As bun parents, you’ve probably seen your pet do some strange things. Like other animals, rabbits sometimes display behaviors that make their owners shake their heads, wondering what it means. So it’s pretty common to hear questions like why is my rabbit scratching the floor or why is my bun zooming all over the house?
In this article, we’ll deal with the first question. So if you have a rabbit who looks like he’s trying to dig a tunnel in your living room, here’s the answer.
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Why Do Rabbits Dig?
In England during the Middle Ages, owners didn’t keep rabbits in cages. Instead, the animals are placed in special warrens where they can dig. This is to satisfy their instinct to burrow down the earth. Buns in the wild dig underground tunnels to create earthen homes. Living in these tunnels helps reduce the chances of being hunted by predators.
Their status as prey animals makes buns anxious and jittery, resulting from the need to watch their backs constantly. Digging holes to create hiding places is a way for them to feel safe.
Why Is My Rabbit Scratching the Floor?
Okay, you get it. Wild rabbits dig on the ground to keep predators at bay, but your pet bun is not in danger of being hunted and caught. So, why is it scratching the floor as though his life depended on it?
We mentioned that the instinct to dig is ingrained in rabbits. Because it’s in their nature, some buns still engage in the activity even if they have all the comforts you can provide. Also, other reasons may be driving your pet to scratch the floor or dig through the carpet. Let’s see what those reasons are:
Rabbits lead busy lives in the wild. Aside from doing their best to avoid predators, they forage for food and interact with others of their kind. That means being kept inside a cage all day may suck for them.
Remember that rabbits are intelligent creatures. That means they crave not just physical but mental stimulation, as well. They also yearn for companionship and may get lonely or bored if left on their own for extended periods. Your fur baby may resort to behaviors like eating paper or scratching the floor to alleviate the feeling. Provide your bun with toys, including those he can chew, to keep him occupied.
Being prey animals, rabbits have to be constantly on their toes to avoid becoming targets for predators. So you can’t blame them for always being on edge. When a bun feels threatened, his survival instinct may kick in, and he will scratch the floor in an attempt to escape.
But sometimes, scratching can also be an indication of illness. If your fur baby constantly scratches the floor and looks extra jumpy, he may suffer from some health issues. A trip to the vet will ensure that your bun is healthy. Meanwhile, if your rabbit is sick, the vet can help him get better.
On the other hand, other pets in the house could be the source of your bun’s anxiety. You can ease his fear by placing his cage or living space in an area that’s not easily accessible to your other animal companions.
If you move your bun to a new cage or place him in a new environment, say moving him indoors from an outdoor enclosure, he may scratch the floor. That’s his way of exploring his new surroundings and discovering what’s around him. Placing something different inside his cage, such as a new blanket, or bedding material can also trigger the scratching instinct.
In this case, you don’t have to do anything. Given time, your fur baby will likely stop scratching as the novelty wears off.
4. Call for Attention
Being social creatures, rabbits don’t relish being alone. They welcome the company of either their own kind or their humans. If your pet is the only rabbit in the house, he might scratch the floor to get your attention.
You can test if the activity is a call for attention by leaving. Stay out of sight and furtively watch what he’s doing. If he stops scratching, return to his side. A resumption of the activity means your rabbit scratches or digs on the floor to get attention.
It doesn’t take much to make rabbits feel stressed. They’re such delicate creatures that something as ordinary as a barking dog can be alarming to them. Stress can affect your bun’s health and life expectancy. It can also drive your pet to act out, and scratching the floor is one way of doing so.
However, scratching or digging isn’t the only indication of stress in rabbits. Signs of aggressiveness, such as biting or growling, bulging eyes, and freezing up with the ears flat, could also mean that your rabbit is stressed.
Calming your bun by making changes in his environment can help address the problem. You can try dimming the lights, as excessive brightness can upset rabbits. Placing your pet’s cage in a quiet area of your home is another way to reduce his stress.
How to Stop Your Rabbit from Scratching the Floor
Although scratching the floor isn’t always an indication that something’s not right with your bun, you may want to stop the habit. There’s no surefire way to eliminate the problem, but you can try these tips to control your bun’s tendency to scratch the floor.
1. Play with Your Bun
Rabbits crave companionship. If they don’t have another bun to keep them company, the best substitute is you, their owner. Play with your bun, cuddle him on your lap if he likes being held, or sit on the floor with him. This could help lessen his urge to scratch the floor to get your attention.
2. Offer Your Rabbit a Digging Box
Because digging is ingrained in rabbits, your bun could simply be giving in to his instincts. If you want to protect the floor or carpet, you can provide a digging box for your pet. Find a box your bun can easily get in and out of and fill it with rabbit-safe hay, sand, or soil. Your pet could dig to his heart’s content without ruining your flooring material.
Alternatively, you can offer your bun bedding, blankets, or towels to scratch.
3. Provide a Peaceful Living Space
Rabbits get spooked easily. Loud noises and a hectic household can be sources of stress. Cramped or less than hygienic living areas also have the same effect. Make sure your bun’s cage is clean and large enough for him to move around freely, and locate it away from areas with the most foot traffic in your home.
A peaceful and comfortable living environment will reduce the chances that your rabbit will scratch the floor to let you know he’s uncomfortable.
4. Give Your Rabbit Plenty of Toys
We know you can’t be with your fur baby 24/7. Neither is it an ideal situation for your pet to have you by his side day in and day out. But leaving your rabbit with nothing to do could prompt him to indulge in undesirable forms of entertainment, such as scratching the floor.
Toys, especially those that engage your rabbit’s mind, can help him while away the hours when you’re not with him.
There are many answers to the question why my rabbit is scratching the floor. Knowing what they are can help you understand your pet better and address the issues behind the behavior.
More on Rabbit Behavior
- Understanding 15 Rabbit Noises and What They Mean
- Why Do Rabbits Lick You? 11 Reasons for This Common Behavior
- Are Rabbits Nocturnal? Tips for Nighttime Activity
- Why Does My Rabbit Nudge Me?
- Can Rabbits See in the Dark?
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