In medieval England, domestic rabbits weren’t kept in cages but instead lived in special warrens where they could dig. In the wild, rabbits dig their own underground earthen homes, so catering to this instinct only made sense and cut down on the work since they didn’t scratch up floors.
Plus, digging makes rabbits happy. Why do rabbits scratch the floor?
Rabbits scratch at the floor because digging is their natural behavior to create their homes. Burrowing into the earth is a superb way to avoid predators. Rabbits are easily frightened and stressed due to constantly watching their backs for prey animals in an instinctual attempt to avoid predators. Digging holes to hide is how they feel safe.
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Your bunny is scratching because it’s in their nature. They are trying to create their own home. Even when you provide everything they could want or need, they still scratch. It’s not something you need to be concerned about.
However, it’s probably a good idea to take steps to protect your floor. Unless you have concrete, the rabbit will inevitably do significant damage that is expensive to repair.
Especially if you have linoleum or wood flooring, it won’t stand up to rabbit claws for very long.
Regardless of what flooring your bunny is trying to dig into, knowing more about their motives can help you stop or at least minimize the issue. It’s always important to pay attention to your pet’s behavior.
Below are the most common reasons why rabbits scratch the floor:
1 – Instinct
All creatures have instincts. Whether in a cage, the wild, or just your living room, your rabbit is eventually going to try digging.
As frustrating as this can be, it’s their genetics telling them to do what every rabbit ever born has done.
According to Rabbit Welfare UK, “Rabbits dig by loosening the earth with their forepaws, pushing it underneath and behind themselves, and then turning around and pushing it away in front of them. Females typically construct large burrows, whereas males are more likely to make scrapes for marking (often urinating and defecating in the dug earth)… Digging is normal instinctive behavior that meets a number of the rabbit’s welfare needs and uses its muscles in ways that are important for health.”
2 – Boredom
It’s easy to look at a shy fluff ball and assume nothing is happening behind their wiggly noses and shiny eyes, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Rabbits are incredibly intelligent. Not only are they capable of learning the meaning of numerous human words and tricks, but they’re playful, sweet companions with a desire to please.
The flipside of being smart is that you get bored too. A bored rabbit will often resort to scratching (digging) to alleviate that feeling. It makes them feel better.
Expanding their home in the wild is a great way to use up their restless energy, so they instinctively scratch the floor or even the bottom of a cage.
3 – Stress
Rabbits are easily stressed out. Sadly, stress can make anyone or any bunny act out. Over the long run, it can even affect their health, so it’s crucial to take action if your rabbit is under stress.
Scratching the floors isn’t the only sign of excess stress in rabbits. Look out for overly aggressive behavior toward humans or other rabbits.
Likewise, if you spot nervous behavior like freezing up with their ears flat or bulging eyes and twitchy overreactions, then your pet is probably stressed out.
Try calming down the environment. Dimming the lights is an excellent way to help calm your bunny down, as bright lights can be upsetting to them.
Keep other pets away and make sure the noise level is relatively low where they spend their time.
4 – Scared & Looking To Hide
Beyond stress, rabbits are easily frightened. They constantly watch their backs as prey animals in an instinctual attempt to avoid predators.
As house pets, those instincts are still a part of who they are. If their environment is hectic, or you have predatory pets like cats and dogs, your bunny may be scared and looking to hide.
Digging a hole to stash themselves inside is a great way to stay safe. By scratching at the floor, the rabbit is trying to make a hiding place to go to ground.
Why Do Rabbits Scratch The Carpet
Your rabbit is clever, but it doesn’t understand or care about carpets. All the layer of fabric means to them is a more accessible surface to dig through.
It probably seems like a layer of grass over the dirt to them, at least on an instinctual level.
In short, rabbits scratch the carpet for precisely the same reason they dig at the floor or dirt. They are only trying to make a home or mark their territory with scent.
Why Does My Rabbit Scratch The Bottom Of Her Cage
Unlike carpets and floors, there are two possible reasons why your rabbit is scratching at the bottom of its cage. The first is what you’d expect.
They will dig for marking, homemaking, or to escape from fear, stress, or boredom. All of that is just a rabbit doing ordinary things, but they might be up to something else.
As I mentioned, rabbits are intelligent. It doesn’t take too long to figure out that you can’t open a door if you have no thumbs.
However, some latches are within a rabbit’s abilities. Likewise, testing walls and the roof are simple problem solving and well within their mental capacity. If your pet can’t find an escape route, it may try to dig out of a cage.
Helpful Tips To Know About Why Rabbits Scratch The Floor
Scratching at the floor is so common for rabbits that you should always anticipate it. The likelihood that our pet will have a go at your flooring at some point is almost guaranteed.
Here are some helpful tips to know about why rabbits scratch the floor.
- Rabbit claws grow all the time, just like their teeth. Burrowing animals need to scratch to help keep their nails from overgrowing.
- According to Bunnies At Home, “A rabbit’s nails should be clipped every 3-4 weeks at the least. If you go too long without clipping your rabbit’s nails, the blood supply (Kwik) will continue to grow out with the nail and will make it harder for you to cut the nail to an appropriate length because the nerve in the nail will be too long to cut any shorter without making your rabbit bleed.”
- If you want to take an extra step to protect your floors, you can get claw caps for your rabbit. Simply glue the plastic caps in place over freshly trimmed nails, and they will prevent your rabbit from digging into anything.
Rabbits will scratch at the floor for numerous reasons, though all are related to their natural digging and tunneling instinct.
Some rabbits scratch because they want to build a new home, while others are just trying to keep themselves entertained.
Rabbits dig out of fear and stress because it gives them a place to hide out from predators and other alarming things in their environment.
Male rabbits may also be looking to make a place to mark their territory and advertise for a mate. When your rabbit s scratching the floor, you should determine why they’re behaving this way so you can help them and minimize the damage.