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Rabbit Chewing Causes and How to Stop it

Rabbits

Rabbit Chewing Causes and How to Stop it

Does your rabbit chew on everything including walls, cages, wood, hutches, furniture, carpets, wires, bedding, wallpapers and so on? Learn some of the best ways to stop this destructive behavioral problem.

Chewing is one of the necessary, normal as well as highly enjoyable rabbit’s natural behavior just like digging, marking, grooming and cecotrophy. These animals can chew both food and non-food items they may encounter as they enjoy their various tastes and textures.

Adolescent and younger bunnies tend to chomp more than older ones because of among many reasons, the older ones know tastes of many things [1] while the young ones are still curious and exploring. Also, the younger ones are still energetic. 

Rabbit chewing
Rabbit chewing

Always, unneutered rabbits tend to chew more than those that are neutered besides having other behaviors such as being more aggressive, territorial, digging more, and so on.

Furthermore, not giving your bunnies enough amount of hay or things to chew may also be a trigger to this destructive behavioral problem. Also, boredom, frustration, stress, and not getting enough attention can be other possible causes. 

Finally, do not underestimate the ability of these pets to rip, tear, chew, shred and destroy anything they come across. They can cause a lot of damage, risk their health if they ingest some harmful things they may be munching or cause other hazards.

Benefits of a bunny chewing

Although it can turn destructive especially if your rabbits chew on everything including their hutches, cages, wires, furniture, carpet, and so on. It has some benefits that include:

  • This behavior helps wear down their ever-growing teeth and it will prevent other dental problems.
  • Psychologically, it is enjoyable and fun. Therefore, it will help reduce boredom
  • It will help them have strong jaw muscles which are necessary for this pet to masticate their food more easily and effectively.
  • It indicates “often intelligent, outgoing, affectionate individuals who like to be in charge and get lots of attention.” [1]

How to stop rabbit chewing behavior

Whereas it has benefits, there are some obvious downsides of this habit, especially if it happens to some non-food things as some of them might be unsafe, get damaged or be hazardous including poisonous home plants, electric codes, corners of baseboards, wallpapers, bedding, wooden wall, car wires, carpets, and so on.

Here are some of the ways to prevent this habit which you can adopt.

1. Bunny-proofing and strong barriers

Bunny proofing your house may help reducing the chewing and digging habit especially if it is too destructive. When doing so, you need to ensure the barriers you create are both strong or high enough to limit access to your various valuables.

This will include things such as things such as using thick plastics or bubble wraps to cover wooden furniture legs, removal of loose carpets, using gate barriers among other ways.

2. What can I give my rabbit to chew on?

If you notice your rabbit chewing on anything you do not want him or her to, consider offering him or her an alternative thing and block whatever he or she was chewing strongly so that your bunny will not see it as a challenge.

When providing something else, ensure it has a similar or better texture than what he or she was trying to nibble. Also, the item must be safe – nonpoisonous or toxic as well as not cause intestinal blockages if ingested. Some good  items will include:

Commercial chew toys

  • Peter’s Woven Grass Ball and mats
  • Rosewood Boredom Breaker Small Animal Activity Toy Chill-n-Chew Mat
  • Willow Branch Ball for Small Animals by Ware Manufacturing
  • Kaytee Perfect Chews for Rabbits
  • SunGrow Natural Seagrass Ball

Homemade chew toys

  • Untreated and unfinished baseboard
  • A pierce of scrap carpet or an old towel – be careful as it may cause intestinal blockages if ingested. 
  • Cardboard filled with straws or hay.
  • Pinecones – dried and untreated
  • Safe twigs and sticks such as apple branches
  • Allowing your rabbit to chew wood and cardboard is ok. However, avoid pine and cedar wood as they are not safe for these pets.
  • Unlimited hay

These are just but a few items you can give to your furry friend. If you need to try other on alternatives, ensure they are safe

3. Rabbit anti chew spray and the use of vinegar to stop rabbit chewing

Another way to stop this habit is the use of a deterring substance. This will include things such as spraying your various valuables. Some of the anti-chew sprays include bitter apple spray such as Grannick Bitter Apple Spray or you can try chilly oils, to make whatever your bunny was nibbling less appealing. You need to use these sprays regularly.

Before using them, ensure the various sprays you plan on using are safe and only buy them from your local pet store. Your vet may help you decide on which ones will be effective. 

Also, some people use vinegar spray as a safe spray to stop their bunnies from chomping everything. 

However, some bunnies may not mind the taste of sprays and vinegar. Besides, they may dig on your carpet, sofa, clothes, bedding. etc., causing damages.

4. Training them and have patience

Since these pets are trainable, you need to train them not to chew everything in your house. If you see them gnawing what he or she is not supposed to, say ‘NO’ and clap your hands, and immediately offer or show him or her an alternative thing to chew.

Have patience and keep repeating this until your bunny stops the eating stuff you do not want him or her to. He will associate this behavior with your warning and stop it.

Also, use ‘timeouts’ such as putting him or her into a cage or hutch for some minutes when this behavior crops up. Do this continuously until he or she learns to associate the ‘timeouts’ with the bad chewing habit.

Finally, consider rewarding techniques such as letting him out of the cage, giving him or her treats, and so on everytime your bunny chomps what is designated for him or her. Do not punish this pet as it will only worsen things.

5. Consider other boredom busters

Enriching your pet’s life with other toys including the tunneling, digging, logic among other things will reduce boredom which is associated with this habit.

6. Neutering and spaying

Since sex hormones can aggravate this bad habit, consider neutering and spaying your bunnies unless you want to breed them.

Sample cases and management

Besides the general ways to stop this habit in your bunnies, here are a few cases and how you can stop the behavior.

1. How to stop rabbit chewing carpet and furniture

Sometimes your bunny may keep gnawing your expensive wooden furniture or carpet, couch, car upholstery and so on. When they do this, you will often find holes on especially on the backside of your sofa, gnawed wooden edges, and some may also dig on these items at the same time.

Consider implementing the various ways we have already discussed. Additionally, you could also consider covering them with chew-proof material such as carpet plastic runners (which will also protect your carpet or sofa from urine), a thick piece of fabric, and so on, if you do not want to create barriers and the other ways seem not effective.

2. How to stop rabbit chewing wires

These pets can chew wires, codes, and cables including those in your house, car wires and so on. Besides damaging them, they may cause other hazards including fires or be electrocuted.

  • Avoid electrical cords even protected ones in areas accessible to these pets. This is the surest way to prevent this problem.
  • Alternatively, consider chew proof, pet safe codes such as the Chewsafe Cord Cover or pranovo 30 ft Pet Micro Cord Protector Cable.

3. Rabbit chewing cage and hutch bars

As we earlier mentioned, this is a natural behavior. However, if you notice your bunny chewing cage bars or heir hutch, it could be due to the various triggers we have mentioned including frustration, congestion, boredom, hormonal issues, feeling restricted from their territory and so on.  

On how to stop rabbits that are chewing their cage, consider proofing, provide them with boredom busters, changing routine such as letting them play when they are most active as they are likely to try to chew their hutches at this time and alter the housing such as attaching a playpen, and so on.

Disclaimer

All the information and other materials contained on this website are for informational purposes only and not intended to substitute consultation, advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed professional or veterinarian. disclaimer

We are a group of animals and pet fanciers and experts knowledgeable on most pets including dogs, rabbits, cats, fish, reptiles, birds, among other home pets.

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