Do Rabbits Chew Branches?

By Bridget Johnson

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Anyone with a house rabbit knows that when you let a bunny out for playtime, his inquisitiveness takes over and he explores everything within his reach. A chewing instinct kicks in as well, sometimes inappropriately. You could find that he effectively whittles baseboards, coffee table legs, the edge of your desk or anything else wooden. Give a rabbit a safe branch or other wooden toy to chew on instead.

Something to Chew On

A rabbit's teeth are always growing. The act of chewing keeps them worn down and your bunny's mouth healthy. Gnawing on a branch can help keep the teeth properly worn down, but some rabbits would rather chew on a cardboard box or nibble at a braided hay toy than devour wood. Regardless, you need to keep your bunny's teeth healthy by offering a large handful -- about the size of a bunny -- of clean timothy hay each day. Supplement this with a small quantity of high-quality rabbit pellets; check the packaging for the appropriate feeding amount according to your rabbit's weight. With hay, pellets and fresh veggies, your bunny's teeth should wear down appropriately whether or not he decides to chomp on a stick.

Best of the Branches

Plucking a branch from a nearby tree or one that has fallen on the ground carries a potential health hazard. First, you may not be aware if pesticides have been used on the greenery in the area. If you live in an urban environment or near a busy road, pollution can taint the quality of the branches. Branches can also harbor debris and bugs that aren't good for your bunny to ingest. If you can be assured that you're collecting a branch from an untainted source, you can blast the branch in the shower to rinse it off before giving it to your rabbit.

Safety First

When he gnaws on a branch, your bunny is ingesting fiber-rich bits of it, so you need to ensure you're not offering a dangerous variety. When picking a safe branch for your rabbit, do not select branches from trees that bear fruit with pits, such as cherry or plum trees. Single-seed fruit branches are toxic when fresh from the tree, but they are acceptable after being detached from the tree and dried out for at least a month. Trees whose branches are safe include willow, apple, spruce, maple, aspen and birch. You can even find chewable rabbit wood out on the firewood pile. Logs of pine, and pine lumber, are acceptable for your bunny, even though using pine shavings for bedding is not advised.

Branching Out

By experimenting with a variety of natural toys, you can determine what shape and texture your bunny prefers if any. You can find bunches of willow twigs at the pet store, along with willow twisted into shapes such as balls that your bunny can toss around as well as chew. Check out the bird supplies aisle for dowels and treated branches; be sure to remove any metal hardware from the end of branches intended for use as perches. Other chewable favorites includes compressed cardboard rings, poplar wood cut in fun shapes, palm chews, pine cones, compressed hay cubes and sisal. Be sure that any colored wood toys are dyed with safe food coloring.

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