Is anything cuter than having a hopping furry friend in your home? Nope, there isn’t. As a rabbit owner, there is no doubt you want what is best for your pet rabbit, especially regarding a balanced diet and entertainment.
Indoor rabbits often look for things to nibble on, whether as a little snack or to have some fun. So, you stumble upon your little rabbit, happily munching away at a piece of cardboard. Now, you might wonder — is cardboard safe for rabbits?
The answer is yes — to an extent. Before diving right in and giving your rabbit cardboard, you should now more. Let’s consider whether cardboard is safe for your rabbit companion.
Can rabbits chew on cardboard?
It’s no secret that rabbits like to chew. You might notice them chewing cardboard if they aren’t busy munching on hay or grass. At first, you might not think anything of it, but then you see the mess afterward. Yikes!
Regardless of the mess, it’s normal to wonder if cardboard is a good source of entertainment for your pet rabbit. Simply put, chewing on small amounts of cardboard is safe for rabbits. All you need to do is make sure that the cardboard they are chewing on is free from staples, glue, laminate, or ink, which may be harmful.
Cardboard, like most good things, is best given in moderation. With chewing comes the inevitable swallowing and ingesting of cardboard, and you wouldn’t want your bunny to eat too much.
Ultimately, it is best to keep a close eye on your fuzzy companion if you provide them with cardboard to chew on. Too much cardboard can cause health issues and discomfort.
Why give cardboard to rabbits?
Now, you’re likely asking yourself why even bother giving your rabbit cardboard. Rabbits are fun-loving creatures that need heaps of entertainment and enrichment to keep them busy and healthy.
Occasionally gnawing on things and breaking them up is a part of their cute (slightly destructive) nature. That’s why getting a rabbit chew toy is such a good idea, as they’re an excellent way for them to regulate the length of their teeth. Cardboard, however, may also be helpful to your rabbit in this regard. It’s a cheap way to go if you want a quick fix for your rabbit.
Why do rabbits chew on cardboard?
It might seem odd, but it is much more common than you think. Why do rabbits like to chew on cardboard in the first place? Well, let’s have a look at a few reasons why.
For healthy teeth
Pet owners know their furball constantly nibbles on something. One reason for this is the way that their teeth grow. Rabbit teeth grow at a speedy rate, and overgrown teeth can lead to any number of dental diseases in rabbits.
To keep the growth at bay, rabbits are constantly chewing and gnawing on things. This grinds the teeth slowly so they don’t grow too long and helps them maintain their dental health. Cardboard is a great tool to help with this because it’s a reasonably sturdy material.
You know what having nothing to do is like. Like you, your rabbit companion gets bored quickly, so they resort to other means of entertainment. This can mean they simply chew on a toilet roll or one of those special-made cardboard mazes.
Chewing on the cardboard can also help to keep them mentally stimulated, acting as a form of stress relief.
Another reason your furry friend might be chewing on cardboard (and a much less positive one) is that they may be sick.
Sometimes when rabbits have an upset tummy, they will nibble on weird things. As a result, some overeat cardboard, which further worsens any stomach problem they may have. So, if you notice your bunny eating excessive amounts of cardboard, it is always best to contact your local vet.
The right cardboard for chewing
Cardboard is a popular choice for entertaining rabbits, but what kinds of cardboard are best? For entertainment purposes, several forms of cardboard fit the bill. Two of the best are toilet paper rolls and cardboard boxes.
Paper towel rolls and toilet rolls are already fun for rabbits to play with and chew on. To make it extra special, you can create cute DIY rabbit enrichment toys for them. This can mean adding treats to the inside of the cardboard tubes and closing the ends, so your pet can try to get into it, thus making really simple – but still stimulating – cardboard toys.
Cardboard boxes can be used similarly. Instead of giving your rabbit a random square of cardboard, you could create or buy a ready-made maze or little cardboard rabbit houses. Your rabbit will love it, despite destroying it in the end.
These toys are a cheap alternative that still provides the necessary enrichment and mental stimulation that your little bunny needs.
When is cardboard dangerous?
While chewing on cardboard is safe for rabbits, there are instances where cardboard can become harmful. Let’s look at cases where you should be careful of using cardboard with your fuzzy bunny.
Colored or glossy cardboard
Any type of cardboard that has a colorful or glossy finish is best avoided. These contain toxic colorants and chemicals that will become harmful in the long term. So, avoid giving your pet rabbit colorful cereal boxes and stick to plain cardboard and brown packing boxes.
It’s also important to remember that with any type of cardboard box, you must remove all staples, excess glue, tape, or stickers. These kinds of residuals could end up being choking hazards and unhealthy for your bunny.
Eating too much cardboard
While cardboard eaten in small amounts doesn’t affect your rabbit’s digestion, overeating can cause specific health issues. So, monitoring how much cardboard your pet rabbit eats is always best.
There isn’t a specific amount of cardboard that your rabbit should or shouldn’t eat. It all depends on the size of the rabbit that you have. As a general rule of thumb, if you notice that your rabbit begins to eat cardboard instead of their actual food, it’s time you cut back a little.
Can rabbits eat cardboard?
Cardboard is safe for rabbits to eat in moderation. However, cardboard doesn’t have any nutritional value, so you need to ensure that your rabbit pals are getting their nutrients from a proper diet, including hay, leafy greens, and other nutrition-packed food items.
It’s essential to look out for cardboard with sharp edges or small pieces that may be a choking hazard or hurt their tummy. So long as you look out for these hazards and avoid the wrong types of cardboard, you’re golden.
However, some dangers come with allowing your pet rabbit to overeat cardboard. Let’s now look at some of the risks associated with overconsumption.
Dangers of eating too much cardboard
- Poisoning: All forms of cardboard contain chemicals (some more than others) that are harmful when too much is ingested. This sometimes causes unexpected poisoning.
- Upset stomach: Leftover adhesives on the cardboard, or other impurities, might cause your little friend discomfort and give them an upset tummy.
- Intestinal blockage: With ingesting large amounts of cardboard, and potentially leftover impurities, your bunny may eventually suffer from intestinal blockages, which are a vet emergency.
Ways to stop rabbits from eating cardboard
If ingested in small amounts, cardboard isn’t harmful to your rabbit’s health. If, however, you begin to notice that they are overeating cardboard, there are a few things that you can do to break the habit.
Give them something else to chew on
Firstly, you can give them something else to chew on. There isn’t a way to stop your rabbit from chewing on things altogether; you shouldn’t do that anyway. It’s known that rabbits need to chew on things to keep their teeth in check. So, it’s best to give them an alternative like hay, grass, or twigs. Wooden chew toys, such as those made from pine wood dried out in a kiln, are a great option for safe toys they can chew on. In pet stores, apple wood sticks (sticks from apple trees) are often sold in bundles as a good option for rabbits to chew on.
Make sure they are adequately fed
Making sure your rabbit is adequately fed is also very important. Ensure they have the right amount of food and also the necessary nutrients. If your rabbit companion is fed correctly, they will be less likely to ingest large amounts of cardboard.
Keep them busy
Bunnies, like other small pets, need exercise. Humans often walk or work out to relieve stress, and rabbits exercise to do the same. When your rabbit finds themselves bored and in need of enrichment, they might turn to munch on nearby cardboard.
So, to avoid them overeating cardboard, always make sure to keep them busy in other ways. Consider letting them hop around the garden or find some adorable rabbit toys. Either way, your loveable rabbit will enjoy the fun playtime.
Is cardboard safe for rabbits? | final thoughts
No matter which of the many bunny breeds you have, you’ll always want the absolute best for your furry friend, which includes monitoring what they chew on.
Cardboard can be an affordable and great way to keep your fur baby entertained and enriched. So, yes, cardboard is safe for rabbits — as long as they don’t have too much of it.
Ultimately, it’s always a good idea to consult your vet if anything seems off about your little angel. So long as you’re monitoring the amount of cardboard they are chewing on and providing them with the suitable types, your rabbit companion will have the time of their life.
Steph Dyson is a travel journalist by trade but a lover of all small pets. She’s been a pet mum to everything from gerbils to guinea pigs, rabbits to hamsters, and fish to dogs of all shapes and sizes. She wants to share her years of experience with small pets and make Small Pet Guides the go-to website for pet owners seeking information and care advice.