My Pet Is Destroying My Home: How to Deal With Chewing in Rabbits
There's no doubt that rabbits are wonderful and fun pets. They are sweet and affectionate, often goofy, and endlessly adorable. On the other hand, bunnies can – seemingly all of a sudden – begin displaying their more mischievous side and surprise you with their destructive behavior. They can begin chewing everything vigorously – baseboards, carpets, furniture, cables, curtains, plants… Anything goes! In addition to destroying your valuables, rabbits who chew things they are not supposed to are also putting themselves at risk.
Sadly, when faced with this behavioral issue, many owners simply give up and abandon their bunnies, which is devastating. Especially considering that correcting chewing in rabbits is certainly doable – some would even say it’s easy when you know what you’re supposed to do. Just arm yourself with a bit of patience and get to work!
Get to the Root of the Problem
Burrowing, digging, and nibbling on things are common and natural bunny behaviors. Dealing with them is just one of the common aspects of rabbit ownership. However, when these behaviors get out of hand and out of scale, it might be an indication of a bigger, underlying issue. Some of the main causes of overly destructive behavior are boredom, anxiety, loneliness, or even signifying your pet is in pain.
If the reason for your bunny’s gnawing tendencies is boredom, then enrichment is the fix! Introduce a new play area, new toys, and puzzles, and a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Create little burrows, nooks, and crannies for exploration – anything that can occupy your bunny and give them a chance to play and have fun. Once their time is occupied like this, chewing can become a thing of the past.
Your rabbit might be lonely, which is making them turn to bad behaviors, so try providing company as a solution. These are sociable animals that require a companion and plenty of quality interaction, and you might be working long hours – a bunny friend will definitely keep your pet on the right track and away from destructive behaviors.
Of course, another reason your pet suddenly started nibbling on your stuff could simply be that they need more hay in their diet. Increase the amount of hay you’re feeding and pair it with natural chewing toys – it can completely shift your pet’s focus from things that are not meant for chewing.
In case neither of these solutions helps, it simply might come down to hormones. If your bunny is not spayed or neutered, they can develop a lot of challenging behaviors, due to their strong hormones. It is recommended that all pet rabbits are spayed or neutered, so they can be the wonderful pets they are. If your bunny is not “altered”, this might be the reason for all that destructive chewing around the home.
Rabbit-Proof Your Home
To prevent this behavioral issue from causing any damage to your home or endangering your pet’s well-being, you’ll need to rabbit-proof your home. Protect electric cables with wire tubing, cover your baseboards with plastic guards, or simply fence off certain parts of the home. You should also provide chew toys and divert them from things that can’t be chewed. Once they accept the alternative and chew on approved stuff instead of your property, try rewarding this behavior with a treat. In no time, they will always go for the toys and leave the other things alone.
Remember, it’s not only the fact that your rabbit is making a mess that’s the issue – but they might also be harmed if they chew on something they are not supposed to, such as an electric wire, a toxic plant, or a snack you’ve left behind that happens to be poisonous to your bunny (e.g. chocolate or avocado). Keep everything that might be dangerous somewhere they can’t reach it, and protect things that are on their height level from those curious chompers.
Your best bet, when dealing with a rabbit that suddenly started chewing everything you own, is to rabbit-proof your home and try to get to the underlying problem that’s causing this issue in the first place. Restricting access to items that are not allowed to be chewed on will prevent any unfortunate scenario, from ruined charger cables to emergency vet visits, but it won’t help you solve the problem altogether. To eliminate this destructive behavior, you’ll have to find out what is triggering it – boredom, loneliness, diet issues, health problems – and treat the root issue first.
A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.
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