For some reason I was discussing children with my receptionist – she has 2, I have none. I discovered that she followed a similar practice to my mom. You didn’t have to eat the food that was served to you, but neither she nor my mother were willing to make anything special. I fondly remember foraging in the kitchen from a young age.
Our pets can be like young children – frustrating to feed. You do have to stay on top of them, learn what they need and figure a way to get them to eat it! Many of our exotic pets are “concentrate selectors”. That is, they pick out all the yummy stuff first and move onto the nutritional stuff later. In the wild, this works great. In the home, not so good.
For many rabbits, guinea pigs and reptiles, all you have to do is offer them the correct mix. There are rabbits who prefer the pellets to hay – maybe the hay is stale, or they’d rather have oat hay than timothy…but for some, the nutrient rich pellets just are more yummy. The key is not to allow them to control what you are offering. If you’ve let your bunny eat nothing but pellets for years, you may not be able to get them back onto hay.
…and always, there is no such thing as too much hay!
Birds are a little different. They are very smart – sometimes it feels like you’ve got a toddler on your hands. But they can’t make cognitive leaps. If they haven’t been offered a food previously, they may not know that it is food. This is why you never just change the diet “cold turkey”. We’ve seen birds starve to death because their food dishes appear to be filled with rocks.
It’s a good plan to make sure your bird is healthy prior to working on a forced conversion to pellets. Modifying the diet can be stressful and the last thing you want to do is turn a mild self-limiting illness into a problem requiring a doctor’s intervention.
Check out our diet recommendations at Bay Area Bird Hospital for recommended food types, brands of pellets and conversion recommendations.
Don’t give up! Getting your pet onto a healthy diet is the single more important thing you can do for their long-term health.