Rabbits can get bored easily. If they are left alone all day with very little interaction or activities, rabbits can even become depressed or act out with troublesome behaviors. They may rattle loudly on the side of their enclosure or even act aggressively, growling at anyone who comes near.
To make sure our rabbits don’t get bored and depressed, we need to keep them entertained. Taking steps to make sure our rabbits are well socialized and have a lot to play with while we’re away can keep them from getting into too much trouble. Use these ideas to keep your rabbit entertained and happy all day long.
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Why it’s important to prevent boredom in rabbits
Bored rabbits can be serious troublemakers. With nothing to do and no one to play with, they are sure to get your attention by using their more destructive behaviors in places they shouldn’t. They may try to start digging up your carpets or chewing holes in whatever they can get their teeth on. Bored rabbits are also more likely to make a lot of noise if they are closed up in their enclosure all day. They often start thumping and rattling the enclosure bars.
Prolonged boredom can also cause depression in rabbits. A depressed rabbit will no longer be that happy, curious bunny that’s happy to explore the world around them. They’ll usually just sit around sadly all day. Like humans, depression is more likely to cause a rabbit to get sick or suffer from health issues, such as overeating or anorexia.
How to keep your rabbit entertained
There are a few key factors to consider when deciding how to keep your rabbit entertained. You’ll want to stimulate their curiosity, make sure they have enough socialization, and give your rabbit opportunities to use their natural behaviors. By thinking of these three aspects of your rabbit’s life, you can come up with many, many creative ways to keep them engaged and entertained.
Rabbits are naturally curious creatures, so you can keep them engaged in their environment by changing their surroundings. As social animals, rabbits can also stay happy by spending time with you and other members of the household. Rabbits who have productive ways to use their natural behaviors (digging, foraging, and chewing) are also less likely to become frustrated. There will be a decreased risk that they’ll start using these behaviors to destroy things in your home.
Giving your rabbit a wide variety of toys can help to keep your rabbit curious. It also allows them a productive way to use their natural chewing behavior. Try rotating out new toys and old toys to keep your rabbit interested. This way they’ll never get bored of the same toys all the time.
All rabbits will have different toys that are their favorites. Some will prefer hanging toys that they can pull on, while others will like to chew on wooden toys and toss them around. Some rabbits will prefer the flavor of apple sticks, while others will like to shred apart willow balls.
You can even get puzzle toys for your rabbit. Use these to hide a treat in the middle for your rabbit to find. There are also so many rabbit toys you can create with just cardboard and a pair of scissors (check out how to make some of these DIY toys).
Sometimes you can get a lot of toys for your rabbit and it seems like they don’t like anything. If your rabbit just hasn’t been playing with any of their toys, try changing up what you get. Many rabbits will prefer natural toys to the wooden ones you can find in pet stores. See about getting your rabbit some woven hay toys, apple sticks, or dried-out pine cones.
An online store that I really trust to send me good quality rabbit toys and hay is called Small Pet Select. You can get a variety of natural toys to see which ones your rabbit prefers to play with. (You can also get 15% off your first purchase by using the code BUNNYLADY at checkout)
2. Obstacle courses
There is a lot you can do with the furniture and accessories in your rooms to make a fun and stimulating environment for your rabbit. You can set up hiding spaces and tunnels underneath furniture. Also, try to give your rabbit platforms to hop onto using cat towers and footstools. Periodically rearranging a couple of pieces of furniture can also reinvigorate your rabbit’s curiosity.
I got my rabbit a short cat tower so that she could have fun hopping up and down the platforms. This turned out to be a great investment because it also encouraged my rabbit to get some more exercise. This particular cat tower also has a hiding house at the bottom, making it a doubly good toy for rabbits.
If you want to take it a step further, you can even create a rabbit playhouse or castle. Use some of those old cardboard boxes that you have lying around and cut holes for entrances. You can create a fun digging area inside, stacking other boxes around to give your rabbit a fun place to explore. Once your rabbit digs through any of the boxes, you can just replace it with a new one.
3. Foraging activities
Rabbits are natural foragers. They can get a lot of stimulation by using their little noses to find treats in their environment. Even something as simple as sprinkling small pieces of treats into their hay trough can keep a rabbit happy and entertained (it can encourage them to eat more hay too!).
You can hide treats around the room for your rabbit to find, encouraging them to explore more. There are also these food dispenser balls that were originally made for cats that eat their food too quickly. This is my rabbit’s absolute favorite toy! I put her daily pellets in one of these little balls so that she has to roll it around and forage for her pellets every day. Best of all, these little toys are durable and pretty cheap (check out the current price).
4. Places to dig
In the wild, rabbits are natural burrowers, living in networks of tunnels. Even though rabbits don’t need to dig burrows anymore, they still have an instinct to dig (the instinct tends to be stronger in female rabbits). If your rabbit doesn’t have a place to use this instinct, they’ll start digging into your carpet or couch cushions instead. Obviously, this can end up causing damage to your home, so it’s best to give your rabbit better places to dig.
The simplest thing you can do is to place some flattened cardboard boxes on the ground for your rabbit. You can also create a fun digging box or digging platform for your rabbit to have fun with. Hide little treats in the box to reward your rabbit for using it. This gives your rabbit another opportunity for a foraging activity too.
5. Train your rabbit
Rabbits are actually very smart little animals. They can be trained to do any number of fun tricks, including coming when they are called, giving you high fives and kisses, and learning to hop through agility courses. These adorable tricks help with your rabbit’s mental enrichment, as they learn to use their brain to figure out how to get treats. It’s also a great way to bond and socialize with your rabbit.
Your rabbit learns to be more confident as they figure out what they need to do to get a yummy treat. They also learn to trust you. They’ll know that coming up to you and spending time together may mean more treats for them, but they also won’t expect treats without doing any work for them.
6. Sit with your rabbit
Simply sitting with your rabbit every day can do a lot to keep a rabbit happy. This means sitting in a place your rabbit has access to and allowing them to come up to you if they want to. Don’t force them to interact with you against their will (that’s more likely to scare your rabbit away). If they come up to you, try petting your rabbit or giving them a yummy treat to reward their curiosity.
If you sit quietly and give your rabbit the choice to come up to you, shy or aggressive rabbits will learn over time that you are not threatening. They’ll be more willing to relax and trust you. Rabbits who are already close to you will be happy to approach you and spend time together. They’ll be able to get more of the attention that pet rabbits need when they are not living with a group of other rabbits.
7. Lots of space
Rabbit’s bodies were built to be active. They need lots of space all day long to hop around and get some exercise. This means rabbits need to have a pretty large enclosure. Most cages and hutches sold online and in stores for rabbits are, unfortunately, much too small. If your rabbit’s enclosure is less than 3-4 times the full length of your rabbit, then you’ll want to make some changes to expand the area they have available. This will help your rabbit stay entertained and avoid boredom even during the day.
I recommend getting a pet exercise pen and using that as your rabbit’s enclosure. These pens give your rabbit a lot more space than a typical cage. Best of all, they are much easier to clean! You can simply move the gates aside and vacuum the area. These exercise pens are also cheaper than most cages and hutches that are marketed towards rabbits (you can check the current price here).
Alternatively, you can also allow your rabbit free roam of your house, much like a pet cat or dog. You’ll need to take some steps to litter train your rabbit and fully bunny-proof your home, but more and more caretakers are able to have very happy cage-free companion bunnies roaming their house.
Bonus: Find a friend for your rabbit
While it is possible for rabbits to be very happy if they spend a lot of time with their human companions, getting another bunny to bond with your rabbit is best. The two (or more!) rabbits will be able to keep each other entertained and happy much better than we humans can. This is true even if you’ve also taken the steps in this article to give your rabbits lots of toys, space, and places to use their natural instincts.
It is important to be careful when introducing rabbits to each other though. Rabbits can be very territorial, so you want to make sure their first time meeting each other is in a neutral territory that neither rabbit has been to before. Even after that, it can take many weeks, or even months, before the rabbits are bonded enough to be left alone together. So take your time, and use the other tips on this list to keep your rabbits entertained and happy in the meantime.