Is Eating Paper Bad for Rabbits
Is Eating Paper Bad for Rabbits

Rabbits are unfussy about what they eat. Rabbits are easily bored, and they’ll pass the time by chewing anything in their path. If there is any paper in a rabbit’s hutch, it will likely be eaten.

Your rabbit will become sick if it overeats paper. Rabbits have particular nutritional needs, requiring a large amount of dietary fiber. There’s no fiber found in shredded paper or newspaper. They cannot digest paper properly, leading to constipation and internal blockages.

This does not mean that rabbits should be kept away from paper entirely. Rabbits have a natural instinct to dig, and paper will provide them with this opportunity. Rabbits also enjoy undertaking projects that take them some time, and shredding paper can provide this. We will explain why your rabbit shouldn’t eat paper, but how it can be used to enhance your bunny’s living space.

Why is My Rabbit Eating Paper?

Rabbits are typically more interesting in playing with paper than eating it. Rabbits need stimulation, and will always be looking for a long-term challenge.

This doesn’t mean that your rabbit will not eat the paper once they’re done. Your rabbit may be eating paper because they’re hungry. If so, ensure that your pet has a regular supply of fresh hay.

Your rabbit may also be lacking fiber in their diet. This leads to them seeking it from alternative sources, including paper and cardboard. Paper will not meet your pet’s nutritional needs.

Your rabbit may be eating the paper due to boredom. A bunny needs stimulation in the form of exercise, toys and social interaction. If your rabbit lives alone, they’re likely to become restless.

When in doubt, a rabbit will entertain themselves by chewing things. If they have free run of the home, they’ll find cables and furniture to munch upon.

Within the confines of a hutch, a rabbit will make do with what they can find. As many pet owners line their bunnies homes with newspaper or shredded paper, that’s what they’ll have access to.

The answer depends on how much paper your rabbit is eating. A small amount should not have a drastic impact. Most rabbits will tear the paper into shreds small enough to digest.

Like anything, too much paper can be detrimental to a rabbit’s health. No matter how we look at it, paper is not edible. There are no benefits to eating it, and plenty of hidden health risks.

Rabbit Welfare discusses the digestive process of a rabbit. The gut of a rabbit is designed to function on fibrous green foods and grass. Paper is neither of these things. If your bunny eats it to excess, they can become ill.

The main danger of a rabbit eating paper is an intestinal blockage. Paper does not break down in a rabbit’s digestive tract. If not swallowed in small pieces and quantities, it can leave them constipated.

Constipation can be lethal to rabbits. The symptoms include:

  • Your rabbit refusing to eat their food or hay
  • Your rabbit’s stomach becoming visibly swollen
  • Your rabbit hunching over, clearly experiencing abdominal pain

If you spot these warning signs, see a vet. It does not take long for constipation to become an emergency. In the short term, offer small amounts of vegetable oil as a first-aid measure.

The easiest way to prevent a rabbit from eating paper is to keep it out of their home. However, paper is also a popular material for lining a rabbit’s hutch. Newspaper is particularly common. Alternative linings for a rabbit’s home include:

  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Wood Pellets
  • Sawdust or Pine Shavings

If you use these substrates, provide plenty of ventilation. These materials, while popular, have been linked to liver disease and breathing difficulties. They’re less likely to harm your rabbit.

Ensuring that your rabbit’s core needs are met will also reduce the probability of them eating paper. This means ensuring that your bunny has plenty of hay to eat, providing them with fiber.

You must also make sure that your rabbit has a rich, fulfilling social life. If you can’t introduce a second bunny, spend time with them yourself. Rabbits become bored and depressed if left alone. They’ll fill this void by eating.

Toys are also pivotal to a rabbit. If your rabbit has enough toys to keep them amused, they’re far less likely to resort to eating paper. Fill their home with things to chew and hide.

Can Rabbits Eat Paper with Ink?

There’s something quite satisfying about recycling bills and paperwork in your rabbit’s home. It’s also more secure than putting personal data straight into the trash.

You’ll have to be careful about the ink used on this paper, though. Some inks are toxic to small animals. While most modern inks are now safer, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The most dangerous ink for rabbits is found on pamphlets and leaflets. These mass-produced communications are more likely to use cheaper, potentially toxic ink. Even high-quality pamphlets are a problem, due to the waxy nature of the paper.

Another thing to consider is that ink can stain your rabbit’s fur. If your pet is white, they may not stay that way. Don’t be surprised if your bunny’s bright white paws turn a murky shade of gray. That’s the last thing you want to happen, especially if you’re rabbit’s paws and fur are stained by urine.

Newspapers remain the most popular paper for rabbit homes. You can read your newspaper over breakfast, and line your rabbit’s home by lunch. It’s a great way to recycle, but it is safe?

As with most paper-based communications, newspapers tend to be printed using safer ink. Whereas older inks used petroleum as a base, soy and water are now more common.

You should always test this theory exposing your rabbit to printed matter, however. Rub your finger over the ink. Does it smudge and come off on your finger? Does it stubbornly cling to your finger when you try to wash it off? If so, this ink is petroleum-based and must be kept away from rabbits.

Petroleum-based ink never fully dries. Also, it contains the same oils that a car mechanic would use. Lining your rabbit’s home with these inks is unsafe.

Can You Put Shredded Paper in a Rabbit Hutch?

In many respects, shredded paper is safer than a whole paper. It will already be in smaller chunks. This means that, should your rabbit swallow the paper, it’s less likely to cause an intestinal blockage.

Also, the shredded paper will minimize exposure to ink. Once the paper has been through a shredder, the ink is evenly distributed in tiny amounts.

Despite this, shredded up paper alone is unsafe as a substrate (bedding). The British Rabbit Council only recommends using shredded paper below straw or hay.

One option is providing your rabbit with safe paper to shred themselves. Many bunnies will enjoy this. It gives them something to do, and they can use the shreds for nesting.

Take the Yellow Pages or phone book as examples. If these are acting as doorstops in your home, consider offering them to your rabbit. They’ll have hours of fun shredding these books, and digging amidst their trail of destruction.

Can Rabbits Eat Paper Bags?

Paper bags are loads of fun for rabbits. These items can be applied to a rabbit’s cage and used as toys. Your bunny can chew, shred and hide within the paper bag.

As always, there are caveats to this. A paper bag is not easy to digest. They’re big, and they’re tough. Like all paper, this will potentially cause your rabbit stomach problems.

The best approach to take is stuffing a paper bag with hay or straw. This will help your bunny enjoy everything the bag has to offer, alongside a safe food source.

There is nothing wrong with your rabbit enjoying playtime with a paper bag, but tread carefully. If they show more desire to eat the bag than their regular food, take it away.

Can Rabbits Eat Toilet Paper?

Of all the forms paper out there, toilet paper is the least harmful to a rabbit’s gut. That doesn’t mean that it’s good for your rabbit. Don’t offer toilet paper instead of celery as a snack for a bunny.

If they do nibble at a corner of toilet paper, it’s not the end of the world. This material will ball up much smaller than a traditional sheet of paper. This makes it easier for your rabbit to pass.

Once you have finished with a toilet roll, the tube makes a brilliant toy for rabbits. Your pet will enjoy chewing it, and pushing it around their hutch.

Also, you could fill the toilet roll tube with hay, straw or treats. You could even apply sticks to the toilet roll tube, creating a makeshift toy.

Can Bunnies Eat Paper Towels?

While toilet paper is not necessarily an issue for rabbits, the same cannot be said for paper towels. If you use a robust and absorbent kitchen towel, it can be tough for your bunny to digest.

Just like toilet rolls, the cardboard that paper towels are wrapped around makes a versatile plaything. Just ensure that all traces of paper towel have been removed before offering to your bunny.

Napkins are best avoided altogether. Your rabbit may enjoy using these for various reasons. A napkin can be a makeshift blanket, or be shredded for fun. If eaten, it’s dangerous.

This is because napkins are tough and hard to swallow. While a rabbit will enjoy a prolonged period of time chewing, the problem comes with swallowing. Napkins are not easy for your rabbit to digest.

Besides, most napkins are heavily dyed as a decorative feature. Unless you are confident that this dye is safe for rabbits, keep them away.

Is Cardboard Safer for Rabbits to Eat Than Paper?

Cardboard is more dangerous for your bunny to eat. It is thicker and sturdier than paper, and thus even harder to digest.

Thankfully, this means that your rabbit it less likely to eat excessive amounts of card. They’ll spend so much time and energy chewing and destroying, they may be too tired to eat.

Cardboard makes a great makeshift toy for a rabbit, and will keep them content for hours. Just observe your pet.

Chewing cardboard is a good thing. It entertains your rabbit, and keeps their teeth from growing too sharp. Eating it, however, is potentially dangerous and must be discouraged.

What’s important is that your rabbit uses paper for entertainment, not food. Nothing good will come from your rabbit eating paper.