Written by Lauren Espach, bunny mom and founder of Carrot & Clover, bunny lifestyle blog, sharing personal experiences of being a bunny mom and dedicated to being a resource for new and existing bunny parents.
Rabbits are naturally social animals and need lots of stimulation and ample playtime to keep them happy, healthy and active. If they don’t get the mental stimulation or physical exercise they need they can get bored or depressed. This could lead to an unresponsive and unhappy bunny. That’s why it’s vitally important to dedicate some time every day to playing and bonding with your furry friend.
If you’ve just adopted a bunny or have a shy or skittish rabbit, you’re probably wondering how best to play with them. Here are some easy ways to play and bond with them, adding to their mental enrichment and the joy you’ll get from spending time with your bun.
Make time to bond
Spend some time figuring out how your bunny likes to play. Be patient. Give your bunny the choice to interact with you. Don’t force your bunny to play with you and try not to pick your rabbit up too much, especially if they are skittish. They can feel trapped and will run away from you.
Rather, spend some time relaxing with them on the floor (get down to their level), quietly reading or watching some tv with the volume turned down and let them come to you if they want to. You can also read aloud, which gets your bunny used to your voice and helps with bonding.
The best time for playing and bonding with your bunny is early morning or early evening, as rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they are most active in the mornings and evenings, and will spend the majority of the day relaxing and sleeping.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive rabbit toys. I recently wrote an article on how to make your very own cheap and easy DIY bunny toys using empty toilet roll tubes. There are so many fun and easy toys to make which your bunny will love.
- Toilet roll tubes can be cut and folded into a variety of shapes which buns can toss around, chew and roll around to get treats out of.
- Play tug of war with pieces of cardboard, ribbon or string. Just remember not to pull too hard as you don’t want to hurt your bunny or damage their teeth.
- Try wooden toys for your rabbit to chew and throw around. This will also help their teeth. You can use wooden baby toys or get some from your local pet shop. The best ones to use are untreated wood such as pine.
- Twigs and sticks. Carrot particularly likes willow sticks which you can get from a number of online pet stores. They love to chew and nibble on these and again, the added benefit is that it helps keep their teeth in good condition. These also make great boredom busters.
- Use cardboard boxes to make obstacle courses, hideaways and digging pits. Give them as many options as possible so they can make their own choice and pick their favourite types of toys and games.
- Cat tunnels. I use a cat tunnel and attach it to various cardboard boxes which I cut holes in and then lay a scarf over the top to make it kind of dark and which emulates a rabbit burrow. This helps make them feel safe and they spend hours playing inside it and even chewing the cardboard which helps to keep their teeth healthy. You can also just put a cat tunnel down and your bunny will have fun zooming through it.
- Some bunnies just love pushing small balls around. You can get these from any toy shop. I would recommend using softer, squishier balls rather than hard rubber or plastic balls.
- Puzzle toys. Try hiding treats in cardboard boxes filled with hay and shredded newspaper. Or fill an empty cardboard egg container with treats and cut holes in so that bunny has to dig and chew to reach the yummy treats.
Spend time together
In conclusion, the best bunny toys are ones with enrichment, which help the cognitive ability of your bun. Or if all else fails, you can gently bribe them with healthy treats.
Most importantly, be patient and have fun. Each bunny is unique and has their own personality. Spending time with your bunny is more important than forcing them to play with toys if they don’t want to. Ultimately your bunny will decide how and when they want to play.
My advice? Just enjoy spending time with your bun in whichever way they choose.
By Carrot & Clover