The short answer to this is – probably no more so than a cat or dog. With any indoors pet you have to expect to clean more regularly and that some items of furniture or floor covering might get damaged. With house rabbits, there are many actions you can take to minimise this damage.
If you keep your rabbit in a cage and only let it out for supervised exercise, you can obviously prevent any destructive behaviour whatsoever. However, a house rabbit is defined as one which is not confined to a cage at any time and has free run of a room or the whole house. This is the “holy grail” for pet rabbits – the best possible life they can live – and one which they deserve just as much as a cat or dog.
What might they damage?
Obviously, rabbits love to nibble, dig and chew. This is natural behaviour for them and should not be discouraged per se, merely directed elsewhere. They might nibble the back of a sofa or a table leg, nibble and dig at the carpet and chew wood skirting boards. They also love to nibble at electrical cables, perhaps because they resemble tree roots which would need digging out of burrows in the wild.
How can I stop it?
The key to preventing destructive behaviour is to start thinking like a rabbit. For example, rabbits will nibble something simply because it is in their way. So, if the space between two sofas is too small for them to get through comfortably, it will very likely get nibbled. Rabbits are territorial and like to have their own, unchanging routes around a room or house.
Provide them with a sleeping area of their own, a “den” where they will not be disturbed. This could be under a small table or behind a sofa. Give them a blanket to lie on – they will dig and nibble at this instead of the carpet.
Cover table legs with thick cardboard tubes. Put a blanket or throw over sofas and chairs.
Cover all electrical cables with thick plastic tubing; this is essential for your rabbit’s safety. Move house plants out of reach or wrap them with wire; many are poisonous to rabbits.
Destructive behaviour is often caused by boredom – always ensure your rabbit has plenty of fresh hay to eat and give it natural wood sticks to nibble on. Give them simple toys such as toilet roll tubes, empty boxes and old phonebooks to dig in, nibble and rip up.
And finally, the absolute best thing you can do is keep two rabbits together. They will entertain each other, play games, groom each other and generally keep their happiness levels high, ensuring they are not tempted to “search and destroy” your home and belongings.
Copyright 2011 Hannah Davis / Bunnyhugga.com. All Rights Reserved.