If you own a bunny, then you can relate to walls, tables, and all sorts of other items of your home that you didn’t think could be gnawed on, chewed.
However, you may see your bunny chewing something and wonder, “Can my bunny chew on this?” I know we asked the same questions ourselves as our bunny Groot made her way from item to item.
Bunnies can chew on cardboard, wood, and many other items you may have around your house. While it may seem like they are hungry, it is in fact to trim their teeth.
Bunnies will chew close to everything in your house. But not all items should be left for your bunny to chew as some can be dangerous.
Why Do Bunnies Chew?
Bunnies chew on many different things as they love to explore with their senses of taste and feeling texture, to build up the muscles of the jaw, and because it’s a form of fun.
Related: Can My Bunny Eat Popcorn?
Further, your bunny needs to constantly chew to wear down their sharp teeth. It can also be a way of getting attention from their humans if they are bored. Especially when they are chewing on things they shouldn’t be like the walls.
A bunnies teeth grows all of their life hence the need for constant chewing. If they don’t chew or stop chewing, then their overgrown teeth can cause your bunny pain and they should be taken to the vet. Not all chewing is equal though and chewing something that is too hard may result in chipping teeth.
Your bunny may also be chewing on items around your home if they are bored and lack mental stimulation. It’s important to provide them with a variety of chew toys or if you have a small yard, let them outside to explore.
Our bunny loves to be outside and will spend hours exploring, digging, and chewing on things. By the time she comes inside, she is too tired to start chewing on things she shouldn’t.
Another reason why your bunny might be chewing on things they shouldn’t is they are hungry. Be sure to provide unlimited fresh hay and depending on your bunny’s age, the appropriate amount of pellets and vegetables. See our article “What Can My Bunny Eat and Not Eat” for more information.
What Is Safe For My Bunny To Chew On?
Your bunny should be given things to chew on that won’t harm them. Your bunny needs a constant supply of hay to eat which also counts as a safe option for your bunny to chew. Here are more safe options:
- Toilet paper rolls
- Cardboard boxes
- Paper bags
- Untreated wood (certain types)
- Untreated willow, apple, and maple twigs
- Pine cones
- Grass objects
- Straw objects
- Sisal objects
What Isn’t Safe For My Bunny Chew On?
- Non-plain cardboard
- Wood (certain types)
Can My Bunny Chew On Cardboard
Cardboard boxes are our bunny’s favourite chew toy.
Luckily for us, cardboard is made from cellulose which is a plant fiber.
The majority of your bunny’s diet is made up of this substance through the plants that they eat. Some bunnies will just chew the box to pieces leaving a heaping mess, while others will chew up a box with nothing left to be found!
Is this an issue for your bunny? It depends on the cardboard. Untreated, uncoated cardboard is fine for bunnies. Sometimes the cardboard boxes you receive in the mail with your packages are extra chew toys for your bun.
You can also use toilet rolls or paper towel tubes. These are untreated and contain no chemicals so are perfect for your bunny to play and chew on. They are also readily available at home so there are no extra expenses on your end.
Pro Tip: cut holes in the side of your tubes and stuff hay inside. It now becomes a more enticing toy for your bunny and they get the added benefit of chewing hay and throwing the toy around.
If you want to really spoil your bunny, you can make a cardboard fort and provides a quiet, dark space for them to relax in as well as giving them a large chew toy.
There are some cardboards which you should make sure your bunny avoids. These being:
Inks and dyes – cereal boxes and other printed cardboard boxes should be avoided. Ink and dyes can be toxic to your bunny and if your bunny is chewing the cardboard, they are also likely ingesting it.
Sometimes, your bunny may find their way to boxes with inks on them. Our bunny loves to chew the edges off of our monopoly board game box. In small quantities, it doesn’t seem to be an issue so don’t be alarmed and think you have to take your bunny to the vet if they chew a small amount of dyed cardboard. Just monitor them to see if they are showing any signs of distress.
Glue and tape – the sticky residue from these are bad for your bunny’s teeth. Also, you don’t want your bunny ingesting these sticky pieces as they can potentially cause blockages in the intestinal tract.
You may find some toys at your local pet store actually use glue to put the chew toys together. Try to avoid these as your bunny would rather chew cardboard boxes than these carrot-shaped toys anyway.
Foil – some cardboard containers have a foil layer to keep food or drink fresh. Juice cartons and takeaway containers are the most common culprits. Your bunny should avoid foils at all costs. Metal won’t digest and may cause some intestinal damage.
While your bunny’s diet is made up of mostly plant fiber, cardboard doesn’t provide any other nutrients for your bunny. If they eat too much cardboard and start eating less of their hay, greens, and pellets, then caution should be taken with giving more cardboard to your bun.
Instead, try placing more hay boxes around your home or wooden chew toys they can shred with their teeth.
Can My Bunny Chew On Wood?
Wood is a great chew toy for your bunny’s teeth as it is much stiffer than cardboard. You’ll find your bunny will either shred the outside of the wood or completely destroy it. Logs, sticks, and twigs of these woods are safe for your bunny:
Some woods aren’t safe for your bunny and the general rule of thumb is to avoid wood from trees that produce fruit with large pips inside (aka stone fruits). These being:
Woods that have been treated are poisonous for bunnies and can lead to liver damage. These woods are high in phenols and include cedar and untreated pine wood.
Some pine treats have had the majority of these phenols removed, but it is still recommended to avoid them. Especially when you have so many other options.
Your bunny should also avoid elder and oak tree branches. They have naturally occurring cyanide in them, and while in small quantities, can still be fatal to your bunny.
You’re better off buying wood and knowing what type it is rather than picking up branches from your backyard unless you are certain you know what kind of tree they come from.
Our favorite wood toy for Grooty is this Wooden Bridge (link to Amazon). There is also an extra-large version for adult bunnies (link to Amazon). It doubles as a little shelter and a stiff chew toy. It can be also used as a bridge into your litter box if the lip on your tray is very high.
Can My Bunny Chew Carpet?
Carpet quickly becomes a bunny’s favourite part of the house. Their digging instinct kicks in and they’ll try to burrow their way in your carpet like they are outside. This is normal behaviour so there’s nothing for you to worry about.
Chewing your carpet isn’t inherently a problem as most bunnies will just spit it out and leave carpet pieces around your home. However, if they ingest the carpet fibers it becomes unsafe. Since these fibers don’t get broken down in the gut, they can potentially cause intestinal blockages.
The same rules apply to towels and blankets. Our bunny Grooty loves to lick and chew her towel but she never tears it apart of pulls out any fibers so we see it’s not a problem. Watch your bunny’s play habits with these items to make sure they are safe chew toys for them.
Can My Bunny Chew Plastic?
Plastic is a material that doesn’t even decompose in nature. Let alone your bunny’s stomach. Plastic is not a safe chewing option for your bunny. In our experience, a bunny won’t go after plastic especially if they have many other options to choose from. Make sure you have cardboard, wood, and other chew toys around to stave off boredom.
Some bunnies, however, may become very destructive, especially if they haven’t been neutered or spayed yet. Being destructive could also be a sign of boredom and lack of physical activity so it’s important not to keep your bunny in an enclosure and give them a large play space.
Plastic is problematic not just because it doesn’t digest, but the sharp pieces that are chewed off may cause a perforation in the intestines.
Further, a piece ingested that is large enough may cause a blockage. Just like with carpet and towel chewing, monitor your bunny and keep an eye on them to see if they are interested in plastic.
Can My Bunny Chew Paper?
Yes, they definitely can. Just like cardboard, paper is made up of cellulose. If a bunny was to ingest paper while chewing it, then it shouldn’t be an issue for them to digest.
However, this doesn’t mean you should start feeding your bunny paper. Similar to cardboard, paper is devoid of any other nutrients so overfeeding on paper can reduce your bunny’s intake of hay and other leafy greens that they need to thrive.
The same rules apply to paper as they do cardboard if they ingest it. It shouldn’t be glossy paper or have ink on it as this can be toxic for your bunny.
If your bunny loves to shred paper but doesn’t eat it, the perfect toy for them is a phone book with the cover removed. Phone books generally use a soy-based ink so the paper won’t harm your bunny if accidentally ingested.
Leave that in their enclosure and they will go to town on it shredding it to pieces.
Can My Bunny Chew Clothes?
Similar to chewing towels, your bunny may like to chew your clothes. This is much less likely and you’ll rather find your bunny licking your clothes as a sign of them trying to groom you to show they love you.
Your clothes leave your scent and will help your bunny feel comfortable knowing you are around. That is why it is recommended to take some of your clothing with your bunny to the vet when they get neutered or spayed as your scent is always around them.
Again, just monitor your bunny and see if they want to chew your clothes. Generally, the worst that can happen is you have holes in your shirt.
Can My Bunny Chew Pine Cones?
Bunnies love to play with pine cones as they not only chew them but treat them as throw toys. However, before giving your bunny a pine cone, it needs to be prepared so it is safe for them to chew. Here is what you can do.
Step 1 – make sure the pine cones you have are not treated with pesticides or any other harmful chemicals.
Step 2 – wash the pine cones in a mixture of water and vinegar. Scrub off any dirt and dried sap with your hands.
Step 3 – let the pine cones soak for an extra 20-30 minutes in order to remove any remaining sap.
Step 4 – rinse the pine cones thoroughly with water and place on a towel in the sun to dry. This should take about 3-4 days to completely dry.
Step 5 – to speed up the drying process, line a baking tray with foil. Place pine cones in the oven at 200°C and bake for 1-2 hours. The pine cones should be fully open. Keep an eye on them so they don’t catch fire.
Step 6 – let the pine cones fully cool before giving your bunny hours of enjoyment.
How To Stop Inappropriate Chewing
Bunnies can get up to mischief and start chewing on all sorts of things they shouldn’t. Here are some tips to minimise the destruction.
- Make sure they are neutered or spayed – after being fixed, bunnies will reduce their destructive behaviour. Notice we said reduced as bunnies will always find something to chew. It’s in their nature.
- Provide plenty of mental stimulation – lots of toys to chew around the home should be provided. These can be as simple as cardboard boxes and hay stuffed toilet rolls. As long as there is variety, your bunny shouldn’t get too bored.
- Feed them regularly – be sure that you have unlimited fresh hay and feeding them enough vegetables and pellets for their age.
- Use a bunny repellent spray – you can use a bitter apple spray (link to Amazon) to spray on areas you don’t want to be chewed or you can make a home recipe of 1:1 water and white vinegar. The worse it smells, the less likely your bunny will chew it.
- Bunny proof your home – cover your wires with wire protectors and the corner of your walls with corner protectors.
Chewing is a natural instinct your bunny has and is needed to keep their dental health in check. Provide plenty of safe chewing options to keep them mentally stimulated and to reduce their destructive behaviour of your home. If you want to deter them from chewing something and you’ve provided everything they need, then try a bitter spray.