An article in RabbitingOn: Wood preservatives – what’s safe to use?


As rabbits owners, we really care about the well being of our charges. This is true for choice of diet, toys we give them, and especially true for accommodation. So I was very interested in a piece in the Winter 2013 issue of RabbitingOn about different timber treatments. A reader wrote in, very concerned about timber that had been treated with poisonous substances.

Is ‘pet safe’ really so?

While I’ve been developing my solution for rabbit accommodation for my ten fluffy friends, I’ve spent a lot of time researching what the best treatment solution might be. RabbitingOnI quickly discovered that no treatments are proven completely safe for rabbits. Yes, some treatments may be ‘Pet Safe’. However,  through research I discovered this typically referred to the fumes given off. Thus, it is a great choice for painting your dog kennel. It will ensure your canine companion doesn’t suffer ill effects from the smell. However, rabbits chew on their surroundings.

Do remember that rabbits often chew on their enclosure simply because they are bored and have no alternatives. Make sure you have a habitat that the rabbit can access 24 hours a day. Rather than locking them in a small hutch at night with nothing else to do but bite on the walls of their enclosure.

Starting out

For my first prototype years ago, I built a large run out of really thick, untreated timber. My logic was that thick timbers would take longer to rot through and so the whole run would last longer. However, I didn’t take surface mould into account.

Treatment stops the quick spread of fungus and mould across the surface of the timber. If it wasn’t treated, the whole run would go black with surface mould very quickly. And, of course, start to deteriorate. Clearly, some sort of treatment was needed so I researched further. There are plenty of stains that are safe, but these only change the colour of the wood in the same way as food dye changes the colour of a cake being baked. Wood stains add no protection.

Varnishes work by forming a barrier and sitting on the surface of the timber so they are totally unsuitable for a chewing rabbit.


Pressure treatment

This is why a specific type of pressure treatment is the best option. The letter in the Winter 2013 edition is concerned with toxic ingredients and some pressure treatments do contain these. However, we’ve been manufacturing Climbing Frames treated with Tanalith ‘E’ Tanatone, so our treatment is missing the arsenic present in pressure treatment, to make it child safe.Is this treatment safe for bunnies Well, we’ve made over 10,000 climbing frames from it for the last 10 years so its fair to say it has been tested on children who are inquisitive and put anything they can in their mouth.

So I’ve been testing pressure treated Rabbitopias with my 10 charges for a few years now. As the enclosures are large and they always have access to all of their space, they barely chew the timber at all. I am also content that the treatment used is free from arsenic and other toxic ingredients. In an ideal world, I would want to use untreated timber, but nature won’t stand still for me (I have asked…) and untreated timber would rot, exposing my rabbit to potentially toxic moulds.

For rabbits living in the garden, Tanalith ‘E’ Tanatone. is truly the best solution as it means the timber will remain free from rot and insect infestation for 10 years or more.

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