Is newspaper safe for rabbits to swallow?

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Well-Known Member
Nov 11, 2005
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Edinburgh, , United Kingdom
My cage set up is that I line the cage withnewspaper and put hay on top as well as the litter tray andchange it everyday. Usually they eat the hay and rip up thepaper but today I realised snowball has been eating chunks of newspaperas well. Is the ink harmful to her? Willit clog up her digestive system? I thought it was ok as Ihave always lined my small animals cages with newspaper with noproblems but I don't think any other pets used to eat it.


Supporting Member
Jul 9, 2004
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Excess newspaper could cause a blockage, butmore serious is the newsprint, which is toxic. Pernod shreds thenewspaper, but doesn't eat it. Could you use unprinted, unbleachedpaper?


Nicky Snow

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Jul 6, 2005
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, Ontario, Canada
Sully started eating newspaper, i took it awayfrom him just in case. a small amout may not be so bad, but of coursetoo much could be bad.



Well-Known Member
May 19, 2004
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Seattle, Washington, USA
Here is a quote from Carolyn - I had the same question.

Carolyn wrote:
Hi Amber,

I know that Cher in China doesn't give her rabbits the Chinesenewspaper because she's not sure of what's in the ink, but being in theUSA, I think our papers are fine. I've let Tuckerchew on them without incident. He likes ripping them up morethan eating them. OSHA monitors the processing.Youmight be interested in the information below aboutnewspaper ink.


The Safety Of Newsprint Bedding
Sereana Howard
Joe E. Heimlich

This fact sheet, one in a series, reports data from a study thatexamined newsprint as an alternative bedding material for farm animals.The study was funded in part by the Ohio Department of NaturalResources, Division of Litter Prevention and Recycling.

The study addressed newsprint with black ink and examined the supply ofnewsprint in Ohio, effects of the paper as a bedding, as well as theabsorption and decomposition. The bedding was evaluated on managementand disposal, animal behavior, and aesthetics.

The newsprint bedding was shredded into small bales. Evaluatorscommented on the ease of use, stall maintenance, storage and disposalof the newsprint. They also observed animal behaviorsuch as grazing onthe newsprint, grooming of the animals and insulation qualities. Thegeneral appearance of barns and fields were qualitatively assessed asto dust levels and stail and barn appearance.

One major concern for American livestock operations is safe bedding forthe animals. In using shredded newspaperforanimal bedding, there is aconcern about possible harm to animals from the newspaper ink.Newspapers have been used over time as bedding for small animals, butnot until recently were newspapers considered for large animal bedding.

What is toxic?
Toxic materials are those that may release toxicans or poisons insufficient quantities to pose a substantial hazard to human health,according to the Environmental Protection Agency. According to TheAmerican Heritage Dictionary, toxic is defined as harmful, destructive,or deadly.

The standards used to determine toxicity are defined by theOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) through resuits oflaboratory tests. OSHA tests determine the maximum level of toxicity,stress, or exposure that laboratory animals can withstand. These levelsare then standardized for human exposure as amounts of safe exposureare usually higher for animals than for humans. If exposure, dailysales, delivery of newspaper, is safe for humans, then daily exposureis also safe for animals.

Newspaper Ink
Carbon black is the standard ink used for newspapers. Carbon black iscomprised of carbon black, oil, miscellaneous ingredients foranti-misting and low-rub, and paraffin distillates for quick dry. Manycolored inks contain the same basic ingredients except pigments replacethe carbon black for the desired color. This fact sheet addressesprimarily the carbon black inks because these are most commonly used indaily newspapers.

Threats of Toxicity in Newspaper Ink
There are three ways ink can have contact with the human body. There isdermal absorption (through the skin), inhalation of ink particles intothe respiratory tract (breathing), or ingestion through the mouth andinto the digestive system (eating).

There is little threat of dermal absorption of ink or its ingredientsonce the ink is dry because the ink has achieved its stable state. Theingredients that were potentially absorbable become dry and are nolonger able to be absorbed. Lead, which can be absorbed through theskin, was banned as an ingredient in ink by the EPA in 1985 and is,therefore, no longer a threat. Stall trials concluded that the inkrub-off from printed newsprint was not a concern for animals.

Inhalation is a concern only when the ink is in liquid form either intransportation or at the place of production. Particle droplets andevaporation of active ingredients are a concern because they can beinhaled if proper prevention techniques are not practiced during theprinting of the newspapers. Again, however, once the ink is applied tothe paper and dried, it is stable and there is little danger ofinhaling ink particulates. There is a threat of inhalation of dust fromfinely shredded paper. In this case, the concern is over fibrousinhalation rather than the toxicity. To avoid fibrous inhalation, stalltrial results suggest using shreds at least 1 inch x 1 1/2 inch orlarger.

Ingestion of inks used on newsprint has not been an issue because theingredients used in the inks are not considered toxic in either theliquid or dry state. The only animal that showed an indication ofgrazing on the newspaper bedding was the horse and the grazing was inlimited amounts. No other animals indicated any interest in thenewsprint as a food source.

These trials and ink references are for the black inks used innewsprint. The trials do not include the waxed or glossy inserts orsupplements that accompany newspapers, nor does it include colored inksused on those publications.
I am still cautious about it though. If he is justchewing or tearing and not swallowing it, I don't get too concerned.But I agree with Nicole and Jan - no good can come of eating it.