10 Types of Wood that are Poisonous for Rabbits

With their relentless chewing habits and curious natures, pet rabbits are at risk of sampling many household woods that can be quite toxic! From pesticide-treated outdoor fencing to pine pet store hutches, wood dangers lurk around every corner for these lovable lop-eared critters. Which innocent-looking woods actually pose a deadly risk? Is your bunny’s playpen a hazard waiting to happen? Can cheap wooden chew sticks send your rabbit to the emergency vet? Read on to discover the 10 most poisonous types of wood for rabbits, how to safely rabbit-proof your home, and key tips that could save your fluffy friend’s life! You’ll never look at wood the same way again after learning just how hazardous it can be for rabbits.

How dangerous is poisonous wood?

Eating or chewing on poisonous woods can be very dangerous and even fatal for rabbits. Rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems and their bodies cannot break down or pass some of the toxins found in certain woods. Some woods contain phenols, tannins, cyanide, alkaloids and other natural compounds that are highly toxic to rabbits. Even a small amount can cause serious gastrointestinal issues, liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure and even death in some cases.

The severity and speed of onset of symptoms depends on the type of wood, the rabbit's size and age, and how much they ingested. Young rabbits and smaller breeds tend to be more vulnerable. Some toxic woods can cause reactions within a few hours, while damage from others may take a few days to appear.

It's important torabbit proof your home and yard and avoid letting bunnies access any wood that may pose a danger to them. Supervise them closely whenever new woods or wooden objects are introduced. And know the signs of wood poisoning such as lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, breathing issues, tremors and seizures. Seek prompt veterinary care if poisoning is suspected. Taking quick action greatly improves chances of recovery.

Wooden items that rabbits might chew on

Rabbits love to chew and will gnaw on just about anything they can get their teeth on. This includes many types of wood found around a home that can potentially cause toxicity if ingested by bunnies. Some of the most common wooden items that pet rabbits may be tempted to munch on include:

  • Wooden furniture – Table legs, chair legs, baseboards, etc

  • Tree branches, sticks or bark

  • Wooden toys, blocks or balls

  • Wood shavings or chewing sticks from pet stores

  • Popsicle sticks or wooden skewers

  • Hardwood, plywood or particle board flooring

  • Doorframes, window sills or trim

  • Wooden crates, boxes or hutches

  • Picture frames or wood carvings

  • Fresh tree trimmings from yardwork

  • Wooden plants stakes or trellises from the garden

  • Wooden fences, gates or decking

  • Wooden spoons, bowls or cutting boards

  • Wooden pens, cages or enclosed play areas

  • Wood stove pellets or firewood

  • Pine wood litter or shavings

  • Cedar wood planks used for litter or lining hutches

  • MDF or particle board housing or shelving

Rabbits kept indoors or allowed to free roam should be monitored to ensure they don't chew on walls, furniture, flooring or woodwork. Any outdoor housing or play areas must also be inspected for hazardous wood materials. Being aware of all the potential wooden chew dangers in a rabbit's environment is key to keeping them safe.

Rabbit proof the dangerous wood in your house

If you want to safely have rabbits in your home, you'll need to rabbit proof any wood materials that could potentially harm them. Here are some tips:

  • Use bitter apple spray or other deterrents on any wood surfaces rabbits may chew. Reapply regularly.

  • Wrap or cover baseboards, trim, table legs and other chewable woods with plexiglass guards or plastic tubing to prevent access.

  • Use metal, ceramic or stone table legs instead of wood ones.

  • Replace wood furniture with metal, fabric or leather alternatives.

  • Don't allow access under beds or furniture with wooden undersides.

  • Ensure all indoor and outdoor housing has a non-wood floor. Use a grass mat, towels, fleece or linoleum flooring instead.

  • Opt for hanging toys made of straw or cardboard rather than wood.

  • Keep all toxic houseplants on high shelves or hanging where rabbits can't reach.

  • Block access to any rooms or areas with wood floors, trim or walls.

  • Avoid using wood as litter or bedding material. Use paper, straw or aspen products instead.

  • Put wood piles, tree branches and trimmings out of reach outside.

  • Fence off garden beds and landscaping using metal garden fencing.

  • Ensure hutches, coops and outdoor structures have metal mesh floors and barriers.

  • Monitor rabbits closely when exploring new areas and redirect chewing.

  • Rabbit proof wires, baseboards and woodwork in any exercise pens.

  • Keep a close eye on house rabbits and provide plenty of alternatives they can chew. Having toys readily available will satisfy chewing urges.

Being diligent about regular rabbit proofing and limiting access to dangerous woods will help keep bunnies safe. Always supervise them when exploring or in new environments. A little prevention goes a long way in protecting rabbits from woody toxins.

Types of toxic wood for rabbits

1. Cedar

Cedar wood is extremely hazardous for rabbits due to its high phenol content. The shavings are sometimes used in hutches or as litter material which can cause toxicity from fumes and chewing. Ingesting just a little bit of cedar can be fatal within 24 hours. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, appetite loss and respiratory distress. Never use cedar products anywhere near rabbits.

2. Pine

All forms of pine wood pose a poisoning risk for rabbits. The needles and wood contain isoprenoids which are very toxic and can cause significant liver issues even with limited exposure. Pine shavings are also sometimes used inappropriately as litter. Make sure pine of any type stays far away from bunnies.

3. Peach trees

The bark, leaves and branches of stone fruit trees in the Prunus family like peaches, cherries, apricots and plums are highly poisonous to rabbits due to the cyanide compounds within. Never allow rabbits access to any part of these trees. Dried leaves or wood can also be toxic.

4. Cherry trees

Cherry tree wood is particularly dangerous because it contains cyanogenic glycosides that release deadly hydrogen cyanide when ingested. The toxins are found in highest concentrations in the leaves, bark and seeds but all parts are unsafe for rabbits. Keep rabbits away from cherry trees or fallen branches.

5. Yew

The yew tree is extremely toxic and all parts – needles, bark and wood – can be fatal if eaten by rabbits. Taxine alkaloids cause sudden respiratory failure and cardiac arrest quickly after ingestion. There is no antidote and death usually occurs within hours. Never keep yew trees or shrubbery in areas accessible to rabbits.

6. Holly

Both the wood and leaves of holly trees and shrubs contain saponins, alkaloids, and cyanogens which can cause significant gastrointestinal issues. Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain will set in rapidly after a rabbit ingests parts of a holly plant. Avoid using any holly material in or around rabbit enclosures or play spaces.

7. Bamboo

While bamboo is a common component of toys and chews for rabbits, some varieties do pose a risk. Bamboo wood in the Phyllostachys species contains cyanide compounds that can poison rabbits when ingested. Stick to safe, dried bamboo chew toys from pet stores rather than branches from backyard bamboo thickets.

8. Elder trees

The wood, twigs, bark and leaves of elderberry trees contain a toxic alkaloid that can cause nausea, drooling, diarrhea and weakness in rabbits. Berries are the most toxic but all parts are dangerous, so keeping rabbits away from these trees entirely is a must.

9. Painted or treated wood

Wood that has been painted, varnished or treated with chemicals is highly toxic. The fumes and residue can cause respiratory issues. And if chewed, it leads to severe drooling, gastrointestinal distress and damage to internal organs. Never let pet rabbits near any finished, painted or chemically treated wood.

10. MDF boards

Medium density fiberboard (MDF) is made by breaking down wood materials into fibers and reassembling them with toxic glues and bonding agents. The chemicals released make it very hazardous if chewed or ingested by rabbits. MDF should be avoided in hutches, playpens and anywhere access is possible.

Being aware of these 10 woods that are poisonous for rabbits is key for all bunny owners. Knowing what types of trees, shrubs, treatments and materials to avoid is the best way to rabbit proof their environment. With sensible precautions, it's easy to keep rabbits safe from these potential woody toxins in their surroundings. Be vigilant and when in doubt, keep it out of reach of bunnies.

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