Did you know that just like children (and some adults), small animals can be picky eaters?
To help prevent your pet’s picky eating behaviour (also known as “selective eating”), it’s important to understand why they indulge in this activity in the first place.
WHAT IS SELECTIVE EATING?
Selective eating occurs when your small pet chooses to eat the tastiest but least nutritious tidbits from their food bowl, such as seeds and nuts, while often leaving behind the less appealing but healthier pellets.
As pet parents we try to feed them a healthy well-balanced diet, so seeing their picky eating habits in action can be more than a little bit frustrating. But your pet’s reason for doing so may have more to do with their natural instincts, rather than being choosy on purpose or simply not liking the food.
Small animals are naturally picky because they’re foragers — so this type of eating behaviour is hard-wired in their brain. In the wild, rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals wander around, exploring and searching for their food. To meet their nutritional needs — not to mention their energy requirements to help them outrun and escape predators — they instinctively choose the most calorie-packed foods they can find.
So, in nature, being a “picky” eater is a good thing since it plays a significant role in helping small animals to survive. And while domestic small pets may not have to worry about food scarcity or insecurity like their wild counterparts, the selective feeding instinct is still there. That’s why, given the choice, small pets will automatically choose the highest-calorie foods first.
WHY IS SELECTIVE EATING BAD?
If your small pet is “picking and choosing” – preferring to eat some of the food while leaving the rest behind — it could be a cause of concern because in doing so they might not be getting enough essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Mixed-based cereal diets are notorious for encouraging this type of selective eating since small pets often choose to ignore the nutritious pellets in favour of eating the fun but sweet, starchy, and less healthy ingredients.
Small animals are not meant to eat these types of ingredients on a regular basis. The high levels of sugar, starch, and fat found in these mixed-based diets are too much for their gastrointestinal system to handle. Over time it can lead to serious health issues such as vitamin deficiency, GI Stasis, bladder sludge, and urinary problems.
The good news? Preventing selective eating is possible.
HOW TO PREVENT SELECTIVE EATING
The best way to avoid selective eating is to feed your small pet an extruded pellet-based diet, since a mixed-based cereal diet just gives them the option of selecting which pieces of food they prefer.
Extruded foods, such as Living World Green Botanicals Rabbit and Guinea Pig Foods,combine all the nutritious, wholesome ingredients required for optimal health in one convenient pellet. This prevents selective eating, ensuring your small pet consumes a balanced diet and receives all the necessary nutrients, while minimizing waste at the same time.
And while a pellet-based diet may not promote foraging behaviour in the same way that a mixed-based cereal diet does, there are still some fun, easy and healthier ways to help support your small pet’s foraging instincts. Here are a few suggestions:
By choosing a pellet food that eliminates unhealthy selective feeding, and promoting foraging in healthy and enriching ways, you’re helping to ensure your small pet lives a long, healthy, and happy life.