rabbit eating paint off wall
Questions and Answers

Why Is My Rabbit Eating The Wall? (Wallpaper + Paint)

Rabbits have long, durable teeth. If these chompers turn their wrath on your walls, that can have consequences. Your bunny may start munching on the wallpaper, paint, drywall, or the underlying wood itself. Unlike other objects, walls are hard to repair and replace.

Your rabbit may chew on the walls to wear down its growing teeth, or it may be feeling bored and in need of entertainment. If a rabbit feels neglected, it can start eating walls in order to get your attention. When the bunny has a diet lacking in nutrients, it may seek out better food in your walls. The rabbit may be enticed by the flavor of paint or find itself in the habit of chewing on walls.

No matter the reason, you can’t allow your bunny to chew on walls. To prevent this, you can apply training, improve their diet, or provide deterrents. You can also set up barriers to keep the rabbit from accessing the walls. If all else fails, try barring its access to certain rooms and keep it under your supervision.

Why Rabbits Chew Walls

Rabbits chew on walls out of need and out of personal preference. Let’s explore all of the reasons in more detail:

Dental Issues

Unlike other pets, a rabbit’s teeth never stop growing. Instead, it wears them down through chewing on abrasive surfaces. If it fails to do so, the teeth will grow unchecked. This eventually results in malocclusion, or a misalignment of the teeth. In lesser cases, it’ll result in dental disease.

If a rabbit feels its enclosure lacks the right abrasive surface, it’ll chew on anything. What better than your wall? These surfaces are rough, stable, and within easy reach.

Walls also mimic a surface that wild rabbits turn to when their teeth are overgrown: trees. Based on the species, tree bark can be very rough and thick. The instinct is likely passed down through the generations.

Boredom

If a rabbit doesn’t have other sources of enrichment, it’ll seek out fun on its own. This may involve:

  • Chewing on your furniture
  • Biting your shoes
  • Digging at the floor
  • Eating your walls

That’s especially true if you’ve removed its other temptations. Your bunny may have preferred munching on your jacket, but if that’s taken away, your walls will suffice.

Hunger

If your bunny is eating your walls, it may be hungry. That doesn’t mean you’re starving it, per se – just that it needs more food to keep up its metabolism. If the rabbit isn’t given constant, unlimited access to hay, it may develop a food craving or a need for more calories.

Likewise, if its diet lacks a certain mineral or vitamin, the rabbit will hunt for supplements. A chemical in your wallpaper glue or paint may have confused the rabbit into thinking it would find the nutrient there.  

Attention-Seeking

Rabbits in captivity may chew to gain your attention. Bunnies are smart, and they can easily learn what gets their owners riled.

Have you ever dropped everything to rush to your bunny’s side? Was it to stop it from munching on your shoes, clothes, or the walls? Then you’ve taught it a lesson.

If a rabbit wants your undivided attention right now, it should begin eating something that it’s not meant to. The walls may be a precise target, or just the most available surface.

Habit

This happens when it takes a liking to the process. In the same way that bunnies have favorite toys, your walls may be its new favorite pastime.

Taste

Rabbits have their own preferences, some with unique taste buds. It’s possible your bunny finds the wallpaper glue or paint itself delicious. Perhaps it’s salty, sweet, or has a strong odor.

Is the rabbit eating paint off the wall, but not harming the wood or drywall beneath? Then the paper or paint itself may be responsible.

How To Stop Rabbits Chewing Walls

The good news is that you can prevent your rabbit from chewing on the walls. It doesn’t take expensive tools or a great deal of effort.

Train Your Rabbit

Rabbits can’t be taught to fetch or speak. However, they can learn basic commands, mainly those which are praise or reprimands. Here’s how:

  1. Approach calmly, without heavy footsteps
  2. Firmly tell the rabbit “no.”
  3. Gently push the rabbit’s head down to the ground
  4. Hold its head there for a few seconds. This will establish your dominance and help the rabbit understand the severity of the situation
  5. Redirect the bunny to something else
  6. You should move the bunny away from the wall. However, without a distraction, it may return shortly after
  7. Try offering it food, chew toys, or cuddles from you. This fulfills the base need that likely motivated the rabbit’s wall-chewing, to begin with

It’s best to use this method in tandem with the other methods down below.

Provide Chew Toys

Your pet rabbit may be bored or wearing down its teeth. By giving it a safe chew toy, it won’t need the wall anymore. Pet stores offer different brands with different chewing intensities. You can decide which you need by:

Check Your Bunny’s Teeth

If the teeth look overgrown, the chew toy may need to be:

  • Thicker
  • More abrasive
  • Created from material like wood

If the teeth appear misshapen or crooked, you should contact your vet. The bunny may need treatment or more specialized toys.

Judging Your Bunny’s Size

Large bunnies will get through toys faster than smaller bunnies. Likewise, if your toys are too small, they may be swallowed easily by a big rabbit.

Deciding If Your Bunny Is Just Bored

Bored rabbits don’t need specific toys – they need several. Your pet will grow just as bored of this new enrichment if one toy (in one size, with one purpose) is all it has.

  • Ensure your bunny has its nutritional-, attention-, and teeth-needs met.
  • If so, check how many toys it has. Would 3 or 4 work better than 1 or 2?
  • There should always be a toy inside the rabbit’s pen, so it can play.

Give Rabbits More Hay

Hay is great for rabbits to wear down their teeth. It also provides a healthy dose of fiber, which aids their digestion.

If your rabbit happens to swallow a bit of paint or wallpaper, that’s even more crucial. Fiber will help avoid blockages or impactions.

Hay is the primary food of all rabbits. Without enough, your pet will hungrily seek out your household goods – include the walls. Be sure to give your rabbits an unlimited supply of hay, including:

  • Meadow grass
  • Timothy hay
  • Oat grass

Provide A Balanced Diet

A balanced diet will help your rabbit keep dental disease at bay. Along with hay, it must be fed:

  • A good portion of leafy vegetables
  • A smaller portion of high-quality rabbit pellets

Rabbits that aren’t given pellets and whole grain do not get the recommended amount of calcium in their diet, according to The Veterinary Record. Your rabbit may also suffer from a lack of vitamins and nutrients. Your walls aren’t a great substitute, but your bunny doesn’t know that.

Bitter Sprays

For bored, persistent, or habit-bound rabbits, you can always use bitter sprays. These make walls taste less appealing. After a lick or nibble, your pet will give up and wander off.

You can buy bitter sprays commercially, or easily make your own. For a DIY alternative, you can use:

  • Diluted white vinegar
  • Lime juice
  • Chili

As a bonus, this method won’t damage most household surfaces. You can spray it on:

  • Plank walls
  • Wallpaper
  • Paint
  • Carpets
  • Pieces of furniture

How To Bunny Proof Your Walls And Wallpaper

Once a rabbit learns how to eat your paint and wallpaper, its chewing may be inevitable. Indeed, it’s hard to discourage this behavior. Even after training or deterrents, it may resume the habit a few days or weeks later.

Temporary Solutions

You can arrange these in your living room, only to be accessed if you’re watching TV or playing with the rabbit.

We recommend always keeping a few on hand. This lets you quickly erect them if you need to move your rabbit to a new room, or if guests come over.

Cardboard

Cardboard is the easiest and cheapest solution to bunny-proofing your walls. This may seem lacking at first, but it does great in a pinch. What’s more, you probably have some lying around your home. What’s the best cardboard for bunny-proofing? Always go for chew-proof, such as:

  • Sturdy, high quality cardboard
  • Cardboard with smaller gaps between the fibers

With that said, cardboard can be very tasty to some rabbits. It may quickly be munched on as an alternative to the wall.

Cardboard is still less harmful and easier to digest than wallpaper or paint. It’s not completely safe for all bunnies, but it does come with fewer risks.

Artist Wooden Panels

“Wood panels,” as a term, is often interchangeable with wood paneling. However, wood panels are also small pieces of wood used as an art supply. They make a great alternative to canvas or paper, and can hold acrylic paintings and various inks.

  • Wood panels are made of common woods, like pine and birch.
  • When used in art, they are often trimmed down to smaller, more manageable sizes. Letter-sized paper is a common dimension.
  • Wood panels for art tend to be cut thinner than most found in hardware stores. However, they’re not thin enough to bend. The average depth is one inch.
  • These panels come in square or circular shapes.
  • When buying wood panels, you’ll often find multi-packs.

All these traits make them great for bunny-proofing. While raw wood, planks, or 2x4s are good alternatives, artist wooden panels often come in the perfect size, width, and material.

Wire Mesh Grid Panels

Wire mesh grid panels add a quirky spin to any bedroom. While deterring your bunnies, you can also organize items or provide decorations. They’re often made of metal rods, interconnected together to form a grid. The space between each rod is as large as most rabbit fencing. As a result – you guessed it – a rabbit mouth can’t get past it.

Wire mesh grids look very similar to rabbit pen fencing. However, the panels have thicker rods and are more rigid. This makes it bad for fully enclosing a space, but great for barring your rabbit’s access to a flat wall.

You can buy mesh grid panels in any store that sells home décor supplies. For owners concerned about the aesthetic appeal, they also come in different colors. You can choose trendier styles, like gold and pink. Minimalist colors, like white, black, and silver are available cheaper.

Permanent Solutions

Bunnies will generally chew on walls around their hutch or near their toys. You’ll also find the most damage done where the rabbit’s left unsupervised, like under your bed or behind furniture.

Attach Barriers To The Wall

Wire mesh, artist boards, and cardboard are great choices. However, a rabbit can knock these over, or they may get displaced over the course of days or weeks. To make them permanent, you can attach the barriers to the wall. It’s recommended to use stronger and prettier materials.

Acrylic Sheets

You can mount acrylic sheets on top of exposed walls. They’re often designed to be mountable, used to display artwork and the like. Opaque in color, they won’t clash too much with the rest of your décor. Acrylic sheets can be expensive, however, so this solution isn’t the best way forward for all pet owners.

Wood Paneling

Wood paneling comes through again – but only use the kind found in hardware stores this time. It’s cheaper, thicker, and may come with mounting equipment. It can be easily cut into size and nailed onto walls.

However, this can easily clash with the design of your room. You can stain the wood to match the wall better, but clear acrylic sheets often win in terms of visual appeal.

Block Off Areas

Of course, there’s the direct approach. Cordon off areas that your rabbit simply cannot destroy, like rooms with antique or expensive finishing. If your rabbit is prone to chewing, it’s not allowed free roam of the home. This can save time, effort, money, and DIY brainstorming.

Even still, be sure your rabbit has sufficient space to exercise. It might not require your entire house – but one room is enough. To restrict access, you can use:

  • Baby gates or puppy pens, installed between rooms. However, pay attention to the space between bars. If allowed, a rabbit will easily squeeze through.
  • Wire mesh placed in doorways. This will prevent a rabbit from escaping, but may be harder to attach.
  • Barriers made of wood or metal, like small pallets. Just make sure it’s safe for bunnies to nibble on.

Wall Corner Protectors

You may find your rabbit prefers the corners and edges of your walls. Bunnies like places they can tuck themselves away into, undisturbed. You can find specialized wall protectors at most hardware stores.

These are inexpensive, designed to tuck into most corners. Just make sure to buy ones made of chew-proof materials. When installing them:

  • Trim Them. Wall protectors may be lengthy or tall. If you’re concerned about looks, use a crafting knife to trim them down. They should be taller than your bunny (even when it’s standing on its back legs), but any more is unnecessary.
  • Pick Colors That Match Your Wall. Wall protectors can draw the eye. To create a smoother transition, you can choose colors that match your walls, trim, or other home décor. You can also get clear plastic varieties.
  • Protect All Your Corners. If your rabbit favors a single corner, you may think one protector is enough. On the contrary, the rabbit will likely seek out a new corner when barred access. Be sure to protect all the corners your rabbit has access to.

These measures will help you keep your walls safe from rabbits.