Find out whether cardboard is safe for your bunnies to chew!
You’ve probably seen all the fancy cardboard barns, mazes, and hides on the market for rabbits to chew and destroy. Maybe you’ve bought one of these and noticed your rabbit ripping it to shreds – and eating those shreds!
This is exactly what happened to me. I panicked because I saw that one of my rabbits was ripping up and actually eating the cardboard. So can rabbits chew on cardboard, or is it dangerous and unsafe?
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Can Rabbits Chew on Cardboard?
So let’s answer the question: can rabbits chew on cardboard? The answer is yes!
Cardboard is actually totally safe for rabbits to chew in general. The only thing you want to keep an eye on is how much cardboard your bunnies are actually eating. A small amount of cardboard isn’t going to hurt them, but you don’t want them to be ingesting every single piece they shred. Large amounts of cardboard in their digestive system can cause intestinal blockages.
Cardboard also doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value and shouldn’t be considered part of a healthy diet. You don’t want them to be eating so much of it that they aren’t eating their leafy greens or hay or they could end up with health issues. No type of cardboard should ever be a rabbit’s main source of food. Be sure your rabbit is still eating a balanced diet.
It actually does a pretty great job at helping to keep their teeth worn down. Rabbits have constantly growing teeth so they need to be doing constant chewing to keep them in good shape. Now, you should be providing your rabbit with plenty of fresh, high-quality hay as the main way to keep their teeth in good shape. But providing them with cardboard toys and houses can help keep healthy teeth as well.
So you can buy those fun cardboard mazes and houses (and I’ll share some of my favorites later in this article!) and not have much to worry about!
Why Give Cardboard to Rabbits?
You might be wondering why you would give any cardboard to your rabbits at all.
Rabbits are extremely curious animals that need a lot of attention and enrichment. If your bunnies aren’t given enough playtime and toys to keep them busy, they’ll start being destructive on things that you don’t want them to mess with – like your carpet and furniture!
The amount of enrichment they get can also affect your rabbit’s health. They require a lot of mental stimulation to keep them moving around and from getting depressed and lethargic. If they are stuck in a cage all day with no toys to play with or room to stretch out they are not going to live a very happy or healthy life.
Since rabbits like to dig and rip things up, cardboard is a great inexpensive option. It’s an excellent way to give them a natural material they can destroy without health problems or ruining your house. A lot of bunnies will dig at cardboard with their feet and rip it up with their teeth and you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt regardless of what they’re using.
Read more >> How to Keep Indoor Rabbits
Is All Cardboard Safe for Rabbits to Chew?
The best cardboard to give your rabbits is plain brown boxes. The standard plain cardboard boxes you receive when you order something online work great to chew and are great places to hide. They can also have paper towel rolls or an empty toilet paper roll.
Ink is generally non-toxic on pretty much all packaging these days so you don’t have to worry too much about ink on boxes. So you don’t have to worry about those cute printed cardboard hides you’ve seen (and if you haven’t seen them, make sure to check them out later in this article!).
In my experience, bunnies also love packing paper. Plain paper bags and the plain colored types of papers used for shipping are some of my bunnies’ favorites for ripping to shreds. And again, you don’t want them to be actually eating an excessive amount of paper.
What Cardboard Should NOT Be Chewed?
Even though it is safe for your bunny to be chewing cardboard, not all cardboard is created equally. There are a few things to stay away from when finding a piece of cardboard for your bunny to enjoy.
Any cardboard that has a glossy coating on it is not that great for your bunny to chew. It’s not totally unsafe, but I would check to make sure your rabbits aren’t ingesting a lot of this. A good example of this would be cereal boxes or colorful packaging. I’ve actually found that my bunnies don’t tend to destroy these type of boxes near as much as they do the standard paper ones anyways.
Make sure to remove all tape and stickers from any cardboard you give your rabbits. Some boxes are held together with staples so you want to be extra careful to remove all of those if you use industrial strength boxes. You don’t want to give your rabbits any other packing materials either – no packing peanuts or styrofoam!
Don’t give your rabbits any boxes that have gotten really wet or soaked up any type of unknown liquid. You don’t want your bunny to accidentally ingest something toxic or end up with a moldy box!
The Best Cardboard Toys and Hides for Rabbits
As I mentioned before, cardboard is a great inexpensive solution for keeping destructive bunnies busy. I’ve used long pieces to cover the bottom of a couch, the edge of the carpet a bunny was working on, and even to block off areas I didn’t want my rabbits to get into. Eventually, your bunny will chew through the cardboard, but it keeps them busy for a while!
You can DIY a lot of good options too. You can hide treats in toilet paper rolls or stuff hay in tissue boxes to create a great safe chew toy, or even create hides out of shipping boxes. You can also buy great toys and hides online or at your local pet shop.
Here are some of my absolute favorite cardboard toys and houses to give to my rabbits! Try them out with your bunnies and see how they like them.
This is a great option to hide hay or treats inside so your rabbits have to work to get them out! They’ll love rolling this around and shredding it up for hours.
Oxbow Explore & Hide Customizable Maze
My bunnies absolutely love this thing. You can change the layout or take the lid off. One of my bunnies in particular loves to zip through it and then hop up and stretch out flat on the top. It makes a great hide, great chew toy, and great source of enrichment!
Houses meant for cats work great for bunnies because they are nice and sturdy. They’re also usually pretty cute and super easy to put together! You can get them in a variety of different styles – definitely click the link to check out this one and the other layouts!
A hide stuffed with hay? What rabbit wouldn’t want that?! These will keep your bunnies busy eating hay as well.
You can get this neat hay barn off Amazon.
Or I also love, love this cardboard castle hay feeder combo from oxbow. It’s adorable and contains some hay!
For the bunnies that love to destroy cardboard, these cat scratch pads can be great. They are a bit thicker than just a cardboard box so they will last longer for a destructive bun. I have a bunny who loves to dig at cardboard and she will spend literally hours working on these! They’re a fantastic option if you have a very chewy bunny.
Final Thoughts on Whether Rabbits Can Chew Cardboard
Cardboard boxes, hides, and toys can be a great way to provide enrichment for your rabbits. It gives them something they can destroy (that isn’t your house!) and can keep them busy for hours! What is your rabbits’ favorite cardboard item? Do they prefer cardboard tubes or wooden toys?
Learn More About Keeping Pets Rabbits:
- What Hay is Best for Rabbits? – what hay to feed and why.
- How to Keep Indoor Rabbits – ideas for keeping your rabbit happy indoors!
- The 5 Best Rabbit Pellet Brands – is the brand you’re feeding safe?