Having a pet bunny is often a joy, but one of the biggest challenges is curtailing a rabbit’s natural chewing instinct. With house rabbits, your beloved furniture, carpet, and your baseboards can become a target of their destructive energy. Plus, chewing the wrong things (like toxic wood or electrical wires) can be dangerous for your beloved bun. Rabbits can’t be trained out of this behavior, but there’s plenty of different options to try to protect your home and pet.
Why do Rabbits Chew?
A bunny’s teeth are always growing, so they have a natural instinct to chew and help grind them down. The act of eating pellets and hay helps wear down their teeth some, but rabbits need more chewing outlets to help keep their teeth and chewing urge in check.
In addition to their natural instincts, rabbits frequently chew because they are bored. Like all pets, they need plenty of interaction and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. If they’re alone most of the day or lack external stimulation (toys, playtime), that unused energy manifests in destructive ways. If you have a solo rabbit, some of that boredom can be alleviated by getting a second bunny to keep them company.
How to Stop a Rabbit from Chewing?
There are many techniques to try to prevent your bunny from chewing on furniture, wires, and other dangerous household items. You may need to use multiple techniques at once to keep your bun safe and your home undamaged.
Rabbit Proof Your Home
The first step is to make sure your home is “rabbit-proof.” Any area your rabbit has access to–whether they are free-range or hang out in a room for playtime–needs to be set up to protect your bun and your belongings. Dangerous items like electrical cables need to be out of reach or protected with a chew proof cord cover.
Block access to anything else that might tempt your bun. If furniture legs or baseboards seem like a tasty chew toy, use NIC cubes to build a fence to block access. You can use untreated pine boards fastened over baseboards or around the bottom of furniture to give a safe chewing alternative.
Learn more about how to rabbit proof your home.
Supply Plenty of Hay
Rabbits should have unlimited fresh hay available at all times. This not only allows them to graze as they need to throughout the day but gives them something to chew on. A rabbit will eat more than their weight in hay a day, so you can never offer them too much. If it seems like your rabbit is uninterested in the hay you offer, check it for freshness or consider offering another variety. Timothy hay is the most common option. (Check out the best hay for pet rabbits for more healthy hay ideas.)
Combined hay with enrichment by using it to create DIY toilet paper toys to help harness their distructive energy in a positive way.
Provide Plenty of Toys
Rabbits need toys to provide mental stimulation and a positive outlet for their chewing urges. Boredom will cause your rabbit to seek out their own activities, like digging your carpet or chewing on your china hutch. A variety of toy types will keep them engaged and stave off boredom. Toys made from rabbit safe wood and shreddable materials will offer a fun chewing alternative. Cardboard boxes and phone books are a cheap source of destructive fun for your rabbits.
Check out our favorite rabbit toys.
Spay or Neuter Your Rabbit
If your bunny isn’t fixed, make that one of your first priorities. It will not only help to lessen their chewing (unaltered rabbits chew more than altered buns) but improve their overall health. Female rabbits have a high chance of developing uterine cancer if they aren’t spayed. Plus spaying and neutering help with litter training your rabbits.
Rabbits don’t understand the word “no.” If you want to try to train them away from chewing on your furniture, try a little positive reinforcement. Once you know what type of feedback your rabbit likes most (treats, petting, verbal praise), use that anytime your rabbit is chewing on appropriate items like their toys or wooden houses. They will begin to associate that activity with the positive feedback and understand that it is good.
Use Chewing Deterrants
I’ve never had luck with this, but I offer it because some rabbit owners said it worked for them. Use a chewing deterrent spray to make your rabbit’s favorite chew spots unappealing. The most popular one is bitter apple spray. It’s supposed to taste nasty and thus deter your rabbits from chewing the item.
Test it out first on one item they like to chew and see what their reaction is. Some rabbits actually like the taste while others find it to be bitter, so make sure you know it works before you spray it around your house. You will need to apply it frequently to keep the deterrent going.