Keep rabbits busy: 12 ingenious tips that can be implemented immediately
Many rabbits unfortunately lead a very sad existence: Too small enclosure with lack of employment.
With this combination, mental illnesses such as depression are pre-programmed.
So that this does not occur with your rabbits, but your animals feel completely well, we have collected some employment possibilities in this contribution, which your small rodents will love guaranteed!
Why is engagement so important for rabbits?
Meaningful activity is essential for your rabbit’s physical and mental health. It prevents boredom, strengthens their bond with you, and can prevent stress as well as boredom.
You’ll learn about the options immediately following this chapter.
But first, take a closer look at the benefits of regular exercise.
Benefits of regular activity for the body
In the wild, rabbits spend a lot of time foraging, searching for water, and making burrows and burrows.
They can travel long distances and overcome amazing obstacles, jumping over logs, weaving through undergrowth, and running away from attackers by hitting hooks.
As pets, they have no such occupation.
Food and water are provided directly to them. Opportunity for digging they have only extremely rarely and even for running is hardly place.
This often has negative effects!
Due to the lack of physical exercise, the musculature is often not well developed, making the musculoskeletal system more susceptible to injury and disease. This is because muscles have a stabilizing effect and regular exercise prevents osteoporosis, among other things.
In addition, blood circulation is stimulated, which improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients.
The heart and lungs are exercised and digestion rarely comes to a standstill.
Regular exercise therefore has a generally positive effect on health. However, this does not only apply to the body.
Rabbits also benefit mentally and psychologically. Are they constantly exposed to new stimuli and serves not least to reduce stress.
This also has a positive effect, as relaxed rabbits are less susceptible to diseases and stress-related complaints. The sport also prevents overweight in the animals and can even help to prevent or solve aggression.
Many good reasons, then, to provide them with ample opportunities and motivate them to exercise more themselves.
Benefits of regular mental activity
Regular employment should not only include exercise: Rabbits also need to be mentally stimulated in order to have all-around well-being.
In the wild, they are responsible for finding their own food and safe shelter. To do this, they have to figure out how to overcome obstacles, where to find shelter and how to get to safety from other animals.
These incentives are also missing in the home cage.
Unfortunately, this can have significant negative consequences. Some rabbits lose all motivation and sit almost apathetic in the corner. Others show obsessive-compulsive behavior, such as repeatedly biting on bars or the tube of the drinking bottle.
Scratching out of boredom, tearing off their own fur or increased aggression against conspecifics and humans are not uncommon.
In addition, boredom can mean stress for the animals. This affects their physical health: the cardiovascular system can be affected, as can digestion and susceptibility to disease.
If you provide your rabbits with sufficient opportunities, you also contribute to maintaining their health and offer them a better quality of life.
Attention: Safety first!
As important as occupation is for the body and mind, safety must always come first. Therefore, pay attention to the following points:
Threat from other animals
Chemicals, such as cleaning agents or medications
Danger of falling
risk of injury from falling objects
sharp edges and pointed corners
unsuitable materials that can break sharply
Possibilities of escape
Of course, not all of this is always true, or there may be other potential hazards lurking that you should be aware of. So always plan your activity with potential risks in mind.
12 proven activity tips for your rabbit
You want to keep your rabbit busy, but you don’t have enough ideas?
Then let the following tips inspire you…
- agility / rabbithop
Maybe you have heard of agility for dogs.
Much more unknown is the counterpart for rabbits, which is also called Kaninhop. Here your animal must overcome various hurdles.
These are usually:
The activity thus provides physical exercise and mental stimulation at the same time.
A rabbit seesaw trains the sense of balance and stimulates many muscle groups. In addition, your pet has to overcome itself due to the wobbly ground and gains self-confidence.
The situation is similar with a rabbit ramp or rabbit bridge. If it is not used in training, the rabbit bridge can serve as a vantage point in the free run and invites you to sunbathe in the garden.
A rabbit tunnel, on the other hand, serves as a shelter outside of training and can provide shade as well as a sense of security. Hoops or poles as jumping obstacles for rabbits.
That leaves slalom poles to round out rabbit agility. They present a special challenge for you and your pet. This is because your rabbit is supposed to run around them alternately from the left and right, i.e. in a slalom. To train this requires some patience.
Our tip: Start with a device that you train with for a few minutes every day. The rabbit ramp or rabbit bridge are good for this, as it is a simple obstacle and the gradual overcoming can be built up well.
Balls are not only toys and sports for dogs, cats and for humans.
Rabbits also like to roll them through their enclosure. Moreover, a great variety can be found in balls and spheres. You can choose a simple play ball for children, use a snack ball for animals or provide a wicker ball for rabbits and other rodents.
The animal can use it alone to occupy itself and act out its play instinct.
Willow balls also offer the advantages that they can be carried and also gnawed on by the animals. Thus you must provide more frequently for supply, but offer a species-appropriate and healthy occupation.
- clicker training
Another challenge for you and your rabbit is the so-called clicker training.
The first thing you do is to give your rabbit a positive click: It serves as an announcement of a reward.
If the behavior is safe, you can use the clicker for training and practice walking at heel, teaching your rabbit to go back into the cage at the desired time or to listen to his name.
- make the free run varied
Whether in the apartment, on the balcony or in the garden, a varied design of the run can enrich the life of your rabbit.
Therefore, change the furnishings more often.
For example, offer hutches built from twigs. Use a piece of tree trunk as a lookout point. Change the planting every now and then. Build small hurdles or provide the kaninhop equipment, for example. Even if you are not actively training at the moment.
A weekly change of the equipment does not let boredom arise.
- let feed work out
Feed tree and feed balls allow you to serve hay, greens and vegetable pieces in a way that your animals have to work hard for.
In addition, the food stays clean and does not lie directly on the bedding.
Additionally, you can think of other options for food hiding places. A ceramic flower pot filled with vegetables and hay invites picking and scratching. Small boxes made of thin cardboard lend themselves to biting and tearing.
This keeps the rabbits busy for a while and, just as in nature, they work specifically for their food.
- enable digging and burrowing
Digging burrows and tunnels is part of the rabbits’ natural repertoire.
However, they have little opportunity to do this in a cage or hutch. When free-ranging indoors, digging is also undesirable. Therefore, the animals often scratch soft surfaces, such as towels or carpets and blankets together.
If you want to do your rabbit a favor, offer him special opportunities for digging.
Well suited for free running in the apartment is a covered cat toilets with a swinging door and a high floor tray. In this, the animal can dig to its heart’s content, without the material spreading throughout the environment.
Suitable for digging are, among others:
firmly pressed cotton blossoms
Sand would be another possibility, but then you should use special bathing sand for chinchillas and hamsters.
Attention: Cat litter is completely unsuitable. If rabbits ingest it, it can lead to severe blockages or even intestinal obstruction.
- obstacle course
Obstacle course – isn’t that already rabbit hop?
No, not directly, even if there are parallels.
What is meant here, however, is the arrangement of free run or enclosure, which can resemble a labyrinth. With tubes, tunnels, different jumping obstacles and dead ends you can make the way to the food an adventure or hide food directly in the maze.
It is also best to offer different surfaces.
Stone slabs with a rough surface help to keep the claws short. Bark mulch invites scratching and pawing. Straw serves as a soft base when lying down.
- leash walks
Free running in a secured garden is a wonderful enrichment for rabbits.
If you do not have this possibility, you can walk with your rabbit on a leash.
Special harnesses can be used to achieve a high level of safety. However, since this is an unfamiliar situation for the rabbit, you should first put the harness on at home so that it does not find it uncomfortable or frightening.
If it gets along well with it, you can connect the harness with the leash and begin to lead your animal slowly.
Keep luring it towards you before the leash tightens. If this works well inside the apartment, i.e. in a stimulus-free and familiar environment, you can dare to take the first steps outdoors.
Again, find a quiet environment.
Make sure that your rabbit is not frightened. Avoid traffic, dogs and cats, loud noises and children playing.
Also, avoid letting it eat green food outside!
In addition to exhaust fumes and pesticides, this could also be contaminated by the urine or feces of other animals.
Tip: If you go outside with your rabbit, he should have a full vaccination beforehand.
- nail material
A very simple form of employment and important for the teeth is sufficient suitable nail material.
In addition to roughage, such as grass and herb hay, you should therefore offer various twigs or branches.
Ideally, these are still leafy or bear needles and bark. Different diameters and hardnesses as well as different types of wood provide variety.
Suitable are for example twigs and branches of:
Bamboo (no lucky bamboo!)
Berry bushes without thorns
If you don’t have a garden yourself, you can order branches.
Alternatively, you can ask garden owners if you can pick up some branches or twigs when they prune the trees or bushes. Often they are happy not to have to worry about disposing of the green waste themselves.
Even if it’s “just” gnawing, it’s an activity that will relax your pet and make them pleasantly tired.
- cardboard rolls
Cardboard rolls of toilet paper, kitchen rolls or wrapping paper are wonderful for rabbits to move around, tear apart and thus can be used as rolling food hiding places.
A piece of fennel, parsnip or one to three blueberries can be hidden inside and “enclosed” with straw, hay or hemp bedding from both sides.
Your rabbit must now first pull out the material little by little until it gets to the treat. This doesn’t keep your rabbit busy for long, but it’s easy to prepare and makes for a nice change of pace.
For the beginning, choose food that has a strong smell.
Good choices include:
Bell bell pepper
- practicing tricks
Come, hop, man up – little tricks can not only be very impressive. They also provide a wonderful shared activity for you and your rabbits.
It’s best to start with “come” or “here,” as this is very easy to train by luring with food.
In the beginning, reward your rabbit with food every time it performs the desired behavior. If he responds reliably to “Come”, you can occasionally use petting as a reward instead of a treat.
- intelligence toys
Even if not everyone suspects it: rabbits are very intelligent animals.
Ready-made intelligence toys for rabbits are therefore an easy activity that you can also provide in the cage.
So if there is no time for training or the free run is cancelled for a day, you can still provide variety.
Make sure to choose suitable materials that do not splinter.
Appropriate treats and rewards to keep your dog busy
Whether you’re practicing tricks, motivating exercise, or offering tubes, rolls, and intelligence toys, the rewards and treats should be healthy and fit into a species-appropriate diet.
In addition, your rabbit must be able to eat them in a short time.
Therefore, very small cubes of fruit and vegetables or very thin strips of vegetables, single berries or leaves, small stalks of herbs or flowers are suitable.
Make sure that the treats do not contain starch and little sugar, do not have a flatulent effect and are well tolerated.
Other than that, of course, they have to taste good to your rabbit.
While food is very important in the beginning to confirm desired behavior, you can gradually use praise and petting as rewards.
Keep alternating between the different options.
If your rabbit enjoys the activity itself, it will quickly cooperate with you anyway and the rewards will fade into the background.
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