How do I encourage a rabbit to chew on toys and not unacceptable items?
Have the toys and the unacceptable items next to each other and watch your rabbit. If the rabbit goes for the bad object, pound the wall or clap or make some other sort of loud noise to make it stop. If the rabbit chews the proper toys, feed it a treat.
Set the rabbit up so that they will have a clear boundary of what is acceptable to destroy and what is not. Make the acceptable option super tempting and rewarding so that he will choose the correct and good option rather than deal with something that results in pounding and scary noises.
However, please note that you cannot teach a rabbit to 100% consistently not chew an object that is possibly within their reach. If you have cables or other furniture that you do not want possibly destroyed, keep them completely inaccessible with proper bunny-proofing.
My rabbit keeps me up by consistently chewing his cage bars. How do I make him stop?
Make sure you don't give him any attention when he rattles the bar or else it will be a self-reinforcing behavior. It is also important to break this behavior as chewing on cage bars can cause incisor malocclusion in rabbits, which can be an expensive problem to treat.:440
Some reasons for cage-bar chewing:
Try changing up his environment in the cage regularly to make him more curious about his surroundings and cover the sections of the pen that he's rattling with cardboard. Enriching their environment with shelter to hide in and a raised area to hop on and use as a lookout or resting place can also help decrease bar-gnawing. Ensuring there is fresh hay at all times will also help with decreasing their stress.
If you feed your rabbit pellets, scatter them everywhere so your bunny will take longer to find and eat them all. Research has also shown that feeding supplementary pellets in the afternoon rather than the morning can help prevent the behavior.
As usual, be sure to provide plenty of acceptable chew toys, and swap those out regularly as well to make it interesting. Ideas for various toys to entertain your rabbit can be found in Toys.
How can I get my rabbit to voluntarily run back to its cage?
Generally, their pellets and veggies for bedtime make a great bribe to make rabbits run home on their own. Try saving a portion and making a distinctive sound or call their names to have them learn to run home to get these tasty foods.
If your rabbit cannot jump in their pen or cage on their own due to location, we would highly suggest modifying it so that you do not need to handle them to move them in and out of the housing.
- Oglesbee, B. (2011). Blackwell's five-minute veterinary consult: Small mammal. (2nd ed.).
- Hansen, LT et al. (1999). The effect of environmental enrichment on the behaviour of caged rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Retrieved 17 Feb 2017 from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bc13/20d2d0555a6a9e481deb676b5ea4fa0f4ab5.pdf
- Berthelsen, H et al. (1999). The Effect of Hay on the Behaviour of Caged Rabbits (Oryctolagus Cuniculus). Retrieved 17 Feb 2017 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233557132_The_Effect_of_Hay_on_the_Behaviour_of_Caged_Rabbits_Oryctolagus_Cuniculus
- Krohn, TC et al. (1998). The effects of feeding and housing on the behaviour of the laboratory rabbits. Retrieved 17 Feb 2017 from http://lan.sagepub.com/content/33/2/101.full.pdf