Rabbit Eating Bedding – What Should I Do?

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  • Post last modified:February 21, 2022
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Have you ever seen your rabbit eating their bedding and wanted to know it was safe? Or what to do to stop your rabbit from eating their bedding?

Rabbits are curious creatures by nature and tend to chew on items to learn more about them. 

While quite a few beddings are safe in small doses, it is essential to prevent your rabbit from eating their bedding too much by combating boredom or giving them plenty of food. 

Keep reading to learn more about which beddings are safe, why your rabbit may be eating a lot of their bedding, or what to do to get your rabbit to stop. 


Four reasons why your rabbit is eating its bedding

Bored

Boredom is the number one reason why most domesticated rabbits tend to chew. 

Rabbits tend to grow frustrated when they cannot do anything and will then chew and become destructive to vent their frustration

If you do not have much in the cage for your rabbit, they may start to chew on their bedding. 

Curious

Rabbits are naturally curious creatures. They tend to chew on new items. This can include bedding if they have never been around that before. 

Rabbits also tend to enjoy comforting smells. When you change your rabbit’s bedding, they may chew for a little while as they can get curious about the different smells. 

Wearing down teeth

A rabbit’s teeth will continuously grow throughout its life. If their teeth aren’t constantly worn down, it can lead to health issues

Thankfully, rabbits will often wear down their own teeth without any assistance if provided the opportunities. 

They do this by chewing on hay or hard, wooden objects. 

Without the proper tools to wear down their teeth, rabbits will often chew on anything to stop their teeth from growing too long, especially if you use harder bedding like pellets or shavings. 

Need fiber

If you aren’t using the proper food for your rabbit, they may lack essential nutrients. 

Fiber is one of the essential nutrients for your rabbit, as it allows them to keep their GI system in good shape

If they lack fiber, your rabbit may begin to chew on their bedding in the hope of getting more nutrients. 


Which bedding is safe for my rabbit to munch on?

Paper-based pellets

Paper bedding is one of the most used beddings for rabbits. 

It can be very cheap if you make it yourself, and the compressed pellets are the best smell absorbing and easiest to clean.

These are safe for your rabbit to eat in small quantities. They are usually made from recycled newspapers. 

While paper is fine for a rabbit to eat as it can process cellulose, too much ink can be toxic. If they are eating a lot of them, it is probably best to switch to a safer substance. 

Small pet bedding

These are pretty safe to eat, as long as they are the standard white brand of rabbit bedding. 

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If they add anything to them, such as dyes or baking soda, they can harm your rabbit, so it is best not to buy those if your rabbit is known to eat their bedding. 

Shredded paper

If you have a shredder, this can be an easy and cheap way to make bedding for your rabbit. 

If you get paper with no inks or dyes, your rabbit can eat this without any problems, so long as they are still eating hay and their other food regularly. 

However, shredding paper can create dust, which can irritate your rabbit’s nose, eyes, and lungs. 

Try to remove as much paper dust from the shredded paper as possible to protect your rabbit. 

Wood shavings

Most rabbit toys are wood, and having wooden shavings gives your rabbit something to chew on that will help wear down their teeth. 

So, if your rabbit does start to chew on its bedding, there shouldn’t be a problem. 

However, the best wood to use is aspen. Cedar and pine are toxic to rabbits, especially when eaten. 

Hay

Hay is a great option. Rabbits tend to use the bathroom and eat at the same time. 

If you use the same hay that you use to feed your rabbit, they can eat as much of it as they want without harm. 

For older rabbits, timothy hay is best, as it has the right mix of nutrients for your rabbit. 

Sawdust

As the name suggests, sawdust is a very fine particle that can easily irritate your rabbit’s eyes, nose, and lungs. 

Eating the dust can also lead to stomach problems and may cause more respiratory issues. This isn’t good for your rabbit, and they shouldn’t be around it at all, if possible. 

Clay or clumping cat litter

Clay or clumping litter sounds good in theory, as it is absorbent. However, it produces a lot of dust, which can harm your rabbit. 

Also, due to their clumping nature, if your rabbit does eat any, it can clump up and block their intestines, which can cause GI issues in your bunny, as they cannot pass waste as often as they need to.  

Straw

While straw is technically edible for your rabbit, it contains no nutrition. If they eat too much of it, they won’t have enough room for hay or other essential food. 

Cardboard

Cardboard is acceptable for your rabbit to eat in small quantities. Some people even give their rabbits cardboard boxes as enrichment to chew on those without any issues. 

Just make sure they are still eating their other foods as well, and you should be fine. Avoid areas with high amounts of dye on the box to reduce any issues. 

Fabric

With fabric, it is crucial to make sure they aren’t eating it as it isn’t good for them to eat or chew on it. The strings can get knotted up in their stomach and cause a blockage. 


Dangers of eating inappropriate beddings

GI issues

Rabbits have very sensitive stomachs. If their nutrition is off or they eat something their stomach can’t break down, they may get a blockage. 

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If your rabbit doesn’t eat or use the bathroom enough, it may get GI stasis which can be lethal. 

For this reason, your rabbit must get food it can digest. This is why fabrics and clumping cat litter can be so dangerous.

Full without any nutrients

Bedding like straw can be bad if that is all your rabbit is eating. Rabbits need a very specific percentage of nutrients, and eating a lot of empty filler foods like straw can cause your rabbit to stop eating the food they need. 

Damaged liver

Dyes, ink, pine, and cedar are all very toxic to rabbits. If they ingest too much, it can cause their liver to become damaged or even shut down. 

Irritation of the eyes/nose/lungs

Some bedding, such as straw, shredded paper, and sawdust, creates dust, which is very bad for rabbits. It can cause their eyes, nose, and lungs to become irritated and may lead to infections. 


How to stop my rabbit from eating their bedding

Give them plenty of toys

It is best to give your rabbit lots of toys to prevent boredom. 

Rabbits chew a lot due to boredom, so giving them something specific they can chew is a great option. Many wooden toys help your rabbit’s teeth get worn down. 

Make sure they have fiber

Since many of the items used to make bedding are fibrous, your rabbit may be chewing on their bedding to try and get more fiber. 

Instead, try to make sure your rabbit has plenty of hay all the time. This keeps them busy and full, and they get plenty of fiber. 

Remove bedding

Many rabbit owners don’t even give their rabbits bedding, especially if they have a separate litter box. 

Many rabbits tend to prefer harder surfaces, which is why your rabbit may be pushing their bedding away to lie down. 

Also, using the same material for their bedding and their litter box/area can confuse your rabbit, causing them to use the bathroom in the wrong area. 

If you can’t get your rabbit to stop eating their bedding, it might be worth trying to just eliminate bedding if possible.

Give them a companion

Rabbits are very social by nature. If you are working a lot, or they are alone for long periods, it might be worth trying to find a companion for your rabbit. 

They will have someone to bond to, and they will be less bored throughout the day, giving them less time to be destructive and eat a lot of their bedding. 

If you get one of the opposite genders, remember to have them altered, though, else you might end up with a dozen of baby rabbits soon.


Conclusion

Rabbits are curious creatures and tend to get bored quickly. They may eat their bedding to learn more about it or to pass the time. 

Either way, the best option is to give your rabbit bedding that isn’t toxic or harmful to them and focus on alleviating issues that might cause them to overeat. 

This will make sure they are happy and get all the nutrients they need.