Rabbits are energetic pets. Rabbit owners are often unaware of their rabbit’s need for exercise. I suggest you learn how to provide exercise for your pet rabbit. Actually, I get asked a lot about what equipment helps exercise rabbits. So, what is the best rabbit exercise equipment for indoor or outdoor use? There’s a wide variety of playpen wheels for pet rabbits. These playpens are made out of metal or mesh and easy to collapse so you can move them around. Both are available at pet stores and online. Or if you enjoy building, you can build a do-it-yourself playpen wheel for your pet rabbit. Rabbit owners who’ve build them use wood, chicken wire, fencing, PVC pipes or even a baby swimming pool. Whatever playpen you choose, be sure to give your pet rabbit lots of fun playtime so he’ll be a healthy and happy pet.
What Do Rabbits Need?
Rabbits, like all pets, have specific needs for a happy, healthy life. The list isn’t long, but consistency counts when caring for your rabbit. Here a pet rabbit’s basic needs:
- Housing-Whether your pet rabbit lives inside or outside, he’ll need a place of his own. Indoor rabbits live in cages. Outdoor rabbits live in hutches. The cage or hutch needs to be big enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and stretch out. If his home is too small, your rabbit won’t like it. Some rabbit owners put a sleeping box inside their rabbit’s cage, but it’s unnecessary. In fact, sleeping boxes cause a rabbit to be territorial, especially if he isn’t altered. Put the hutch in a shady area during the summer and in a sheltered area in the wintertime to keep out the wind and cold weather.
- On the floor-The cage needs a solid floor. Wire cage floors hurt rabbit’s feet. On the floor scatter straw, hay or shredded paper. Whatever you choose for bedding, be sure it’s safe for your rabbit. Straw is great bedding.
- Litter box-Train your rabbit to use a litter box. It’s easy and your rabbit will catch on fast. First, watch to see which corner of the cage or hutch your rabbit hangs out. Put the litter box in the same corner. If he poops in the box, give him praise, pet him and give him a treat. If he poops somewhere else, pick up the poop and your rabbit and place both in the litter box. Continue to do this for a few weeks, over time he’ll get it. Keep the litter box cleaned out and your rabbit’s cage will be clean smelling
- A water bowl or bottle-Some rabbit owners prefer water bowls instead of water bottles because rabbits drink more from a bowl. The bowl must be heavy so your rabbit won’t throw it around their favorite pastime. If you choose a water bottle, be sure your rabbit can reach it to drink. Keep the water bowl or bottle clean.
- Hay-Hay is an essential part of your rabbit’s diet. Your rabbit should eat his weight in hay daily. That’s a lot of hay, but it’s so important for your rabbit’s digestive system. If your rabbit isn’t eating enough hay, he’ll develop diarrhea. Hay is very fibrous. Rabbit’s teeth grow continuously during their lives, so chewing hay keeps them trimmed down. Timothy hay, meadow hay mixture is good hay mixtures to put in the hay rack hanging over the rabbit’s litter box. Some rabbit owners mix hay with straw on the floor.
- Food-Rabbits are herbivores. They eat plants such as vegetables, herbs, fruits, and grass. Your rabbit’s diet should be hay, vegetables, and water. Go light on the fruits since they are sweet, and should be given mostly as treats.
- Chewing-Your rabbit needs to chew. It helps keep his teeth trimmed, but it also fulfills a strong desire in your rabbit. Chewing gives a rabbit physical pleasure. So whether it’s hay, branches from a safe tree, or a paper towel roll-allow you rabbit lots of chewing time.
- Exercise-Many rabbit owners are surprised their rabbits have so much energy. Rabbits need daily exercise. If your rabbit doesn’t get enough exercise, he can get bored or depressed. Playpens allow rabbits to get plenty of exercises either inside or outside.
What Kind Of Play Area or Playpen Does A Rabbit Need?
Animal playpens come in all shapes and sizes. Whether your rabbit lives indoors or outdoors, you need to provide him with lots of exercise. An animal playpen keeps your rabbit in one area, but with enough space to run around and have fun.
- Metal wire playpen wheels- Some animal playpens are eight-sided so they’re called wheels. These lightweight metal wheels keep your rabbit safe but give him enough room to explore his world. They are lightweight and fold flat for easy storage or travel. The wheels are great to move your indoor rabbit outside for play. He can enjoy chewing grass in the warmer months or play inside your house without getting into trouble.
- Soft-sided round playpens- Soft sided playpen wheels are also an option. These playpens are made of mesh material with a removable top for shade and a water dispenser holder. It zips up into a portable, easy to carry bag. This mesh playpen wheel prevents predators from seeing your rabbit when he’s outside. It’s a good option if your yard isn’t fenced. Always stay near your rabbit when he’s inside his playpen just in case a wild animal creeps into your yard.
- DIY playpen ideas-Of course, there’s always the do-it-yourself option. One way to make a playpen is to wire pet pens together connecting them together with cable ties or wires to your rabbit’s cage or hutch for support. With the playpen attached to his cage, your rabbit will have a large play area. This is more doable for an outside rabbit, but rabbit owners who devote a bedroom for their rabbit’s cage could use this playpen for their rabbit.
- If you’re a carpenter type, build a wheel or rectangular shaped playpen out of wood and chicken wire. These are sturdy and typically best for outside. Even your indoor rabbit can play in the outdoor playpen for exercise. The sides should be high enough so your rabbit can’t jump out and other animals, like dogs, can’t jump inside the cage.
Other materials for building a playpen:
- Fencing posts
- PVC piping
- Kiddie swimming pool with wheel-shaped fencing around it
- An old cabinet with the shelves taken out
- Picket fencing and chicken wire
Whatever you decide to buy a playpen or build your own, your rabbit will have hours of fun exercising.
How Long Should My Pet Rabbit Exercise?
Your rabbit needs exercise every day. There are different opinions about how many hours of exercise your rabbit needs daily. It depends on how big your rabbit’s cage is, the breed and size of your rabbit and how much exercise your rabbit seems to need. You know your pet, if he gets bored or depressed easily, maybe you need to increase his exercise. You can split the exercise time up-a bit in the morning and in the evening. However long you choose for your rabbit to exercise, he’ll enjoy running around his playpen with his toys.
What Games Does My Pet Rabbit Like?
Rabbits love to play games. They’re also mischievous sometimes, ripping papers or knocking over your trash can for fun. So think up games to satisfy your rabbit’s natural impulse for ripping and knocking things around. Here are some suggestions:
Newspaper pulling- Roll up newspaper. Push it under a leg of a heavy chair or table. Show it to your rabbit. He’ll pull on it and then he’ll get into the fun of a tugging game.
Cardboard boxes- Put cardboard boxes inside your rabbit’s playpen area for him to jump on top of, run inside or simply chew on.
Bowling- Set up several empty milk cartons or tall skinny cardboard boxes or plastic bowling pins for your rabbit to knock over. Watch him nose at them at first, then knock them over all at once.
Cat or bird toys-The toys are safe for cats and birds so they’ll be safe for rabbits. They love to throw toys around so give your rabbit several toys to throw around in his playpen.
Stuffed paper towel tubes-Stuff paper towel tubes with hay or alfalfa for your rabbit to enjoy. It’s good for his teeth and he’ll love the special alfalfa treat. Give your rabbit alfalfa once in a while. It’s too high in protein for adult rabbits on a regular basis, but younger rabbits can eat it up more frequently. Rabbits love alfalfa so much, they sometimes refuse to eat other kinds of hay.
Chasing game-Some rabbits like to be chased or to chase. If your rabbit is in the mood to be chased you’ll know it because he’ll sit sideways, looking over at you. His ears might perk up if you face him and take a step towards him. If he jumps up like he’s ready to take off, try chasing him. You can make it fun for him stopping, once in a while to see what he does, yelling, “I’m going to get you!” If his ears stay perked up, he’s having a good time to keep running. Sometimes rabbits like to chase you, although it seems strange that prey animal would like to be the predator. If your rabbit wants to chase you, you’ll know it when you grab his favorite toy and run away with it. See if he follows you. If he does, run around his playpen to see if he chases you. Stop often to see if he’s still following you and he’s still having fun.
What Happens If My Rabbit Doesn’t Get Exercise?
If a rabbit doesn’t get enough exercise they’ll become bored and depressed. They tend to overeat and gain weight. Sometimes these rabbits get an illness like arthritis or heart disease from the lack of exercise. Bored rabbits stop grooming themselves which can cause hairballs to form in their stomach. Sometimes under exercised rabbits get aggressive, not wanting to be put back into their cages, because they’re stuck in there all the time. It’s not only unhealthy for your rabbit not to get exercise, but it’s unkind to your pet if he’s denied exercise.
Can I Let My Rabbit Roam Around My House?
Many rabbit owners enjoy letting their pet rabbits roam around their house. Here are some things you should do before your rabbit can roam freely around your house.
Litter train-If you haven’t litter trained your rabbit, do it. He’ll pick it up quickly. Litter training your rabbit keeps his cage clean. Once your rabbit is litter trained. You can bring his litter box inside without worry he’ll poop around your house.
Cover electrical wiring – Cover all electrical cords with tubing you buy at hardware stores or remove the cords from their plugs so your rabbit can’t chew them.
Toys-Give your pet rabbit toys like paper towel tubes, empty cereal or oatmeal boxes to chew.
Plants-Be sure all your plants are up off the floor and high enough that your rabbit can’t reach them. House plants are deadly to rabbits.
Branches to chew-Rabbits love to chew. Give your pet rabbit tree branches or twigs to chew from these trees:
Never give your pet rabbit a branch or twig unless you’re sure it’s safe for him. Rabbits are fragile and many plants make them sick.
Rabbits are active pets. they need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Playpens provide a safe and fun way for your pet rabbit to get his exercise. Always stay close by when your rabbit is outside in his playpen.