Pet Rabbit Chewing is a Thing...

Pet Rabbit Chewing: Rabbits chew for the health of their teeth. Learn the dynamics of why, and how to ensure that household items stay off the menu.

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Do any of the following sound familiar??

  • My rabbit is chewing on the cage
  • My rabbit is chewing on the furniture
  • My rabbit keeps chewing the carpet
  • My rabbit keeps chewing on the cords, the cables, the wires
  • My rabbit is chewing the walls
  • My rabbit is chewing baseboards
  • My rabbit is chewing on the wooden hutch
  • My rabbit keeps chewing everything...

Pet rabbit owners find out very quickly that rabbits chew and chew… and chew… and chew… Do they EVER stop chewing??

The answer is: No! While the rest of the rabbit stops growing once it reaches adulthood, bunny teeth never stop growing. It is similar to fingernails on people. And like our fingernails, bunny teeth need to be regularly worn down and filed through gnawing to prevent injury and pain to its face. Chewing and gnawing naturally perform the wearing functions which is why rabbits have a constant internal drive to chew stuff.

Can I train my bunny not to chew?

No. You don’t want your rabbit to stop chewing. If by some miracle you could train your pet rabbit to stop chewing, it would quickly develop serious problems. It’d be great, however, if you could train it to chew on appropriate objects.

What will happen if my bunny doesn’t chew? 

Without chewing or gnawing, there is no control to how long the teeth grow. Because rabbit teeth are continually growing, it will soon develop a condition called malocclusion, also known as “wolf teeth” or "buck teeth."

It is possible for the front teeth (incisors) to become so overgrown that the bunny can’t eat or close his mouth properly. In this case, the rest of the teeth inside the mouth also wear improperly, possibly growing long and sharp, biting into bunny's cheeks and tongue. (If you’ve ever bitten your own cheek or tongue, you know how painful that is.)

This is why rabbits gotta do what rabbits gotta do, which is chew

So what will my bunny chew?

Rabbits will chew anything, and especially things that look and feel like the natural plants, grasses, straw and sticks that he would normally chew on out in the wild. Unfortunately, this does include shoe laces, window blind cords, clothing drawstrings, and power cords including phone charger cords. Besides making you crazy, chewing on electrical cords can also be very harmful (or fatal) to your rabbit.

Rabbits don't necessarily stop at the above items. They will also chew your walls (especially at the outward corners), your carpets, the baseboards, and the legs of your furniture. If your furniture includes priceless antiques... oops....

Preventing a Pet Rabbit from Chewing Wrong Items

Acceptable Pet Rabbit Chewing Options

Punishing a rabbit for doing what its nature requires it to do seems unkind and unwise.

Then how do I keep my bunny from chewing the wrong things? You can start by removing unacceptable options, giving acceptable options, and then give lots of gentle (but firm) positive reinforcement, including an occasional treat. 

Keep plenty of acceptable alternatives on hand. These can (and should) include:

  • Chew sticks and chewable rabbit toys are wonderful options to give your rabbit. Put one or more in each room the rabbit has access to. Raising-Rabbits offers some very delightful toys and apple-infused chew sticks that are healthy and non-toxic. They are listed below. You can also make homemade chewable rabbit toys from items found in your home.

  • Fresh grass hays, which are fibrous. Hay helps keep a rabbit's teeth at the perfect length, and has the additional plus of helping maintain a healthy digestive system. Note that hay is very low in actual nutrition and cannot be relied upon for survival. It is important to the rabbit mainly for its mechanical qualities, as described above. 

    Change out the hay at least once a week. Stale hay can taste like stale popcorn to your rabbit, not to mention the possibility of mold growth in old hay.

  • Fresh greens and/or veggies, which are delicious and palatable to a rabbit. They are also typically fibrous, and should easily distract a rabbit away from other unwanted chewing choices.

There may be more general ideas and pet-rabbit-owner feedback at this Binkybunny page.

If plenty of acceptable pet rabbit chewing choices are not readily available to the rabbit, such as fresh hay or attractive-to-the-rabbit toys, the likelihood goes up that your rabbit will taste test everything else around the house. 

Pet Rabbit Chewing Deterrents

Interestingly, one rabbit will LOVE some chewing choices you provide, and another pet rabbit of yours in the same house could care less, and will still go for the spicy hay.

This is where a rabbit chew deterrent might improve your rabbit's ability to more wisely choose his chews.... 

  • One nifty trick involves rubbing plain Ivory Soap on the areas that the rabbit finds most attractive, such as baseboards, table legs, and cords or cables. Heat a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave briefly till slightly soft, and then apply the soap to chewing temptations. The taste of the soap is bitter and unpleasant. Hopefully your rabbit is one that can be persuaded to chew toys instead of the baseboards.

  • Certain strong-smelling garden plants and herbs. Some suggestions found at the page are onions and garlic, which have strong odors, and marigolds, the smell of which seems to be very unpleasant to rabbits. The Gardenia website focuses more on pest rabbits such as cottontails IN the garden, however there are possibly some good ideas and takeaways for use in the home with pet rabbits.

  • Perfumes can be sprayed into corners and on baseboards and furniture legs, etc. The rabbit that loves to lick off the bitter spray might be completely turned off by strong-smelling perfumes. Or vice versa!

  • Bitter Chewing Deterrent Sprays...

Bitter Chewing Deterrent Sprays

Bitter Sprays taste terrible. Spray the areas that the rabbit targets for chewing; the hope is that the bitter taste will convince the rabbit to cease his destructive ways. Here are a couple very good Bitter Sprays:

Rocco Roxie No Chew Spray - Extra Bitter (#ads)
Bodhi Dog Premium Training Repellent (#ads)

Raising-Rabbits Chew Stix and Chew Toys 

Chew sticks and rabbit chew toys are perfect objects on which your rabbit can vent its compulsion to gnaw and chew! Raising-Rabbits has some great ideas for you below.

Raising-Rabbits Chew Stix

Hay is great, but why not also change up the chew objects for your rabbits.

Here and below are a couple wonderful pet rabbit chew toys: Raising-Rabbits Chew Stix, and Raising-Rabbits chew toys.

Raising-Rabbits Chew Stix are nature's blessings from the beautiful Washington State forests. Fresh alder branches are harvested from trees without chemicals, pesticides, or smog. Those branches are then hand cut down to bunny size portions, then infused with apple from Washington’s famous apple farms. The alder is perfect for rabbit dental hygiene, and the apple taste and smell will attract your bunny, saving your phone cords and your sanity.

Click here to Purchase Raising-Rabbits Chew Sticks.

Pet Rabbit Chewing Toys are also Ideal for Teeth

Apple-infused chew stix are great, and so are these rabbit chew toys! The toys can hang from the top or sides of a wire cage or hutch and provide variety to your pet rabbit's chewing activities.

The ones pictured below will provide hours and hours of chewing pleasure, AND entertain the rabbit as well.

Click Here to Purchase Raising-Rabbits Chewable Rabbit Toys

To learn more about malocclusion, how to spot it, and how to treat it once it happens, visit our rabbit teeth page. Plus you can check out The Rabbit Raising Problem Solver. (The very informative section on rabbit teeth starts on page 280.)

For more info on rabbit toys:

Our Pet Rabbit Care page suggests some great homemade rabbit toy ideas (see Tip #8). The Toys for Rabbits page offers additional insight regarding rabbit chew toys for teeth.

Enjoy your pet rabbits!

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