Rabbits are hugely popular pets in the UK and always have been, but the way that we understand rabbits and their rather complex care needs are rather different today than our perception of them as pets was a few decades ago, when it was considered appropriate to house such pets in a small hutch, often on their own or with just a Guinea pig for company.
Alongside of the popularity of rabbits and our increasing understanding of their natural behaviours and how they should be cared for, the concept of keeping rabbits in the house rather than outside has become a rather big thing now too, and this can be one of the most fulfilling ways to really enjoy having a rabbit, keep them close to you, and ensure that they are entertained and not lonely.
However, one problem that many house rabbit owners often face, particularly those that own their first rabbit, is the issue of destructive behaviour within the home, such as digging, chewing, and generally causing problems!
In this article, we will look at how to curb and prevent destructive behaviours in house rabbits, such as chewing, digging and generally causing problems. Read on to learn more.
When it comes to destructive behaviour in rabbits, the root cause can almost invariably be broken down to one of two things, or in some cases a combination of both: A lack of boundaries and pre planning, or boredom on the part of the rabbit.
Boredom in the house rabbit is a common problem, particularly if you keep your rabbit on their own; lone rabbits need much more company, stimulation and interaction with their owners than rabbits that live with company, and in some cases, you may find that getting your rabbit a friend will help.
Tackling boredom and a lack of boundaries are the keys to keeping your rabbit happy, entertained and fulfilled, and will help to solve a great many problems.
Rabbits’ teeth grow throughout their lives, which means that rabbits needs to gnaw on appropriate objects in order to keep them short enough to be comfortable, and able to chew normally. This means that you must provide your rabbit with a range of rabbit-safe and appropriate items to chew, as otherwise, their teeth will grow overly long and/or they will be apt to find their own things to chew on!
Many rabbits, when left alone, can cause a significant amount of damage to things in your home by means of chewing, and of course this can be potentially dangerous as well if they ingest something dangerous or chew through electrical wires.
First of all, it is important to keep anything dangerous or that you really don’t want to get chewed out of your rabbit’s reach, which means assigning your rabbit to certain rooms of the house that you have rabbit-proofed and know that they are safe within. You can use deterrent sprays and other products on things like chair legs etc., but the best way to prevent chewing is to enable your rabbit to fulfil their needs naturally, with a range of appropriate chew toys that your pet finds appealing.
Digging is another issue that many rabbit owners face, and is once again, a totally natural behaviour for your rabbit. However, if your pet is digging up your carpets or trying hard to burrow through your floor, this can of course be a major hassle!
Keeping your rabbit from digging up your carpet and other things requires a dual-pronged approach-curbing your rabbit’s boredom and also, providing them with alternatives, such as a box filled up to about a foot or so deep with a suitable substance to dig through, maybe with a few toys hidden throughout it to keep things interesting.
Again, using a bitter spray or deterrent on things that your rabbit should not be digging through, and making sure that any carpets are securely fastened down is important too-but diverting your pet’s boredom and making sure that they are not lonely and left with nothing to do for large portions of the day is vital.
Like any pet, it is important to put boundaries in place for your rabbit in terms of what they are and are not allowed to do, and maintain consistency with this. When your rabbit does something undesirable in front of you, such as digging or chewing, divert them and let them know that it is not allowed by doing something that will get your pet’s attention, such as clapping your hands or stamping your feet, which usually gives rabbits pause.
Additionally, giving them a diversion such as a toy, treat or a game and of course, plenty of time and attention are key as well. Over time, your rabbit should become happier and easier to manage, as long as you work hard to give them plenty of time and attention.