One of my rabbit-loving friends called her bunny a life support for chewing teeth. I wish I could remember who it was so I could give proper attribution in this post. Be that is it may, rabbits have an insatiable need to chew things. Their teeth keep growing, though they aren't rodents, so they must chew grass hay to wear them down properly. Otherwise they end up with overgrown teeth that lacerate their mouths and make eating a chore.
Factors like these are what most people never think of when they buy a bunny for Easter. For most folks, their ideas are shaped by the anecdotes of friends and Bugs Bunny cartoons. I've heard so many sad stories of pet rabbits chewing on toys, base boards, and snipping wires. I even had problems with my bunnies sabotaging my computer's phone line.
Back in the days of dial-up connections, I strung an extension phone cord to the PC in my office. To prevent Gideon from snipping the line, I tucked it under the base boards. The little sneak managed to dig it out and chew through it. I went to get my e-mail as usual the next morning and found that the computer couldn't connect to the FreeNet server. Tracing the wire showed me where my fur-clad Dennis the Menace snipped it.
I've found that the best way to prevent chewable things from being damaged is either to hide them or cover them. For example, I arranged my stereo system so all the cables were hidden behind the massive speaker box. For cables that couldn't be blocked off, I wrapped them in cable protectors and then put brown packing tape on top.
Distraction is another tactic that bunny owners can use to satisfy a rabbit's need to chew. I've found that cardboard boxes with holes cut at opposite ends work well to keep chomping teeth satisfied. My rabbits have happily widened the holds. When I put an old phone book, minus its covers, inside the box, my long-eared vandals spent many happy hours shredding and tearing them. Bunnies also like to nap in these makeshift houses.
Vinegar bottles filled with water came in handy for keeping door barriers standing. With an equivalent of Neat Idea Cubes, metal grids painted with enamel, these home-made gates worked well as barriers when lashed together with wire ties. This remedy managed to keep bunnies out of rooms that weren't bunny-proofed. They made nice pens too.
Rabbits have a nasty habit of chewing on clothing and carpets. Though I haven't been completely successful in preventing damage to my rugs, other bunny folks have used compounds such as Bitter Apple and Ivory Soap on the areas which tend to be chewing temptations. I've managed to stop some buck-toothed vandals from destroying my carpets by placing vinegar jugs filled with water along the walls.
I'm writing all this to say that house rabbits aren't for house-proud people. If you don't mind grid barriers, cord wrap, and water bottles all over the place, then bunnies might be the companion animal for you. If you don't mind sweeping or vacuuming up shreds of paper and cardboard, you're a good candidate for a bunny. Most people won't put up with keeping chewable things out of the reach of rabbits. That's why I advocate each spring for responsible pet ownership. Do your homework rather than be unpleasantly surprised.
I cover all this and more in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit book. Check out this book at the left hand side of this page.
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