Rabbits' Gnawing Needs

Source: dierenwelzijnsweb.nl
A literature review of the various forms of enhancement used professionally for rabbit pens yields information which can also be useful for rabbits kept as pets. The question explored was whether a piece of wood satisfies a rabbit’s need to gnaw.
The study by Wageningen UR Livestock Research shows that providing a block of wood for gnawing is effective, provided that it is the correct kind of wood. Only soft woods such as willow, horse chestnut, littleleaf linden and Norway spruce are appropriate. Hardwoods such as beech showed no evidence of gnawing; these are not of interest. For the study, the bark was removed from all pieces of wood.
Other useful materials for diversion are hay and straw: these lead to the greatest decreases in abnormal behaviour, and rabbits by far prefer these materials to wood. There are, however, disadvantages to hay and straw. Wastage of these materials can lead to fouling of the pens and therefore an increase of disease risk. The quality of the hay is also important, as hay can contain moulds not healthful for the rabbits. Hay is, of course, also important for roughage. As cleanliness is essential, it is best to provide hay in a structure such as a hayrack.
Although the most ideal living quarters for rabbits are still those with sufficient possibilities for digging and gnawing, a good alternative can be enhancement with hay, straw and wood.