What do pet rabbits like to chew on ?
Rabbits love to chew hay more than anything else, but also tree branches like apple, pear, pine, willow or aspen if he finds any, if not he will just chew cardboard or paper or chew toys if not, his own cage, your table legs, door bottoms or even baseboards.
Rabbits must always have things to chew in their cage, we will see why they chew things, what they should not chew and especially the different things that rabbits like to chew on and that are healthy for them.
The list of things that rabbits love to gnaw, starting with the natural stuff of course that won’t cause your rabbit any problems; here they are:
You may already be aware of this, but one of the reasons a rabbit’s diet should consist of at least 70% hay is so that it always has something to chew.
Rabbits spend most of their time nibbling, it is an innate and vital behavior for them, we will see why a little further on, and good quality, dry, good quality hay that has long stems so that the rabbit uses its incisors to cut them too; is necessary and nothing else can replace it when it comes to offering something to chew for your ball of fur.
The straw does not replace hay, the rabbit will enjoy nibbling it of course because it is harder than hay, but he will only benefit from hay because straw has almost no nutritional value, especially speaking of fiber, which is necessary for rabbits.
2- Branches of the trees and the stems
It’s obvious that rabbits love to chew tree stems and branches, that’s what their wild counterparts do.
But not all trees are edible and digestible for rabbits, so not only must you provide them with stems from trees not treated with pesticides and far from homes and farms, stems not contaminated by fungi, spores and molds, but especially stems from trees that are edible for rabbits, here are a few examples:
- The Apple Tree
- the Pear tree
- Tremble Tree
- The Pine Tree
- The Birch Tree
- The Charm
- The Maple Tree
- The Ash tree
- The Beech
- The Hazel tree
- The Elm
- Willow and shrubs such as cornflower stems and lavender
- The Lime Tree
Your Bun would also love to have some buds on these branches, tie them with a hemp thread to the bars of his cage or a hard object, otherwise just put them on the ground and your rabbit will have a good time nibbling them.
PS: You can also bake these branches in the oven at a low temperature until they are completely dry and let them cool down before giving them to chew for your rabbit .
Caution to take when picking branches and leaves for your rabbit, be careful not to bring back ticks, fleas or mold and expose your rabbit to danger.
Also avoid picking these things in areas frequented by wild hares and even by other forest animals, as some diseases are easily transmitted by plants.
3- Plant Roots and bulbs
Rabbits do not have access to roots in their natural habitat except in rare cases, ravines or during small landslides or another animal such as the wild boar or porcupine that will dig them up.
But this does not prevent bunnies from loving them, and they like to chew these bulbs, without forgetting that they are very rich in mineral salts, fiber and vitamins too, so here is the list of bulbs and roots that rabbits love to chew:
Raw beet, turnip, Rutabaga and Jerusalem artichoke bulb, these four vegetables, are to be given in moderation, and not often because they can have harmful effects on the digestive system of the rabbit by slowing down the intestinal transit for example.
On the other hand, we find Parsnip, Celeriac, Dandelion roots and carrots, in moderation for those of them which are rich in sugars.
These root vegetables can also be given as treats for your rabbit and not only as chewy stuff.
Rabbits love to chew pine cones and can spend hours enjoying them.
But first, you need to get healthy, untreated pine cones from untreated trees, and you need to prepare them so that your rabbit can enjoy chewing them. Here’s how to do it:
- Pick or collect the unopened pine cones, far from pollution of course.
- Wash by rubbing the pine cones just as a precaution and let them dry (use only water!).
- Cook the pine cones at low temperature for about two hours, until they open and avoid burning them.
- Remove them from the oven before they lose their seeds and let them cool down.
- Store them in absorbent paper towels, untreated and in a box away from moisture.
- You can then give some to your rabbit without moderation and he will have a great time gnawing on those pine cones.
If you live in the countryside and you are sure that Pine cones are not treated with pesticides, especially those against caterpillars, you can pick up Pine cones even dry on the ground as long as they are not mouldy, even if they have lost their seeds, the rabbit will also love them and chew them with great pleasure.
5- Leaves and tops
Rabbits love to nibble leaves, green and fresh ones of course and especially untreated leaves from vegetables, wild herbs or trees and shrubs that have not received any chemical treatment!
Leaves are appreciated by rabbits when they want to work and file their incisors because they are rich in silica (it helps to wear out the teeth of rodents), and the darker the color of the leaves, the more it contains and the more the rabbit will enjoy chewing them.
Your rabbit will love to chew on Radish, artichoke, strawberry and raspberry tops, turnip, fennel and carrot tops, spinach, beet and zucchini tops, watercress, cucumber leaves and cabbage without forgetting, fresh oat stalks and those of wheat and alfalfa to finish with lettuce leaves and various salads, especially Arugula and Mizuna and Chard leaves.
As for the wild herbs, your rabbit will appreciate nibbling on the crunchy borage leaves, those of the “Capsella bursa-pastoris”, the leaves of Sow-thistle, comfrey and dandelion.
Let me repeat this: The darker the color of the leaves (dark green), the more your rabbit will love to chew and gnaw them.
You can also add to this collection of leaves that rabbits would love to chew, the foliage of the trees I mentioned before, but also the leaves of Maple, Birch and I would emphasize the leaves of Alder, because I experienced it myself when I had rabbits, they love to chew them and they are also very nutritious.
What else can I give to my rabbit to chew on in addition to the natural stuff, the alternatives ?
I know very well that most rabbit parents don’t have access to all those natural things that rabbits love to chew, and that’s why I brought you some alternatives, simple things, available in every house, but also toys to chew for rabbits that you can order easily, I’ll recommend some of them of course (they are affiliate links but responsible):
1- Rabbits love to chew cardboard boxes and paper
You may not know it but rabbits love to chew cardboard, whether it is the box of your new shoes or even the cardboard tube inside the toilet paper roll …
If you don’t pay attention and don’t give your rabbit stuff to chew, he may even chew on your books , bills, and any paper you leave lying around on the floor !
You should still take some precautions and only give your rabbit untreated cardboard, not varnished and not colored, you can just give him boxes that you will fill with dry and crunchy hay.
Also be careful with cardboard packaging, especially for the meals you order, some of them contain aluminum foil or strips, your rabbit will not appreciate that !
2- Handmade stuff made with palm and coconut leaves
You can also give your rabbit some stuff made with untreated palm leaves of course !! like baskets that you will fill with hay, coconut front heats ….
To give your rabbit something to chew, you can also just make hay balls that you wrap with cords, as long as these cords are not synthetic but made out of cotton for example (or Jute or Sisal ) to avoid that you disturb the intestinal transit of your rabbit.
It’s difficult to find objects that are not treated against parasites but you can try !
3- Chew toys for rabbits
Manufacturers have been very creative and have created very practical and rewarding chew toys for rabbits, especially those who live in the city and don’t have the chance to enjoy the natural snacking stuff I mentioned above.
So I have chosen a small list of chew toys for rabbits, the best according to my experience and knowledge of rabbit behavior and what makes them happy, without forgetting the materials used to create these different toys; here they are:
Ware Willow Branch Ball Chew Toy
Leeko , Organic Apple Wood Sticks Rabbits , Pet Snacks Toys with Grass Cake for Rabbits
SunGrow Grass House, Folding Woven Hut for Laying or Sleeping, Edible Chew Home
Why do rabbits need to chew and gnaw things?
Nibbling is a vital and natural behavior of rabbits, on the one hand it is essential for them to gnaw things to file and wear out their teeth which grow up to 2 mm per day for some breeds of rabbits.
On the other hand, chewing will allow the rabbit to reduce the risk of intestinal diseases and occlusions, especially the slowing down of transit by releasing more saliva and juices in the rabbit’s stomach and thus stimulating the digestive system even more.
Some people say that hormones and not sterilizing your rabbit will accentuate this behavior, but I would rather say that chewing is a good way for the rabbit to get your attention, to spend time, to relieve stress and avoid boredom, especially if it doesn’t have a companion.
Your rabbit must always have something to chew on, because, left without these things and toys to gnaw on, you would only blame yourself if you caught him gnawing on the legs of your coffee table, or even the wooden heels of your beloved shoes !!!
Let’s wrap this up
Whether it’s a natural thing like a branch or a pine cone; or a simple cardboard box or a special chew toy; there always has to be something to gnaw on your rabbit.
Give your rabbit a choice, you’ll soon find out what kind of material your rabbit loves to chew on more than anything else, and then you can make him happy by giving him different things made of the same material, try adding puzzles and hidden treats to the toy to stimulate your rabbit even more.