Behavior

Why Do Rabbits Eat Paper?   

white rabbit popping out over a box.

Rabbits sometimes do the strangest things. For example, your bun may have all the food he needs, yet he will still munch paper. Is he just being weird, or is something lacking in his diet? If you’re puzzled by this behavior, you’re not alone. Why do rabbits eat paper is a question many bun parents ask. Let’s explore the reasons and find out if it’s safe to let your fur baby snack on the said material.   

Do rabbits like the taste of it?   

Rabbits don’t usually eat paper but instead are more interested in playing with it. Buns are playful creatures and often chew on objects they can reach. So if they come across a bunch of paper as they run around the house, they might take a bite or two or shred several sheets. Of course, they’ll likely swallow some bits as they munch on the material. But that doesn’t mean they’re eating the paper on purpose or that they would prefer it over their regular food.  

white rabbit chewing on a stocking.

Why would they eat it? 

Their curiosity and adventurous spirit drive most rabbits to sample the objects that cross their paths. They also get bored quickly. Chewing paper might be an excellent way to find out what the crinkly thing is, and tearing it into smaller pieces is a great way for them to pass the time.  

You likely don’t have to worry if your bun munches on a few bits while he plays. However, if he tucks into the paper as though it’s hay or is consuming a considerable amount, you might want to find out if there’s a deeper reason behind the habit. Here are some common explanations.  

Hunger  

Most rabbits won’t prefer paper over their hay, pellets, or veggies. That’s why if you see your bun tucking in those paper bits as though he can’t get enough, that can indicate hunger. Giving him a serving of the food he usually eats is often enough to deter him from feasting on the shredded paper.  

To prevent the habit, maintain a regular schedule for feeding your rabbit and make sure he has access to hay 24/7.   

Boredom  

Rabbits need physical and mental stimulation. If you leave your fur baby alone for hours or keep him inside his cage all day, he’ll likely look for something to do. If you use paper for bedding or litter material, don’t be surprised if your bun gnaws on it. Meanwhile, a free-roaming rabbit might take a bite out of the carpet or nibble on wires for entertainment.  

Play with your rabbit and provide plenty of toys and objects that are safe to chew on. Also, remember to allow your rabbit ample time to run around to get rid of his pent-up energy. Some rabbits enjoy being held. If yours does, a few minutes of cuddling will break up his alone time and help lessen his boredom.  

Lack of Fiber  

Rabbits need fiber to keep their digestive system in good working order. Your pet may have all the food he needs to keep from getting hungry, but if it lacks fiber, he might instinctively look for alternative sources.

Paper has fiber, but it won’t meet his nutritional needs. Your rabbit doesn’t know that, however, so he’ll munch on those paper bits for his fiber requirements.  

Gnawing on fibrous food material helps trim down your rabbit’s perpetually-growing teeth. Paper can work for this purpose. However, you can also provide safer alternatives, such as hay and rabbit-safe chew toys.  

white rabbit sitting in a basket.

Will eating paper harm my rabbit?   

Eating a few shreds carries a low risk of harming your bun. Still, that depends on the type of paper he consumes. Paper that contains ink toxic to rabbits might cause health issues even if he eats a small quantity.  

Other dangers posed by eating paper include the following.  

Intestinal Blockage  

Rabbits have sensitive digestions. Because they’re herbivores, they thrive on a plant-based diet consisting of hay, leafy greens, and veggies. Eating inappropriate food, such as meat and inedible material, is one of the causes of health issues in rabbits.  

Paper may not be toxic to your fur baby, but his digestive system isn’t equipped to process this material, especially in large amounts. As a result, the paper that doesn’t get broken down in his gut can accumulate and obstruct his gastrointestinal tract.  

Constipation  

We mentioned that a rabbit’s digestive system isn’t designed to break down paper properly. Because your bun can’t digest the material, it can cause constipation, which is potentially lethal to rabbits. Buns who can’t poop are at risk for developing GI stasis.   

Poisoning  

Some inks are toxic to rabbits. Although most inks nowadays are safer than those used in the years past, it’s better to err on the side of caution and treat all printed paper as possible causes of accidental poisoning for your pet.  

Tips to prevent your rabbit from eating paper 

The easiest way to keep your rabbit from eating paper is to keep it out of his reach or make the material less appealing to him as a food source. Here’s how you can do so.  

Provide Your Rabbit with the Right Amount of Food   

Rabbits are intelligent creatures. As such, they know better than to favor paper over the food they normally eat. To ensure that hunger isn’t the reason why your pet munches on paper, provide him with the food he needs. Hay should be the mainstay of his meals as this fulfills his requirement for fiber. You can add some veggies and a small amount of fruit to round up his nutrition.  

Use Alternative Bedding Material   

Paper is a cheap and eco-friendly bedding option. However, for a bun who loves munching on paper, the temptation to chew on his bedding may be too hard to resist. Fortunately, you can easily choose among other bedding materials. Alternatives include aspen shavings, grass mats, pelleted straw fleece, and hemp bedding.  

Get Another Rabbit 

Rabbits are social animals. That means they enjoy having a companion and may get lonely or bored if they’re on their own, which can lead to destructive behaviors like chewing. Getting another bun will fulfill your pet’s need for companionship. If welcoming another rabbit into your home is not possible, plan to spend more time with your fur baby.  

The reasons why rabbits eat paper vary. That’s why there’s no one answer if you should let your bun continue the habit or nip it in the bud. When in doubt, it’s better to play safe and keep paper away from your rabbit.  

More rabbit behavior posts!

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