Will eating paper hurt a bunny?
July 2, 2007 4:10 PM   Subscribe

Is it dangerous for my pet bunny to eat paper?

I have a two/two-and-a-half year-old male lop-eared rabbit, Bob. I line his cage with newspaper and bedding (carefresh or whatever is on sale that is similar). He likes to tear up the newspaper and generally make a mess. The other day, we were out of paper so I lined his cage with some used paper (regular 8 1/2 x 11 office paper). When I came home yesterday, he had a piece in his mouth. At first I thought he was just tearing it, but then I noticed he wasn't standing on the other end. He methodically ate the entire piece of paper. I've never seen him do this before.

Can eating paper hurt him? Is it a sign of some sort of dietary deficiency? Is it because I forgot to buy hay this week? (He usually gets about equal amounts hay and fresh vegetables. We don't feed our bunnies pellets on the advice of their vet.)
posted by joannemerriam to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My friend Melisa's bunny used to eat paper all the time. From what I've read it's actually normal rabbit behavior called "Shredding."

"Does Zippy peel the wallpaper or sheetrock? Rabbits who like to shred need to have paper products aplenty. An urban Yellow Pages is one of the best shredding choices. Unless your rabbit eats a great deal of the paper, shredding itself is not harmful, except to your house and possessions. You can give him the Yellow Pages on their own, or in a box or basket, with other shreddable items. Like many other rabbit activities, unfortunately shredding is not particularly neat, so keeping the shreddables in a box may keep your home a bit neater. A whisk broom, or full size broom (made of straw, not plastic) also provides a fun shredding toy."
posted by miss lynnster at 4:57 PM on July 2, 2007

Best answer: I used to have a lop and he ate and shredded paper all the time. In my experience, it's a sign of boredom. Make sure he gets enough time outside the cage (also, is the cage big enough?) and has lots of toys.
posted by Lucie at 5:54 PM on July 2, 2007

My bunnies eat paper and I don't worry about it. For them it's fibre.

They currently have made a little house out of a furniture box in my room and enjoy nothing more than chewing on the cardboard in order to make it just right. One is almost 10 years old, so if paper eating was going to hurt her, I think it would have happened by now.

Just make sure the little fella gets a lot of timothy hay, that is what really helps keep their digestive system on track.
posted by Salmonberry at 6:10 PM on July 2, 2007

Mine shreds and eats some paper occasionally, which is ok, but I definitely noticed more paper-eating (the New Yorker is his favorite) when I tried to switch his hay.
Sounds like forgetting to buy the hay is the reason in your case. As long as he still eats fresh veg and hay, my vet said some paper-eating is ok, and I bet he'll quit or cut back the paper-eating when he has the hay again.
posted by rmless at 7:16 PM on July 2, 2007

Mine eats cancelled checks, credit card applications, and back issues of the New Yorker. (rmless: What's with bunnies loving the New Yorker? He avoids other magazines.)

He's pretty healthy -- turns nine next month. Plus, it saves the bother of buying a shredder for the occasional bank statement.
posted by mochapickle at 8:10 PM on July 2, 2007

You said it was "used" paper. If that means there was toner on it, I'd call the vet to check on that. Toner's supposed to be dangerous for humans to injest, so I assume it's not good for bunnies either. But the vet would be able to tell you whether there's anything to worry about in the amount covering a few sheets of paper.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:28 PM on July 2, 2007

I had a rabbit that ate paper all the time. It seemed that she preferred newsprint, and it never hurt her. She lived almost 10 years with no apparant ill effects. I wouldn't worry too much about it (but I agree, it could be a sign of boredom. Make sure your bunny gets plenty of play time).
posted by I_love_the_rain at 10:09 AM on July 3, 2007

Response by poster: I'm going with the boredom theory for now, though I'll keep an eye on him - he's shown no interest even in shredding let alone eating the paper since I let him run around some more and gave him some stuff to do (hid a head of lettuce inside his wire ball so he had to figure out how to get at it in order to eat it - instant 2 hour activity).

I'm pretty sure his cage is big enough - it's about three times as long as he is. He gets let out about once a day, usually for an hour or so, longer on weekends.

Thanks everybody.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:54 PM on July 3, 2007

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