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How Do Bunnies Keep Their Nails Short in the Wild?

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Life as a domestic rabbit is very different to life as a wild rabbit. Although both require nail maintenance, they have to go about getting it in different ways. As an owner, you're at the helm of staying on top of your bunny's nail trimming needs. Free roaming rabbits can keep their nails trimmed on their own.

Digging and Nail Trimming

Wild rabbits often do a lot of digging around in the ground. Burrow construction is a big part of life for many bunnies out in nature. European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), for example, are the progenitors of domestic rabbits. They spend much of their time digging -- and living in -- elaborate communities of burrows, which are called warrens. By doing all of this digging around in the dirt, these wild rabbits essentially erode their nails. This keeps them from ever growing overly long.

Running and Nail Trimming

Rabbits in the wild are generally a lot more physically active than most domestic rabbits, even those who get a lot of daily exercise. Whether they're running away from perceived threats in the distance or on their way to foraging, their nails encounter hard surfaces, such as those in fields, on a routine basis. Running on these types of surfaces, like frequent burrow digging, helps keep their nails neat and trim.

Nail Trimming Maintenance for Pet Rabbits

As long as rabbits are alive, their nails grow. This means that they call for permanent upkeep. If you allow your pet rabbit's nails to just keep growing and growing, they could become extremely harmful, not only to the little guy but to yourself and to the rest of your family. This is why it's imperative to clip bunnies' nails in intervals of between six and eight weeks. If your rabbit's nails grow especially rapidly, you might have to do it more often. If they grow especially slowly, you might not have to do it as frequently. It always varies based on your individual pet. Many rabbits initially object to people touching their feet. The more practice you get touching your bunny's feet, however, the more relaxed he should become with it. Ask your vet to show you the best way to trim your pet's nails.

Mimicking Wild Rabbits

If you want to help your pet keep his nails trim just as his wild counterparts do, allow him the chance to move around on something with a hard texture every day. If you place a slab of plywood, for example, inside of his enclosure, it might allow him the opportunity to easily maintain his front nails.