You do your best to provide everything your rabbit could ever need, but did you account for all their behaviors, including burrowing and chewing? By offering them enrichment, you can give your pet an even better, more well-rounded life. What kind of enrichment does a rabbit like yours need?
Rabbits require the following enrichment:
- A spacious, tall enclosure with lots of room for them
- Platforms within their enclosure for climbing and exploring
- Foraging options, among them cardboard tubes, muffin trays, filled paper bags, and more
- Digging options like a planter or litter tray
- Games and activities to mentally stimulate your rabbit
- Chew toys, even something like a cardboard box
- Hiding areas for time away from people and other pets
If you’re missing a few of the above items for your bunny, you’ll want to keep reading. In this article, we’ll go over all the forms of enrichment in more detail. By the time you’ve finished this article, you’ll know which areas to focus on for a happier, healthier rabbit.
What Is Enrichment?
Before we get into the enrichment methods we touched on in the intro, you might wonder, what is enrichment anyway? It almost sounds like it’d have something to do with your bunny’s diet. While it’s true that diet can be a part of a rabbit’s enrichment, it relates more to the whole health and wellbeing of a rabbit.
An undomesticated rabbit does a lot of activities each day. These include socializing among their rabbit tribe, eating, hiding, stretching, jumping, running, and digging. Even though you may own a domesticated bunny, these basic needs just don’t disappear. Your rabbit will still have the urge to engage in many of the above behaviors.
To do so, they need a safe, ample environment. This starts at their cage or enclosure, but it encompasses everything you put in there as well. By offering your rabbit many enrichment options, they can lead the most enjoyable lives possible.
What Enrichment Does Your Rabbit Need?
Now that you know more about enrichment, you’ve probably realized it’s of great importance to the life of your rabbit. You’re ready to begin preparing an array of enrichment options for your bunny, but where do you start? Make sure you have all the following.
A Large, Wide Enclosure
Your rabbit’s home is one of the biggest components of enrichment. It’s inhumane to house a rabbit in an enclosure that’s too small for them. Before they reach full size, you might want to consider buying an enclosure that can fit them once they’ve reached adulthood. This may be a little big for your rabbit now when they’re so young, but they’ll grow into it eventually. By doing things this way, you shouldn’t have to buy more than one enclosure for your bunny.
What size enclosure should you look for? You want one that’s very lengthy. This way, you rabbit has the leg room to zip this way and that if they feel so inclined (and they probably will). Besides its length, shop for an enclosure that’s wide. Your rabbit will have the space to rear up, hop, and jump. To keep your rabbit safe and prevent them from easily escaping, make sure your enclosure has some height as well.
Climbing Platforms Within the Enclosure
If you rabbit feels particularly adventurous one day, they’ll appreciate having climbing platforms in their enclosure. You could use a box or wooden blocks for these platforms. Just make sure whatever you choose can support your rabbit’s weight. If you have doubts about the sturdiness of the item, you might not want to use it.
These climbing platforms serve another usage besides just letting your bunny hop, jump, and climb. They also give your rabbit the freedom to explore their enclosure in full. That’s important to them as a prey animal. At their higher vantage point, they know for certain that no predators linger about.
Rabbits love to forage. It’s something they got from their wild ancestors. Even though they live in a secure, enclosed environment now, that doesn’t stop a rabbit’s need to forage. As part of enrichment, you need to give them some foraging options.
To do so, you might create your own turf tray. You can use a plant potting tray or an unused litter tray and then fill it up with grass, blackthorn branches, apple branches, hazel, willow, herbs, and other forage. Put it in the rabbit’s enclosure and watch them appreciate it.
You could also fill the following with forage:
- Cardboard tubes
- Muffin tray
- Paper bags
Your rabbit might try to get in the paper bag, and that’s okay. Just make sure they have a way out so they can have fun without getting hurt.
Another activity your rabbit feels inclined to do is dig. Again, this comes naturally to them, so don’t try to restrict them. Of course, in a domesticated environment, they don’t exactly have a ton of digging options. As part of enrichment, you should change that.
Some rabbit experts recommend giving your bunny a digging pit. You can use either a planter or a litter tray for this, but make sure it’s large enough for your rabbit. Add some earth to it, but don’t use the same foraging ingredients as above. This is a different experience, and you should treat it as such.
Now, put the tray in front of your rabbit and let them go to town. If your bunny loves digging, you’ll likely have to replace the tray almost daily. If you’d prefer to let your rabbit explore the earth and dig outside, you can do that as well. Always supervise your rabbit when outdoors to keep them safe from predators.
Games, Toys, and Activities
Rabbits require mental stimulation to keep them sharp and stave off boredom. Toys, games, and other activities provide this stimulation, or they can. If you don’t already own them, look for toys that promote marking a scent, digging, investigating, and manipulating.
As you know, rabbits have great intelligence. Thus, the same old toys will make them bored eventually. To prevent that, don’t give them all the toys you have at the same time. Add a few in at a time. When your bunny seems over it, change the toys out with some others.
Speaking of toys, you’ll also need chew toys for an enriching rabbit life. Not only does this provide your rabbit happiness, but it’s also good for their health. Chew toys can wear down a rabbit’s teeth so they don’t grow too long. A rabbit’s molars, peg teeth, and incisors never stop growing. Therefore, we’d say chew toys are mandatory.
Now, a chew toy doesn’t always mean a squeaky plastic toy like you’d give a dog. You can use those, sure, but double-check they’re made for smaller animals. Otherwise, you can expand your definition of chew toys and try the following items:
- Willow branches
- Apple branches
- Untreated pine
- Wicker baskets
- Untreated wooden blocks
- Cardboard boxes
Any of the above items should wear down your rabbit’s teeth sufficiently. You should monitor their chewing from time to time to ensure they don’t accidentally consume the above items.
If you’d prefer to get more traditional chew toys, you might have a hard time finding them at the pet store. Sure, you’ll see kitty toys and tons of dog chew toys, but none for rabbits. Try looking at parrot toys instead. The size of these work perfectly for most bunnies.
Rabbits, as prey animals, can get easily spooked. Also, although they’re smart, sociable creatures, even they need a break from everyone for a while. To provide a rabbit space where they can spend time alone, they need hiding areas in their enclosure.
We recommend tunnels. These naturally appeal to rabbits considering their undomesticated lifestyle living in burrows. A tunnel also lets a rabbit hide from people and other domestic animals until they feel like coming out again.
When it comes to choosing and positioning your tunnels, make sure you keep the following in mind:
- You need a tunnel large enough to fit your rabbit, but it should be even bigger than your bunny. They need the space to sit, turn, and maneuver inside the tunnel without getting stuck.
- The tunnel must have at least one exit and entrance, but more than one works fine as well.
- If you have more than one rabbit, each one should have their own tunnel. This way, they can get a break from each other.
- You should position the tunnel semi-low so the rabbit feels nice and safe. You also need it high up enough that your rabbit can get around it quickly.
- Make sure the tunnel sits out of sight from people and predators. Otherwise, your rabbit won’t feel secure using it.
Rabbits require enrichment to improve their quality of life. This enrichment refers to adequate housing, foraging options, chew toys, digging areas, hiding spaces, and toys and games. If you don’t have the above for your rabbit, hopefully this article has inspired you with plenty of ideas to make your rabbit’s life even better. Good luck!