Have you tried almost every trick up your sleeve?
But still, your little bunny can’t get their teeth off on stuff they shouldn’t be chewing?
Well, you’re not alone.
Being destructive is one of the common problematic behaviors in rabbits.
And to stop this, you should also understand the main reason behind it.
So, what are those?
And how can you put an end to their excessive chewing?
Read on to find out:
- 23 easy tips to stop a rabbit from chewing everything.
- How you can ‘bunny-proof’ your place and electric wires.
- The real reasons behind this problematic behavior in rabbits.
- When you should start to be concerned about this chewing issue.
- Whether it’s possible to train your bunny not to chew certain things.
- And so much more…
Why does my rabbit chew everything?
Your rabbit chews everything because of boredom. They might be isolated for so long. Or they lack enough space to roam around. But if they’re the only bunny in the house, they may be lonely too and need a companion. However, this could also be an instinct. And it’s done to keep their teeth healthy.
How to stop rabbits chewing – 23 tips
#1: Upgrade their environment
Do you know what’s the main reason for inappropriate chewing in bunnies?
Rabbits are clever and active. So if they’re left alone in their hutch most of the time or have nothing better to do…
They’ll resort to chewing.
Because why not? It’s fun and entertaining.
But, they’re not aware of its consequences – especially to us parents!
If we humans tend to grab a snack or watch Netflix when boredom hits…
Bunnies can go as far as chewing the bars or digging their cage. As well as munching on electric wires or furniture legs.
And these are certainly not a great way to relieve stress.
So, what should you do?
You can start with improving their living environment.
#1: Provide hiding places
When rabbits are afraid or need a time-out, they’ll hide.
They’re prey animals too so it’s a natural instinct. So, if you want your bunny to feel safe and less stressed, give them places to hide.
These could be as simple as plain cardboard tubes or boxes with many holes (with at least 2 entries). Or an old toy house that’s large enough for them.
Warning: Be careful of cardboards as your bunny may chew them as well. Make sure to only use plain ones. As boards with staples and prints can cause harm to your rabbit when ingested in large amounts. Also, replace the cardboards if they’ve been soiled too much.
Learn more: Can Rabbits Eat Cardboard? 3 Dangers, 5 Reasons & 3 Tips
#2: Put platforms
It’s also normal for bunnies to seek higher places. These are their ‘look-out’ areas. Which let them scan the surroundings for potential dangers.
Although your pet rabbit doesn’t have to worry about predators inside your house…
They still have this drive.
So, provide a platform for them that they can climb. Like a strong cardboard tube with a flat roof or a wooden crate.
#3: Place a nice chewing mat
If you’re using cardboard as a base for your bunny’s cage, you can try this natural woven mat instead.
Besides that it’s comfy to lie on, rabbits can chew it as well. And it could also satisfy their burrowing and foraging instincts.
#2: Give them sufficient space
Another way to stop rabbits from chewing their cage is by giving them enough place to roam.
Your bunny is bored and they want to get out. So they bite the bars of their hutch out of frustration.
What to do?
Bunnies’ houses need to be spacious.
They love to hippity-hop and move around. And you don’t want to deny these things from your furry friend.
For this, you can attach a ‘run’ to their cage.
The hutch will be their bedroom or sleeping area. While the run is like a playground or an extra space where they can hop around.
Experts recommend at least 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m) of total area.
But if they’re outdoors, here’s a DIY example that you may follow:
Note: If they’re in an indoor enclosure instead, ensure that it’s at least 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m) big.
#3: Leave them entertaining toys
Improving your bunny’s place will require more time and effort.
So if you’re looking for an instant trick to reduce their chewing, give them some toys as well.
These will keep them occupied. So they’ll be less inclined to chew anything they see.
“What toys can I give to my rabbit?”
According to the RSPCA, bunnies also have their preferences. But usually, most of them love:
- Stacking cups.
- Natural chew toys.
- Old soft cotton towels (without any loose strings).
- Treat balls (put some yummy snacks inside and voilà!).
Don’t give all the toys to your bunny at once. This is because they can get tired of them easily.
Especially if they play with the same things over and over again.
So, only assign a few pieces of toys for this week. Then, only bring out the others if your bunny seems bored of their old ones.
Note: Ensure that there are no sharp edges or tiny parts in the toys that your bunny can swallow. Also, check if they’re made with safe, non-toxic materials. Like willow and hardwood.
#4: Let them forage in an acceptable manner
You’ll notice that rabbits search for food most of the time.
They’ll munch here and there. And this instinct is deeply engraved in them.
So if they started chewing everything they find in the house, it could also be due to this drive.
Although it’s best to encourage bunnies to forage…
They shouldn’t do it on your belongings and furniture.
What to do?
To redirect their attention, put hay or treats inside:
- Hanging baskets.
- Plain cardboard boxes or tubes (take note of the warning earlier!).
#5: Provide digging spots
Being destructive is also linked to a rabbit’s burrowing instincts. And this is mostly seen in ‘does’ or female bunnies.
It’s also normal behavior. So putting an end to their digging will be impossible.
But, you can manage it.
By giving them a nice burrowing area. To take their focus away from your rugs and carpets.
It can be a shallow planter or an old sandpit. Then fill it with hay, grass, or soil.
You may also wonder: 15 Weird Reasons Why Your Rabbit Digs On You + 11 Tips
#6: Play with them every day
Rabbits are social animals too.
So no matter how many toys you provide them, nothing still beats a good quality time with you.
And the best way to give this is by simply playing with your bunny.
To initiate play, just get to your rabbit’s level and sit on the floor with them.
But make sure that the playing area is free from any stuff that they must not chew.
Now, most of them like a game of:
- Knocking things over: Let them nudge stacking cups on the floor. Or plastic bowling pins.
- Reserve fetch: In this, they’re in-charge of the throwing and you’ll be the one picking up the toys instead.
- Tug of war: If they’re chewing a piece of cardboard, gently pull it away from them. Like a game of tug of war. But, be careful and don’t pull so hard.
- Stealing treats: Get a fruit or vegetable that they love. Have some bites and hold it down so that your bunny can also munch on it. Hold it firmly as they’ll try to steal it from you. They shouldn’t eat too much of it so keep it away when they had enough.
Note: Keep their playtimes short (at least 10 to 20 minutes per session). And do this twice or thrice a day. Also, watch your bunny and let them rest if they seem tired.
Don’t forget to check out: Why does my rabbit headbutt me? & Why does my rabbit climb on me?
#7: Give them places to explore
One more reason why rabbits chew their cage is that they want to explore.
They’re curious fluff balls so they enjoy investigating stuff.
However, this curiosity may also get out of hand. Especially if they’re bored too.
So for this, give them hiding places (like the ones I mentioned earlier), such as:
- Sturdy pet tunnels.
- Plain cardboard boxes with holes.
- Foldable play tunnels (for dwarf rabbits).
Note: These would certainly add excitement to your bunny’s life. And they may become less interested in their cage, baseboards, and electric wires.
Check out also: 13 Weird Reasons Why Your Rabbit Follows You (Everywhere)
#8: Let them out (but with caution)
Research shows that house rabbits who mostly stay indoors usually lack vitamin D.
It’s important in calcium absorption. So a lack of it is linked with dental diseases. As well as weakened immune systems.
This is why letting your bunny play outdoors can be of help too.
Because it prevents boredom chewing and also has health benefits.
Before letting your rabbit outside, make sure that:
- The area is enclosed.
- The weather isn’t too hot.
- There are no predators or other animals nearby that’ll scare them.
What to do?
- Provide a secure outdoor run: So that they can move freely and safely.
- Ensure that the place is hazard-free: The lawn must be from pesticides and fertilizers. As well as poisonous plants.
- Give them a shaded area: Rabbits tend to overheat when exposed to too much sunlight. So, provide a cool place where they can retreat. As well as a bowl of water.
“How long should they play outside?”
PDSA says that rabbits need at least 3 hours of playtime in a large area.
Note: Don’t leave your bunny outside unattended. Always supervise them. Then check their feet and bottom for any parasites before bringing them inside.
#9: Alter their daily routine
Now, once you’ve included playtime in your bunny’s schedule…
Take note of their energy levels as well. Then adjust their routine based on them.
Typically, rabbits are most active at dusk and dawn. So early mornings and evenings are ideal for playing.
“How does this help?”
Letting your bunny out during their active hours can help lessen their pent-up energy.
By doing this, they’ll be able to release any tension in their body before they go back inside. So this may stop rabbits from chewing their cage.
And based on their energy levels, they mostly sleep in the afternoon. So playing with them during those hours won’t be of much help.
Interesting fact: Are bunnies nocturnal or diurnal? Well, it’s neither of the two. Because one study says that rabbits are crepuscular. Meaning, they sleep through the day and night. But they’re most awake during sunset and sunrise.
#10: Make time for cuddles
Bunnies need some lovin’ too.
Yup. This is because petting can also help reduce their stress or anxiety. And it’s also a great bonding time.
So this could calm your bunny and prevent them from unnecessary chewing.
However, rabbits are prey animals. So most of them will be uncomfortable getting picked up.
Now, if your rabbit isn’t used to petting yet, read these reminders to make sure you won’t scare them away:
- Before touching them, make sure that they’re aware of your hands.
- Avoid approaching them from the front. (This could frighten them!) So do it on their side or above their head instead.
- Safe places to touch first are their forehead and back of their ears. While areas to avoid are their bottom, chest, chin, feet, and tummy.
- If they seem comfortable with the petting, slowly move to their back. They may be stunned at first. But as you go on, they’ll not mind it anymore.
Note: If you have an older bunny, they might prefer this over long hours of playtime. This is because as they age, they tend to become less active and cuddlier.
#11: Give them more hay
Aside from boredom, another reason for this problem is the lack of hay.
Since rabbits’ teeth grow continuously, they need to trim them regularly. And the best way to do this is by chewing.
Now, based on experts, bunnies require at least 1 bundle of fresh hay every day.
So, if your furry pal starts chewing other things, check their stock of hay first. As they might need a refill.
#12: Consider buying a rabbit repellent spray
Does your bun love chewing the furniture? As well as any wood they see like skirting boards?
If so, you may also apply some rabbit anti-chew spray on their favorite areas.
It’s usually a bitter apple spray formulated for pets. And it’s available online and in most pet shops.
This comes in a pump spray. Plus, it has an unpleasant taste. Which might discourage your bunny from chewing.
Note: Just follow the instructions in the packaging. And re-apply it when necessary.
But, if you want a safe spray that’s readily available at your home…
#13: Use white vinegar as an anti-chew spray
Just pour a small amount of it on cotton or a sponge. Then damp it lightly on areas that need some protection.
“How does vinegar stop rabbits from chewing?”
Vinegar has a strong smell and bunnies hate it.
Its scent is one of the many things they dislike. Along with ammonia, garlic, and crushed red peppers.
“Is it safe for rabbits?”
Yes, vinegar is completely safe for bunnies when ingested.
In fact, most fur parents use this as a cleaner. Because it’s safe for animals to lick. Which is better than products with harsh chemicals.
Note: Keep in mind that anti-chew sprays can only do so much. They might not be a permanent solution for your problem. Some rabbits could tolerate its bitter taste. And lick it off like it’s cake icing. While others may become immune to it in the long run.
Because of this, make sure to…
#14: Do some bunny proofing in your place
If sprays aren’t your best weapon…
Why not prevent your bun from chewing your stuff in the first place?
We always say that prevention is better than cure. So what if there’s no stuff that your rabbit can munch on?
Wait. I’m not telling you to clear all of your things.
What I mean is rabbit-proof your furniture and other belongings.
This will keep your bunny and things safe. And you’ll also set them up for success as they won’t be tempted to chew anything.
How to stop rabbits from chewing skirting boards and furniture?
You can use:
- For carpets: Laying a ceramic tile, old mat.
- For furniture: Couch protectors, small socks.
- For edges: High quality shipping tape (not scotch tape), corner guards.
- For wall corners & baseboards: Wire grids, wood planks, ceramic tiles, cat scratch boards.
Note: It’s not 100% guaranteed that your bunny would stop chewing on things. They may find and move to a new spot. So, inspect your areas regularly and take quick action.
#15: Protect your cords
While you’re on it, don’t forget to also keep the wires in your house safe from your bunny.
Electric cords are even more dangerous for them.
So, how can you stop rabbits from chewing wires?
You can simply tuck the cords out of your bunny’s reach.
But to be safe, use a PVC tube or wire molding as well. So that you don’t have to worry about any exposed cords.
Other alternatives are:
- Flex tubing
- Garden hose.
- Floor channels.
#16: Limit their designated area
One easier way to stop rabbits from chewing everything is by restricting their area.
This means, don’t let your bun roam freely around the house. Or until they’re not yet trained enough to have a free run.
“What should I do?”
You may install baby gates in places you don’t want them to access. Or you can put up metal grids or exercise pens instead to serve as barriers.
Also, if you don’t want them to go under your bed, covering the opening with wood planks will also help.
#17: Catch them on the act and divert their attention
Now, aside from rabbit proofing and providing toys, you can also teach your bun not to chew everything.
“Really? Can I train my rabbit not to chew?”
Well, let’s be clear first.
Yes, bunnies are smart and trainable.
Barbara Heidenreich, an animal trainer, encourages parents to do this. And she also says that it’s a great way to discover your bunny’s personality.
But this being said, you can’t stop their chewing behavior completely.
It’s an instinct. Plus, they also need to do it to trim their growing teeth.
However, you could tone it down.
Whenever your bunny chews something they shouldn’t, simply clap your hands. Or say their name and tell them “no.”
You don’t have to raise your voice while doing this. (You’ll be scaring them off with your tone!)
Just say those words firmly. Then distract them with their favorite toy.
#18: Use positive reinforcement
“What does it mean?”
You may have heard about this already. But as a recap, it means using rewards to encourage good behaviors.
I know that this chewing issue can be so frustrating. However, no matter what, never scold or hit your rabbit.
Punishments won’t do any good for them. These will only cause fear to your buddy. And you don’t want them to lose trust and be afraid of you.
Studies show that positive reinforcement training a.k.a. PRT causes zoo animals to interact more. And it also reduced their aggressiveness.
While one research found that dogs who underwent negative reinforcement were often anxious.
So to prevent this, always remember that your bunny doesn’t know that they’re ‘being bad.’
This will help you calm yourself a bit.
Then if they stopped after telling them “no,” give your buddy a small treat. As well as some cuddles or praises.
It’s their reward for being a good boy/girl.
So make sure to always do this whenever they’re chewing the right thing. Or if they’re behaved and not munching on anything.
This is to encourage their good behavior. And discourage them from inappropriate chewing.
#19: Put them in a time-out
If your bunny doesn’t stop chewing your stuff after distracting or rewarding them…
Give them a time-out instead.
“How will I do that?”
- When they’re showing unwanted behavior, place your bunny in their cage or pen.
- Don’t give them any attention for 1 to 2 minutes (or until they calm down).
- If they stop, quickly reward them.
- Then be consistent.
Note: Doing this will help you control your temper. Plus, this will also help them learn that fun ends when they chew things besides their toys.
#20: Rule out any medical conditions
We’ve talked many times that it’s natural for rabbits to chew a lot.
But sometimes, if it’s done too much, this could also be due to pain.
For example, a rabbit who grinds their teeth loudly is often a sign that they’re unwell.
So, watch your bunny closely. And look for other signs of illnesses, like:
- Weepy eyes.
- Being withdrawn.
- Excessive drooling.
- Changes in appetite.
- Abnormal fecal output.
- Biting you all of a sudden.
Note: Consult your vet at once if your furry friend shows some of the symptoms above.
But, you may also…
Check out this article: 21 Effective Tips To Treat A Sick Rabbit At Home (How-To)
#21: Consider spaying or neutering them
Did you know that destructive behavior in bunnies can also be due to hormonal changes?
Yup. The House Rabbit Society says that they tend to do this when they’re sexually mature.
But, there are more ‘does’ who display this behavior. Compared to ‘bucks’ or male bunnies.
“When is the right time to spay or neuter a rabbit?”
As per VCA Hospitals, it’s usually done when they’re around 4 to 6 months old.
“Are there any benefits from this?”
Again, according to VCA, there are many. And they’re as follows:
- Makes them calmer.
- Prevents unwanted pregnancy.
- Lessens chances of reproductive cancers.
- Reduces other problematic behaviors (e.g., urine spraying, mounting).
Note: Check with your vet before doing this. For you to know if your bunny’s at the right age and condition to undergo surgery.
#22: Get them a bunny companion
Does your bunny have another rabbit for company?
If not, it’s also likely that they’re doing this out of boredom and loneliness.
Since rabbits are social animals, they crave interaction. So if they’re alone all this time, they may resort to unwanted behaviors.
This is why experts recommend having at least 1 more friendly rabbit in the house.
Before you go and adopt another fluff ball, here are some reminders:
- A neutered male and a spayed female are ideal.
- Get a go-signal from a vet or an animal behaviorist first.
- Pick one that is similar in size and age to your house bun.
- Slowly introduce the new rabbit to your old one. Monitor them and do it in a place that’s new to both of them.
#23: Offer them something acceptable to chew on
Lastly, given the fact that you can’t stop rabbits from chewing…
You may just give your bun another object to chew. Rather than letting them munch on wires. As well as wooden furniture.
But, make sure that it’s 100% safe.
Aside from hay, you could also give them some:
- Kiln-dried pine firewood.
- Clean branches (e.g., apple, willow).
- Alfalfa cubes (maximum of 2 small cubes a day).
Be patient and good luck! 🙂