If you’ve previously read my article on 10 Things You Need To Know About Owning Rabbits, you’ll know these creatures are intelligent animals and require enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. Bored rabbits can become bad-tempered and destructive, so it’s important to exercise their body and mind. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune though! Here are some of the best store-bought and homemade toys you can offer your bunnies.
In the wild, rabbits live in a connected underground network of tunnels and dens, known as a warren. Your pet rabbit still has these wild instincts, so providing tunnels are loved by all rabbits.
There are lots of options here. You can get fabric tunnels with velcro, allowing you to attach several tunnels together to make your own warren. These tunnels can be folded down, making storage easy. They also have a large hole in the middle with velcro flaps that not only allows you to attach them together, but also give your rabbit another exit. Fabric tunnels should be checked daily for signs of damage, and anything broken or exposed should be thrown away.
Plastic tunnels have the added option of being bendable, meaning you can make then more exciting for your rabbit, again, just check them for signs of damage regularly.
If your bunny likes to chew, you can get cardboard tunnels. These usually aren’t as long as the fabric ones but aren’t so much of a worry if they get gnawed. Just don’t leave them out in the rain or they will turn to mush! You can also get willow tunnels which are safe if your rabbit chews it.
If you have space, ‘homemade warrens’ can be achieved by burying pipes, making it more natural for your rabbit. The downside to these is you have to wait for your rabbit to emerge if you want to see them, so don’t make them too long for safety, but they do look lovely.
Cat toys can be used for rabbits too. Cat tunnels are great, as are jingly balls and even cat scratch posts and towers. As with any toy, check for signs of damage regularly and remove anything your rabbit could ingest. Cat cubes are great for rabbits and can be folded down easily for storage.
Gnawing is important for rabbits and should be encouraged on safe materials. Wooden tunnels not only allow your rabbit to run through them, but they can gnaw and stand on them too. The wooden bridges can be bent into any shape, so you could have them as tunnels or barriers. The more variety you give your rabbit, the happier they will be.
Something to throw!
Rabbits love chucking lightweight objects around. There are loads on the market you can get which will last a while, but change it up by offering other things too, like empty toilet roll tubes.
In the wild, rabbits spend a majority of their time searching for food. In captivity, if we only offer food in a bowl, your rabbit will become bored. Bowls are great and should be used to ensure your rabbit is eating the right amount, however, food toys are good too.
Food balls, much like the ones you would give your dog, provide your rabbit with a puzzle. They have to work out they need to roll the ball to get the food out. Some bunnies may need you to show them how to use it, but most rabbits will smell the food and work it out on their own. The opening where the food falls out can be made larger or smaller depending on what food you are giving.
If a food ball is too easy for your rabbit, try a food puzzle toy like this one. Just make sure you show your rabbit what to do so they get the hang of it. Snuffle mats are great too and really home into those natural instincts your rabbit has, foraging for food.
For free options, fold over the end of toilet roll tubes, stuff with hay or food and close the other end. Egg boxes are great too, put some pellets in and close the lid. Your rabbit will enjoy flinging the box around to get to the food.
Who doesn’t love Amazon? Well, save those boxes as they are free and rabbits love them! Cut holes in large boxes and your rabbits will enjoy darting in and out of them. For smaller boxes, stuff with hay and treats, make a few holes in the side to entice them and close the top of the box. Your rabbit will have hours of fun trying to open the box and get to the food within.
Willow toys are great. There is a huge range of these, balls and stick bundles are great options and loved by rabbits. If you feel crafty, order the willow balls, some cat scratch post twine and hang them for your rabbit. You can also use hessian, make it into bags and hide treats and hay within.
Not all toys should be ground level. Rabbits love to stretch up on their back legs, so hanging toys offer an incentive. Lots of hanging toys are ultimately destroyed by your bunny, however, what’s the point in getting them if your rabbit can’t have a little fun! Plus, these toys are cheap, so you can replace them without feeling a huge dent in your wallet!
You might be surprised to know that most rabbits love to play with a ball! They will roll them around and chuck them. The balls come in all sizes, from small ones they can pick up to bigger ones they can roll with their front paws. They are cheap too and definitely worth buying.
A chance to dig
As mentioned earlier, wild rabbits dig warrens to live in and pet rabbits love to dig too. Whilst your run may have wire on the bottom to stop them digging out, they should still be given the opportunity to dig. A good way to do this is to fill a seed tray, deep cat litter tray or plastic paddling pool with soil and let them at it.
Never try to stop your rabbit displaying a natural behaviour, and this is a great way to allow them to dig in a controlled way – yes, it makes a mess, but better that than craters in your lawn!
Rabbits love ripping up paper, it’s a bit messy for us, but great enrichment for bunnies! Just be careful not to use anything glossy, like magazines as these may not be safe if ingested.
If you have a fruit tree in your garden, the wood is safe for rabbits to gnaw. Not only is it fun for them (rabbits love being destructive!), but it also helps wear down their teeth.
You can also order apple wood online if you don’t have access to a tree!
Something to jump on
Rabbits love to jump and climb (just make sure nothing is too high, as they could fall and hurt themselves). Plant pots with rabbit safe plants and even footstools make great rabbit toys, offering them different things to jump on.
Yep, you read that right, some baby toys are good for bunnies too! Plastic stacking beakers are light enough to be thrown around by your rabbit, and you can even hide food underneath them.
Carrot cottages are made of cardboard and have meadow hay on the side and carrot on the roof. They offer a surface to jump up onto, as well as a hidey-hole to go in, and of course, they are edible!
I hope these ideas inspire you for your rabbits. Make sure you rotate their toys every few days to keep them new and exciting!
Special thanks to Camilla Wellsted and Carol Boxall for their ideas and allowing me to use their photos.