Enrichment activities for rabbits
Ever given a young child an expensive present and all he or she wanted to do was play with the box it came in? A rabbit can totally get where the kid’s coming from. In fact, a gift-wrapped empty box will have your rabbit throwing around high fives in excitement. Easy to please? Sure, as long as you know what rabbits like.
Chew toys for rabbits
For starters, those big teeth offer a clue. Rabbits love to chew! They also love to explore. So if you set out a brown cardboard box with small access holes to get them started, you’ve given them the best of both worlds: a secret fort to explore and a chew toy to boot.
"Good chew toys don’t have to be expensive," explains Best Friends rabbit manager Debby Widolf. You can give them cardboard boxes, pinecones, untreated wooden blocks, wicker baskets, and untreated pine, apple and willow branches. As a quick tip, pretty much any toy you can find for parrots is safe for rabbits. One more fast tip: If you have a party coming up and find yourself short on confetti, simply give your rabbit a phone book a few days in advance. You’ll be all set, and the rabbit will have the time of his or her life!
Rabbit climbing toys
When it comes to enrichment activities for rabbits, as with any animal, it usually pays to structure the toys and games around things they enjoy doing. Once you have the chew toys covered, there are other areas to consider. Rabbits love climbing on things. So, try placing a large rock, wooden box or some other object the rabbit can hop on to survey the land. You might be surprised how often the rabbit uses it.
Back to hidey holes for a second. Rabbits are born tunnelers. They’ll love you forever if you give them a way to hang out in tunnels. You can create a safe, inexpensive tunnel for your rabbit by cutting 6-inch PVC pipe into 3-foot lengths. Or you can do the same with heavy-duty cardboard tubes (such as what you’d find in the center of carpet rolls). With the cardboard tube option, you’re back to that hideout/chew toy combination they love so well. Another excellent setup is to give your rabbits a large sandbox. Why not let them make the tunnel?
Wendy and Tinkerbell
Rabbit foraging for food
"They love to forage, too," adds Debby. Here’s another thing rabbits have in common with parrots. Both species love to find food. With rabbits, this can be as simple as putting a few treats in a brown paper sack and tying it up with twine. Stuff a toilet paper tube with hay and oats, tie the ends, and you have a superb foraging device. Again, these are low-cost solutions, but they offer high rewards to the rabbits. Many visitors to the Bunny House at Best Friends spend time making these very foraging toys.
Other bunny toys
Of course, even rabbits enjoy toys that are just toys (not only chewing accessories). They like to toss things in the air and push stuff around. Hard plastic toys, such as plastic key rings for babies, tend to be a nice choice. If you give them a hard plastic ball, they might roll the thing all day long with their nose.
Games for bunnies
In the end, toys typically only go so far. The majority of rabbits love playing games and spending time with the people they know and trust. Debby describes a game she plays with several rabbits at Best Friends. She finds a rabbit to play with and says in her best mischievous voice, "I’m gonna get you!" Then she playfully chases the rabbit, who hops 10 feet or so away from Debby until stopping and looking over his or her shoulder. "You comin’, or what?" the rabbit seems to say. Then the game continues!
Rabbits may enjoy hitching a ride
in a frontal backpack.
Backpacks and harnesses for rabbits
A lot of rabbits don’t like car rides, but many enjoy hitching along in a frontal backpack that looks a bit like a baby sling. (These are apparently all the rage in California …) You can always try taking your rabbit for a walk, but be sure to use a mesh harness so he or she can feel comfortable. Debby offers one piece of advice on walking rabbits. "You’re never going to take a rabbit on a walk," she explains. "You’re going to follow the rabbit!"
Every rabbit has a different personality. By paying close attention, it’s easy to figure out what makes that rabbit tick. With enough enrichment activities and toys sprinkled here and there, it’s a cinch to keep your bunny hopping for joy all day long!