Why do rabbits chew electrical wires?
Is there any reliable references giving a scientific answer to why bunnies like to chew on wires? What is the reason?
After 15 years of multiple rabbit ownership, I can assure you it is the smell draws them to the wire, and the texture keeps them coming back.
In fact, extremely rubbery remote control buttons are the one of the most sought after of all rabbit delicacies second only to sugar filled edibles:
A face up remote is a sure fire way to get a bunny that knows the taste of one onto a couch. However, the high number of reminate buttons seems to indicate, they while fun to chew on, rubber doesn't taste all that great to them, hence, my assertion that texture must play a part in it.
The above picture happened while I left my remote atop a 2.5 foot high stool and steeped away during a commercial break to use the bathroom. She had tasted a different remote a week prior and for months after any face up remote meant a lurking rabbit.
Because she was obstructed from seeing the remote was face up during this incident (and the fact rabbits have trouble seeing things up close), I am extremely confident that smell of rubbery like materials is strong factor in the attraction. If you think about it, this makes sense as rubber is a natural product that comes from trees, and thus rabbits might find the smell alluring.
You can also test your own rabbits "ability to see with it's nose", Have you ever left kibble on a counter out of sight to but within climbing reach to them? They will eventually (usually rather quickly) find there way there because their nose is what they use to identify things (food and each other and even us) with.
Similarly, in my years of experience, smelly rubber coated wires such as OEM usb cords are sought after preferentially over more plastic-y lamp cords or power wires, and I've lost 2 USB webcams because I thought I had all routes to the back of my computer covered.
This preference also seems to de-bunk the "buzzing wire" theory as USB cords carry DC power, so there is no current oscillating in them to make them buzz.
Another strike against the buzzing wire theory, while laying credence to the texture theory is that when the same wires are covered with hard plastic cord organizers such as these:
the rabbits leave the cords and the organizers alone. However, if you buy the cheaper, less softer plastic home-depot version, they will occasionally chew on the organizer. And if you get the extremely soft, almost rubbery kind of cord organizer form Ikea, they won't deter the rabbit at all and both your organizer and enclosed cables will be destroyed.
I once theorized it the location also had something to do with it as the rabbits might just be following their natural instinct to clear a runway though the briar patch to their hide away, but that was promptly debunked when the rabbit climbed to the back of a couch than traversed to a nearby desktop to take out a rubbery coated speaker wire that was hanging off the wall.
That said, not all rabbits are wire chewers (though I haven't met one that doesn't like rubber), but those same rabbits tend to be quite finicky about everything. For instance, my albino lion head and doesn't chew on wires, but he also won't eat most forms of leafy greens and hates our hardwood floors so he stays on the area rugs and thus has less exposure to wires to begin with.
If you have a finicky rabbit, you probably can train it not to chew wires with normal coatings, but I wouldn't push my luck with anything rubbery. In any case, it is easy enough to just cover every exposed wire with one of the above organizers.
+1 Solid logic based on experience, and addressing many key concepts of the issue. My remote is upside down for a reason too. If it was all smell, being upside down would not be a major factor, bunnies don't have a problem grabbing thing and turning them over. Upside down, their lips don't touch the remote buttons.
While I would still like an answer with scientific research based references, this answer based on experience seems spot on. Accepting answer pending something better (that may never come)
@JamesJenkins I tidied this up a bit to be more factually based. If you want I can design an experiment, but I'd need your, or someone else's help in testing the hypothesis as I only have two rabbits, and a statically relevant population requires a minimum of three.