In 14 years of owning rabbits, there is one thing I’ve found to be constantly overlooked: Salt.
Think about it – how many times have you seen salt or mineral licks in stores and been assured that it’s not necessary for rabbits? I’m raising my hand right along with you.
Until last year.
One of my Holland Lop does was drinking excessively every single day. She was otherwise healthy, eating well, normal bathroom habits, etc. She had been like this since the day I bought her, so I just figured it was normal for her. Then, one day out of curiosity, I gave her a salt lick. That all stopped. She now drinks an average amount, same as everyone one else at Oak Ridge.
So what changed?
Every living being (that I know of) needs salt to survive. It’s an essential mineral that is included in many of the foods we eat and also in the foods we give our animals. Because of that, many people say that rabbits do not require excess salt when they’re eating a “complete” feed.
Theoretically, this makes sense. However, since adding mineral licks to all of my cages a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed quite a few of the rabbits using them regularly.
If you’re undecided on the issue, here are a few cases for offering salt or mineral licks:
Salt stimulates thirst. This is especially important in the summer months to increase water consumption.
Inadequate salt in the diet may cause water intake to decrease, increasing the risk of digestive impaction or dysfunction.
Milk production declines in lactating does that experience salt deficiency.
Grazers (horses, cattle, rabbits, etc.) are more prone to salt deficiency. Especially if you are a pet owner who feeds a low pellet or entirely pellet-less diet, you should offer loose salt or a salt lick to your rabbit.
When we crave salt, it’s because our bodies need it to function. Rabbits are the same way. Some of my rabbits hardly touch their salt licks. Others use them regularly.
For many years, I didn’t offer salt to my rabbits. But it’s a supplement I’ll definitely be offering from now on. Salt and mineral licks are available at most pet or feed stores for a very low cost, and I don’t anticipate that the rabbits will go through them very quickly. I picked up a box of about 25 licks for under $5. It’s a small expense to ensure your rabbits are getting all they need.