Why do rabbits chew on their cage? Chewing is a natural rabbit behavior. It can help our bunnies grind down their teeth.
But, chewing on their cage is normally a sign that your rabbit is bored, stressed, or under-stimulated.
You can minimize the risk of chewing their cage by keeping your rabbit entertained, well exercised, and meeting their social needs.
Let’s take a closer look at how to solve chewing issues in bunnies.
Why Do Rabbits Chew On Their Cage?
There are a number of reasons why your rabbit might be chewing on their cage. Here are some of the most common:
- Pent up energy
- Lack of other chewing opportunities
Chewing on parts of their cage, including the bars, is most often a sign that something is missing from your rabbit’s current lifestyle.
Perhaps they aren’t getting enough play opportunities through the day, or not getting enough chances to socialize with you or another bunny.
Alternatively, they may not be getting enough exercise due to space restrictions, or they might have nothing else to chew on.
If your rabbit is chewing on their cage, see what changes you can make to increase their enrichment.
Is Chewing a Natural Rabbit Behavior?
Chewing is a normal and natural behavior for wild and domestic rabbits.
Rabbit teeth will continue to grow throughout their lives. Chewing fibrous foods like fresh greens or hay will help them grind down their teeth.
If they don’t grind down their teeth regularly, their teeth will simply continue growing. This can be uncomfortable, and can lead to painful dental problems like ulcers.
Studies have shown that rabbits who don’t have access to hay, which they can chew on through the day, are more likely to display abnormal behaviors.
So, yes, chewing is a normal behavior. But, your rabbit should be chewing on fresh fibrous greens or hay, rather than their cage and cage bars.
If your rabbit is chewing on their cage, make sure they’re getting enough chewing opportunities in the day.
If you already give them plenty of hay, you could invest in some bunny-safe wooden chew toys.
Access to chewing opportunities like this might remove the cage-chewing behavior. If it doesn’t, you can eliminate the need to chew as a motive.
How to Stop my Rabbit Chewing Their Cage
The best way to stop your rabbit from chewing their cage is to find out what’s causing the behavior. Most often, it’s a sign their needs aren’t being met.
Work through the following solutions one by one to see exactly what it is that’s causing this behavior in your bunny.
Provide More Entertainment
Rabbits might chew on their cage when they are bored, or frustrated about being cooped up in their cage for so long.
Invest in some toys for your rabbit to play with. Or, make more time in the day to play with your bunny yourself.
This may mean that you need to invest in a larger hutch, or even get a run to add on to your current cage.
But, that’s no bad thing. Bunnies kept in small cages can become stressed, frustrated, and bored.
Exercise is a great way for your rabbit to entertain themselves. And, they’ll need the extra space for new toys.
Try cycling access to the toys you give your bunny, to stop them from getting bored with the toys. Swap toys out for different ones every week or so.
Provide Enough Social Opportunities
Rabbits are very social little animals. Most bunnies will be happiest when they’re kept in a pair and always have another rabbit for company.
But, there are situations where this isn’t possible, or isn’t advisable by your vet.
If your rabbit is not living with another bunny, make sure you’re spending enough time with them every single day.
Rabbits kept alone still have very high social needs. And, you will need to fulfil these all yourself.
Take time out of your day to play with your rabbit, speak to them, and just hang out near them. You may be surprised at how much it improves your bunny’s behavior.
Check They’re Physically Well
Cage and bar chewing can be a sign of stress in rabbits. So, if you notice this behavior, and it doesn’t change with the above actions, check that your rabbit isn’t hurt or injured at all.
If your bunny isn’t feeling well, their behavior is a great way to find out.
Observe if your bunny is eating normally. Gently check their body, including areas like their paws, to see if they have any cuts or injuries.
If you notice anything else out of the ordinary, take your rabbit to the vet to see if they can offer further help.
Check They’re Getting a Well Balanced Diet
We’ve already mentioned the importance of fibrous foods like hay and fresh grass for domestic bunnies. Make sure your rabbit has constant access to hay to chew on throughout the day.
You may also choose to have some supervised outdoor time in a run, so your rabbit can chew on grass straight from your lawn.
Make sure they’re not missing out any other important nutrients from their diet. Check your bunny’s food, and make sure you’re supplementing it with fresh greens and lots of fresh hay.
Do Bitter Sprays Stop Rabbits Chewing Their Cage?
When you google rabbit cage chewing, you’ll likely also find the many bitter sprays that claim to stop this problem altogether.
But, do they actually work?
These sprays try to deter your bunny from chewing their cage by making it overall an unpleasant thing to do.
Some people find that they work, and their bunnies stop chewing the cage. But, others find that their bunnies don’t mind the taste and continue chewing.
On top of this, using bitter sprays like this ignores the actual cause of your rabbit’s behavior.
Chewing their cage is normally a sign that something isn’t right with your rabbit. It’s generally a better idea to work out what’s making them stressed or bored, so you can fix the problem.
We would suggest trying the solutions above before resorting to sprays.
Should I Worry About My Rabbit Chewing His Cage?
No one likes to see their rabbit feeling stressed or bored. But, another concern is that cages aren’t escape-proof.
Most cages are made from wood, with a wire mesh over the front, so you can see inside.
If your rabbit is chewing on the wire of their cage, they likely won’t be able to escape. But, if they chew the wood, there’s a chance they’ll create a hole big enough to sneak out through.
In most cases, you’ll realise what’s happening before your bunny manages to make the hole large enough to escape. But, it’s something to bear in mind.
Solving the problem of bunny chewing is important to their safety, as well as your sanity!
Try to fulfil your rabbit’s needs to prevent unwanted behaviors like this, and to keep your rabbit safe from any potential predators that could hurt them if they escape.
Why Do Rabbits Chew on Their Cage? A Summary
Most of the time, chewing on their cage is a sign that your rabbit is stressed, frustrated, or bored. But, there are some easy and simple solutions to these problems.
Have you found a great toy that stopped your rabbit from chewing their cage? We would love to hear your experiences in the comments.
References and Resources
- Prebble, J. (et al), ‘The Effect of Four Different Feeding Regimes on Rabbit Behavior’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2015)
- Gunn, D. & Morton, D. ‘Inventory of the Behavior of New Zealand White Rabbits in Laboratory Cages’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (1995)
- Wyss, F. (et al), ‘Measuring Rabbit (Oryctolagus Cuniculus) Tooth Growth and Eruption by Fluorescence Markers and Bur Marks’, Journal of Veterinary Dentistry (2016)