How to stop your rabbit chewing its cage, hutch or enclosure

If your rabbit bites and chews its cage or enclosure it can become very frustrating for you and is a sign your rabbit is unhappy. Find out what’s behind this unwanted behaviour and what you can do to stop it.
Rabbit chewing cage
If your rabbit chews its cage you need to find out why its unhappy
Bunny looking through cage

Rabbits chew things their enclosures for a number of reasons and if your rabbit repeatedly chews on the wood or wire fencing then you need to get to the root of the problem to stop it successfully. The usual suspects for this unwanted behaviour can include a lack of space, not enough enrichment in the enclosure or not enough time spent socialising. They may also be begging for food which can be a habit that is easy to re-enforce.

In this article we show you what other bunny owners do to stop cage chewing that really works so you and your rabbit can relax with out the frustration.

Wanting to be sociable

Wild rabbit kissing

If your rabbit is aware that you are at home and feels that it is not allowed to join you and might be missing out on fun or food then it may keep testing the boundary of its enclosure to try and escape. Rabbits can be tenacious chewers and if this forms into a habitat can be hard to stop. This can be made worse if you get into the habit of giving your rabbit a treat to make it stop as this will re-enforce this behaviour.

If you are often at home but cant give you rabbit attention then its best to move your rabbit into a quiet spot in the house where the door can be closed, that way your rabbit will be able to relax. Remember rabbis need a few hours a day of socialisation as a minimum so you will still need to find the time for this and if your rabbit wants to roam about and there is no reason for keeping it in an enclosed space then you should let it out so you can give it as much time socialising with you as you can.

Enrichment

Rabbit playing with toys

Rabbits like you and me if left with noting to do will get bored and become restless. Its important for your rabbits health and happiness to have lots toys and things to do in their enclosure to keep them keep out of trouble. You don’t have to spend a fortune in a pet store as some simple free toys you can provide yourself such as toilet roll tubes or card board boxes are just as good. Make sure when you put them in the enclosure your bunny still has enough room to spring about.

Space

Two rabbit binky

There are lots of types of indoor enclosures but as a rule the more space you can give your rabbit the happier it will be and the less likely they will be to test the limits of their enclosure. A lot of bunny owners choose an environment larger then is typically provided by a cage bought from a pet stores and choose an alternative such as a large dog cage or a costume built enclosure made from sections of pet pen or other wire mesh solutions such as NIC office cubing which are 1 foot square grids that can be clipped together with cable ties. If you have a spare room with a bit of bunny proofing this can be adapted to provide a brilliant place for your rabbit to be contained.

Rabbits chew constantly to ware down their teath

Bunny yawning

Rabbits are constantly chewing, their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives so they are always looking for tough materials to help ware them down. If your rabbit cannot satisfy this need it may be chewing on the tough materials of its enclosure for this reason, in which case you will need to enrich its environment with some more suitable alternatives. First and foremost lots of fresh hay is very important, you rabbit should be eating a stack of hay almost the same size as itself each day. Any wicker or willow chews purchased from a pet store will provide an excellent alternative however there are lots of freely available alternative such as cardboard box and old toilet roll tubes that work just as well.

Seeking digestible fibre to eat

Rabbits chewing willow toy filled with hay

Rabbits are constantly looking for roughage to eat as its vital for their digestion to work well and they will happily chew on wood or other soft materials we consider indigestible for the fibre it contains. If you rabbit appears to be eating the wood of its enclosure then make sure you supplying plenty of hay as an alternative as well as wicker or willow toys from a pet store or cardboard things they can chew on that will satisfy this need and keep them out of trouble. if you do give them a cardboard box make sure all the staples and any plastic tape is removed first.

Using bitter strays

A common defense for unwanted chewing behaviour if to use a bitter spray however it’s unlikely this will work as a single solution as the taste does not seem to put all rabbits off so you are best to use this alongside more positive things that you can do to help. If you do find it works for you remember to apply it on a regular bases as it will ware out. A good way of applying it without spraying it everywhere is to first stray some onto a cloth and then wipe it directly on to the areas you want. Always by a product suitable for rabbits such as the Grannick Bitter Apple Spray For Small-AnimalsGrannick Bitter Apple Spray for small animals and be wary of home made alternatives that may be suggested to you such as perfume or chilly oil as these can be harmful.

Training and discipline

Disciplining your rabbit

Another way to dissuade your rabbits is with some voice training and aversion training however as a word of caution some rabbits will respond to this, others won’t and if you are not careful it may have some negative effects such as making you rabbits aggressive towards you or timid. Firstly never hit or shout at your rabbit .A common way to do this is to keep water mister to hand then when you can catch your rabbit actually in the act give it a quick blast of cold mist and say NO! Make sure it’s a clean water mister and make sure it’s in the mists not squirts as this can cause harm.

Rabbits are born chewers

Wild rabbit chewing flowers

Rabbits have strong front teeth that grow constantly throughout their lives and can chewing and eat many things we would consider indigestible.

Need more help? Why not ask the Bunny Proofing group!

We are a community of house rabbit enthusiasts with a specific interest in sharing our experiences of living with these special pets. We like posting tips on enriching our rabbits environments, preventing damage to our homes and making them safe for our rabbits to inhabit.