An important thing to know about rabbits is that they’re always chewing on something. If something to chew on isn’t provided, they will decide to chew on whatever is in front of them , which can cause damage to objects or possibly damage to themselves. When looking to purchase a pet rabbit, it may be useful to know that some breeds chew less than others.
Rabbits with long large faces chew less, while rabbits with short round faces chew more. Due to their facial structure, some rabbits have less space in their mouth and dental crowding, which makes them chew more often.
There are many reasons different rabbits need to chew more or less than others. We are going to dive into those differences, and explain how to prevent your rabbit from chewing too much.
Chewing Differences Between Breeds
Rabbits have continually growing teeth that need constant attention. I bring up the ever-growing teeth because that is why rabbits need to chew. They essentially need to grind down their teeth.
This will be discussed in a later section, but in this section, we’re going to focus on the good and the bad breeds when it comes to chewing.
As I said before, the rabbits with short round faces are usually the ones that chew more often than other rabbits.
“Rabbits with short, round faces such as the Netherland Dwarf and Lionhead are more likely to suffer from dental problems because their teeth are squashed into a small space.” Source
Rabbit Breeds That Chew More
First up, is the Netherland Dwarf rabbit. This little guy is small and compact, especially with that shape of their head.
They originate from the Netherlands and are descended from Hermelin rabbits. “Hermelins were recognized in Holland only in 1907.” Source
So, this is a fairly new rabbit and also a fairly small rabbit, “weighing about 500g (1lb).” This is on the low end of rabbit size and weight, it is hard to find a rabbit who is smaller than this guy. That means that their natural mouth size is small and leaves little room for overgrown teeth. Source
The Lionhead rabbit is another very small rabbit that packs a lot of chewing into its tiny body. The Lionhead rabbit was originally found in Belgium. It took some time after its original creation until “within the United Kingdom the Lionhead breed was officially recognized since the year 2002.” Source
The Lionhead is bigger than the Netherland Dwarf but its head is very round and short. The Lionhead is not expected to grow above 3.75 pounds. Source
This breed of rabbit is known for its long fluffy fur, which makes it look like a little plush ball. Once someone takes away all of that fur, it is actually a very small rabbit with a very compact head.
This is another one of those very small rabbits that pack a punch. Despite its name, “the Polish rabbit is thought to have originated in Belgium or in England from the common white hutch rabbit.” Source
This rabbit is slightly smaller than the Lionhead with a “Maximum weight of 3.5 lbs.” Source
Again the smaller and the more compact the rabbit (especially its head), the greater chance for dental disease. These three rabbits are some of the smallest rabbits, with some of the smallest and most roundheads, which breeds dental disease.
Rabbit Breeds That Chew Less
So naturally, the opposite of the short round face is the large long face. These breeds of rabbits need to chew less due to more room in their mouth. This is a true list of giants.
Flemish Giant Rabbit
These rabbits are truly known for their size… as you can see and their origins are fairly interesting.
“…the breed already existed in Belgium by the 16th century. The first standards for the breed were written in 1893.” This is one of those older and more well known rabbits. Source
When we say these rabbits are known for their size, we are not exaggerating. “These rabbits weigh 15 pounds on average and can reach a length of 2.5 feet.” Source
That is truly giant. If you look on google, there are many pictures of this rabbit sitting next to a dog and being even bigger than the dog. This naturally leads to a lot of mouth space and a lot of room for teeth to grow.
This is probably my favorite breed of rabbit on today’s list. Despite their name, “they are the first American rabbit breed to be developed. At the beginning of the 20th century…” Source
These rabbits are smaller than the Flemish giant rabbit, but still pretty big.”These rabbits weighing around 4-5kg (9-12lb).” Source
They are smaller than the Flemish Giant, but you can’t really blame the rabbit. I doubt anything is as big as the Flemish Giant rabbit. With that being said, this rabbit still has a lot of room for teeth to grow.
The Dutch rabbit is the smallest rabbit on this list of rabbits that chew less, but it still belongs in this category. The origins of this rabbit are actually confusing, with no clear consensus.
“Some people say the breed was originated from England in the mid 19th century. Others say it was originated in Netherlands and was introduced into England in 1864.” Source
As I said, this rabbit is significantly smaller than the Flemish giant rabbit and the New Zealand rabbit. “weighing about 2kg (4.5lb).” Source
While it may not seem like much, it is a full pound heavier than the heaviest rabbit on the chewer list. This pound makes a huge difference when talking about something as small as a rabbit.
This pound goes a long way when it comes to the size and shape of the mouth of the rabbit. This helps to make enough room for those teeth so they do not become deformed. This leads us to the reason why chewing is such a prominent problem for rabbits.
Why Do Rabbits Need to Chew So Much?
All rabbit breeds need to chew frequently and often. There is actually a very good reason for this in the long run. According to multiple articles, “Chewing and digging are normal behaviors for rabbits, and they must be provided with acceptable means to express these behaviors.” Source
They are normal behaviors because rabbit teeth are just like human fingernails… let me explain. Rabbit teeth are often compared to human fingernails because they never stop growing. So, just like humans with fingernails, rabbits need to keep their teeth maintained. To find out more about why their teeth keep growing, how to prevent overgrown teeth, and how to teat them if you do see any issues, see my article Ever Wonder Why Rabbit’s Teeth Keep Growing here.
Chewing is the main way that rabbits maintain their teeth. When considering what the chewing does, when they chew “the teeth wear against each other, which keeps them trimmed. Source
If not properly maintained, these teeth can cause serious health problems for the rabbit. A serious dental disease will be the case if the teeth are not properly maintained. These problems are known as Malocclusion.
|Malocclusion||Inherited condition. Occasionally can be due to accidental tooth breakage.||Elongated upper or lower teeth. May prevent the animal from eating.||Clipping of teeth is a temporary solution. Affected animals should be culled.|
This prevention from eating may cause serious problems as extreme as extreme weight loss and even death. Obviously, this is something the average and sensible rabbit owner would want to avoid.
This can be easily avoided by allowing a rabbit to chew, but again you probably don’t want your rabbit chewing on things you want to look nice. This could be their cage, furniture, or cables, all of which have been known to be chewed by rabbits.
DID YOU KNOW? Some of a rabbit’s teeth will actually grow back! But only certain ones! For more information, see my article all about how a rabbit’s teeth grow back if they break (or fall out) and how to prevent teeth problems here.
How To Help Your Rabbit Stop Inappropriate Chewing
So the problem is that if you are going to get a rabbit, they need to chew. You can get a bigger rabbit that doesn’t need to do it as much, but even then it is still a necessity.
The following list should give you some good ideas on how to help your rabbit when it comes to chewing things that you don’t want them to chew.
- Let them have a partner
- Provide alternatives to chew on like wood or hay
- Give them a toy to play with
- Allow them more room to play
- Play with them more
- Provide positive reinforcements when they don’t chew
- Buy and use bitter spray
- Think about neutering your rabbit
- Catch them in the act, and stop them
This list is very important because according to Peta “Even 12 hours without food can be deadly.” Source
They further explain that this is because when they eat, they also chew which maintains their teeth. Rabbits need to constantly be working on their teeth and dental health.
All of these items on the list have been known to stop rabbits from chewing. Each being more or less successful than any other idea listed. By using these tactical approaches you should be able to help your rabbit.
Rabbits and their continuously growing teeth can be a concern, but always remember that those with the short round heads tend to be the biggest chewers.
Always remember, when purchasing a rabbit make sure to get some things for them to chew on as well.