Many rabbits enjoy viewing the world from an elevated position. While climbing can be a good workout for a pet rabbit, it can also be dangerous.
Climbing wire fences comes naturally to rabbits as it’s easy for them to get a foothold. Most domesticated rabbits will also race up and down staircases for exercise and recreation. But trees and walls are hard for rabbits to climb because they offer a limited grip.
Rabbits have delicate bones, so any fall can be hazardous. Also, it places wear-and-tear on their joints. But if your rabbit is a climber, you should allow them to embrace their habit.
Do Rabbits Like to Climb?
Rabbits live in warrens under the soil. Despite this, rabbits also enjoy climbing. They need to know that they’re doing so in a safe environment. Climbing, and reaching higher locations, is a natural part of exploration for a curious domesticated rabbit.
We need to consider the world from a rabbit’s perspective. They are tiny, and typically can’t see anything above our ankles. They can hear and smell everything we do, though. That’s a world of excitement they’re missing out on.
By climbing, rabbits can gain access to the secrets of the human world. By scrambling onto a table, they’ll be able to find food scraps. By hopping upstairs, they can investigate new rooms. After clambering into our lap, they will get petted.
There’s also the safety perspective, too. Rabbits are acutely aware of their place in the food chain. From higher ground, they can see anybody and anything coming – especially as they are farsighted.
These behaviors are unique to domesticated rabbits that feel secure in their environment. A wild rabbit is more likely to hide. Your pet will use their fascination with climbing to satisfy their thirst for adventure, though.
Is it a Good Idea to Allow Rabbits to Climb?
Aside from the danger of falling and breaking bones, there are risks associated with rabbits climbing. In many respects, these are outweighed by benefits.
Rabbits enjoy having a lookout point. If your rabbit can survey their empire, they’ll be calmer. This is because they will not live in perpetual fear of being attacked.
Also, climbing is an excellent exercise for a rabbit. It gives every muscle in their body a workout. This will help them maintain a healthy weight, and exhaust them. They’ll sleep soundly after an exciting day of climbing exercise.
There is a flip side to this, though. The use of all these muscles will eventually take its toll. The wear and tear can speed up any onset of arthritis.
In addition, introduce heights to a new rabbit gradually. Rabbits sometimes misjudge how high they can safely leap from. Introduce low shelves and platforms, to begin with, steadily adding more.
Can Rabbits Climb Trees?
Wild rabbits can climb trees. This is rarely something that they would do for fun, though. If a rabbit is climbing a tree, it’s usually because they are looking for food.
If nourishment is scarce on the ground, desperate measures will be required. Rabbits will resort to a long-hanging branch. They nibble on twigs and wild fruit if they cannot find their preferred food sources.
It takes a rabbit quite some time to climb a tree. While rabbits have claws, they are not as sharp as, say, a cat’s. This means that a rabbit requires patience to climb up a tree.
The rabbit will need to take a running jump at the tree. They will be banking on their momentum carrying them forward. The rabbit will run, hop, and start to scramble over the bark.
They’re likely to tumble at least once, though. As rabbit skeletons are so fragile, this can be perilous. The time it takes also leaves a rabbit exposed to predators. While they’re attempting to climb, a rabbit can’t watch their back.
Bearing all of this in mind, it’s unlikely that a pet rabbit would climb a tree in your yard.
Can Rabbits Climb Wire Fences?
While your rabbit is exploring your back yard, they’ll check out everywhere. Eventually, this means they’ll reach a fence. It’s no secret that rabbits can dig under fences, but can they climb over them?
The rabbit may not even need to climb. If the fence is two feet or lower, rabbits can clear it with a single bound. Even if it’s taller, a determined rabbit will still manage to clamber over.
The methodology is similar to climbing a tree. The rabbit will take a running jump to get halfway up the fence. They’ll then finish the job with another leap or two. Momentum carries them through.
The key difference between fences and trees is it’s easier for paws to grip wire fences. A rabbit can use the gaps in a wire fence as a type of stepladder. This means that they’ll propel themselves up in record time.
Getting to the top of the fence is only half the problem, though. What does a rabbit do when they clear the height? While rabbits can climb up fences, they cannot climb down again. This is dangerous, as they typically wait to be rescued.
If you have a curious rabbit, a wooden fence is safer. Yes, you’ll be sacrificing light, but that’s a fair trade-off for a safe pet.
You’ll still need to be careful, though. A rabbit cannot easily climb such a fence, especially if you apply anti-climb paint. As SF Gate explains, though, they can chew through wood if they’re determined enough.
Can Rabbits Climb Walls?
Walls provide similar challenges to rabbits as trees. In theory, a rabbit is capable of climbing a wall. If they launch themselves high enough, they can scramble away. There is little to provide them with any momentum, though.
If bricks are jutting out of a wall, a rabbit may use them stepping-stones. That requires a very particular arrangement of bricks, though. Even if they manifest themselves, speed of thought and coordination will be required.
One thing to check is whether the rabbit can use anything as a platform. If they stand on a box, for example, they will have a higher starting point. This may make it easier to leap onto, or over, a wall.
You should also be mindful of any plant life hanging on a wall. Ivy, for example, may help a rabbit scale a solid wall. It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened. They could use the plants in a similar way to tree branches.
For the most part, though, walls are safe from the attention of a rabbit. Keep the surface clear, and they’ll usually be unable to climb. They won’t get high enough to hurt themselves.
Can Rabbits Climb Up and Down Stairs?
Rabbits can, and often will, climb upstairs in the home. They’ll find this to be a great deal of fun, treating stairs as an obstacle course. You’ll need to implement some safety procedures, though.
Think about the material of the stairs. Are they pure wood? This can become slippery. If your rabbit loses its footing, it could be facing a long tumble. Carpets are safer.
You’ll also need to be mindful of how steep your staircase is. If your rabbit has to jump from one stair to the next, accidents become increasingly likely. If you have tall stairs, it may be safer to discourage rabbit play.
Make sure your rabbit is not on the stairs while you’re taking them. Rabbits often get underfoot. If they’re dancing around your feet, one or both of you could get hurt.
Can Rabbits Climb Ladders?
You’ll rarely find ladders designed for rabbits in pet stores. The closest equivalent is more likely to be a ramp that contains rungs. These will be solid, as opposed to having holes between each step.
A rabbit attempting to negotiate a traditional ladder could hurt themselves. They risk developing sore hocks from the small, narrow steps. Equally, they’re likely to lose their footing.
Thankfully, even the most determined or adventurous rabbit will not attempt to climb a human ladder. It’s impossible for their small frames to manage. The closest equivalent would be a set kitchen footstool with one or two steps.
All the same, do not leave ladders lying around in a bunny play area. Your rabbit will still be curious. They may accidentally nudge or knock the ladder. If they’re heavy enough, it could topple over – right on top of the rabbit.
A rabbit may also use ladders as climbing frames if they’re flat on the ground. This circles us back to a previous issue. Rabbit paws are not designed for human ladders. They’ll likely hurt themselves attempting to negotiate the rungs.
Can Rabbits Go Up Ramps?
Rabbits can indeed negotiate ramps. Most double-decker hutches contain ramps. This is a safer way for a rabbit to negotiate different levels of their home. The Indiana House Rabbit Association highly recommends ramps.
Despite this, a better question may be whether a rabbit will go up a ramp. Sometimes, rabbits show an uncharacteristic reluctance to climb up and down these devices. There could be several reasons for this:
- The ramp may be hurting the rabbit’s feet. For example, if it’s made of pure wood, it may be causing splinters. Consider applying a softer surface, such as carpet.
- The ramp is too smooth. This could make the bunny slip, which leaves them at risk of splayed leg. Again, consider adding an additional surface to help.
- The rabbit doesn’t trust the ramp. They’re not convinced it will hold their weight, or lead anywhere fun. A little patience and food-related temptation will often resolve this issue.
- The ramp is steep, and the rabbit struggles to maintain enough strength to negotiate it. Going up may not be a problem, but descending at speed could frighten them — lower the ramp to a more agreeable angle.
- The rabbit doesn’t have any interest. They’d rather climb in a more conventional sense, as they find this more enjoyable. Rabbits are stubborn, so you may need to admit defeat here.
If you can convince your rabbit to use ramps, they are efficient and helpful tools. Rabbits with limited mobility, in particular, will enjoy them. The less long-distance hopping is required, the smaller the impact on their joints.
Never force a rabbit to use a ramp, though. You may rob them of their joy of climbing altogether. This is the last thing that you want.
Can Rabbits Climb Shelves and Other Home Furnishings?
Shelves can be irresistible to most domesticated rabbits. They are helpful platforms that enable the rabbit to move freely. They can also be accessed comparatively easy. Many rabbits will leap into a shelf from the sofa.
Of course, this means that you’ll need to make your home rabbit-safe. Don’t place anything delicate on a shelf that your rabbit can access. They’ll likely knock it off.
You may have lost a priceless ornament or family heirloom. Then, the sound will likely spook your rabbit. They’ll jump off the shelf, potentially into a pile of broken glass or porcelain. Even if the fall doesn’t hurt them, that will.
Try to prevent your rabbit from gaining access to shelves that are too tall. Any fall will be longer. Additionally, rabbits need space. If they cannot stand on their hind legs, they’re too cramped.
You’ll also have to be careful that your rabbit doesn’t use shelves to reach ever-greater heights. They may end on the top of your closet. This is a great lookout point, but it’s a long way down.
If your rabbit is careful, they’ll land on the bed. Generally, they know to aim for a soft landing. This will still have an impact, though. Also, all it takes is one slip or misjudgment for disaster to strike. Embrace a safety-first approach.
Should I Provide My Rabbit with Climbing Toys?
Rabbit toys that tailor to their taste for climbing are frustratingly hard to come by. Wandering around a pet store will rarely yield results. This means that you’ll need to get creative.
One solution is to modify a cat tree for your rabbit’s use. We say modify, because a generic tree may be too lightweight for a rabbit. Your pet must feel secure on every branch.
You’ll also need to think about the material used to create a cat tree. Many of these toys are made of soft fabric. Rabbits will enjoy the sensation under their paws. They may chew and swallow it, though. That can be dangerous.
If you have the time and the inclination, you can create your own rabbit-friendly climbing frame. Cardboard is great for this. Attach a range of solid, sturdy boxes together. Include ramps, if necessary.
Of course, you could take it up a notch. Use wood rather than cardboard, and you’ll have a long-standing toy. With the right protective varnish, you can even use it outdoors.
This toy will serve two purposes. Your rabbit can climb, and they’ll also have a hiding place. The only issue is that, like all toys, your rabbit may grow bored sooner than later. This could be a big commitment for two days of fun.
If you’re prepared to put in the work, though, your rabbit will love you for it. Just keep them safe. Lay an old rug below the climbing frame, and dot pillows around. This way, they’ll always have a safe landing if they lose their footing.
Every rabbit is different. Until you bring your pet home, you won’t know if they’re a mountaineer or a ground-dweller. Always assume that your pet will have a head for heights, though.
If your rabbit does love to climb, let them do so. It’s a natural instinct, and it should be encouraged. You’ll need to be vigilant about safety, and ensure a soft landing always awaits them.