When you’re keeping your bunny happy with a steady supply of hay, it’s natural to wonder if there’s any risk of them picking up parasites or worms from their munchies. Good news: the chance of your rabbit getting worms specifically from their hay is incredibly low.
For hay to be a risk factor, it would need to be contaminated with feces, which can happen, but it’s not common—especially if you’re getting your hay from a reputable provider.
The main culprits for hitching a ride with your rabbit’s hay tend to be less about worms and more about pesky mites and fleas. However, even this is a stretch if you’re choosing hay from a source that maintains high standards.
Quality control in hay production goes a long way in preventing such infestations, so sticking to well-known brands can spare you and your rabbit unnecessary stress. Keep in mind that your rabbit’s overall environment and their interactions with other animals play a more significant role in the likelihood of attracting parasites or worms.
Important: This post contains affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Can rabbits get worms from eating hay?
It’s technically possible, but pretty unlikely for rabbits to get worms from eating hay. It is much more likely for a rabbit to get worms from eating grass from the lawn, or even from the leafy greens purchased at grocery stores.
Why is it so rare? Your rabbit can only get worms from hay if it’s been contaminated by fecal matter from an infected rabbit or other infected animal and the worms managed to survive long enough to be consumed by your rabbit. But this scenario isn’t very common, especially if you’re getting your hay from reliable sources.
Most hay, whether it’s in bales or bags, is generally stored according to high standards of cleanliness and health. This is especially true of reputable brands who rely on repeat customers.
Parasites that are slightly more common to pick up from hay are mites and fleas, but even this is not a normal occurrence by any stretch of the imagination. Rabbits are much more likely to get fleas or mites from other household pets, or from an outdoor environment. Again, this isn’t an everyday occurrence either, but it’s something to be aware of.
What brands of hay providers are high-quality?
The two brands that I trust the most for sourcing hay (here in the US) are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. Both of these brands adhere to strict quality standards and I have never come across a bag or box of hay from these brands that was infested with anything.
Oxbow hay is available in most pet stores. I believe this brand is available internationally as well, but I can only confirm the US market. Online, retailers like Chewy sell bags of Oxbow hay.
Small Pet Select is an online-only brand that has locations in the US and the UK. They specialize in hay and hay-based toys for rabbits and other small animals. You can use my code ‘BUNNYLADY’ for a 15% discount off your first order if you want to check them out.
How common is it for rabbits to get worms?
Worms in rabbits, especially domestic ones, are not common. However, you should be aware that pinworms are possible, especially if your rabbit has access to outdoor areas where other animals may have urinated or defecated. Pinworms usually don’t pose a serious threat to most adult rabbits due to their developed immune systems.
However, young rabbits might experience complications from pinworms. Their bodies are still fine-tuning their immune responses and digestion, making them more vulnerable to side effects if they accidentally ingest these parasites.
Large colonies of farm-raised rabbits make up most of the cases of worms in domestic rabbits. This is because dense populations can facilitate a quicker spread, turning these settings into potential breeding grounds for pinworms. So I really wouldn’t worry too much about your a pet rabbit, especially if they are mostly kept indoors.
Regarding tapeworms: these are less typical in rabbits but can still occur. Tapeworms need intermediate hosts, like fleas or foraging habitats, to infest rabbits. Keeping your rabbit’s environment clean and supervising its diet closely will significantly reduce the risk of tapeworms.
Remember, while it’s not a frequent concern, staying vigilant about your rabbit’s health and environment will help prevent these parasites. Keep an eye out, and maybe chat with a vet about preventative measures.
Other types of internal parasites that you should be aware of
Beyond the most common worms, there are several other internal parasites that could affect your fluffy friend.
- Coccidia: This is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestinal tract. If your rabbit is infected, signs may include diarrhea and lethargy.
- E. Cuniculi: A microsporidian parasite, Encephalitozoon cuniculi, can lead to serious conditions like head tilt, paralysis, and kidney disease. Many rabbits have contracted this, but live completely free of symptoms too.
- Cryptosporidiosis: Caused by Cryptosporidium spp., it can bring about mild to severe gastrointestinal issues.
These parasites can sometimes go undetected without obvious symptoms, so regular vet check-ups are essential. Since hay can be a carrier if contaminated, ensure it’s always clean and from a reliable source.
For specific advice on parasites and perhaps even treatment options, refer to trusted veterinary resources or medical documentation like these internal parasites of rabbits.
- Glen Cousquer. “Internal parasites of rabbits.” Vet Times. October 2008. Accessed: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/app/uploads/wp-post-to-pdf-enhanced-cache/1/internal-parasites-of-rabbits.pdf
Tips and Tricks Newsletter
If you are new to caring for rabbits, check out the Bunny Lady bimonthly newsletter. Right after you sign up, you’ll receive a FREE pdf rabbit care guidebook. I put together a guide that goes over all the basics of rabbit care so you have it all in one place. Then you will receive tips and tricks about rabbit care straight to your inbox so that you know you’ll be taking excellent care of your new rabbit.
Recommended Products and Brands
Important: These are Affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases.
The two brands that I use when buying food for my rabbit are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. These both have high quality rabbit products and are companies that care about the health of our small animals. If you are purchasing anything from Small Pet Select use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout to get 15% off your first order.
- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed