Slugs can be a real pain for rabbit owners.
During the night they can seem like an unstoppable force. Slithering their way in your rabbit’s hutch and leaving slime all over their hay and food bowl, yuck!
In this article, I’ll give you some advice on how to keep slugs away from your rabbit’s hutch and out of their food.
I’ll also look at whether slugs can cause any other physical harm to rabbits too.
Hopefully, this article will give you the tips you need to keep your rabbit hutch a slug free zone.
I’m sure your rabbit will thank you for it!
To stop slugs eating your rabbit’s food you need to keep the slugs out of the rabbit hutch, or any other area where the food is stored. Chemical pellets should not be used and a more natural approach should be taken, using salt, copper and sand and the entry points to deter slugs from entering the hutch.
I’ll give detailed instructions on effective slug prevention methods later in the article, but first, let’s look at why you should not take a chemical approach to deter slugs.
Are slug pellets harmful to rabbit
Slug pellets can harm rabbits and should not be used to deter slugs.
Some slug pellets may contain an ingredient called metaldehyde. This is extremely poisonous to rabbits and can cause serious issues.
Even if some slug pellets don’t contain metaldehyde the chemicals in them are still likely to harm your rabbit if ingested.
That’s why it’s important to avoid chemical methods of deterring slugs from your rabbit hutch.
Alternatively, you should adopt more natural, eco-friendly methods, some of which I will describe next.
How to keep slugs out of rabbit hutch
The best way to keep slugs away from your rabbit’s food is to stop them from entering the hutch (or anywhere else the food may be stored).
There isn’t one single method that will work for this, but there are a few different approaches, I would recommend doing them all to give your rabbit’s hutch the ultimate protection.
Salt is an age old remedy for keeping pesky slugs at bay.
Salt naturally absorbs water. It’s often used in cooking for that purpose, such as helping potatoes to become extra crispy by absorbing the excess water from them.
It’s that same quality that makes salt the ultimate weapon against slugs. The salt mixes with the water in the mucus that is secreted by a slug.
That creates a saltwater solution, surrounding the slug, if you pour enough salt on a slug they will usually shrivel and die.
So to keep slugs out of your rabbit hutch, simply sprinkle a line or circle of salt at any point a slug could use as an entry, usually the legs of the hutch.
Slugs won’t cross a thick ring of salt at these points and it should prevent them from entering the hutch.
This is the best protection you can use against slugs in dry conditions.
There is one issue though… Rain!
Rain can wash away your salt protection, so let’s look at a couple more options that are more weather resistant.
Copper reacts with the mucus of the slug making it repellent to slugs.
This is often reported as the copper delivering a mild electric shock to the slug, although I don’t believe this to be true, in reality, the true effects of copper on slugs is more to do with their bodies chemical balancing.
As a result, slugs don’t like to travel over copper.
That means if you cover the surface of any entry point to your hutch with a layer of copper it should help to deter any invading slugs. You can even buy copper tape for the job but if you can get hold of it copper plates or rings should do a better job.
It isn’t foolproof though, studies have shown that copper will not deter slugs entirely and it will need more than a thin strip, I would suggest more than 3 inches of copper.
Here’s a useful video showing slugs trapped in a copper square. It’s clear that some slugs react when they hit the copper and try to escape, whereas others just slide right through, so it isn’t entirely successful.
Turn your sound down, there’s quite loud music on this video!
As you can see from the video, some slugs clearly dislike the copper and visibly squirm when they slide onto it.
However, even if they don’t like the copper there’s still a chance they will slide over it during their escape, rather than turning and sliding away. And in some cases, the slugs hardly seem bothered at all.
Therefore, for the most effective defense against slugs I would recommend using copper in conjunction with salt, and my next recommendation, sand.
Slugs don’t like travelling over dry, dusty surfaces.
There are plenty of materials people use to deter slugs, such as cinders, coarse sawdust and gravel, but for a rabbit hutch, I think using sand makes the most sense.
It’s easy to lay out a good wide layer of sand near any entry point to the hutch, and that should do a good job of keeping slugs away.
It can also be reapplied easily and is nice and cheap, one bag of sand should last you the whole year as some will be naturally washed away by the rain.
All in all, I would recommend using a combination of the above methods to deter slugs. The most effective is salt, but it can be easily washed away. So combining that with sand and copper, both of which can be done at a low cost, should provide a strong defense against invading slugs.
Are slugs toxic to rabbits
Slugs can be dangerous to rabbits if they were to eat them.
Some slugs can be toxic and many will carry parasites that can be harmful to your rabbit.
Thankfully, most rabbits will not try and eat a slug, but then mistakes can always occur and if there are lots of slugs in your rabbit’s hutch, or hiding in their food then they may well eat one, either on purpose or by accident.
I have heard of a rabbit accidentally eating a slug that was sitting in its food bowl so the best course of action is to try and prevent slugs from entering your rabbit hutch in the first place.
Will my rabbit eat slugs
Generally, rabbits will not eat slugs, however, if there are lots of slugs in its hutch or enclosure it may try to eat one out of curiosity.
More likely is that a rabbit will accidentally eat a slug. If there are slugs in their food bowl they may chew one by accident if they didn’t notice the slug first.
Slugs can be very prevalent if they find a place they like and it’s common for rabbit hutches to be overrun by slugs if there is no defense in place.
That makes the likelihood of your rabbit eating a slug all the more likely, but if your rabbit only sees a slug every now and again whilst hopping around in the garden then it’s very unlikely to eat it.
My rabbit ate a slug, what should I do
If your rabbit has eaten a slug then I would recommend you consult with your vet.
Slugs can carry very harmful parasites which could make your rabbit very ill and in extreme cases, it could be fatal.
Thankfully, rabbits don’t eat slugs often and they are usually sensible enough to avoid them.
But on the odd chance that your rabbit has eaten a slug, the best course of action would be to take veterinary advice.
In the meantime, you should watch for digestive issues such as diarrhea. If you spot diarrhea make sure they have plenty of water and water-rich food such as bell peppers to ensure they stay hydrated.