Why do rabbits eat cardboard?

Why Do Rabbits Eat Cardboard?

If you have a rabbit you may have noticed them nibbling on a piece of cardboard.  Although this may seem strange to us; many bunny parents have experienced this.  This article will answer the question of why do rabbits eat cardboard, the dangers of letting your rabbit eat cardboard, and ways to prevent your bunny from eating cardboard.

So, Why Do Rabbits Eat Cardboard?

Rabbits may chew on or even eat cardboard for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, they will be playing, but they may also use it to get more cellulose. However, too much cardboard might not be ideal for your pet, but there are things you can do to help this.

Reasons That Rabbits Eat Cardboard

There are several reasons why you might find your pet rabbit munching on a piece of cardboard; some of these are more concerning than others. Typically, your rabbit ingesting a small piece of cardboard won’t pose a considerable risk to your pet, but of course, if you can prevent them from eating it you should.

Your Rabbit Needs Cellulose in their Diet

One of the key parts of the rabbit’s diet is cellulose. This is a naturally occurring component found in many of the leaves and veggies that your rabbit eats. However, cellulose can also be found in cardboard.

Cardboard is made from pressing together natural materials such as grasses, wood, and leaves. Cardboard and paper can contain up to 20% cellulose which is pretty high for a non-food item.

Because of the high cellulose levels in the cardboard, your rabbit may be eating it because they have a deficiency, and they need more cellulose in their system.  Rabbits are unique in the fact that they need more cellulose in their diet than some other animals. Rabbits have a very complex and delicate digestive system that can break down cellulose efficiently.  Because of this, rabbits benefit from a cellulose-rich diet.

Your Rabbit Thinks Cardboard is a Chew Toy

Rabbits have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lives. This means that if they do not have a way to grind them down, they can grow out of control, and this can cause a whole host of problems and discomfort for your bunny.

For this reason, rabbit owners must provide their pets with safe items to chew on. This can be natural materials such as branches, but you can also find rabbit chew toys in your local pet supply store.

rabbits playing in a box

Some rabbit owners find it acceptable to let their rabbit chew on cardboard because it satisfies their need to grind their teeth down, but you should monitor how much cardboard is being chewed versus how much is being swallowed. If your rabbit is ingesting large amounts of cardboard, you should not let them chew on it.

Your Rabbit is Bored

Just like boredom can cause dogs and cats to exhibit some unusual behavior it can do the same for rabbits.

When people think of the most intelligent pets, a rabbit usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, however, rabbits are incredibly intelligent!  They are also sociable animals that need a lot of attention. Thus, if they are simply left in their cage, they can quickly become bored.

For this reason, you should make sure that you interact with your rabbit often throughout the day to keep them from getting bored. Rabbits are highly trainable and can even be taught tricks like dogs to keep them busy. Your rabbit will form a closer bond with you the more time you spend with them.

Your Rabbit is Playing

Since rabbits are very smart, they need mental stimulation.  To try and stimulate themselves they play a lot.

You have likely observed your rabbit frolicking and playing either outside on the inside, and some pet owners will provide their rabbits with cardboard boxes to play in.

Rabbit owners commonly use cardboard boxes with holes cut out of them to provide a maze for their pets to hop through. However, some rabbits will take to nibbling on the boxes as opposed to just running around in them, so be sure to monitor your rabbit to make sure they are not eating the box.

Dangers Of Letting Your Rabbit Eat Cardboard

As we have mentioned, eating small cardboard fragments is unlikely to cause serious harm to your pet.  However, if your rabbit to eats larger amounts of cardboard, this could pose more serious dangers.

Cardboard Poses a Choking Risk

One of the most obvious reasons that cardboard could be dangerous for your bunny is that it could become lodged in the throat and cause your rabbit to choke.

If you ever find that your rabbit is choking, it is vital that you help immediately. Your rabbit will be upset and will likely try to run away from you, but it is vital to carefully get control of your bunny to provide assistance. Once you have hold of your rabbit, you should try and perform a rabbit Heimlich maneuver because taking your rabbit somewhere for help may take too long.

Some Types of Cardboard are More Dangerous

Most notably, cardboard that features logos or print could be toxic to your rabbit. This is because of the ink used on the box.  Furthermore, glossy cardboard like cereal boxes may be just as dangerous.

If you must give your rabbit cardboard, it is important to make sure that it is plain and as natural as possible.

Eating too much Cardboard

Another main hazard of your bunny eating cardboard is internal blockages. If your rabbit eats enough cardboard it could either get lodged in their system somewhere, or it could cause them serious digestive upset because cardboard won’t be digested by their body the same way as food.

How To Stop Your Rabbit From Eating Cardboard

The best thing to do to prevent your rabbit from eating cardboard is to not provide you bunny with access to cardboard. If no cardboard is around, they won’t be able to chew or eat it.

Another good option is to provide your bunny with rabbit safe toys to keep them from getting bored. Interacting and playing with your rabbit regularly throughout the day will also provide them with enough stimulation to keep boredom down.


Sometimes our pets can exhibit strange behavior like eating cardboard and we can wonder if it is normal. Surprisingly, cats also have an affinity for eating paper and cardboard. Your rabbit playing with cardboard and even chewing cardboard is ok, just make sure they aren’t ingesting it to prevent the dangers discussed above. Keeping your rabbit entertained and providing them with rabbit safe chew toys goes a long way toward keeping your rabbit away from paper products.