Rabbits like to chew and dig! It’s natural behavior and once they get started, it’s hard to stop without providing them alternate safe and fun activities. Bored rabbits become naughty rabbits. If you’re not around to talk to them as you prepare dinner, watch TV, or just read, your rabbit will become bored and resort to behavior that gets your attention – especially if it gets you really excited!
First of all, ensure your rabbit is spayed/neutered, as that will help those impulses to dig, tear, and chew up items to make a nest or mark territory. Then perform some simple bunny proofing of your home to make it safe for bunny, and to prevent damage of your furnishings and other belongings.
Below are some ideas for preventing or working around the various types of “naughty but natural” bunny behavior:
The first, and probably most important key to preventing damage to your home is: DON’T GIVE YOUR RABBIT UNSUPERVISED FREE RUN OF YOUR HOME. Give your rabbit a cage or pen, and provide a routine that allows them plenty of run time, but in a bunny proofed and supervised area. There is nothing sadder than to have someone return their beloved rabbits to us, after having them for a year or more, because their house has been destroyed and they refuse to limit the rabbits’ free run. This simple first rule is often the key to a happy bunny home.
Prevent Electrical Damage
To prevent the injury or death of your rabbit, be sure to protect all your light, power, telephone, and other cords. Not only will you lose the use of that appliance, your rabbit can get a nasty shock and if the voltage is high enough, could die from making contact with a live wire. Home improvement, auto supply, and computer accessory stores carry many different items to help you tie-up, cover, hang, and generally get cords out of the way.
Block Off Hazardous Areas
Prevent bunny from even getting near a multitude of electrical cords and other items, in your entertainment center, computer room, or garage. Keep doors closed, use baby gates, and block off entertainment centers. Don’t give bunny the chance to get into or behind these hazardous areas.
Move Plants, Books, and Heavy Objects
Take all your plants and move them up to a higher location where bunny cannot reach them. Many common houseplants are extremely toxic to rabbits and can cause death from poisoning. If the plant tends to drop leaves or blooms, move it to a room that the bunnies do not use.
Remove books from the bottom of bookshelves to prevent chewed corners and torn covers. Also, be sure to look around for heavy decorative objects such as vases, statuettes, etc., that may easily be knocked over.
Cover Carpets and Linoleum
Use carpet squares, tile squares, washable throw rugs, and other items to cover carpet corners, linoleum, or places where bunny has shown a desire to dig, chew, or eliminate. Also add an extra litter box or two while bunny is first venturing into new territory. This reinforces your litter training and helps to prevent accidents and a preference for the corner under your end table as a bathroom. If your rabbit exhibits a preference for a particular location, place a litter box in that spot.
This particular bunny home has a couple of voracious chewers, prompting these bunny parents to come up with some innovative ideas for preventing damage to furniture.
In this photo you can see how the homeowner created a special “box” to protect the chairs and close off access to the rabbits, keeping them from chewing on the wood frame and stuffing in the chair. Once tables, lamps, and other accessories are in place, hardly anyone even notices the chair protection.
Provide Safe and Fun Alternatives
Finally, now that you’ve said “No!” to just about everything your mischievous bunny might want, be sure to provide him with some safe and fun alternatives for chewing or digging.
For digging, give bunny an enclosed cardboard box with a hole cut in each end. Fill the box with hay or shredded paper and let him get inside and chew, dig, and shred to his heart’s content!
Give bunny an old phone book that he can rip, tear, and shred, to his delight!
Take toilet paper or paper towel tubes and fill them with hay or paper for chewing fun. You can also give bunny a variety of wicker baskets, chew rings, and hay-filled balls, to keep their busy teeth occupied.
Bottom line: keep your bunny active, happy, and spend plenty of time interacting with them so they don’t get bored. And be sure your bunny is spayed or neutered, to prevent destructive behaviors in the first place. Remember, an active bunny is a happy bunny!
Many thanks to Judith Pierce with San Diego Hours Rabbit Society for sharing her photos and this article she wrote with us!