Pet Factsheets

Boredom - keeping your rabbit amused

Regular exercise will help keep your rabbit happy and healthy

Does your rabbit have toys and objects to play with to keep him amused? Or have you never really thought about giving him something to play with? Have you provided environmental enrichment to allow them to exhibit normal behaviours, such as digging? All of these things are important for rabbits.

Why do rabbits need toys?

It's readily accepted that cats and dogs need toys to keep themselves amused, but most people never think of giving their rabbits toys to play and interact with.

Rabbits are intelligent and social animals, and as well as enjoying the company of other rabbits (and sometimes people), they need a lot of mental stimulation in order to keep their body and mind active and in peak condition. Toys encourage a rabbit to display and undertake their natural behaviours, such as digging, nibbling, throwing objects, and skipping and jumping, which helps to keep them fit and occupied. Bored rabbits become destructive and if there are not suitable items to direct their natural behaviours at, these will start to be aimed at other items, such as walls, chair and table legs, hutches and runs, etc.

What sort of toys can rabbits have?

Rabbits can have a wide and varied variety of toys. Toys made of strong, non-toxic plastic, cardboard, willow and wicker are ideal, although make sure that you inspect all the toys regularly for any sharp edges or dangerous holes which they could get a foot or their head stuck in or which may cause them an injury. It is also important to make sure your rabbit isn't chewing and ingesting parts of any toy made from plastic or cardboard which can prove dangerous.

Shop bought toys

If you look in any pet shop they will have a wide selection of toys that have been designed especially for rabbits. These will include rattles, balls, chew blocks, tunnels, etc. However, you don't have to stick to rabbit toys, some toys made for cats, dogs and birds are also equally suitable for rabbits, as are baby toys which are always tough and non-toxic.

Feeding balls/cubes which are designed to keep dogs amused are also ideal for rabbits. These allow the rabbit to play, whilst exercising and being rewarded with food. All or some of the rabbit's daily food ration can be placed in the feeding ball in the morning to allow them amusement over the course of the day. Rabbits are often driven by desire for food, so if a toy is food related it is more likely to be played with as it has a purpose and reward for the rabbit.

There are also a lot of online rabbit toy companies so if you are unable to get to a pet shop you can shop online for your rabbit's toys.

Home-made toys

You don't have to spend a huge amount of money on toys for your rabbit. As well as buying toys, everyday items found around the home that would otherwise be thrown away can make ideal toys for rabbits.

The inner cardboard tubes from kitchen rolls and toilet rolls make good objects for rabbits to nibble on, tear and throw around. However, if the rabbit tries to swallow any of the cardboard then the tubes should be taken away and only given when the rabbit can be supervised. The tubes can be filled with hay and some of the rabbit's pellets or small pieces of vegetables can be hidden in the hay. These can also be tied up to the top of the rabbit's enclosure, so they have to stand on their hind legs and stretch to get the hay and food.

Old magazines are a firm favourite with many rabbits for tearing and digging at, but again ensure the rabbit isn't swallowing any of the paper and any staples are removed.

Large cardboard boxes that are filled with hay or shredded paper, with food items hidden inside them will provide a rabbit with hours of fun as they scramble around in the box, nibbling the hay and searching for the food. Join boxes together and cut holes in them to make a maze system for your rabbit to explore.

Digging boxes can also be supplied. Fill a child's sand pit or a large dog bed with soil or some sand to allow your rabbit the opportunity to dig.

Give your rabbit tunnels to run through and hide in. Some rabbits like boxes that they can sit on, so they are sitting higher up. 

Dangerous toys

Any item which can be swallowed, either whole or if the rabbit chews the toy, is dangerous and shouldn't be given. Likewise, items with sharp edges, those which may be poisonous or toxic should never be given. If you are in any doubt as to the safety of a toy, then it is always safer not to give it and to give them something else.

Rotation of toys

In order to keep your rabbit amused, instead of allowing them access to all of their toys all of the time, you can change their toys each week so they have a different selection to play with.

As you can see supplying your rabbit with a selection of toys doesn't have to be expensive and you will see a difference in your rabbit's behaviour as they explore and discover how to play with toys of different textures, shapes and sizes, not only giving them hours of fun but also rewarding you with amusement as you watch them.

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