Can Rabbits Eat Paper

Can Bunnies Eat Paper?

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Is Paper Safe for Rabbits?

Many rodents like to chew and gnaw on wood and paper to help keep their teeth short. But where does gnawing end, and eating begin? Rabbit owners are continually asking, “can rabbits eat paper?” to ensure the overall health and wellbeing of their beloved pets. The answer to this question revolves around how much paper your rabbit is consuming and which type of paper.

While tiny shreds of paper won’t harm a rabbit, toxic types of paper or paper in large quantities can cause some pretty serious health concerns for your pet. If you are concerned with your rabbit’s paper consumption, it is best to err on the side of caution. Paper offers no real health benefits or nutritional value and is an unnecessary component of your rabbit’s diet.

Why Does My Rabbit Eat Paper?

Your rabbit could be eating paper for any number of reasons. A rabbit will chew as part of its natural instinct. Rabbits are considered folivores, so they are inclined to chew on just about anything they can get their paws on. Wood, pellets, food, hay, and even paper can offer a rabbit a satisfying and sometimes rewarding chew.

A rabbit chewing on paper could indicate a sign of hunger or an unbalanced diet. If your rabbit’s nutritional needs aren’t met, it may resort to eating paper to supplement lacking vitamins and nutrients. Eating paper could mean that your pet is craving fiber usually found in their unlimited supply of greens or hay.

Lastly, your pet rabbit eating paper may simply be a sign of boredom. Rabbits are social and playful creatures continually looking for mental stimulation and enrichment opportunities. Chewing on paper offers a different taste and texture for your rabbit to experience. While ingesting paper may not be the healthiest option for your pet, it fulfills a need and helps pass the time, especially for a bored rabbit.

Is Paper Dangerous For My Rabbit?

The biggest concern with a rabbit eating paper is an intestinal blockage. Compared to the natural foods your rabbit eats, the paper can’t break down the same way. Even small pieces of paper can build up in your rabbit’s digestive tract, which could create constipation and eventual infection and death.

Constipation is easy to observe in your rabbit if you know the early signs and symptoms indicating your rabbit might be in trouble. Some signs of constipation in rabbits include:

  • Rabbit is hunched or showing signs of abdominal pain
  • Swollen or distended stomach
  • Refusing to eat hay or food when offered

If you notice your rabbit is showing these symptoms, you should see a veterinarian immediately. Constipation can happen quickly and turn into an emergency in just a matter of hours. While you wait for your veterinary appointment, administering small amounts of olive oil to your rabbit can work as an emergency first aid procedure.

How Can I Prevent My Rabbit From Eating Paper?

You should avoid offering paper products to your rabbit due to the high occurrence of intestinal blockages the material can cause. But, many commercially made and readily available products intended for rabbits are made of paper, making it difficult to avoid the material altogether. Some great ways to deter your rabbit from eating paper include:

  • Alternative Bedding – Paper-based bedding is commercially available for rabbits, but this material can lead to constipation if ingested. Instead, consider using wood pellets, straw, sawdust, or hay as an alternative bedding option for your rabbit. If you are using alternative bedding options, be sure to have a well-ventilated rabbit enclosure to keep your pet healthy.
  • Balanced Diet – Give your rabbit an unlimited supply of hay and greens. Not only will these food sources help to keep your rabbit healthy with the proper vitamins and minerals, but they will give your rabbit enough fiber to stay healthy. When your rabbit has enough fiber in its diet, it is less likely to seek out paper as a fiber alternative.
  • Social – Rabbits, by nature, are social creatures and need plenty of play and enrichment to stay happy. A rabbit that eats paper may simply be bored. If your rabbit does not have a companion to play with, be sure to give your rabbit plenty of attention. Your rabbit will need sufficient time outside of its enclosure to explore and exercise each day.
  • Toys – To keep your rabbit happy and engaged, offer plenty of rabbit-safe toys for it to play with. Wooden toy options are always a safe bet and can help keep your rabbit entertained. A bored rabbit is prone to eating, so be sure to keep plenty of different toys on hand.
Some paper in small quantities can be acceptable.
Can rabbits eat paper? Not if you want them to remain healthy.

What Paper Can My Rabbit Have?

While it is good to eliminate paper products from your rabbit’s diet and enclosure, this is not always a possible practice. The prevalence of paper-based toys and bedding makes working with paper products in your rabbit’s home a daily reality. However, choosing the right paper for your rabbit can make the difference between a healthy or potentially sick rabbit.

Can Rabbits Eat Paper with Ink?

Some paper with ink is safe for your pet, and luckily most modern-day inks are designed with safety in mind. While most inks are not toxic for small animals, it is best to use an abundance of caution. Cheaply made mass publications often have potentially harmful ink or are printed on waxy paper. You want to avoid any ink that could possibly stain your rabbit. Always test paper with ink by rubbing your finger across the ink. If the ink smudges and leaves your finger dirty, your rabbit should avoid the paper too.

Can Rabbits Eat Newspaper?

One of the most popular bedding materials for your rabbit and its home is newspaper. It is cheap, absorbent, and readily produced. Luckily most newer inks are made with safe, non-toxic inks compared to potentially harmful inks of the past. Today, most inks are soy-based, compared to petroleum-based inks used decades ago. If you are in doubt, perform the smudge test with your finger. An ink that comes off on your skin is likely petroleum-based, which never fully dries. Petroleum-based ink used in newspaper printings is not safe for your rabbit to ingest.

Can Rabbits Eat Paper Bedding?

Shredded paper is a popular bedding option that is regularly available and relatively affordable. Usually, the paper used for bedding only has very minimal amounts of ink, making it safe. If you are using paper bedding, the best bet is to only use the bedding under straw or hay. The British Rabbit Council recommends using shredded paper to absorb urine, but not the sole bedding source.

Can Rabbits Eat Paper Bags?

A fun and safe way rabbits can interact with paper is by using paper bags as a toy. Rabbits will spend hours playing with paper bags as they shred, chew, and hide inside the bag. Of course, always supervise your rabbit when playing with the bag. The paper used in most paper bags is pretty thick and not easily digested. Make sure your rabbit is only chewing the bag and not ingesting large quantities of paper bag paper. Eating too much of the paper bag could lead to severe stomach trouble for your bunny. An excellent way to combat this is to fill the paper bag with straw or hay. Your rabbit will still enjoy chewing on the bag and hiding inside but will have healthy and suitable material to eat.

Can Rabbits Eat Cardboard?

Although cardboard may seem like a sturdy option for your rabbit to chew, it can pose some pretty real dangers if ingested. The thick cardboard can make it difficult for your rabbit to digest, leading to blockages. Luckily, because cardboard is a bit thicker, your rabbit is less likely to eat the cardboard. Most rabbits will exhaust themselves chewing the cardboard to shreds and they won’t have much motivation to continue eating the cardboard once it has been shredded. Cardboard can be a quick go-to solution if your rabbit looks bored or needs new toys. This makeshift toy option can lead to hours of entertainment; just be sure to always supervise your pet rabbit when playing with cardboard.

A young, healthy rabbit.
A young and curious rabbit explores her surroundings.

Final Thoughts

Although rabbits are pretty robust and healthy animals, they have a sensitive digestive system. Even simple and relatively harmless materials, like paper, can lead to constipation and potential blockages. Paper products are alright to give your rabbit with caution. Be sure to supervise your rabbit playing with cardboard or paper toys, and always opt for alternative bedding options like straw, hay, or wood chips. To deter your rabbit from eating too much paper, be sure to give your rabbit a balanced diet full of fiber and provide plenty of social interaction and playtime to keep it mentally and physically stimulated. A rabbit eating small amounts of paper should be safe, but closely observe your pet for any signs of digestive distress or constipation.

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