Rabbits are very playful animals and love to have different toys and sources of entertainment available so that they don’t get bored. However, toys can be expensive and sometimes you just don’t have the funds to go out and buy them. Fortunately, many toys can be made at home for little to no extra cost.
What homemade toys can I make for my rabbit? Rabbits love sticks, paper bags, cardboard boxes, and piping tunnels. With a little adjusting, you can modify these objects to make them safe and fun for your rabbit.
Stick and Toilet Paper Roll Chew Toy
Rabbits love sticks and are naturally inclined to chew on them. You can just give your rabbit a stick as a toy, but you can also make it more fun and engaging by poking holes in a toilet paper roll and putting the sticks in them to hold them up. Use smaller twigs and make sure they are balanced across the roll so that the toy can stand up on its own. You can put as many sticks as you want on the roll, but make sure to leave enough room between the sticks for your rabbit to chew comfortably. This toy simulates chewing on a bush or tree and is a good way to facilitate natural behaviors that would happen in the wild.
Pine Cone Chew Toy
Pine cones are great toys for rabbits, but it’s important to prepare them carefully so that they are safe. First, make sure the pine cone comes from a source that is free of pesticides and other chemicals. Next, make sure it is completely dry. Any oils or sap in the cone can be dangerous for your rabbit. Clean the pine cone with warm water and white vinegar to remove any bugs, dirt, or sap from the surface as well. Once the cones are completely dry, bake them at a low heat for about 2 hours and let them cool completely. You can give the pine cones to your rabbit just like this, or you can try putting a very small amount of honey on and between the needles of the cone to make the toy more interesting. Keep in mind that too much sugar can be bad for rabbits, so you should only use a small amount if you do this. Don’t put seeds or nuts on the pine cone like you might do for a bird treat, as these aren’t good for your rabbit.
Wood Block Chew Toy
You can also use wooden blocks or panels for your rabbit to chew on. It’s important to make sure any wood you give your rabbit is untreated with any chemicals. This means no pesticides when it comes to sticks and no waterproofing treatments, lacquer, or staining on wooden panels and blocks. You can leave the wooden block loose to allow your rabbit to push it around and play with it as well as chew it, or you can attach it to a wall or the side of a cage as a stationary toy.
Junk Mail Chew Toy
Sometimes making a fun toy for your rabbit is as simple as taking your junk mail and crumpling it up into a ball! However, there are certain types of junk mail that are safe and some that aren’t. Regular paper as well as the thicker card stock that some flyers are made of is perfect, as long as the paper isn’t glossy or saturated with ink. If your rabbit chews on these types of paper with more ink in them, they could get sick. You also shouldn’t give your rabbit any paper with adhesive, glue, or plastic in it. This means no envelopes and no credit card offers! Make sure the toy is only made of paper and nothing else. Your rabbit will enjoy chewing on the paper ball and throwing it around.
Paper Bag Hiding Toy
This one is very easy because you really don’t have to do anything to the paper bag to turn it into a toy. You can simply give the paper bag to your rabbit and they will throw it around and play with it. If you get them a bag that’s big enough, they will even go inside and hide to play. Just make sure there’s nothing on the bag such as chemical or food residue, as this can hurt your rabbit. You can also try cutting holes in the large paper bags to let your rabbit run through the bag.
Cardboard Box Hiding House
If you have just moved or received a large item, you probably have one or more cardboard boxes around the house. These can make great hiding places for your rabbit to play in, and if you’re creative you can cut doors and windows and make a little house for them to run through. If you’d rather not, your rabbit will have just as much fun in the box by itself. It will enjoy hiding and chewing on the cardboard, so remove anything that may harm your rabbit if eaten, such as tape or stickers hanging loose. It’s important to make sure that the box and all the holes you cut in it are big enough for the rabbit to get through without getting stuck. Avoid extremely thin boxes and err on the side of caution when you’re cutting holes. It’s a good idea to cover the edges of the holes with tape so that your rabbit doesn’t get cut on the sharp edges. You should also check for any staples and cover those as well.
PVC Pipe Tunnel
Most PVC pipe is too small for a rabbit, but in some situations you may have large piping or a particularly small rabbit. In this case, you can use short pieces of piping for your rabbit to run through. You could even connect pipes to make a very simple maze, but it’s important not to create anything that may confuse or frighten your rabbit. You don’t want your rabbit to get stuck or lost inside a very large or complicated maze. Test out the size of the pipe with one smaller piece to see if your rabbit can and wants to get inside. Then you can start enriching the pipe by adding holes or extra pieces of piping to make it more complex. If you are supervising your rabbit, you can reward them for getting through the pipes by putting a piece of fruit or some vegetables at one end so that they get a reward when they get through.
Poster Board Tunnel
If you have a larger rabbit or only want a short piece of tunnel, you can use poster board to make a simpler tunnel. Just bend the poster board in a circle and tape or staple the ends together. If you use staples, you should cover the ends with short pieces of tape to avoid your rabbit getting cut on any sharp edges. You can also cut holes in the tunnel for your rabbit to run through or stick its head through, but make sure the holes are big enough that your rabbit doesn’t get stuck. You rabbit will also enjoy chewing on the poster board and sometimes pushing or rolling it around.
Toilet Paper Roll Treat
Toilet paper rolls are very versatile when it comes to making rabbit toys. A great and simple toy to make for your rabbit is a toilet paper roll stuffed with hay or grass. Cut small holes or slits in the toilet paper roll and then stuff it full of hay, pulling some of the strands through the holes so that they stick out. Your rabbit will love pulling the hay loose and eating it, and because rabbits can have unlimited amounts of hay, they can be entertained by this for hours without any ill effects. Of course, some clever rabbits may figure out that they can simply chew open the toilet paper roll and get to all of the hay at once, but this will keep them just as occupied and is a great way to give them mental stimulation to keep them active and sharp-minded.
Toilet Paper Roll Hanging Toy
Another good toilet paper roll idea is to tie a string to it and then hang it up where your rabbit can reach. This by itself is a fun toy because your rabbit will hit it back and forth and chase it around as it swings. You can also add a little bit of hay to it so that your rabbit can pull on the hay and have a snack when it catches the swinging toy. This is good mental exercise because the moving toy forces your rabbit to think carefully about how to reach the food and catch the toilet paper roll. You can play with your rabbit by swinging the toilet paper roll around, but keep in mind that it’s good for your rabbit to let them catch the roll at the end of the play session and be rewarded for all their hard work running around.
Bath towels are a very simple toy for your rabbit because you don’t need to do anything with them. You can just give a towel to your rabbit and it will find plenty of ways to occupy itself. Rabbits love to chew and tug on bath towels as well as drag them around or dig on them. You should use old towels or rags that you don’t plan on using anymore because they will definitely get beaten up by constant play. You may even be able to engage your rabbit in a game of tug-o-war, but be gentle when pulling so that you don’t harm your rabbit’s teeth. Be careful! Some rabbits will urinate on the towels to mark them as their toy, so it’s important to clean the towels regularly and make sure that you take the towel away to wash it if you notice your rabbit has urinated on it.
You can also make dolls out of old towels or rags for your rabbit to play with. This sounds complicated, but a “doll” to a rabbit doesn’t have to be fancy or even shaped like anything. Just take an old rag and tie a knot in it and that will be enough for your rabbit. Rabbits love to throw around toys like this or chew on the knot because it provides a good surface for them to grind their teeth down on. They will chase the doll themselves, but if you want to engage with your rabbit you can throw the doll for it and it may even want to play fetch!
Repurposing Cat Toys
If you have or had a cat and have some toys left over, you can give most of these to your rabbit for it to play with. Toys like balls are great for your rabbit to push around and chase, and bells and noise making toys will usually fascinate your rabbit, especially if you move them around. The rabbit will think these toys are another animal and will try to play with them. Rabbits will also love to play with streamers and string by dragging them around and pulling on them. You can pull the streamer around for your rabbit to chase and gently play tug-o-war if your rabbit is interested. While catnip isn’t toxic to rabbits, most rabbits won’t like the taste, so you’re probably better off giving your rabbit catnip-free toys. If, however, you find that your rabbit does like catnip, you can consider getting catnip toys to calm your rabbit down, as catnip is a type of mint and can have soothing properties.
Repurposing Baby Toys
Baby toys are another good alternative to buying rabbit toys. Many people keep their baby toys even after their child has grown up, so you may have things in your basement that could entertain your rabbit. Wooden toys are best as long as you are okay with your rabbit chewing on them. Plastic toys aren’t good for chewers, but if you know your rabbit won’t chew on it then they’re fine. Toys with small parts pose the same choking risk to rabbits that they do to babies, so avoid any of these. Toys with moving parts and noise-making components like bells will fascinate your rabbit. Battery-operated toys with buttons and noises may not be as good because they may frighten your rabbit. It’s best to go with natural toys like wooden toys, balls, and large building blocks.
Inexpensive Alternative Toys
Other great options for toys can include bird toys, craft store items, and dollar store items. Avoid bird toys with seeds, but anything paper or wood that birds would enjoy chewing on, rabbits would also enjoy chewing on. Untreated willow wicker balls and baskets bought from craft stores are great for rabbits to roll around and chew on, and craft stores also sell untreated wood very cheaply, which makes great cheap chew toys. Dollar stores sell all sorts of cheap, simple toys such as balls, dog and cat toys, wooden toys, and many other options for only a dollar or less. While these aren’t homemade, they’re much cheaper than anything made specifically for a rabbit and can be modified and improved at home for very little money. For example, any toy can have paper or string added to it to give your rabbit something to chew on and play with.
What Items Aren’t Good for Toys?
Some items simply aren’t good or safe for your rabbit. For example, wooden toys are great, but any wood treated with chemicals such as pesticides or staining can kill your rabbit if ingested. Toys with small parts that your rabbit could choke on are also not a good idea. If your rabbit likes to chew, plastic toys may pose a risk to your rabbit because it may chew on them. Using paper with adhesive, plastic, or stickers is not a good idea, and using cardboard boxes with staples can also pose a risk.
How can I play with my rabbit? Rabbits love to play and it’s great bonding time. Find toys your rabbit enjoys and sit or lay on the floor to engage with them together. You can pull on towels or streamers, roll balls, or place treats at the end of tunnels to play with your rabbit.
How much exercise do rabbits need? Rabbits need a lot of exercise. It’s a good idea to find toys that involve running or hopping to give your rabbit the exercise it needs to get. You should also give your rabbit time in a larger area than its enclosure so it can run around.
What happens if my rabbit gets bored? Bored rabbits will often act out for attention, or they may chew excessively or on objects that you don’t want them to chew on. Your rabbit may also be lethargic and unhappy if it doesn’t get enough playtime.