more active.
An overweight rabbit will not only be more likely to suffer from obesity-related health issues (like heart disease, liver disease, or arthritis) they’ll also struggle with grooming, developing skin conditions, and struggling with movement.
To remedy this, you could cut back on pellets and treats, increase exercise, and monitor them so you can track their healthy weight loss journey.
You should never stop feeding your rabbit, they need to be eating regularly to prevent GI Stasis.
And if you have male and female rabbits that haven’t been neutered, there’s a chance that extra weight gain could be pregnancy!
An underweight rabbit might be dealing with depression, an underlying illness, or not be getting enough food. In some cases, a rabbit living in a group might not be getting their equal share – which is something you’ll need to monitor and perhaps introduce feeding separately.
To help a rabbit gain weight, you could speak to a vet on what food is best to give them. Usually, this will involve extra hay and pellets for a short time. If it’s an issue with their mouth, there’s softer food that will be easier for them to chew.
Unfortunately, some rabbits will lose weight due to the aging process and loss of muscle mass. There isn’t much to do here, apart from perhaps supplementing their food.
If your rabbit has a drastic weight loss in a short period of time, it’s a huge red flag that there’s something wrong. The best thing to do here is to get in touch with a vet. The earlier that a vet can figure out a problem, the better the chances are of recovery with treatment.