Q: Why provide enrichment activities for your house rabbits?
A: House rabbits, unlike their wild cousins, don’t need to constantly forage for their food, and may have too much time on their hands. Providing enrichment activities will provide mental stimulation and entertainment for your bunny. Your bunny’s favorite activity is hanging out and playing with you, but what to do when you are away from home for several hours? Bored house rabbits are more likely to get into mischief as they make up their own fun and games – games that you might not appreciate!
Luckily, bunnies are pretty simply and cheaply amused, and providing enrichment activities for your house rabbit is much easier than you think. One of the simplest ways to add interest to the environment is to vary the placement of their fresh foods; instead of putting their salad all in one bowl, place the salad in different areas of their living quarters so that they have to ‘forage’ for it. This provides them with an interesting activity, keeps them interested, keeps them moving and takes little or no extra effort on your part. Placing their fresh foods on top of a box or inside of an open paper bag creates added interest for your pet as they hop on top of the box or amble into the bag for their salad.
Binder clips can be used as inexpensive ‘holders’ for carrot slices or similar fresh foods, or you can easily purchase a hanging holder at Pet Care Solutions at 3137 Far Hills Avenue; these holders can be used to hang foods in various locations for your pet to find. Hanging bundles of food such as dandelion greens (available at Meijer’s) or dried herbs or even just some tasty new hay will cause your rabbit to search out these treats and then stretch up to reach and nibble at them.
Untreated wicker baskets and small untreated branches from safe trees such as willow, maple, pine, apple and mulberry can also provide inexpensive enrichment for your bunny. You can hide treats under the baskets or hang fresh or dried herbs or greens from the tree branches. Those same wicker baskets can be filled with shredded paper for your bunny to dig in; a cardboard box can serve the same purpose.
Cardboard cement molds can be purchased at home improvement stores and make excellent above-ground tunnels for bunnies.
Introduce changes gradually, as some high-strung rabbits may be upset by too many changes, and some set-in-their-ways rabbits may not immediately grasp where their greens have gone.
Toys such at the Go Cat Go ball or the Booda Ball toy can be filled with your pet’s food pellets or some Calf Manna from Tractor Supply. Your pet will have (literally) hours of enjoyment pushing these toys around with their nose and waiting for the pellets to fall out. Handcrafted toys such as those made by Connie Cowan are another option for adding some excitement to your pet’s life. Vary the toys (switch them out) every day or so to maintain your rabbit’s interest.
Can’t find what you want in the bunny toys aisle? Generally any toy that is safe for a parrot will also be suitable for a rabbit, although many household items will serve just as well to amuse your pet.
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