Are Rabbits Allowed To Eat Fabric? (Cotton, Wool, Polyester + Felt)

For rabbits, fabric is fatal attraction. Given the chance, your fluffy friend will gnaw those fuzzy sweaters and plush towels down to the last thread. It’s a natural instinct most rabbit owners discover the hard way. But before you dismiss it as harmless fun, stop and listen. The sound of cotton ripping from that tattered t-shirt signals a sinister truth – your rabbit’s life is at risk. Digested fabric twists and tangles inside your bunny’s belly, crafting a cruel knot of fate. Without swift action, your pet awaits a grim demise. Yet intervention can still snatch your rabbit from fabric’s clutches. Delve deeper to unlock the knowledge that will ensure your rabbit lives to hop another day. The power lies in your hands. Heed the hidden dangers exposed at last in this tell-all fabric exposé. Your rabbit’s life hangs in the balance.

Can Rabbits Eat Fabric?

The short answer is no, rabbits should not eat fabric. Rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems and consuming fabric can cause potentially life-threatening health issues. Fabric is not part of a rabbit's natural diet and their digestive system is not equipped to properly break down and digest fabric fibers.

While it's common for rabbits to nibble on fabric items they come across, this is a very dangerous habit that should be discouraged. Eating fabric puts rabbits at risk for serious intestinal blockages, bloat, and other issues that require emergency veterinary care. Some fabrics may also contain toxic dyes, chemicals, or pesticide residues that can poison rabbits.

It's important for rabbit owners to rabbit-proof their homes by removing or preventing access to any fabric items. Keep towels, blankets, carpeting, clothing, curtains, upholstery, and other household fabrics well out of reach of rabbits. Supervise rabbits closely when they are loose and redirect chewing to appropriate toys and chews. Getting ahead of this risky behavior is key to preventing digestive emergencies down the road.

Why Rabbits Cannot Eat Fabric

There are several key reasons why rabbits should not be allowed to eat fabric:

Fabrics Are Often Synthetic

Many types of fabric contain synthetic fibers like polyester, acrylic, nylon, spandex, and olefin. These human-made fibers do not digest in a rabbit's gastrointestinal tract. Because rabbits have a very sensitive digestive system that functions optimally on a high-fiber plant-based diet, their stomachs and intestines are not designed to break down synthetic fibers.

When a rabbit ingests synthetic fabric, these fibers can get tangled up in the intestines. Over time, a mass of synthetic fibers can cause dangerous blockages and stoppages that prevent the normal motility of the intestines. This can result in bloating, pain, loss of appetite, and even death if not treated immediately.

Fabrics Can Easily Become Tangled

Whether made from natural fibers like cotton and wool or synthetic fibers, fabric shreds have long stringy fibers that can tangle up inside a rabbit's intestines. The intestinal villi are coated in a sticky mucus that helps catch and bind food particles together as they move through the GI tract. However, this also means loose fibers or threads will cling together and form knots as they pass through the intestines.

The tangled mass of fabric fibers can then cause painful obstructions that block the intestines and prevent the rabbit from passing stool normally. This life-threatening blockage requires emergency surgery to untangle and clear the intestinal tract. Preventing access to fabric is key to avoiding this dangerous scenario.

Rabbits Are Prone To Digestive Issues

Rabbits have a very sensitive digestive system that relies on a diet high in grass hay and leafy greens. Their intestines are not designed to handle starchy grains or sugars, excess proteins, or other foods outside of their natural herbivore diet.

This makes them prone to developing a dangerous condition called GI stasis whenever their diet is off balance. Stress can also trigger GI stasis. During stasis, the intestines slow down or even stop moving entirely. Any fabric ingested during an episode of stasis is far more likely to cause a life-threatening blockage.

Rabbits Can’t Vomit

Unlike humans and some other pets, rabbits are incapable of vomiting. Other animals are able to expel blockages or toxic substances by vomiting them back up. But due to their unique digestive anatomy, rabbits are unable to vomit up anything that gets lodged in their stomach or intestines.

This makes blockages extremely hazardous for rabbits. They have no way to reverse or correct an intestinal blockage once fabric or other material gets trapped in their GI tract. Emergency surgery is the only option for removing an intestinal obstruction.

Intestinal Obstruction Symptoms

Rabbits who have ingested fabric may show symptoms like:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty passing stool
  • Small, misshapen stool
  • Straining to poop without producing anything
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Lethargy, depression
  • Grinding teeth from pain

If treated quickly, blockages can sometimes be cleared with laxatives, pain meds, and other treatments. But in many cases, immediate surgery is necessary to save the rabbit's life. Any symptoms of intestinal distress after a rabbit eats fabric warrant an urgent vet visit to assess for obstruction. Quick action is critical.

Is Wool Safe for Rabbits?

Wool fabric is generally unsafe for rabbits to ingest. Though wool comes from a natural animal fiber, it still poses a threat of intestinal blockage if consumed by rabbits. Some specific concerns with wool fabric include:

Wool Breeds

  • Certain breeds of sheep produce longer wool fibers that can more easily knot up inside a rabbit's intestines. For example, Merino wool has fibers reaching 3-5 inches long. Angora wool is also very long and fine. These long wool staples entangle more easily than shorter wool fibers.

  • Virgin wool, which has not been processed to remove natural oils and lanolin, tends to felt or clump together when agitated. Felted wool has an even higher risk of forming dense masses that obstruct the intestines.

  • Recycled wool or reclaimed wool fabrics also carry higher contamination risks in terms of chemical residues or BUTTONs that could cause illness in rabbits if ingested.

Is Felt Safe For Rabbits?

No, rabbits should not ingest felt products. Felt is created by matting wool fibers together to form a thick, dense fabric. This process makes the fibers even more likely to clump or knot up if eaten by rabbits. Specific risks include:

Long Fibers

  • Wool felt retains the long wool fibers even after processing, rather than chopping them up into shorter segments.

  • Long fibers increase the risk of tangling and intestinal blockages.

Synthetic Fibers

  • Many types of felt also incorporate synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon during manufacturing.

  • These indigestible fibers further increase the danger of obstructions when ingested.

For these reasons, it's very important to keep rabbits away from wool, felt, or any other fabrics made from long animal hair fibers. The composition makes them an unsafe chew material for rabbits.

Is Polyester Safe for Rabbits?

Polyester is not digestible by rabbits and can pose a serious threat if ingested. Polyester is a synthetic polymer fabric made from petroleum byproducts. Some specific hazards of polyester include:

Blended Polyester Fabric

  • Many fabrics blend polyester with natural fibers like cotton. Even fabrics advertised as "cotton" often contain a polyester blend.

  • The polyester fibers woven throughout the fabric are impossible for rabbits to digest. These stubborn fibers can clog up the intestinal tract.

Why Rabbits Eat Fabric

There are a few possible reasons why rabbits may be attracted to nibbling on fabric, even though it's very unhealthy for them:


  • Rabbits have strong natural chewing instincts. Their teeth constantly grow throughout their lifetime.

  • Gnawing on materials helps wears their teeth down to a healthy length.

  • When rabbits don't have enough acceptable chew toys, they redirect this chewing to fabric, carpet, or wood furniture. Providing a variety of chew toys can help prevent unwanted chewing.


  • Rabbits are intelligent, social animals that require mental stimulation and enrichment.

  • If under-stimulated or confined without playtime and exercise, rabbits may chew on fabric or carpets out of sheer boredom and frustration.

  • Making sure rabbits have an engaging environment with toys, activities, and supervised playtime reduces boredom chewing.

Domestic Misunderstanding

  • In the wild, rabbits don't encounter fabrics like towels, blankets, and clothing. They chew on grasses, leaves, bark and roots.

  • Domestic rabbits haven't innate understanding that fabrics are unsafe and non-food items. Their chewing instinct takes over.

  • With consistent training and reinforcement, rabbits can be taught that fabric is not appropriate to eat.

Pica Behavior

  • In some cases, rabbits ingest non-food items like fabric, carpet, or wood due to the psychological condition pica.

  • Pica causes rabbits to crave chewing or eating substances with no nutritional value. It usually stems from dietary deficiencies or stress.

  • Treating any underlying causes of pica, along with providing proper chew toys, can help eliminate the behavior.

Rabbits Eating Towels

Towels are a common target of fabric chewing by rabbits. Loop terry cloth towels in particular pose extra risks:

  • Terry cloth has long fiber loops that can easily snag and wrap around the intestines.

  • Towels are often left on bathroom floors, giving rabbits ample unsupervised access.

  • White towels may be bleached, leaving toxic chemical residue that is hazardous if ingested.

Keeping bathroom and kitchen towels out of reach and using decorative towel racks rather than loose floor piles reduces temptation for rabbits.

Rabbit-Safe Fabrics

The healthiest choice is simply to keep all fabrics away from rabbits to eliminate any risk. But if you wish to allow rabbits brief supervised contact with fabrics, some safer options include:

  • 100% cotton fabrics with shorter, tighter weaves

  • Small Scraps of polar fleece or flannel, too small to cause obstructions

  • Untreated burlap bags

  • Small amounts of canvas slipcovers with tight, heavy weaves

Any fabric showing signs of wear, fraying, holes, or unraveling should be discarded and not made available to rabbits. And always monitor rabbits closely when fabrics are present to prevent ingestion.

How To Stop Rabbits Eating Fabric

If your rabbit has developed a habit of chewing and eating fabric, there are several ways you can curtail this dangerous behavior:

Provide Chew Toys

  • Provide ample healthy chew toys like untreated wood blocks and sticks to satisfy your rabbit's natural chewing urge.

  • Rotate new toys frequently to prevent boredom.

  • Try rubbing attractive fabrics on toys first or tying scraps to toys to redirect chewing to safe outlets.


  • Use positive reinforcement like treats to train your rabbit not to chew on forbidden items like fabric.

  • Anytime you catch them chewing fabric, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise, then redirect to a sanctioned toy and reward. Be consistent.

Repellent Sprays

  • Apply bitter-tasting repellent sprays designed for rabbits to unattractive furniture and fabrics.

  • Reapply these deterrent sprays regularly as the effects wear off over time.

Remove Fabrics

  • Thoroughly rabbit-proof your home by removing access to any fabrics like curtains, towels, rugs, blankets, cushions, etc.

  • Use decorative storage baskets or hampers to hide tempting fabrics from view.

Spaying Or Neutering

  • Rabbits have stronger destructive chewing tendencies when hormonal. Getting your rabbit spayed or neutered greatly reduces these urges.

  • Altered rabbits have better behavior, litter habits, and are less prone to chewing everything in sight!

With diligence and training, your bunny can kick the fabric eating habit for good. The effort is well worth it to prevent any life-threatening intestinal issues.

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