What Should I Get for my Bunny to Play With?
Rabbits absolutely love to play and they are curious, intelligent creatures that will spend a lot of time doing activities if they have the right toys. A bored bunny is much more likely to be unhappy or get into trouble, so toys are highly recommended. There is a whole range of toy types you may want to consider for your rabbits and they can be purchased or made from materials you can find around the house, buy locally or order online. Here are some general thoughts to consider when you are evaluating how to get your bunny playing.
Are There Activities I Should Avoid?
There are really only a couple of safety issues at the top of the list. Many rabbit toys will incorporate treats up to a point and the treats can help entice your bunny to play. That is great. Hay is usually fairly safe and can be given in fair quantity. Be more careful about sweet treats for your bunny since you don’t want your rabbit to overeat while playing. The materials you use is also important when it comes to bunny toys. Avoid toys with paint that isn’t guaranteed rabbit-safe. The same goes for stains and treated wood. Most bunnies can safely play with paper, cardboard, and wood as well as sisal, hay and twice. If you do notice that your bunny is chewing and actually eating cardboard or wood you may want to use these materials less or not at all. If your bunny tears up plastic that also may not be a big deal, but if they try to ingest it, remove it.
Store Bought Toys
- Best Toys for Chewing
Some great store-bought toys for chewing include items like compressed alfalfa cubes, cardboard castles, and hideaway tubes made of paper, safe wood or cardboard. These types of toys are usually readily available in pet stores and can be found with rabbit items or sometimes in areas for cats, ferrets, birds, and other animals that enjoy playing and chewing. These toys should always be made of rabbit-safe materials such as untreated paper or cardboard, willow, hays such as alfalfa or wheat straw, etc. They are typically inexpensive so your rabbit can tear them to bits without tearing your wallet to bits. Most rabbits love to chew on natural items like this. The pros of these toys are that they will attract almost any rabbit. The main con is that they get torn up quickly and must be discarded and aren’t usually suitable for much re-use.
- Best Toys for Mental Stimulation
The best toys for mental stimulation are often sold under the “logic toy” category. You may find some of these in the rabbit area of the store and others can be repurposed for rabbits even if you locate them in the dog or cat sections. You just want to stay safe, so avoid toys that are very small for little birds or rodents so that your rabbit doesn’t get stuck or hurt. Logic toys for rabbits often involve lids for opening, drawers for pulling, rolling balls for movement alone or to reveal treats, sliders to reveal items or pegs for pulling free. These may be made of many different materials.
You will often find them made from compressed wood products, plastic or wood. As long as they are generally safe for mammals to chew on they should also be safe enough for rabbits. Rabbits are curious creatures and they love to work out puzzles. These toys have many pros for any rabbit that likes puzzle-type toys. You will occasionally happen onto a rabbit that gets discouraged by difficult logic toys and you can get stuck with toys you don’t need. Start with one or two of these toy-types and move up from there.
- Best Toys for Exercising
You can usually order or find exercise toys at pet retailers. Some popular ones for rabbits include climb and search “houses,” digging platforms, hay mangers and other challenging toys for giving your rabbit a workout. The “houses” may be wooden or cardboard boxes with platforms, doorways and holes and ramps leading up and down. Rabbits love to climb through these and navigate from top to bottom. They will tend to chew on these toys as well but a well-made climbing house can last for a while. Digging platforms are usually made with a wooden base. Quarter to silver-dollar-sized holes are cut into the wood and braided hay or sisal rope is woven inside the wooden base. The rabbit will have to use claws and teeth to “dig” at the holes and pull out the partially hidden materials inside. These require some effort and can be excellent for exercise. Hay mangers are similar but may be upright and could use slits or any other openings to allow access to hay stuffed inside. These type of toys all have major pros since they give rabbits something to do. The main con for these toys is safety since the toys are larger and may be made of materials that can splinter. The toys are best used under some supervision.
- Best Hanging Toys
There are some great toys that you can hang in a rabbit enclosure or dangle from doorknobs for curious rabbits. Many of these toys are made of rope, twisted hay or twine but they may also incorporate bells and holes for treats to entice rabbits. Some products are really cute for these purposes. Pet stores often carry carrot-shape bundles of straw that are hung from sisal rope, braided twine with bells woven throughout and similar objects. These are all really fun toys for rabbits which is a pro. It is possible for rabbits to get caught in them so keep an eye out when using hanging toys.
- Best Maze Toys
Some companies sell actual mazes just like those used for mice or rats, but they build them in sizes suitable for small rabbits. These can be great fun with treats scattered throughout the maze. Less expensive ones are made from cardboard and while they won’t last, they double as logic toys and chew toys. These are lots of fun for rabbits and have few cons except that they can be expensive due to their size. See further down for ideas on building your own maze toys.
- Best Wooden Toys
There are some awesome wooden toys available for rabbits which are very durable and will take a beating (and chewing) but still remain serviceable for a while. Some of the best include roller toys with wooden balls or bells inside, a favorite for bunnies who like to roll them along the floor or try to move the parts around. If you have a large enough space you can find some amazing large wooden rabbit castles for climbing. A number of durable logic toys are also available with a mostly wooden-construction but with sisal or braided hay used to tempt rabbits to play. The main con with these toys is price, though they make up for that somewhat in survivability.
- Other Toys and Activity Zones
You can purchase a number of different toys to build a large activity zone if you have space and the funds. These may include tunnels, ramps, climbing areas and more. These will often incorporate exercise opportunities, logic puzzles, chewing areas and more. Timali Pet Rabbit Toys makes a nice table-style activity zone that is very nice for rabbits though these can get expensive. Take a look at multiple rabbit-specialty sites and see what they offer for rabbit activity zones to get more ideas. Some will be less costly and some will be quite expensive but you’ll find many ideas. Another good place to look for activity zone ideas is on Pinterest where rabbit enthusiasts will showcase their favorite rabbit play-places.
- Best Toys for Chewing
It’s very easy to make Do-It-Yourself chew toys for rabbits. As long as you are sure that chemicals haven’t been used on them, you may find some of these around your house or in your yard. Sticks made of wood from apple, willow, aspect, and pine are usually good. Many rabbits love to roll up in or chew up cotton towels that you don’t need anymore. A small wicker basket can be filled with hay and rabbits love to chew through the hay and the basket. cotton towels.
Toys for Mental Stimulation
You can make your own logic toys with various household items. An empty coffee, oatmeal or other tube-shaped paper container is a good start. Cut holes all over the tube including through the lid and button. Put treats inside that are barely big enough to fall through the holes and let your bunny go to work. Another good option for DIY logic toys can be found at a craft store. They often sell wooden or cardboard boxes with lids that can be pulled off or opened. As long as they are untreated, unstained and unpainted they should be good. You can put treats or hay inside the box and let your rabbit work through the puzzle. If your rabbit gives up too easily, drill a small hole in the box and put a more desirable treat inside so they will smell it and want to get it out. If your rabbit has difficulty with the boxes flipping over you can mount them on another wooden board with safe glue or tough short bolts to help anchor the box in place. These materials are good for rabbits and most rabbits like the challenge of working through an easier puzzle and then finding a challenge that is slowly scaled up.
- Best Toys for Exercising
There are many things you can make for your rabbit to exercise with. Plain sisal rope can be tangled or tied up for pulling. Cardboard rolls from paper towels or toilet paper work well for rolling and pulling out tightly stuffed hay. Untreated wicker baskets or boxes can be used full of shredded junk mail, magazines, or other items useful for digging. Be cautious about using materials that have much plastic, cellophane or ink-laden pages. They may be fine for short play times but there are some cons with these. You don’t want your rabbit to ingest ink or chemicals or to swallow pieces of chewed plastic. Otherwise, these all make good exercise toys.
- Best Hanging Toys
Take an empty toilet paper roll and cut it into even rings. Place them inside each other criss-cross style to form a sphere and hang it from other pieces of cut cardboard or some twine. This makes an excellent free hanging toy that doubles as a chew toy once it is pulled down. You can also weave in extra circles of tubing with hay stuffed inside and make it a completely multifunctional toy. If you have old rabbit-safe Christmas ornaments, bells or keychains these are all attractive to many rabbits as hanging toys.
- Best Maze Toys
Paper bags and paper tubes from containers are excellent for quick homemade maze toys. Holes strategically cut in a few paper sacks and placed around the room will start a maze running festival for some rabbits! If your rabbit tears paper up too quickly or don’t like the sound of it, cardboard boxes make even stronger and quieter easy-build mazes. You can make your maze one-floor or multi-tiered and it can be as complex as you feel able to accommodate. Rabbits absolutely love structures like these and the only con is that they will usually need some supervision, especially when climbing in taller maze structures. Cardboard concrete forms or large PVC pipes can also be used for tunnels, but make sure your bunny can’t get trapped in them. Use new PVC pipe if you decide to go this route as used pipe may have leftover chemicals or glues that are not safe.
- Best Wooden Toys
It is quite possible to build your own wooden toys for rabbits as well. You may want to purchase some basic wooden toys and see how they are made. You can save funds by copying the ideas you see with your own materials. Lightweight wood such as pine is great for this. You can also buy pre-made wooden dowels at a craft shop to create roller toys in all sizes.
- Other Toys, Miscellaneous and Do It Yourself Activity Zones
One of the easiest ways to build your own activity zone is to use an old four-legged table (nightstand or planter size) or build a basic wooden table. The table becomes the basic structure. You can also use old shelving or other furniture if you have a good idea for how to bring it all together. You can then drill holes in the top of the table or the shelf areas and through the legs (if they are thick enough) to allow for dangling hanging toys, sisal wrapped up and through the legs, and hay stuffed inside some of the holes. Some treats places on top will tempt your rabbit to climb up and you can choose to add ramps or just let your rabbit find a way! With a little creativity, you can cover just about every other kind of rabbit toy into one activity zone. Carpet can be added for textured climbing if need be, though you can also get some good ribbed cardboard for that which offers safe chewing material. Grass mats can make good toys to use separately or add to your zone as well, though if the mat isn’t woven tightly it may come loose too easily.
More General Toy Ideas
- Bunnies like bags and boxes much more when there are at least two entry points. Look for online videos on building your own box and bag toys.
- Concrete forms made of cardboard and used for burrowing
- Cardboard rolls from home and commercial paper rolls
- Untreated wicker baskets or wicker/organic boxes with fold-over lids
- Large catalogs or newspaper for shredding (if the ink comes off too easily you may want to find another type of shredding material)
- Cat toys are often very good for rabbits. They especially like balls, bouncy toys on a stick and string and small plush toys.
- Bird toys of all kinds including wooden and bell toys that can be hung or draped over activity zones or in other areas. Parrot toys may be better than toys for smaller birds.
- Baby toys that are non-toxic. Items like rattles and plastic key rings can be good.
- Baby-crib mobiles can be great but watch for the string used to hang the mobile items so your rabbit doesn’t get hurt or caught.
- Cat trees and cat condos
- Dog toys like large rubber balls and squeaky toys.
- Empty food containers and tins which can be used as part of activity zones or stuffed with treats or hay.
- Plastic slinkies and other children’s toys that are safe for rabbits
- Dried out pine cones and safe branches cut from trees
- Playpen-style children’s toys
- Straw brooms with wooden handles (unpainted.) If you can’t find these normally, look in the Halloween décor when the season comes around. Decorative brooms are often made safely with organic materials.
- A small towel for bunching and tearing
- Untreated logs that have been aged like firewood. Apple and pine are safe. If you aren’t sure what kind of tree the wood is from, don’t use it. Some wood is toxic to rabbits.
- Untreated seagrass or sisal mats
- Old furniture that can be dedicated to rabbits for jumping and climbing
- Hard plastic caps from laundry detergent bottles and soda bottles. They have edges for picking up with their teeth, make a nice sound when they roll or rattle.
- Flipping playing cards for rabbits can be a fun pastime. Some rabbits will chase them very quickly. If the cards are treated with plastic or wax be sure to pick them up before they are chewed to excess.
Why is it important to provide toys?
Toys are important because they give your rabbit stimulation and challenging activities. You can also choose some safe toys for rabbits to play with when you aren’t home, especially if you work full time or are away at for significant periods. Rabbits can get bored and will pull their own fur, destroy items or get depressed and anxious.
Toy Education for New Rabbit Owners
People who don’t know much about rabbits may think that they don’t make great pets because they just lie around sleeping or eating all day. This is far from the truth. Rabbits are very playful and very social. They need to be with people or other rabbits and animals, they love to run and jump, they require exercise and they need a fair amount of space overall. Without all of this, they can get very bored and have other mental health concerns.
Getting to Know Your Rabbit
If your rabbit is showing evidence of boredom it is time to enrich your rabbit’s environment and increase their exercise and ongoing stimulation. Most rabbits are natural investigators with deep curiosity. All rabbits are different, too, so you have to get to know the personality of your rabbit to know if they are content or bored, stimulated enough or overstimulated. When you get a new rabbit don’t go out and buy many toys until your bunny has settled in and you can do some trial and error. Put a few toys out and see what they do. Some rabbits have interest only for food or chewy things like rope. Some rabbits love every toy they see. A few rabbits will ignore all toys. Many will hop all over the room if they are comfortable while others only exercise a little and then want to settle right down.
Signs of Rabbit Boredom
But all rabbits can get bored and they will show it in various ways. Boredom in rabbits can cause problems of all kinds and can cause destructive behavior or aggressive tendencies. When you get to know your rabbit personally you will learn how your rabbit naturally behaves when content and when discontent. You will see the personality of your rabbit. As you get to know the natural behavior, watch for signs that things are not going as usual. A rabbit that has been calm and happy but suddenly begins to chew at the doors or cage openings is an unhappy rabbit. Rabbits that suddenly chew on things they avoided before are showing signs of problems. For example, many rabbits will not chew on furniture if other items are provided. If your rabbits begin to destroy items out of the blue, this is a sign of a problem. If your rabbit has previously been active and suddenly begins to seem listless this is a sign of both boredom and depression.
Will Toys Alone Solve This?
Rabbits are social animals. If you provide toys and they become happy you may have solved the problem entirely. Most of the time they will also want time with either people, other rabbits or both. Not every rabbit needs another rabbit companion, but few want to spend all their time with inanimate objects. When your rabbit gets to know you it will probably approach you, sniff you and investigate you. Eventually, it may climb on you and show more interest in you. You can try out stroking, petting, and other activities to see what your rabbit likes. As you get to know your rabbit you can spend time with them and incorporate their toys into your social time with them.
Are There Times to Not Use Toys?
As long as you let your rabbit guide you, you can really do whatever works for them. Some rabbits will play a lot more than others. All rabbits will slow down at some points of the day or night and they will take naps. Ordinary sleeping time is normal and not necessarily a sign of boredom or depression. You don’t want to just wake up a resting rabbit and try to get it going with toys when it seems to be content with nap time. Most rabbits are more active in the mornings and evenings and less so during the middle of the day. If your rabbit seems to be looking for something to do, feel free to make sure they know where the toys are. Play with them. If your rabbit is happily resting, leave them be.
Making a Play Environment
Few rabbits will be content to have toys only in a small pen or cage and little other play time. The most ideal thing you can do is to create multiple play environments in your home (or moveable play areas) and change things up to give the rabbit either plenty of space or the feeling of space. Let them really get some roaming time and some time to move faster, hop and climb. A rabbit that has multiple play areas with different things to do in each area will be a happier rabbit overall. You can make stations for your rabbit that have various activities at each. These might include:
- A play and treat area where your rabbit can find toys to play with that are stuffed with special treats
- An area where your rabbit will find regular food and water but set up so that feeding time is also activity time. A hay rack or two with different types of hay and different structures are ideal. A dish of other food placed where the rabbit can hunt for it is exciting. Even feeding can be part of the play. Feeding on different levels so that the rabbit has to climb or hop or reach will enhance the feeding/play area.
- A play area with toys but no treats – Create an area that has lots of toys in different places. Don’t just scatter toys on the floor but combine hanging toys, activity zones, interactive and logic toys, and mazes, Rabbits love a challenge.
- A sleeping area that is still part of the general environment may not seem like a boredom-preventer, but it is for a bunny. A cozy area with hay to graze on and chewy toys for self-soothing can lead to great nap times. These things will enhance the health of your rabbit all around. If they have places to chew on toys and sleep on different levels that is even better. This can be a great area for a cat tree or cat condo so they can choose to hide inside something or climb on top of something to have a rest. Leave chew mats and tunnels around this area as well.
- In the wild, a rabbit will move over much larger spaces than you can provide in your home, but you can simulate this in some ways by providing all these toys, distinct areas and exploring locations. The more natural you make their play space the more they will behave like a normal rabbit and not develop anxiety and other issues.
Toys and Rabbit Health
Rabbits need exercise to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent health problems in general. Rabbits need both physical and mental stimulation to remain mentally and physically healthy. You want a rabbit that is happy and content when you come home so you can enjoy time with your bunny. Rabbits who are bored or anxious can become aggressive or very shy. It may also help to provide as much space as possible for your rabbit to play in. The more space they have the more likely they are to explore and utilize their minds and bodies in a positive way. If you cannot give them a larger space when you are away, provide stimulating toys in their living space and them giving them good supervised roaming time when you get home.