Why Rabbits Rattle Cage Bars and How to Prevent It

Rabbit rattling bars? (what to do about it)

It’s a pretty common problem. Your Rabbit chews on the bars of their enclosure making a lot of noise day and night. You try to get your rabbit to stop, but they only seem to double down and rattle the cage bars even more.

Most of the time, rabbits will bite their cage bars because they are bored. It’s their way of asking for more space, playtime, or attention. By giving your rabbit more mental enrichment and meeting their needs for socialization, you can prevent them from rattling on the bars of their habitat.

You’re never going to be able to stop this behavior completely. Sometimes rabbits just like to chew on the bars as a form of entertainment. However, you should be able to reduce this behavior significantly.

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Why do rabbits chew cage bars?

Rabbits are chewers. It’s simply a natural instinct for them to want to chew on objects that are in their way. To that extent, you should always expect some level of cage bar chewing from any pet rabbit. 

However, it’s not always going to be a persistent behavior. There are a number of scenarios that cause a rabbit to chew on the bars to the point where it becomes disruptive or annoying. By understanding the reasons behind the behavior, you can make changes to your rabbit’s environment to help solve the problem.

rabbit in a small cage
Rabbits can get bored and grumpy if they’re left in a small cage all day with nothing to do.

1. The rabbit is bored

The most common reason rabbits make a lot of noise by rattling the bars of their habitat is boredom. When they have nothing else to do or can only play with the same toys all day long, your rabbit will entertain themselves by chewing and digging on the bars of their enclosure.

To solve this problem, make sure you give your rabbit a variety of enrichment opportunities. Make sure they have different types of toys and foraging opportunities available within their enclosure. Giving your rabbit ample amounts of hay can also help reduce cage biting. Munching on hay is a popular pastime for rabbits that keeps their teeth occupied and healthy.

2. The rabbit needs attention

Our pet rabbits are from a species that is very social. They are a type of animal that needs a lot of socialization to remain happy. If your rabbit feels they are not getting enough attention, they’ll start throwing a temper tantrum in their enclosure until someone comes to pet them or play with them.

To remedy this, it’s best to start treating your pet rabbit as a companion pet instead of a cage pet. Let them hang out with you around the house (similar to the way we treat cats and dogs) so that your rabbit can easily come up to you and get attention whenever they need it. If that’s not possible, you should seriously consider getting a second rabbit to bond with your first.

rabbit playpen
I always recommend using a pet exercise pen for your rabbit’s enclosure. This gives your rabbit a lot of space and it’s a lot easier to clean.

3. The rabbit wants to exercise

Even though it may seem like your rabbit sits around all day, they are actually very active animals that need time for exploring and exercise. The problem is that rabbits tend to have bursts of energy interspersed with long periods of rest. Rabbits will need a lot of space available to them so they don’t feel frustrated by being in a too-small space all day. If they want more freedom to exercise and hop around, rabbits will rattle on the bars to try to get out.

The first thing to do is make sure your rabbit has a large enough enclosure. Most cages that are marketed toward rabbits are too small. Instead, I recommend getting a pet playpen (usually found in the dog section of a pet store) and using that as your rabbit’s home.

4. The rabbit wants to get through to the other side

Sometimes the simple reason that your rabbit is chewing on the bars is because they want to get through to the other side. This happens especially if you have specific areas of your home blocked off from your rabbit with a baby gate or something similar. The rabbit will see that there is someplace to explore beyond the gate, so they’ll try to get through it.

Generally, you can prevent this by adding a solid barrier in front of the gate so your rabbit can’t see the other side. If your rabbit doesn’t think there is anywhere to go, they probably won’t waste their time chewing on that part of the enclosure.

5. Rabbits have a different sleep schedule

It’s also important to remember that rabbits have a different sleep schedule than humans. Rabbits tend to be most active in the early mornings and late evenings, while they’ll sleep in the middle of the afternoon and the middle of the night. The times of day when rabbits are most active are the times when they’ll be most eager to get out and explore so they’ll be more likely to chew on the bars to try to get out. 

This problem is a little more difficult to address, but by sticking to a consistent morning feeding schedule, you can usually train your rabbit to wait until breakfast before they become too active. It also helps to give them lots of time out to exercise right before bed so that they are tired out overnight.

rabbit biting on cage
Rabbits will let you know it’s time to come out and exercise. If you don’t stick to their schedule, they make a lot of noise in their enclosure.

How to discourage your rabbit from chewing on cage bars

Once you’ve figured out what the cause of your rabbit’s loud rattling habit is, you can make changes to their routine or environment that will discourage them from chewing the bars. You can try one of these options or combine them to find what will work for your rabbit. Remember, you probably won’t be able to completely stop your rabbit from chewing the bars, but you can reduce the behavior.

  1. Give your rabbit a larger habitat. Rabbits with a larger home base are more likely to feel at home and comfortable throughout the day and night, making them less likely to chew on the bars in frustration.
  2. Spray the bars with a vinegar deterrent. Make a DIY vinegar spray by combining equal amounts of water and white vinegar, then spray the bars of the rabbit habitat. This makes them taste bad, which acts as a deterrent for the behavior.
  3. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of chew toys. Give your rabbit a variety of toys to play with. Include cardboard toys, hay-based toys, hanging toys, and even digging toys. Learn more about how to find good toys for rabbits.
  4. Let your rabbit out for exercise. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of time every day for exercise outside of their enclosure. Aim for at least 4-5 hours in the morning and/or evening.
  5. Cover the sides of the enclosure. If your rabbit can’t see the other side of the enclosure, they are less likely to try chewing on the bars. Set up flattened cardboard against the sides. Avoid completely covering the rabbit enclosure since this will lead to poor air circulation and may heat up the area too much (rabbits don’t do well in heat).
  6. Get your rabbit neutered. Rabbits who haven’t been altered are more likely to exhibit frustrated or aggressive behavior problems, including chewing on enclosure bars. This can also help prevent health problems and is recommended for all pet rabbits.
  7. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of hay. Hay is a great boredom buster because rabbits can munch on it all day long if they want to. Try putting the hay into a hay rack or stand to make it more of an adventure for your rabbit to eat the hay.
  8. Adopt a friend for your rabbit. Since rabbits are social creatures, they do best in the company of other rabbits. However, bonding rabbits can be an arduous process so be prepared and do some research before you bring a second rabbit home. You can check out my article on rabbit bonding 101 to get started.
  9. Stick to a consistent routine. Rabbits thrive with a routine. They like anticipating what’s going to happen from hour to hour and knowing when they will be fed. The more you keep a consistent schedule, the more you rabbit will feel comfortable and will wait until the right time to ask for exercise and attention.

Can you prevent your rabbit from making noise at night?

If you sleep in the same room as your rabbit, you probably noticed that they can be pretty loud overnight. It is possible to decrease the amount of noise your rabbit makes while you sleep, but you’re unlikely to completely prevent them from making noise. You may need to take further steps, such as using earplugs or white noise machines, to help mute the noise your rabbit makes and sleep at night.

Other steps you can take to reduce the amount of noise your rabbit is making include:

  • Give your rabbit a large enough enclosure
  • Make sure your rabbit has soft flooring
  • Give your rabbit quieter toys at night
  • Cover the sides of the rabbit’s enclosure. (do not cover the top of the cage/enclosure since this can prevent air from circulating, making it too hot)

Check out this article for more tips to help keep your rabbit quiet at night

Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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