Antler chew toys?

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Harebell

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The "new thing" around here seems to be antler chews for dogs, but now I'm starting to see some cut for small pets (rats, hamsters, mice, rabbits, etc.)

Has anyone ever given their buns antler chews? Safe? Unsafe? Pros/Cons? I know that mice and rats nibble on these in the wild, and I imagine wild rabbits might too. I like the idea of a long lasting all-natural toy that can easily be cleaned off, unlike wood toys. What are everyone's thoughts on this?








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hillrise

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If I remember correctly, antlers are made of the same thing bones are, in contrast to horns which are made of the same protein as fingernails and hair (keratin).

I imagine it would be "safe" and maybe wild rabbits do chew on them, but I don't know how it would affect them nutritionally, since it IS technically almost all calcium.

Antlers do still absorb ick, although perhaps not quite as bad as wood. They're more textured, though, so it's not going to be as simple as a wipe-down (more like scrubbing with a brush) to get clean.

I'd say go ahead, but wood would still probably be better.
 

pocketsizedrhino

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I don't think it seems right for a herbivore to chew on something filled with protein rich bone marrow. Someone also made a good point about possibly being high in calcium--too much calcium can do some damage. I would stick with wood chews.
 

DelightfulEccentricity

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If you mean the commercially available chews, they are usually made of shed antlers from farmed cervines, and as such there is no more real "marrow" left...but it is FULL of good stuff. I would imagine it is very good for anything that wants to chew...on the other hand, I would NOT offer antlers that were taken off of a dead animal. Naturally shed antlers are softer and more dry, the antlers you chop off a dead animal are rock-hard and could damage teeth. If you are a deerhunter like me, I would keep an eye out for sheds in the wild (you are unlikely to find them though since so many animals devour them as soon as they hit the ground!) and keep the antlers from harvested animals out of the rabbit's reach. :)
 

Harebell

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I imagine it would be "safe" and maybe wild rabbits do chew on them, but I don't know how it would affect them nutritionally, since it IS technically almost all calcium.
This was what I was wondering about more specifically too, if what added calcium they got from chewing could be harmful or not.

DelightfulEccentricity - Thanks for the info, everyone around here is big into finding their own sheds, and there are many people who have started shed hunting solely for the antlers to be sawed into pet-sized pieces.


By the way, it wasn't clear in my original post, but I am not particularly looking to give my rabbits antler chews - I just wanted to know if anyone else does and if the general census was if they are safe or not since I've seen them rise in popularity for pets and have had people ask me if they should give theirs any.
 

DelightfulEccentricity

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No problem! And. Honestly, I probably would give 'em to mine. Granted I'm a horrible vicarious hypochondriac (I've been known to ignore my own major medical problems, but if one of my pets, say...sneezes twice in one day I'm convinced they might die of some horrible disease) so I would also call my vet first and double-check but honestly, I can't think of any reason not to. :)
 
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