Rabbit enrichment

1st February 2017

 

Anyone owning a pet rabbit will know how important it is to give them things to do and play with. They are very social animals that love to be active for much of the day - providing them with something to do is necessary for their health and welfare.

Over the years we’ve come across some great ideas to help with their behavioural enrichment, so we thought this month we’d share some of them with you.

 

9 ways to enrich your rabbit's life

1. Something to chew - rabbits love to dig and chew, but it’s important that you only offer them objects that are safe if swallowed. Generally paper is safe – you could try old phone directories. We’ve come across some people who’ve hidden food treats between some of the pages.

2. Something to explore - some rabbits also like to go right inside large paper feed sacks. You can get hold of these from a local feed merchant, riding stable or farm. Put some hay inside and they’ll love to jump in and explore.

3. Hidden treats – something as simple as paper rolled into tubes and tied with hay at the ends will give them hours of entertainment. They’ll smell that there’s food inside, and will work out a way to chew through the paper to get to the treat. It’s so cheap yet so effective.

4. Cardboard boxes and tubes – get these from the supermarket and carpet shop for free. Your pet rabbit will use them in all sorts of ways. Hiding places, jumping, climbing and chewing. You can stack them on top of each other, or lie them side-by-side. Cut some holes to allow your rabbit to go inside and hide. In a way, you can mimic the cover and protection provided by a burrow.

5. Toilet and kitchen rolls – use the cardboard tubing at the end of the roll by stuffing with hay and hanging from the roof of their enclosure.

6. Plastic tubing – a trip to the local DIY merchant to get some simple tunnels will give hours of entertainment. If you are using recycled tubes, give them a good clean first.

7. Allow them to dig – a large wooden box filled with some soil, garden compost or straw will allow them to do some digging. In the wild they’ll be doing this every day, so allowing them a chance to do this in their domestic home will satisfy one of their basic desires.

8. Something to gnaw - branches from the garden can be offered for chewing, but do make sure they’re safe. Some trees are poisonous to rabbits, so make sure you know the type of tree they are from and that they are safe for rabbits.

Here is a list of safe trees you could use:

  • Alder
  • Apple
  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Blackcurrant
  • Gooseberry
  • Hawthorn
  • Hazel
  • Maple
  • Pear
  • Redcurrant
  • Rowan
  • Willow

9. Rabbit agility – it may sound silly, but you could socialise and interact with your pet by giving them some agility training.