I understand how easy and practical it can be to use artificial synthetic grass as a substrate for pets, it looks natural, requires no maintenance and it’s easy to clean because it’s a material produced with plastic.
In addition, rabbits can be quite destructive with any substrate material, an artificial grass is convenient for its resistance, perhaps it is only one investment.
Artificial grass it is widely used to take care of many animals, but in the case of rabbits special precautions must be taken, having a lawn made with plastic filaments and an animal that likes to chew everything like the rabbit may not be a good idea.
By nature, rabbits bite everything within their reach, in fact, a very common problem globally is that rabbits love to chew on electrical wires, endangering their own lives.
A rabbit obviously has no awareness of the danger that biting certain objects can represent, in the case of artificial grass they will sometimes try to bite it, as it seems natural to them, in nature rabbits can eat grass.
Usually, animals can distinguish between artificial and natural grass, they are guided by their sense of smell and feeling, in reality it is difficult for them to confuse them.
Anyway, rabbits like to chew plastic and everything they can chew, you should go to a veterinarian in case you notice that your rabbit has ingested synthetic grass because this could be detrimental to their health.
The plastic components of the artificial grass could be toxic for the rabbit in case of being ingested, the artificial grass is made of synthetic materials such as polypropylene, polyethylene or polyamide.
Synthetic grass is made up of, primarily, 4 components, the fiber itself; a type of canvas or netting on which is sewn the fiber that composes the grass.
The filling, normally silica sand or granulated rubber, or a combination of both; and a base, usually of rubber, which cushions impacts and footprints.
Can artificial grass be toxic for rabbits?
There are many opposing views on whether artificial grass can be toxic or not, on the one hand, there are the campaigns that claim that grass is non-toxic and totally healthy for pets.
It is worth mentioning that in the websites where I looked for information, after mentioning that artificial grass is not toxic, they put a link for you to buy it, or they were mostly artifical grass sales sites.
Personally I never trust information when they are trying to sell me something, people will say anything to sell, as long as there is nothing negative about the product.
With this I don’t want to label artificial grass as a toxic product, I’m just trying to find objective arguments.
There is a possibility that it is not toxic, but it is also very likely that it is, the components made with plastic usually contain a chemical called BPA.
BPA, or bisphenol, is an additive used to harden plastic, and its toxic effect is so well known that many of the campaigns for plastic baby products are marked “BPA free”.
Artificial grass may contain BPA, since one of its properties is to keep plastic filaments very close together and hard, they also contain dye.
Although not all artificial grasses are the same, in terms of quality, it is almost impossible to know what kind of toxic components they might have because these artificial grasses never carry a label indicating the products of their manufacture.
The appropriate artificial grass for your rabbit
In case you are determined to try an artificial grass for your rabbit, I will give you a very basic advice so that the chances of your rabbit eating it are reduced as little as possible.
There are different types of artificial grass, especially in relation to the type of filament, this can be longer or shorter depending on the use of the artificial grass, if it is for a high traffic area the long filament grass is used.
The idea is, to use an artificial grass as a substrate for rabbits, use the one with the shortest filament, obviously the shorter the filament, the less possibilities of bites by the rabbit.
There are stores specialized in selling artificial grass, where you can buy the grass taking into account characteristics such as the density of the grass, the thickness, the length, and other parameters.
If you get a lawn with all these characteristics reduced to the minimum, perhaps it could be useful as a substrate for the rabbits, you should keep in mind, to protect the corners in the place where you are going to place them, because the rabbit could then moderate it by the corners.
Apart from the fact that with an artificial grass with very thick and long filaments there is the possibility that the rabbits will injure their feet by constantly using the substrate.
Alternatives to artificial grass for rabbits?
There are several substrates as alternatives to artificial grass for rabbits, understanding that we are looking for a durable and easy to clean material, in that sense it seems to me that the pressed paper is the best option.
It is resistant, easy to clean, incredibly absorbent and does not accumulate strong odors, besides being a recycled material it does not cost an arm and a leg, in case the rabbit bites it or ingests it, it is totally harmless.
Perhaps the difficulty is to find a store or specialized place where it can be obtained, another material used is compressed wood, although this as a substrate is obviously harder.