Rabbits are sweet pets, but sometimes their behavior isn’t so sweet. They can be downright destructive. I suggest you learn what causes this kind of behavior in your rabbit. In fact, people ask me all the time why their pet rabbit is destructive. Why is my rabbit destroying everything?
Are Rabbits Destructive?
It often surprises rabbit owners when their cuddly pet rabbit becomes destructive. It’s hard to figure out what’s going on with your rabbit, but usually boredom causes destructive behaviors. Here is a list of typical destructive behaviors your rabbit might display:
Chewing the wrong thing-A rabbit’s teeth grow their entire life. They must chew to keep them well trimmed. They also chew because it’s a pleasurable experience for them. If a rabbit has enough hay, she will chew all day on it. Inside rabbits are curious, sometimes they nibble on things inside they shouldn’t, so you might need to rabbit proof your house. Destructive chewing, because of boredom, is harder to deal with. This chewing occurs when your rabbit stops chewing her hay or toys, and instead chews on the wrong things such as furniture, her cage or carpeting.
Digging-Rabbits dig or burrow instinctively. Outside rabbits, when bored, may dig near a fence or beside her hutch. But an inside rabbit, if bored, will at the carpet making holes in it. Or they may dig at a pillow or another item in your home. Destructive digging can cause lots of damage inside your house, so it’s good to offset your rabbit’s boredom.
Overeating-When your rabbit gets bored, she’s more apt to overeat. If you leave out food for your rabbit, she’ll eat it if she has nothing else to do. Rabbits need a healthy diet filled with hay, leafy greens, vegetables and a bit of fruit. Pellets are high in carbohydrates. If you feed your rabbit pellets, choose a good quality kind of pellet, one made up of primarily timothy grass meal. The pellets should have only 14% protein and no animal fat. Rabbits are herbivores so they can survive on just hay and fresh vegetables plus plenty of clean water.
Over grooming-Rabbits naturally groom themselves several times a day. When your rabbits gets bored, she might start to over groom getting too much fur in her mouth. When she swallows the fur, it can form into a hairball in her gut, which is dangerous. Giving your rabbit extra hay can help prevent hairballs.
How Can I Help My Rabbit Be Less Destructive?
If your rabbit is bored, it can lead to destructive behavior. There are several things that you can do to help keep her busy.
- Homemade toys-Give your rabbit toys such as cardboard tubes, small boxes, or pinecones to entertain him.
- Bought toys-There are many rabbit toys on the market. Wooden chew balls, soft tunnel to climb through and even a tall scratching toy made of seagrass and corn leaves can keep your rabbit busy.
- Hay-Provide your rabbit with lots of hay every day. She should eat her weight in hay every day. Put the hay in a hanging hay rack so your rabbit easily reach it.
- Bed-Give your indoor rabbit a little space of her own like a piece of carpet or seagrass mat under a sofa or behind a bed.
- Play-Create a cardboard box obstacle course for your rabbit to run through in your living room. If your rabbit lives outside, play with her in your backyard. Set up a play area for her to run around in and graze on the grass.
- Buy another rabbit- If your rabbit is bored, she might need a rabbit friend. Owning two rabbits can help give stimulation and activity your pet rabbit might need.
- Stuffed animals-Some rabbit owners give their rabbit a stuffed animal.
- Digging box- Make your rabbit a digging box. Get a cardboard box fill it with torn up paper used for gift baskets. Rabbits love to dig around in these.
How Do I Bunny Proof My House?
Having a pet always involves making adjustments to your home. If you keep your pet rabbit inside, you must bunny proof to prevent future headaches for you. Here’s some basic bunny proofing suggestions for your home.
If you have carpeting in your home, your rabbit might chew it making holes or tears. If you can’t remove the carpet, keep your rabbit in one room. Choose a room that doesn’t have carpet, like the kitchen. Put her cage or bed in there and block off the other rooms so she can’t get to the carpeting. Most non-porous flooring like linoleum, tile or laminate is easy to clean and safe for your rabbit.
Rabbits like to chew on wooden baseboard. It’s best to keep your rabbit out of rooms with baseboard. But if you can’t do this, you can make baseboard protectors out of wood with hinges to cover the baseboards. Some rabbit owners have put short pieces of wooden fence pickets on the baseboards attached with removable adhesive strips. Other owners suggest leaning plastic baby gates along the walls to prevent your pet rabbit from chewing the baseboards.
Wooden doors are easy targets for your rabbit to chew. They like to chew the bottom edges. You can put on a kick plate which attaches to the bottom of the door. Use baby gates to keep your rabbit inside one room.
Electrical cords are dangerous for a rabbit to chew. Your rabbit can get shocked or burned or even electrocuted from chewing on these wires. Remove all electrical cords so your rabbit can’t reach them. If you can’t remove the electrical cords, you can protect electric cords with cord protectors made of PVC or corrugated plastic tubing. Use baby outlet covers in electrical outlets so your rabbit doesn’t try chewing on the outlet.
Rabbits like to chew furniture legs. They also like to chew the upholstery in the back of a sofa or chair. Protect your chair legs with plastic tubing upside down flower pots or bed risers so your rabbit can’t reach them. Put sheets of plastic on the backs of your chairs where your rabbit likes to chew. The best option is to keep your rabbit out of rooms with wooden or upholstered chairs.
Plants are also dangerous for your pet rabbit to chew. Remove all plants from the floor or low areas of your home. Many plants are toxic for rabbits. Even the safe plants aren’t good if your rabbit digs in the dirt and makes a mess.
How Can I Tell If My Rabbit Is Being Destructive?
Sometimes a rabbit learns to use bad behavior to get attention for her owner. Or she might spray urine on carpet or chair, to establish her dominance or express her annoyance at her owner. Rabbits get upset by a change such as moving her cage, a new person moving into the household or if you’re trying to litter train her. Your rabbit will let you know is she doesn’t like what you’re doing. If you’re sure your rabbit isn’t bored, but she’s still showing destructive behavior, you might examine whether there’s something upsetting her.
Should I Discipline my Rabbit?
If your rabbit is destructive you may need to disciple her. Never hit your rabbit or yell at her in an angry voice. She won’t understand why you’re yelling. Plus, she might be afraid of you if you yell or hit her. If you must discipline her, here are some things you can do.
Say No!-Rabbits aren’t like dogs, they don’t learn to obey on command. But saying, “NO, to your rabbit is you catch her doing something, can get her attention.
Squeal-If your rabbit nips you, you can squeal to let her know it hurts. She may look at you weird or be slightly irritated at the sound you made, but she’ll notice.
Stomp your foot-Stomping your foot will get your rabbit’s attention. In the rabbit world, stomping your foot is a warning sound.