Rabbits may be small pets, but they’re not low-maintenance. She’ll need safety, food, and shelter. Also, you’ll need to enrich your pet’s life with mental and physical stimulation.
Keeping a rabbit entertained is not always easy as these animals can become bored. This will lead to destructive, and even aggressive, behavior. Ensure that you take every step you can to enrich your rabbit’s life. Your reward will be an affectionate pet that fills your life with joy and happiness.
How Can I Keep My Rabbit Happy?
It’s imperative that your rabbit is happy and content. This will ensure that you have a loving and docile pet. Failure to meet your rabbit’s basic needs can cause her stress.
Routine is critical to rabbits. Your pet will want to know that her needs will be met at particular times. She’ll grow accustomed to a specific schedule. Keep this up, and all will be fine. Your pet will be patient if you’ve established trust.
Also, you’ll need to ensure that your rabbit is suitably stimulated. Rabbits may be small, but your pet has a comparatively large brain. If not provided with sufficient entertainment, your rabbit will quickly grow bored. Rabbits are intelligent animals.
Bored rabbits will become destructive. Your rabbit is not deliberately misbehaving. She just needs to stave off tedium, lest the monotony turns to stress and anxiety.
There are two primary forms of stimulation that are important to rabbits. Your pet needs physical exercise, and mental stimulus. Striking a balance between these activities is pivotal.
Physical Stimulation for Rabbits
You will surely have noticed that rabbits are active animals. Anybody bringing a rabbit home expecting a low-energy pet has made a mistake. Just because rabbits are small and live in hutches doesn’t mean that they are not lazy.
A wild rabbit that roams free will run as much as three miles each day. Domesticated rabbits have similar energy levels. Your pet will need to be free to run for at least three hours a day. Check out our guide on the daily exercise requirements of pet rabbits.
Do not allow this then lock your pet in a small cage, though. A large enclosure is critical to rabbit welfare. Your rabbit still needs space to hop, jump, and stand upright. Attaching a separate run to the hutch for safe exercise is also advisable.
Mental Stimulation for Rabbits
Your pet rabbit differs from a wild rabbit in many ways. In others, she is almost identical. Rabbits are driven instinct. If you can allow your pet to engage in natural rabbit behaviors, she’ll be much more comfortable. Basic urges that drive rabbits include:
- Hopping and Jumping
If you meet these needs, you’ll have a contented pet. It’s comparatively simple to do provide your rabbit with what she wants. There’s no need to spend a small fortune. You just have to improvise.
17 Things That Will Enrich Your Rabbit’s Life
Having established that your rabbis need stimulation, let’s look at the different ways to provide it. The more that a rabbit has to do, the happier she will be. In turn, the happier a rabbit is, the more joy she will provide as a pet. Enriching a rabbit’s environment is a no-lose scenario.
1) Attention and Petting
A surefire way to enrich your rabbit’s life is to offer her plenty of attention. Your pet will crave company almost constantly. If you’re willing to make her the centerpiece of your family, she’ll be delighted.
Don’t force your rabbit to interact if she’s not in the mood, though. You’ll know if your rabbit wants attention. She’ll approach you, and likely nudge you with her nose. This means, “pet me please.”
If you ignore this request, your rabbit may nip you gently. This is not an act of aggression. Your pet is wondering if her cues were too subtle. A nip is a rabbit’s way of ensuring she has your attention.
2) Chew Toys
Chew toys are arguably the most crucial element of rabbit cage enrichment. Your rabbit will need to chew, but there are some things that she should never chew. Rabbit teeth never stop growing. If your rabbit doesn’t file her teeth on toys, she’ll develop dental issues.
This process isn’t as simple as filling a hutch with toys and walking away, though. Rabbits are hardwired to seek new experiences. Your pet will quickly lose interest in the same toys. You’ll need to provide a constant rotation.
You don’t need to buy new toys from a pet store every other day. There is a range of natural rabbit toys that will satisfy your pet’s need to chew. These include:
- Tree branches. Many rabbits will be happy chewing on wood.
- Cardboard. Tough cardboard, such as a box from an online delivery, can make a great chew toy. Avoid glossy printed card as it may contain toxic ink.
- Balls of Willow. Willow is an excellent material for homemade rabbit chew toys. Bind it into the shape of a ball and your pet will have hours of entertainment.
You can purchase chew toys from a pet store. You can even use baby toys, such as plastic keys. Just avoid anything too soft. Your rabbit will demolish her toys and may choke on small, ingestible parts.
Never neglect your rabbit’s need for chew toys. Without them, she’ll chew on the wire on hutch door. This can create holes, and rabbits are excellent at escaping. Your pet can squeeze through gaps that look tiny to the human eye.
3) Climbing Apparatus
As a rule, rabbits like to keep all four paws on the ground. For example, rabbits don’t like swimming. Despite this, rabbits can climb. In fact, your pet may wish to do so recreationally. Some rabbits feel safer on higher ground, as it’s easier to watch out for threats.
Rabbit climbing frames come in many shapes and sizes. You may be able to find them in a pet store. Alternatively, you can make your own. Construct something solid from wood or card. Just ensure it can hold your pet’s weight.
Another alternative is to purchase a cat tree. This will fulfill two needs. Your rabbit can climb on it, and file her claws on the scratching post. The platforms will need to be wide enough, though.
Your pet is not a solitary animal. In the wild, rabbits live in substantial colonies. Even domesticated, it’s advisable to keep rabbits in pairs or groups. Your pet may grow lonely otherwise.
Naturally, this may not be an option for everybody. It remains advisable if you can take on two pets, though. The pros and cons of keeping two rabbits are as follows:
|Two rabbits will always keep one another company. There is no need to worry about loneliness leading to stress and anxiety.||You’ll have two sets of expenses. Two insurance policies, twice as much food, and double the number of trips to the vet.|
|They’ll play together, ensuring that both pets enjoy exercise.||Two rabbits mean you’ll need to be twice as vigilant with cleaning a hutch. Keep that urine and poop cleared out.|
|They’ll take care of each other’s grooming needs. That’s less work for you. Satisfying a rabbit’s desire for grooming can be a full-time job.||You’ll need more space than you do for just one rabbit. You’ll need to ensure the communal living space is large enough to meet the needs of both animals.|
|You’ll get twice as much joy. You’ll never be short of entertainment or amusement.||Rabbits often bond for life. They can fall out, though. If this happens, you’ll likely need to house them separately from that point.|
5) Food Treats
Rabbits are food-focused animals. If there is a snack to be found, your pet will work tirelessly to obtain it. You can turn this into a game by indulging in your rabbit’s love of foraging.
Bury fresh vegetables under hay in your pet’s hutch. She will follow her nose, and hunt high and low to find the snacks. She’ll also enjoy the treats all the more, because they were earned.
The only thing to be careful here is waste. If fresh veg turns moldy, it can be harmful to a rabbit. Ensure you regularly clear out and change your pet’s hay. It’s the only way to guarantee her safety.
6) Hiding Places
Countless wild animals consider rabbits to be prey. Your pet lives with the same fear of predators as a wild rabbit. She’s always on her guard for someone or something that means her harm. Rabbits appreciate hiding places. You should provide these inside your pet’s hutch, and out.
- Inside the hutch: You can use a simple upturned cardboard box. This will give your rabbit somewhere to hide when she feels afraid. In addition, she’ll use it as a bedroom or for privacy.
- Outside the hitch: Your pet can use it to recharge her batteries during play. It will also stop her from running away if a loud noise or sudden movement spooks her.
Rabbits are also natural comfort seekers, so turn this hiding place into a palace. A box, lined with cushions, will do. If you want to provide your pet with luxury, get her an indoor tent.
Mirrors are a short-term fix to loneliness. When your pet first sees a mirror, she’ll be intrigued. She will think that she has company. How she reacts to this depends on your rabbit’s temperament. She may be excited, or she may fight her own reflection.
Rabbits are not stupid, though. It will not take long for your pet to work out what is happening. If you are leaving her alone for a short time, a mirror may offset anxiety.
8) Open Space
Rabbits need exercise. The House Rabbit Society recommends a minimum of 24 square feet of open space. This will allow your rabbit to hop and jump to her heart’s content.
Don’t leave too much open space for your rabbit. She may find this intimidating. In addition, rabbits can move at a rate of knots. Your pet will be hard to catch if you cannot herd her into a corner.
An appropriate outside area will delight your rabbit, though. It will enable her to explore, which is a natural instinct of these inquisitive animals. Let your pet run free for around three hours each day. Just supervise the play, for her safety.
9) Paper for Shredding
Shredding paper is one of the simplest joys that a rabbit can experience. Your pet will pass hours doing this. Your rabbit enjoys tearing paper apart because of the crinkling noise it makes.
In addition, she can burrow and play with the shredded remains. A paper bag is a favorite toy of many rabbits. Just cut out the bottom so your pet cannot suffocate.
If you have an old telephone directory lying around, place this in your rabbit’s hutch. You won’t see or hear from her for hours afterward. Your pet will spend blissful time tearing this book to pieces.
There is one note of caution to sound with paper. Cheap ink is sometimes toxic to rabbits. Bear this in mind before providing paper to your pet. Free newspapers and leaflets may contain toxins.
Rabbits have a natural instinct to dig. It’s what they do in the wild, in order to build a warren. Your pet may lack the patience to go this far. Providing a rabbit digging box will keep her amused.
You could start by placing a box of rabbit litter in your pet’s hutch. She’ll enjoy burrowing through this. If you’d like to expand your rabbit’s opportunities to excavate, use a sandpit in the yard.
Don’t fill this with sand. That will potentially clog your pet’s nasal passages and get in her eyes. Instead, use litter or rabbit mulch. This will be perfectly safe and provide stimulation.
Rabbits are territorial animals. Your pet will likely try to claim everything that she encounters. This may be inanimate objects or people. If your rabbit rubs her chin on you, she’s marking you with her scent glands.
You can use this to enhance your rabbit’s quality of life. Provide your pet with her own territory. Make it a corner of a room, or even an empty spare room. Minimize cleaning in this space and prevent other pets from entering it.
If your rabbit has territory to call her own without dispute, she’ll be more comfortable. She’ll know that she always has somewhere to retreat to if she feels overwhelmed. She’ll also be less likely to pee on your property to mark it as hers.
12) Toilet Roll Tubes
Toilet roll tubes, or kitchen towel tubes, are arguably the ultimate natural rabbit toy. These humble objects can serve a wide range of purposes.
- Feeding Tubes. Stuff the tube with hay, and hide some treats within. Your rabbit will enjoy fishing out the food.
- Rabbit Shish Kebab. You can poke branches through the tube and skewer veggies. Bell pepper slices are great for this. This makes treats fun for your pet.
- Rolling. Rabbits enjoy rolling a toilet roll tube around a hutch.
- Shredding. Rabbits love to shred. They’ll chew and tear apart a cardboard tube with pleasure.
- Noises. Add rabbit-safe attachments to the tube that make a noise. Rabbits love throwing things around that create light sounds. Toilet roll tubes will be light enough to allow this.
In many respects, training falls under the same remit as attention. Your pet will love any chance for one-on-one time with her human. You may as well turn this to your advantage.
Training a rabbit is comparatively simple. Some of the tricks you can teach your pet include:
- Stop that. This one will become invaluable. Rabbits often get into unsafe places. This creates a risk of chewing electrical cables and other dangerous activities.
Making time for training benefits everybody. Your rabbit will have fun, and you’ll have a more obedient pet. In turn, your rabbit will enjoy pleasing you. She’ll likely start to show off by performing tricks whenever she sees you.
Wild rabbits live underground in deep warrens. This means that a rabbit will instinctively enjoy traveling through tunnels. It’s how your pet’s wild ancestors got from A to B.
You can purchase tunnels from any reputable pet store. Set these up all over your yard and watch your rabbit have fun. If she seems reluctant to use tunnels, just place a treat at the exit. She’ll soon overcome her apprehension.
Alternatively, construct your own rabbit tunnels. Pick up cardboard concrete tubes from a building site or wholesaler. The end result will be the same, but you’ll save yourself money.
If you screw up some paper and toss it into the tube, your rabbit will enjoy the noise. She’ll dig and burrow in the tunnel, further replicating the wild experience.
15) Unused Rugs and Towels
Towels and rugs bring a lot of joy to a rabbit’s life. These items are soft and cozy to sit on, and can be shredded and chewed.
Watch your rabbit the first time she does this. You’ll need to ensure she is not swallowing large chunks of fabric. This can cause an intestinal blockage. If your rabbit is playing safely, you can relax.
There is another benefit to this. A rabbit with her own towel or rug is less likely to chew yours. She’ll quickly return to the comfort of the familiar when she feels a desire to chew.
16) Wicker Baskets
If you can find a wicker basket for your rabbit’s use, she’ll love you for it. Rabbits adore wicker. It’s hardwearing, so it can be chewed for hours without any give. It’s perfectly safe for a rabbit to chew wicker, do don’t worry.
Baskets serve other uses too. Line the basket with a blanket, and your pet will hop in for a snooze. Knock it upside down and slip a treat inside, and your rabbit will work to access the food. You can even carry your rabbit around in a basket.
If you can find a wicker basket, bring it into your rabbit’s life. You won’t even need to do anything. She’ll use it to make her own fun.
17) Wooden Logs and Rocks
Domesticated rabbits like to indulge their wild instincts. Dotting wooden logs and rocks around your yard help this do this. Your pet can play at being wild without any of the risks.
If the logs are hollow, this is even better. They’ll double up as tunnels. If not, the logs will still be enjoyable. Rocks, meanwhile, will be cool in hot temperatures. Large stones will also file a rabbit’s claws.
Think of logs and rocks as a homemade obstacle course for your pet. She’ll hop around and explore. Move the objects around periodically too. This will satisfy your rabbit’s thirst for adventure. She’ll feel like she’s exploring new territory.