Can Rabbits Eat Straw? What to Do if Your Bunnies Love Munching on Straw?

by Emily Bingham
Can rabbits eat straw

When you give your rabbits straw bedding, you’re likely to find them munching on it from time to time. And if you’re new to rabbits, you’re probably really confused or worried right now. Is straw safe for rabbits to eat?

Straw is safe for rabbits to eat, but only in small amounts. You shouldn’t be feeding straw to rabbits instead of hay or pellets. It’s just not a sustainable food source. 

In this article, we’ll talk about what straw is and why you shouldn’t feed rabbits straw. We’ll also cover why your rabbit is eating straw in the first place. 

What Is Straw?

Straw is the stalks of grain plants. When wheat is harvested, the grains are separated from the stalks, and then the stalks are harvested and bailed into straw. 

Straw is most commonly used as bedding for livestock like horses, cattle, and chickens. It can also be used as bedding for small pets rabbits, and even for gardening purposes. 

What Are the Differences Between Straw & Hay 

Straw and hay differences

While they may seem similar, straw and hay are two separate things. One is a long-stalked plant that is slept in, while the other is a type of grass that is eaten. But, that’s just a broad comparison. 

Here’s a chart that demonstrates the differences between hay and straw for rabbits. 

StrawHay
Appearance Large, yellow stalks. Thin, stringy, or wiry green stems, sometimes smaller hollow stalks (depending on the type of hay). 
OriginsA byproduct of when wheat crops are harvested. Straw is the dried plant stalks. Grown specifically as a food source. 
Intended UseUsed as bedding for rabbits and many types of livestock.Used as food for rabbits and some types of livestock.
Nutritional ValueNoneAn essential source of nutrients and fiber for rabbits.
Other UsesFor gardening, as an alternative to mulch.None

Is Straw Dangerous for Rabbits?

Technically, your rabbit can eat straw. It’s completely safe for rabbits. But while it’s not critically dangerous to them, feeding rabbits (or any animal) straw is not recommended. 

Straw isn’t intended to be a food source for animals. It just has no nutritional value. It’s kind of like your rabbits eating empty carbs. They get full, but they don’t get anything out of it. There’s no need for emergency care.  

That all being said, it may be dangerous for your rabbits to eat large amounts of straw. Or, if they start refusing their other food for straw. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.  But now, let’s talk more about the root of the problem.

Why Are My Rabbits Eating Straw?

So, if straw has no nutritional value, then why are your rabbits eating it? Let’s go over some of the possible reasons for your rabbit’s new affinity for straw.

No Hay Available

The first and most obvious reason that your rabbit is eating straw is that there’s no hay available. If there is hay available, it’s yellowish and blends in with the straw.

They Don’t Like Their Current Diet 

Another possible reason for your rabbits eating straw is that they’ve become disenchanted with their current diet. Some rabbits are picky eaters and will just chew on straw as a “strike” on the food you’re currently giving them.

Boredom

Rabbits become bored quite easily, especially if they’re spending a lot of time in their cages. So if they have nothing to do, they turn to chewing and other destructive behavior. It’s just rabbit logic. 

Chewing Needs

Not only do rabbits like to chew, but they need to chew! So, if your rabbits are munching on straw, it could be because they’re filling that need. Usually, they’ll chew on furniture and books, or anything else. But in a cage, straw is the first thing available. 

What to Do if Your Rabbit Is Eating Too Much Straw

Straw as a rabbit bedding

Even though it’s not technically bad, straw isn’t that good for your rabbits either. So, if they start to prefer straw over other foods for some reason, there are some ways to combat it. Of course, you should get to the root of the problem first.

Make Slight Dietary Changes

As mentioned, rabbits tend to be picky eaters. If they don’t like their food or the type of hay you’re giving to them, rabbits will turn to other things like straw to fill up. Try changing your rabbit’s pellets or give them a new type of hay to coax them away from the straw. 

There are multiple types of foods and hays that you can give your rabbit, and it may take some time to find the right combo. But it’s definitely better than eating straw. 

Replace Straw Bedding 

If you can’t seem to get your rabbits away from the straw, then you should consider replacing their straw bedding with something else. There are many better bedding options for rabbits than straw which doesn’t have very good absorbent qualities. Fleece bedding, aspen shavings and recycled paper fluff make great choices!

Fulfill Their Need to Chew

Again, rabbits need to continuously chew things, not just for their gut health, but because of their ever-growing teeth. So, if you want your rabbits to stop chewing on their straw, offer them things they can chew like wooden blocks or willow twigs.

Give Your Rabbits More Free Run/Play Time

When a rabbit eats out of boredom, there’s only one solution. More fun! Also, if your rabbits are kept separately, consider bonding them (if they’re a good match and they are fixed or same sex, of course). 

Giving your rabbits more time to run and play outside of their cage takes eating straw right off of their minds. And when they return, pay attention to their interest in their current food. 

Conclusion 

Rabbits can eat a small amount of straw without it being dangerous. However, in large amounts, it can ruin their nutrition levels, since straw has no nutrients. Either way, it should NEVER be offered as a sole food source. 

Rabbits need hay, pellets, and leafy greens to sustain their gut health. Straw may not destroy it, but it’s not going to promote it either. 

Your rabbits will eat straw for multiple different reasons. So, if they’re eating too much, then it’s time to put your detective hat on and figure out why. Then, use what we’ve talked about to offer them something better.

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2 comments

Phillip snyder May 21, 2022 - 8:09 am

I want the very best for my bunny. Straw hey. What is the very best thing in the world that I can give him….thank you…. Phillip snyder from Winchester Virginia

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Monika May 21, 2022 - 11:20 pm

Timothy hay is most commonly used and it is a great hay for bunnies. Just make sure your rabbit is not eating straw 🙂

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