Surprisingly, a rabbit chewing or biting your clothing is rather normal behavior. If you have just gotten a lovely rabbit, you may have noticed this behavior and wondered why do rabbits bite my clothes?
This article will give some of the most common reasons why rabbits bite your clothes as well as things you can do to prevent this behavior.
Why Rabbits Bite Your Clothes?
Rabbits bite clothes for several reasons such as them needed something to chew on, being bored, being frustrated, or simply being affectionate and wanting to play. Looking at the situations around when your rabbit starts biting your clothes will help you narrow down why they are exhibiting this behavior.
Reasons Why Rabbits Bite Clothes
Below are some of the most common reasons why rabbits bite clothing:
Chewing is a Natural Behavior for Rabbits
One of the main reasons that rabbits chew on clothing in addition to other objects is because it is necessary to maintain good oral health. Animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats and mice have teeth that continue to grow.
These types of teeth are called open-rooted teeth, and they continue to grow throughout the animal’s life. Some animals just have certain teeth in their mouth that are open-rooted, but all of the teeth in a rabbit’s mouth are open-rooted and will continue to grow throughout the rabbit’s life.
Since rabbits are herbivores, their diet consists of plant material which is often fibrous such as grass, and even harder things such as the bark from trees. As rabbits chew these types of foods on a daily basis, their teeth are naturally worn down.
However, when we have rabbits as pets, we often feed them pellets which do not wear down their teeth at the same rate as the foods that they consume when living in the wild. If the rabbit’s teeth are not wearing down at a sufficient rate from eating pellets and other soft foods, their teeth may become overgrown.
When a rabbit’s teeth become overgrown, it can cause discomfort and even health issues. To prevent overgrowth from occurring, rabbits will often chew objects, like your clothing, in an attempt to file down their teeth.
Your Rabbit is Being Affectionate or Wants to Play
One reason that a rabbit may bite your clothing is that they are being affectionate or want you to play with them. Rabbits are social animals and some rabbits, depending on their personality enjoy engagement with their owners such as playing to being held and petted. If you are one of the lucky rabbit owners who has a rabbit who enjoys being engaged by humans, this could be their way of getting you to pet them or play with them.
Your Rabbit Wants Alone Time
While rabbits are social animals, they also enjoy having their personal space to themselves. If you notice that your rabbit chews on your clothing while you are attempting to play with them, this could be their way of expressing to you that they want to be left alone.
In this instance, your rabbit may scratch at you in addition to biting your clothing to express their desire to be alone.
Your Rabbit May Be Frustrated
Similar to wanting to be alone, your rabbit may also bite your clothing because they are being frustrated or annoyed by some other condition or circumstance.
Sometimes rabbits can be frustrated when they have been confined to their cage for a prolonged period of time without the opportunity to get out of the cage and explore their surroundings.
Your Rabbit May Be Stressed
Another cause of your rabbit chewing your clothing could be stress. Stress in rabbits can be caused by many things, but loud noises are a very common source of stress.
Since rabbits have a very acute sense of hearing, noises that may seem quiet to us could be rather loud for a rabbit. If you have your rabbit’s cage located in a location that is prone to loud noises such as a laundry room when the washing machine or dryer are running, this may be causing a stressful environment for your rabbit which causes some of their chewing of clothing when you remove them from their cage.
Scents May Attract Your Rabbit To Your Clothes
Rabbits also have an excellent sense of smell which helps them to survive in the wild by enabling them to smell sources of food and predators. While this heightened sense provides advantages in the wild, it can also be the cause of your rabbit biting your clothing.
Rabbits are known to explore their environment using all of their senses including their sense of taste. So, your rabbit may be biting your clothing because there is a new smell on them, and they are curious about it and are giving it a “taste test”.
Rabbits can be affectionate with their owner’s after a bond has been formed. So, your rabbit may like your scent and be comforted by your smell, so they go to biting your clothes in an attempt to be closer to you.
The opposite can also be true, if you have been somewhere an acquired a scent (maybe of another animal) that your rabbit doesn’t like, they could be biting your clothes to get rid of the smell or from frustration because of the scent.
How to Prevent a Rabbit From Biting Your Clothes
One approach to curbing your rabbits desire to chew your clothing is to provide toys to them. In the event that your rabbit is chewing your clothing as a result of a desire to play, providing them with toys can be an outlet for this playful energy.
You may notice that after some time, your rabbit becomes bored with a certain toy and reverts to chewing your clothing again. This could be a good time to introduce a new toy that can occupy their interest instead of your clothing.
Providing Safe Objects To Chew
If your rabbit is chewing your clothing as a way to file their teeth, providing them with safe objects to chew could be a good way to get them to stop chewing your clothing. If you plan to provide your rabbit with things to chew be sure that they aren’t poisonous or otherwise harmful to them.
Below are some common things that rabbits tend to like to chew on:
Some rabbit owners let their rabbits chew carboards which can be safe depending on the type of cardboard since carboard is made of plant fiber. If you plan to give your rabbit cardboard, be sure that the cardboard is not coated in wax or another substance which often gives the cardboard a shiny appearance.
You should also avoid giving your rabbit colored cardboard or cardboard that has printing on it since the ink used for the printing or may be harmful to them.
Also beware of allowing your rabbit to chew too much cardboard since it can cause digestion issues if consumed in excessive quantities.
Wooden Chew Toys
Providing wooden toys to your rabbit for them to chew can also be a good way to prevent them from chewing on your clothing, especially if you suspect that they are chewing clothing as a way to wear down their teeth. Since wooden toys are harder than cardboard, chewing on these toys can be a great way to ensure that their teeth remain filed down sufficiently.
Additionally, chewing on wooden toys as opposed to cardboard can prevent some of the digestion issues and potential blockages of the digestion tract that can be caused by excessive consumption of cardboard.
If you do plan to use wooden toys, be sure that the toys come from trees that are not toxic to rabbits. Certain tress such as cedar, pine, elder, oak, redwood and walnut contain chemicals that are harmful to rabbits. Wooden toys made from stone fruit trees such as cherry, apricot, peach and plum trees should also be avoided because they are toxic to rabbits.
Similar to wooden toys, providing tree bark to your rabbit can be an economical approach to prevent them from chewing on clothing. If you decide to use tree bark, you should refrain from removing the bark from living trees since this could have a negative impact on those trees.
If you plan to use the bark from trees as a chew toy for your rabbit you should avoid bark from the same trees listed above in the wooden toy section to prevent your rabbit from becoming ill.
Rabbits are curious animals with heightened senses. Your rabbit’s desire to chew your clothing could be caused by their curiosity, excitement, frustration, or their need to wear down their teeth. The best way to stop your rabbit from chewing your clothing is to determine why they are exhibiting such behavior and offer an alternative solution such as giving your rabbit affection, alone time, or a safe object to chew.