Rabbits need lots of enrichment and playtime, to help prevent unwanted behaviour like chewing cables, carpets, furniture, wood and pulling down wallpaper.
In the wild they spend all their time running around, foraging for food, and generally being curious.
Therefore you should aim to provide similar stimulation for your home rabbit.
Here’s how you can do it:
Hay and grass should always form part of your rabbit’s playtime activities. They love the stuff and should eat around the equivalent to their body weight every day. You can incorporate this into all their toys and activities.
Hanging baskets: You can provide stimulating activity through putting hay into hanging baskets, that hang within your rabbits reach.
Ensure they’re not awkwardly placed, and that your rabbit can’t get tangled up in the basket. They’ll enjoy reaching up to pull the hay down.
Provide access to hay in a variety of ways
Planters: You can fill planters with hay, a few pellets or treats, which allows your rabbit to climb in and dig around.
Loo roll holders stuffed with hay, with pellets or a small treat inside can keep your rabbit occupied.
Cardboard boxes, willow tubes, tubs and cake tins can be filled with hay, giving your rabbit the chance to climb in an have a munch.
Pegs: You can hold greens together with a peg and clip the peg to string attached to a wire cage, fence or playpen. Your bunny will need to reach up to pull the greens down, providing lots of enrichment for it.
Egg boxes are a great idea for filling with hay or dried fruit and veg. Cut holes where the eggs would normally sit to create an area through which your rabbit can pull food out.
Once filled with hay, close the lid and secure it, then secure the egg box with string to the side of the cage, or to the side of a box using pegs.
Pringles tube: You can cut holes into a pringles tube, and stuff the tube with hay. The hay should poke out of the holes.
Then attach to the side of the frame, or the box, using string or pegs.
Phone book: Fold handfuls of pages into the centre of the book, tucking them in, so they hold in place. You should end up with ‘loops’ of pages. Your rabbit will love pulling them out.
Cardboard wheel: Cut strips of cardboard from a box, and role the strips up, until you end up with a wheel of cardboard. You should secure this with string. Your rabbit will enjoy throwing it around and nibbling at it.
Paper bags: Cut a face into a paper bag, and cuts slits into the back of the bag. You can then stuff the bag with hay, with bits poking out and also include your rabbits favourite pellets.
Cat balls with bells: You can put a pellet inside the ball, and your rabbit will enjoy chasing the ball around, to get at the pellet.Alternatively, you can also buy small animal treat balls from pet shops.
Branches: Rabbits love pear, willow, birch, hazel and blackthorne tree branches, so try hiding some around the house, or in foraging toys.
Pet carrier: try taking the lid off it and leaving the door open. You can put torn up paper inside, along with a few pieces of dried fruit and veg, so that your rabbit has to forage to find the food.
Filling a ball with hay provides your rabbit with enrichment
Rabbits love to dig which can form part of its nesting instinct if it’s a female.
Digging pit: To save your carpets try providing a digging pit. This can be a low-rise planter or even a child’s empty sandpit. You can fill it with soil, grass, hay or even torn up newspaper.
Any container that won’t break and is fairly low will work.
If you’ve got the space you can keep this in the house or in a conservatory, on top of tiling, or old carpet.
A specially designated area for more messy play, cornered off works well.
Soft blanket: You can also provide a soft blanket, which your rabbit can dig and snuggle into, which can help satisfy their nesting instinct.
Cardboard boxes: You can also use cardboard boxes for exploration. Try putting holes into a few large boxes and place them around the house. Rabbits love to explore.
You should always ensure there’s an entrance and an exit, so that you’re rabbit knows it can get out if it needs to.
Rabbits need to feel secure, and if they feel trapped, they won’t go into your box.
Inside the box you can put torn up paper, or hay, for your rabbit to forage in. You can also attach a cat tunnel, for further rabbit adventures.
Cat tunnels: These are a great way for your rabbit to play. You can use it as part of your pet playground, with the tunnels stretched out across the floor, leading to the boxes, or leading to other play areas.
Try putting hay inside, for additional ‘nibbling’ opportunities.
Mesh storage cubes are a great way for rabbits to climb and explore. Used for storage usually, you can build them so that they provide a stepped environment for your rabbit. You can use vinyl flooring to line the floor space, so that your rabbit has somewhere to walk.
You can buy them from Amazon.
Willow tunnels: You can also use these for your rabbit, and it’ll enjoy scrambling through to the other side.
Natural cork tunnels are also popular with rabbits, who love to climb over and through them. These look like hollowed out tree trunks, and even have mock moss on them.
These simulate the forested environment a wild rabbit would explore, with climbing and balancing opportunities. You can get them from all good pet shops.
Rotate rabbit furniture: Rabbits love to explore and discover new things. Try moving their furniture around occasionally, to give them a new territory to explore. However, don’t move around core home items like their hutch, bedding and main tunnels, as they also need to feel safe and secure at home.
Boxes: Try to provide them with areas they can stand on, to look around at their surroundings.
A rabbit playmate can also help keep your rabbit entertained. Male and females work well together and can bond more closely. You should always get male and female pairs neutered at least 3-4 weeks before allowing them to meet.
You can also pair up same sex rabbits, and its recommended that again you neuter them, to help prevent aggression.
If you’ve provided plenty of enrichment and your bunny is still chewing, you’ll need to ensure you bunny proof your house.
Rabbit proofing your home
Wires: To prevent your bunny chewing wires you can cover them in split tubing or conduit. The type you choose depends on where the wires are, and whether they can be attached to a wall.
You can also use a cable tidy, cable sleeve or cable tidy tube. These are available from Amazon.
Digging at the carpet: Try putting down ceramic tiles in the areas your rabbit digs, carpet offcuts or a rug. Ensure any carpeting doesn’t have any plastic backing, and that it’s made of a natural fibre such as wool or cotton in case your rabbit begins chewing on it.
Blocking off no-go areas: You can block off areas using a gate pet play pen, or you can put your rabbit into indoor rabbit run. Your rabbit will need to get plenty of exercise outside of the rabbit run, so use it if you can’t provide supervision.
If you’re trying to block off a small area such as under a sofa, you could put cushions under it.
To protect furniture you could cover it with a heavy throw, although this may not prevent your bunny chewing furniture legs.
You can buy cat scratch guards, which attach to doors or furniture. Made from PVC or vinyl they may help protect your furniture, however you’ll need to ensure your rabbit can’t break off pieces of the plastic with its teeth, as these will present a choking hazard.
You can also buy pet playpens from Amazon, suitable for small mammals. Don’t forget to put down floor coverings, so that your rabbit doesn’t get its foot stuck in between the wires.