Being a pet owner is hard work. As their guardian, you have to look after all their needs and ensure that their living environment is as safe as possible for them. Being a rabbit owner is even more hard work. Rabbits have two distinct traits that make taking care of the hard work. Firstly, they have an innate instinct to chew. In the wild rabbits will chew on plants and grass and that is why as a part of their diet they enjoy crunchy greens. Domesticated rabbits still have that instinct to want to chew. The second trait rabbits have is that they love hiding. They’ll hide under beds, under sofas, and in corners. Again this is part of instinct as they need small dark spaces to feel safe.
Now add the two traits together and that spells disaster when it comes to keeping the house rabbit safe! In and around the house there are so many objects that we don’t even know but are lying around. The most common being rubber. Rubber can come off the remote buttons or from toys or household items and since it’s chewy and since the pieces are small, it’s like striking gold for your bunny!
Now for any responsible pet owner, this is disturbing since you don’t want there to be pieces of rubber lying around at home that can come into contact with your rabbit but then again, how much of a careful eye can you keep about things you don’t even know are on the ground. If you start keeping track, you’ll end up becoming a nervous and obsessive wreck!
The actual question you should be asking is just how dangerous is the rubber to your rabbit’s health? Can eating rubber kill them?
The obvious: Keeping your bunny away from rubber
We probably don’t need to tell you this but it goes without saying that you should try your level best to keep your bunny away from rubber. Any kind of rubber be it from a toy or the rubber plant, should not be consumed by rabbits.
What about a Rubber Tree?
If you’re a rabbit owner who enjoys keeping plants at home, you’ll have to do a bit of research on this matter. This is because some houseplants are not safe for rabbits to be around.
As far as the rubber tree is concerned, the good news is that it is relatively nontoxic for rabbits. This basically means if your rabbit has nibbled on the plant, you won’t have to go rushing to the vet to get the emergency treatment done. At best they’ll be uncomfortable for a while but will go back to their normal selves in no time.
But that doesn’t mean you should let it nibble on the rubber tree frequently. Constant nibbling can lead to the intestine and stomach lining of your bunny becoming irritated and as a result, can lead to loss of appetite and loose stool. If these symptoms persist you’ll need to visit the vet who will likely give you supplements to make up for the lack of appetite.
Is it safe to keep rubber items?
Other than fallen bits of rubber, there are a lot of pet items that have rubber that can be chewed off and swallowed by our bunnies and a prime example is their brush. The handles sometimes have rubber on them which your rabbit may like to grab onto and chew and by the time you stop them, they’ve got a small piece inside of themselves.
Now here’s an interesting piece of information for you in context to your rabbit.
Rabbits are lagomorphs and their bodies have been designed with this super useful thing called the “diastema.” What does diastema do? It allows rabbits to chew on things to their heart’s content without actually swallowing the object if they don’t want to. Your rabbit will be able to seal its mouth from the front teeth with the help of the diastema which is a flap of skin. It allows the bunny to chew what it wants but isn’t necessarily what the inner bunny system wants coming it’s way.
Now as great as this is, you must also realize that rabbits are rabbits and they don’t necessarily know what is right and what is wrong for them. The diastema only works if the rabbit wants it to and so there will be instances where your bunny does end up swallowing bits of rubber. So you can’t rely on their reflexes to keep them out of harm’s way. You’ll still need to be vigilant.
Help! My bunny definitely swallowed a bit of rubber!
Under no circumstances should you make your bunny try to vomit. Rabbits cannot throw up and if you try and force them to, you’ll only distress them further.
You’ll need to consider the size of the rubber they’ve eaten. A small piece shouldn’t do much harm to your rabbit. At best they’ll pass it out of their system when they poop. But if this is a continuous pattern of eating, over time the rubber can and probably will form a GI tract obstruction that can be fatal.
If the rubber is of a bigger size your rabbit can choke and for that, it’s a good idea to read up on how to perform the Heimlich on a rabbit and then rush to the vet.
But if your rabbit has gotten by without choking, keep an eye on them. If they’re eating and acting normally, it’ll probably come out in their stool eventually. However, if they refuse to eat and are lethargic, you’ll need to visit the vet.
Rubber won’t directly kill your rabbit unless they are eating bits of it continuously but then if that’s the case; it comes down to negligence on your part. Make sure to bunny-proof your house to the best of your ability. Try to opt for products safer than rubber such as wood. These steps will ensure your rabbit lives a healthy life and is safe from any danger.