Rabbits love to chew.
So much so that they’ll even eat paper like it’s a treat!
You begin to worry about what’ll happen to their teeny-tiny insides.
Is it a cause for concern?
Keep reading to learn more:
- Why do rabbits munch on paper?
- Whether it is safe for them to eat it.
- 3 dangers of eating paper in bunnies.
- 5 tips on how to stop your rabbit from eating paper.
- And a lot more…
Can rabbits eat paper?
Rabbits shouldn’t eat paper. Eating small amounts won’t do them any harm. But when they eat too much paper, it can lead to intestinal blockage and stomach pain. As a general rule, try to keep paper away from your rabbit as much as possible.
Why do rabbits eat paper?
Rabbits eat paper due to hunger or boredom. If they don’t have access to hay, they’ll resort to munching on paper as an alternative. Rabbits are more interested in playing with paper rather than eating it. They might eat it if they lack physical activity.
4 reasons why rabbits eat paper
#1: They’re hungry
It’s rare for rabbits to chomp down on paper because they like it.
They do it because their tummy is growling.
A hungry rabbit will sink their teeth on anything they can grab and bite. This includes shredded paper bits and cardboard pieces.
Make sure to give your rabbit plenty of fibrous foods like fresh hay and green, leafy vegetables.
Fiber is an important part of a rabbit’s diet. It helps them digest food and makes them feel full for longer.
#2: They lack stimulation
“Hey hooman, notice me!” *nibbles on paper bits*
Rabbits are social creatures.
They love interacting with their owners and enjoy being petted. When a rabbit is left in isolation, they feel stressed and depressed.
A rabbit nibbling on paper is one sign that they’re bored or lonely.
Your rabbit should spend a couple of hours outside of their cage every day. This allows them to interact with you and their environment.
According to this study, rabbits need to exercise to maintain their cardiovascular health.
Their bodies are fit for physical endurance. This means that rabbits will find ways to stay active throughout the day.
So let your rabbit loose and give them a little bit of lovin’.
That way, they won’t have to resort to eating paper to entertain themselves.
#3: They love to chew on things
Take a moment to observe your rabbit.
What do you notice?
Nom.. nom.. nom…
That’s right. Rabbits love to chew! It’s a natural behavior for these little creatures and they enjoy it as part of their daily activities.
The problem is that they’re willing to nibble on paper and cardboard as well.
A rabbit’s teeth are continuously growing. To keep their pearly whites in good shape, they need to chew often
Note: Chewing files down a rabbit’s teeth. If they don’t chew often, their teeth will grow longer and longer. That’s not good for your rabbit’s dental health.
You might also like: Why does my rabbit chew everything?
#4: They have gastrointestinal issues
Research reveals that rabbits with poor diets suffer from gastrointestinal issues.
Also, specialist vets have observed that when a rabbit feels sick, they’ll start to eat unusual things.
As a result, your little munchkin may feel inclined to chew on paper to relieve their condition.
You can tell a rabbit is experiencing gastrointestinal problems when:
- Their stomach appears bloated.
- They look stressed/dehydrated.
- They don’t pass enough stool.
- They’re constantly in a hunched position.
When you notice the above symptoms, take your rabbit to an experienced vet.
Reading tip: 19 Alarming Reasons Why Rabbits Shake + 13 Important Tips
3 dangers when rabbits eat paper
Eating paper puts a rabbit at risk of constipation.
Their digestive system is designed to break down natural foods and plant materials.
Keep in mind that paper is not edible. While a rabbit may not suffer immediately from constipation, they will feel sick.
When your rabbit is constipated, they’ll look tired and lethargic. They’ll also lose appetite and refuse to eat food in 24 hours.
Also, make sure to observe the frequency of your rabbit’s stool.
If they don’t poop regularly throughout the day, it’s a clear sign they’re constipated.
“How can I normalize my rabbit’s bowel movements?”
The first thing you should do is take your rabbit to a veterinarian.
The specialist will conduct an x-ray. This will give you a clear picture of what’s going on with your rabbit’s digestive tract.
Depending on the rabbit’s condition, the vet will prescribe medication. The goal is to lower gas production and remove any bacteria present in the intestines.
#2: Intestinal blockage
Intestinal blockage refers to a physical obstruction in a rabbit’s intestines. This happens when the mammal consumes too much foreign material (i.e. paper or cardboard).
“Mommy, I’m in pain!”
This creates an impacted mass that makes it difficult for your rabbit to pass stool at all.
As a result, they will experience severe abdominal pain and eventually collapse.
Intestinal blockage is a serious medical condition. Failure to pass stool for long periods can prove life-threatening in small mammals.
According to PetMD, motility drugs work great for intestinal blockages. These medicines encourage muscle contractions and promote bowel movement.
In case non-invasive measures don’t work, your rabbit will need to undergo surgery. After the impacted mass is removed, your rabbit will recover in a few days.
Check out also: Can Rabbits Eat Cardboard? 3 Dangers, 5 Reasons & 3 Tips
#3: Behavioral problems
The phrase “you are what you eat.” not only applies to humans, but to rabbits as well. Their food intake has a huge impact on their health and behavioral development.
When you feed a rabbit with low-fiber foods, they get hungry fast. Without anything to eat, rabbits get bored.
And when they do, they may develop bad habits that stem from boredom. Aggression, biting, and chewing are some examples of such behavioral issues.
A good diet will keep your rabbit healthy and prevent bad habits from developing.
Specialist vets in the British Rabbit Council highlight the importance of proper nutrition.
Contrary to popular belief, carrots aren’t the main food source for rabbits. Carrots are high in carbohydrates. When your rabbit eats too much of it, they may experience GI problems.
Stick to dietary foods like hay and vegetables. Focus more on feeding your rabbit with fiber and protein and limit carbs as much as possible.
If you notice that your rabbit is eating too much paper, it’s likely due to poor diet.
How do I stop my rabbit from eating paper? 5 tips
#1: Feed them regularly
Make sure your rabbit is well-fed daily.
Their diet should consist of 80% hay along with a mixture of fresh vegetables and fruit.
Treats should be given to your rabbit sparingly. While they do have a sweet tooth, feeding your rabbit with excess treats can lead to obesity.
Hydration also is important for your rabbit. Give them plenty of water to drink for the whole day.
Use a shallow ceramic bowl as a water container. Change the water daily and clean the bowl three times a week.
“What foods should I not feed to my rabbit?”
You want to avoid feeding your rabbit with seeds, nuts, and corn.
Their tummies aren’t built to digest hard foods, so stick to fiber-rich sources.
According to PetMD, rabbits should also avoid foods that are rich in carbohydrates. Some examples are cereals, crackers, and bread.
These foods can upset the balance of bacteria in a rabbit’s stomach. Gastrointestinal problems may also occur due to excess carbohydrates.
#2: Keep them active
Just like any other animal, rabbits need to exercise.
Physical activity helps keep rabbits busy. A bored rabbit is more likely to nibble on paper than one that’s running, jumping, and digging.
PSDA recommends at least 3 hours of exercise per day for pet rabbits.
Free them from their cage and let them explore the great outdoors. Just make sure their play area is safe from potential predators.
Watch this video to learn more on how you can keep your rabbit active:
To keep them engaged, give your rabbit a couple of toys.
Chew balls, whisk brooms, and wicker baskets will keep your pet entertained for hours.
You can even make rabbit toys out of toilet paper rolls and cardboard boxes. Building a maze is also a great way to enrich your rabbit.
#3: Interact with your rabbit
Rabbits are social animals, and they love spending time with their owners.
And just like humans, rabbits get bored and lonely.
When they do, they’ll seek stimulation from other things like chewing on paper or cardboard.
That’s why physical interaction with your rabbit is important for their health. They need stimulation from their owners just like they need exercise.
“But my rabbit doesn’t like to cuddle in my arms!”
Unlike cats or dogs, rabbits tend to get a bit nervous around humans. Why? Because they’re prey animals.
Small mammals interact with their environment differently. Humans appear gigantic to rabbits, making you look like a predator in their eyes.
You want to let your rabbit come close to you. Let their curiosity draw them near your presence.
Always pick them up under their belly, making sure to scoop their legs as you do so.
The last thing you want to do is pick your rabbit up by the eye-level as this will scare them.
If your rabbit is hesitant to come near you, try placing a few treats around you. Rabbits love foraging, and this will help them feel more comfortable in your presence.
#4: Use other materials to line your rabbit’s hutch
Many rabbit owners use paper to line the hutch of their beloved furballs.
If your rabbit makes a habit of chewing through their cage’s lining, then you need to use new materials.
You want the material to feel comfortable to your rabbit whilst capturing mess at the same time. Some alternatives to paper include:
- Clay litter.
- Woven mats.
- Wood shavings.
Observe for a few days and see how your pet feels.
If they’re still nibbling through the lining, you can use feeding hay for your rabbit’s enclosure.
Hay offers good insulation for your rabbit. It’s also the most natural-feeling material to them, making it ideal for replacing paper.
#5: Keep paper away from your rabbit
Some rabbits nibble on paper more than others. If your tiny furball loves eating paper, then you need to keep it out of their home as much as possible.
Remove all forms of paper, cardboard, and newspaper from their environment.
Whether they’re inside or outside of their cage, there should be no paper in their sight.
You can still let them play with paper toys. They’re less likely to nibble on them as long as their core needs are met.
Can rabbits eat paper plates?
Rabbits can’t eat paper plates. Their stomachs can’t digest paper, let alone plates that contain aluminum foil.
Any type of paper plate is unsafe for your rabbit. The materials used in paper plates are not meant to go inside a rabbit’s digestive tract.
If you plan on using paper plates to feed your rabbit, use ceramic bowls instead.
Can rabbits eat paper towel rolls?
Rabbits can’t eat paper towel rolls, but they can chew on them.
Cardboard rolls, especially the thick ones, are great for wearing down a rabbit’s teeth.
It’s not harmful to a rabbit to ingest cardboard in small amounts. But still, it isn’t recommended as cardboard is not part of a rabbit’s diet.
Can rabbits eat paper with ink?
Rabbits shouldn’t eat paper with ink. While a piece of paper itself isn’t toxic, it’s the ink in the material that can cause poisoning to your rabbit.
This is especially true with newspaper ink that contains harsh chemicals. Lead, ethanol, and propanol are dangerous to rabbits when ingested.
While some types of ink are made of organic pigments, you can never tell when ink is non-toxic.
It’s better to lean on the side of caution and not let your rabbit eat paper with ink.