Why do rabbits eat paper?

Introduction: The Curious Habit of Rabbits Eating Paper

Rabbits have a curious habit of eating paper, whether it be a book, a newspaper, or even a tissue. It is not uncommon for rabbit owners to find their pet nibbling on paper, which raises the question: why do they do it? There are a few reasons why rabbits consume paper, some of which are related to their digestive system and nutritional needs, while others are based on psychological factors.

Understanding Rabbit Digestion and Nutrition

Rabbits are herbivores, which means that their diet is mostly made up of plants. They have a unique digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients from tough plant material. To aid in digestion, rabbits have a large cecum, a pouch-like structure located at the beginning of the large intestine, where bacteria break down the fibrous plant material into nutrients that the rabbit can absorb. This process is essential for the rabbit’s health and well-being. Rabbits also have a constant need to grind their teeth, which never stop growing. Chewing on tough materials helps to wear down their teeth and prevent dental problems.

While rabbits need a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat, they also require certain vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Consuming paper does not provide any nutritional value to rabbits, and in fact, it can be harmful to their health if consumed in large quantities. However, there are certain types of paper that rabbits may be attracted to because of their texture or taste.

Common Paper Materials that Attract Rabbits

Rabbits may be attracted to certain types of paper materials, such as paper towels, tissues, cardboard, and even wallpaper. These materials may be appealing to rabbits because of their texture or because they smell like something the rabbit is familiar with, such as food or their owner. Rabbits may also be drawn to paper that has been soiled with food or urine, as they are naturally attracted to scents.

Psychological Reasons for Rabbit Paper Consumption

In addition to nutritional needs and attraction to certain materials, rabbits may also consume paper for psychological reasons. Rabbits are social animals and require mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Chewing on paper can provide a form of entertainment and mental stimulation for rabbits. Rabbits may also chew on paper as a way to alleviate stress or anxiety, especially if they are in an unfamiliar environment or if their routine has been disrupted.

How to Discourage Rabbits from Eating Paper

While it is normal for rabbits to chew on items, including paper, it is important to discourage them from consuming it. Eating too much paper can cause blockages in the digestive system, leading to serious health problems. Providing your rabbit with plenty of safe chew toys, such as wooden blocks, hay balls, and cardboard tubes, can help to redirect their chewing behavior. You can also try spraying a bitter-tasting substance, such as apple cider vinegar or bitter apple spray, on items you do not want your rabbit to chew on.

Potential Health Risks of Paper Eating for Rabbits

Consuming paper can be harmful to rabbits, especially if they consume large quantities or ingest paper that has been treated with chemicals or ink. Paper can cause blockages in the digestive system, leading to discomfort, pain, and even death. Ingesting paper that has been treated with chemicals or ink can also be toxic to rabbits. If you suspect that your rabbit has consumed a large amount of paper or paper that has been treated with chemicals or ink, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Alternative Materials for Rabbits to Chew on

To keep your rabbit happy and healthy, provide them with a variety of safe chew toys. Safe chew toys for rabbits include wooden blocks, hay balls, cardboard tubes, and untreated willow branches. It is important to avoid giving your rabbit toys that are made of plastic or other materials that can be harmful if ingested.

How to Safely Incorporate Paper into Your Rabbit’s Diet

While paper does not provide any nutritional value to rabbits, it can be used as a supplement to their diet in small amounts. Adding a small amount of shredded, unbleached paper to your rabbit’s hay or pellets can provide a source of mental stimulation and help to prevent boredom. It is important to avoid using paper that has been treated with chemicals or ink, as this can be harmful to your rabbit’s health.

Conclusion: The Fascinating World of Rabbit Behavior

Rabbits are fascinating creatures with unique behavior and dietary needs. While the habit of eating paper may seem odd to humans, it is important to understand the reasons behind this behavior and take steps to prevent harm to our furry friends. By providing rabbits with safe chew toys and a well-balanced diet, we can ensure that they stay happy and healthy for years to come.

References and Further Reading

  • "Rabbits." The Humane Society of the United States,
  • "Rabbit Health." House Rabbit Society,
  • "Chewing Behavior in Rabbits." Ontario Rabbit Education Organization,
  • "What Can Rabbits Chew On?" The Rabbit House,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *