Providing a Stimulating Environment
1. Provide space to run around.
Rabbits are very active so you should make sure you give her plenty of space to around. This also means giving her several hours out of the cage or hutch every day. Before you let your rabbit loose around your house you should be sure to take time to rabbit proof your home first.
- Generally rabbits are most active in the early morning, late afternoon and overnight.
- These are the times when rabbits typically forage for food and socialise with other rabbits.
2. Give rabbits places to dig.
As well as running around and socialising, rabbits are diggers. You need you provide opportunities to dig to make up for the fact that she cannot dig through your floor like she would dig holes outside. One of the best ways to provide digging opportunities is by giving her a digging box. These are very easy to make, and will fulfill your rabbit’s digging needs.
- Just get a reasonably sized cardboard box, big enough for her to jump into, and half fill it with shredded paper. She will dive in and dig through the paper.
3. Give your rabbit places to hide.
An important part of a healthy stimulating environment for a rabbit is having places where she can hide. They are a prey species with instincts that make them hide when they are afraid of something. Rabbits are very sensitive, and hiding is nothing for you to worry about, but you do need to be sure to provide good hiding spots to stop them becoming stressed.
- You should provide at least one hiding space per rabbit, as well as one that is large enough for them all to get into together.
- The space should have two entrances and exits, and have enough clearance for them to run underneath when spooked.
- You can make a hiding place from a wooden box, a drain pipe, or some shelves. Be sure to fill it with suitable bedding, such as hay or shredded paper.
4. Have lots of toys and chewable things.
Rabbits love to chew, and providing plenty of toys and other things to chew, such as toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, or even an old cotton towel, is an important part of keeping your rabbit entertained and happy. An old phone book can be a good thing to give a rabbit to chew up, but ensure that any toys you provide are safe to chew and there is nothing toxic.
- There are many ways to make homemade toys for your rabbit.
- Make sure you don’t give your rabbit any toys which could be swallowed, or has any sharp edges.
- Regularly check toys to make sure that no sharp corners have developed, and remove them if they have.
- If you have any doubts about the safety of a toy, it is better to be safe and remove it.
Handling and Playing With Your Rabbit
1. Learn how to handle your rabbit.
Rabbits can be handled and can enjoy being handled, but it’s crucial that you do it correctly and don’t cause your rabbit to become stressed. You should never pick up a rabbit by the ears, and always supervise children around your rabbits. Generally it’s advisable to start handling rabbits when they are young so they get used to it. Handling an adult rabbit who is not used to it can cause distress and she could scratch you.
- Before you pick up your rabbit, move very slowly and sit down on the floor so you are closer to her level.
- Carefully slide one of your hands under her ribs and lift her up while you lift her rear with your other hand.
- Hold her gently but firmly against your chest, and always keep one hand under her rear to support her.
- If you hold all four of her feet against your chest, she may feel more secure being held.
2. Spend time with your rabbit every day.
Rabbits don’t just like to socialise with other rabbits, they will often like to spend time with you. By putting time aside every day to sit down with her and interact, you will help develop a stronger bond. Try feeding her something by hand or giving her a toy to chew. Even if you are just in the room together, sat on the floor watching TV while she runs around, she is more likely to come and interact with you.
- Once you have gotten to know your rabbit a bit more you will learn more about her personality.
- Pay attention to how she acts and respond accordingly. If she likes being handled, handle her, if not, don’t.
- The more attentive you are the more you’ll learn about how she likes to play and when you can join in. If your rabbit seems bored, provide more toys and stimulation.