Why do rabbits chew electric wires

Why do rabbits chew electrical wires?

Rabbits like to chew on electric wires. While there are some questions about whether they can be trained to do this, it is best to rabbit-proof any wires that are around them. ( How one )

Are there reliable references that give a scientific answer to why rabbits like to chew wires? What is the reason?


After owning multiple rabbits for 15 years, I can assure you that it is the smell that draws them to the wire and the texture holds them back.

In fact, extremely rubberized remote control buttons are the most sought-after of all rabbit delicacies after sugar-filled foods:

An open remote control is a surefire way to get a bunny who knows a bunny tastes on a couch. However, the high number of Reminate buttons seems to suggest that while gum is fun to chew on, it doesn't taste particularly good to them, hence my claim that texture must play a role in this.

The above picture was taken when I left my remote control on a 2.5 foot stool and ran away to use the toilet during a commercial break. She had tried a different remote the week before, and for months every open remote meant a rabbit lurking.

Since she couldn't see that the remote was uncovered during this incident (and rabbits have difficulty seeing things up close), I'm extremely confident that the smell of rubbery materials is a powerful factor in its appeal. If you think about it, it makes sense because rubber is a natural product that comes from trees, so rabbits may find the smell alluring.

You can also test your own rabbits for their "nose-seeing" ability. Have you ever left nibbles on a counter that is not in sight, but only within climbing range? They'll find their way there at some point (usually pretty quickly) because their nose is what they identify with things (food and each other and even us).

In my years of experience, smelly rubber coated wires like OEM USB cables are preferred over more plastic or power cables, and I lost 2 USB webcams thinking I had covered all the ways to the back of my computer.

This preference also seems to untangle the "humming wire" theory, since USB cables carry direct current, so there is no current oscillating in them that would make them hum.

Another blow to the buzzing wire theory is that when the same wires are covered with hard plastic string organizers like this:


The rabbits leave the cords and organizers alone. However, when you buy the cheaper, less plush, plastic Home Depot version, the organizer gets chewed on occasion. And if you get the extremely soft, almost rubbery cable organizer from Ikea, these won't scare the rabbit at all, and both your organizer and the cables that come with it will be destroyed.

I once suspected the place had something to do with it as well, as the rabbits might be following their natural instinct to clear a runway through the briar field to the hideout, but that was immediately exposed when the rabbit was on the back of one Rabbit climbed the couch to a nearby desk to take out a rubber-coated speaker cord that was hanging on the wall.

That said, not all rabbits are wire chewers (although I haven't met anyone who doesn't like rubber), but those same rabbits tend to be pretty picky about everything. For example, my albino lion head doesn't chew on wires, but it also doesn't eat most forms of leafy vegetables and hates our hardwood floors so it stays on the carpets and is therefore less exposed to wires initially.

If you have a fussy rabbit, you can probably train it not to chew wires with regular coatings, but I wouldn't use my luck with anything rubbery. In either case, it is easy enough to cover any exposed cable with one of the organizers above.

You have to chew. Rabbit teeth are constantly growing, and the chewing activity actually serves to grind them up. Rabbits chew pretty much anything "chewable", including wood, wire, and the like. If you give them lots of wireless stuff to chew on, like apple tree twigs, then the chances of them chasing your wires are reduced, but in my experience it doesn't stop (we had two rabbits once).

By the way, a good option are the plastic bite keys that you can get for babies. As well as chewing on them, rabbits love to throw them around to play. Our rabbits loved the plastic keys.

There are several theories as to why rabbits engage in this behavior. One of these is that the electricity in a live wire creates a sound that the rabbit can hear and attract, or feel the vibrations inside. Another is that they might like the smell of the plastic or its rubbery feel. When a rabbit is bored, it will often chew to pass the time. Based on my limited experience and what I have been able to find, there is no definite reason why exactly, just speculative theories.

As John mentioned in his answer, rabbits have to chew.

The chewing behavior in rabbits is not easy to stop. It is instinctive behavior as they have to chew to wear down their incisors, which continue to grow throughout their lives. It is therefore important to understand your pet rabbit's chewing behavior and take the necessary precautions to protect your bunny and your belongings. (src)

However, some preventive measures are:

  • Using flexible plastic tubing (like those used in aquariums, but with a larger diameter) is one of the easiest ways to protect cables. The hose can be cut lengthways with a utility knife and the cord pushed in. Some rabbits will continue to chew the plastic tube, but this will give the rabbit the necessary time to inform (by clapping or pounding with a verbal NO) that it is inappropriate to chew the tube. (src)
  • Give the rabbit something that is suitable for him to chew and something that he will enjoy more, like apples, willows, aspen branches, pines, etc.

  • Use a deterrent, e.g. B. spraying the rabbit with a water bottle or applying a nasty tasting substance, e.g. B. bitter apple spray, on things the rabbit likes to chew.

Also, check out some additional tips on how to check your home and electronics with bunnies.

I can say that my rabbit finds a wire that contains energy amazingly quickly. An unconnected wire can sit in its cage for a week and be ignored. In less than a year, I had to replace 3 flash chargers, but no mini-USB. The digital antenna (indoor) has only been hunted when it is plugged in and if the sockets on the wall switch are on it will attempt to destroy the lights or fans that are connected.
As a trained electrician, I have repaired a lot of cables and he has found the car audio split hose to work best, although on some he seems to have tried to use the plug part (the laptop charger died that way) to pursue them even wilder.
I now keep him in a "playpen" and only allow him to go outside after I've searched a room for wire. Now he's trying to dig through the carpet to get to the electrical cables under the floor. I went to the crawl space to check that out. In every area in which he digs, there is a live connection to a running light or household appliance. I would say it's a sound or a smell. At first I thought it was similar to a cat's instinct with a cucumber / snake, but that doesn't just explain the live wires and the wires underneath in the crawl space.

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