How to Keep Rabbits Entertained? 5 Ways to Occupy Your Rabbit’s Mind

by Emily Bingham
How to keep rabbits entertained

Bunnies are great pets, but as socially active critters,  their minds need to be occupied to prevent what comes out of boredom. It’s like the saying, “idle hands are the devil’s playground.” Except in this case, it’s paws and wood-chipping teeth.

But how do you keep them entertained at all times? How do you occupy such an active mind?

I’ll give you a hint: it’s not hard at all. Actually, you can entertain your rabbit with a lot of the items right at home! Keep reading to learn more about how you can prevent your bunny from getting bored!

How Does A Rabbit Become Bored?

Even if it’s small, a rabbit’s brain still needs to be occupied. They’re intelligent and curious animals that just aren’t meant to spend an eternity in a small cage with no room to run around and nothing to do. Usually, a rabbit’s boredom can be the result of:

1. Lack of attention

Rabbits are incredibly social. In the wild, they live in colonies of up to 20 rabbits.  So, if you only have one bunny, you’ll need to give him lots of attention to fulfill his social needs. 

2. Lack of exercise 

Rabbits are very active little creatures. Experts recommend that they have up to at least 3 hours to run around outside of their cage, depending on how big the cage is. 

3. Lack of enrichment 

Because of their inquisitive nature, rabbits need to occupy and engage their mind by foraging, digging, chewing, etc. It’s not just fun, but it’s good for them as well. 

What happens when a bunny gets bored?

What to do when your rabbit is bored

Rabbits have their own way of communicating what they need. However, if you miss the signs, you could end up with a lot of chunks out of furniture or pee spots on the carpet. 

Let’s talk more about what happens when a bunny gets bored. 

#1 Getting destructive

I’ve often found myself wondering whether I have bunnies or beavers because if I’ve learned anything about rabbits in the last decade, it’s that they love to chew. In most cases, a bored bunny will go straight for the furniture, walls, and even wires. Not only could this be fatal to your fur baby but is also a major fire hazard. 

That all being said, every nibble was my fault for not keeping them properly occupied… and distracted. You see, bunnies are a lot like puppies. They want to get into everything that they’re not supposed to, and really can’t be left unattended without something to do. 

#2 Having accidents or acting out 

Another way your rabbit will display boredom is by straight-up protest. In his own way, he’ll let you know that he’s not happy by displaying behavioral problems like being over-aggressive or deliberately not using his litter box.

My first rabbit, Butterscotch, would hop onto my dad’s chair and demand to be petted while he was watching TV. She would dig at him until he would and as soon as he stopped, she peed. “Take that, dad.”

#3 Depression

Yes, just like humans, bunnies can become depressed. If your rabbit has become used to having nothing to do, he will start displaying signs of depression like a significant increase or loss of appetite, lethargy, and others. This can all lead to a weaker immune system, which can be dangerous to your already sensitive bunny. 

How can I tell if my rabbit is bored?

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to spot boredom in rabbits, once you know what to look for. Here are some ways you can tell if your bunny is bored:

  • Lack of energy, lying down a lot. 
  • Rattling the cage or trying to break out.
  • Becoming aggressive or nipping you for attention
  • Digging (in the cage or even on you)
  • Over or under eating 
  • Grooming too much

How can I keep my rabbit entertained and busy?

How to keep bunnies busy

Lucky for you, while rabbits get bored easily, it’s also really easy to prevent that. All you have to do is keep them busy. There’s a bunch of things that you can do for your bunny to prevent boredom, and very many of them cost nothing! 

#1 Bunny toys

There is a wide range of rabbit toys on the market that will keep your bun busy like toss toys, rattles, and scratch pads. You can even take a jingle ball for cats and put some dry treats inside to make a bunny toy. 

But, if you’re looking for something that’s budget-friendly—or better—free, there are also plenty of DIY toys you can make with things already in your home. Here are a couple of examples. 

  • Woven cardboard ball

Cut up a toilet paper roll, you can criss-cross the strips over each other to make a DIY weave ball for your bunny!

  • Treat roller/feeder

Stuff some hay or veggies in a toilet paper roll, cut a few holes, and you’ve got yourself a bunny toy with healthy goodies!

#2 Digging and burrowing options

Domestic rabbits have come far since tunnel systems and burrows in the ground but burrowing and digging are still part of your bunny’s nature. Not only is it better for their claws and teeth, but it’s fun for them to dig and forage for things too. 

Here are some ways that you can let your rabbit dig, to spare your carpet, and any other fabric that is in your rabbit’s reach.  

  • Hiding goodies for your bun to find is a healthy and fun way to keep your rabbit’s mind and body active. Rabbits are natural foragers, so a scavenger hunt is just the thing to keep your bunny busy.  
  • Give your bunny a blanket or towel to dig, rearrange and burrow in. Or you can crumple up a bunch of newspaper pages for him to bury himself in.
  • Having sawdust bedding is also a great activity for your rabbits just to sift through. It may seem gross to you, but rabbits actually have to ingest up to 200 of those poops a day to get their proper dose of probiotics. 

#3 Things to chew and eat

Rabbits like to gnaw on things to occupy their time and to keep their teeth filed down. Since their teeth never stop growing, they need to chew, or else the teeth grow to a length that inhibits eating. If you don’t have something for your bun to chew on, he’s likely to start showing those signs we talked about.

To save your furniture from the jaws of your “wascally wabbit”, here are some DIY chew toys to opt for. 

  • Cardboard items that you would normally throw away like paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, and even a box can keep a rabbit occupied for hours when there are goodies hidden inside.  
  • Let nature provide and go for branches from bunny-safe trees like willow and apple. 
  • Make a string of treats along the roof of your rabbit’s cage like a clothesline with some string and clothespins. By reaching for the food, your bun will stretch his muscles, engage his mind, and get a treat for it. 

#4 “Romp time” around the house

As I already mentioned, your bun should be getting a few hours of time to run and stretch his legs. If you’ve ever seen wild rabbits, you know they run around a lot. Your house rabbit is no different. Give your bun some romp time around the house. Not only is it good for him, but it’s really fun to watch as well. 

As a side note, I want you to know that no matter how litter-trained your bun is, there’s going to be a few stray little “coco-puffs.” But surely, sweeping up a couple of those is worth improving your rabbit’s life!

#5 Having another bunny to play with

When I got my rabbit, Bubba, a playmate, I noticed a significant improvement in his behavior. He was more active, eating more, and seems to be generally hoppier little bun. 

Just remember that bonding rabbits is a process and does not happen easily or quickly. While Bubba was happy to have a friend, as the territorial animal he is, it took some getting used to before he finally got used to another rabbit in the house. 

Conclusion

While I don’t believe there’s such thing as a bad bunny, a bored bunny certainly isn’t well behaved, that’s for sure. If your bunny is bored, you can count on some nibbles on the legs of chairs or digging (among other things) on your brand-new area rug. 

Now that you know what you can do to entertain your rabbit and prevent boredom, there’s no reason for your pets to ever want to chew your furniture or act out! 

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1 comment

Bryson Fico September 13, 2021 - 3:44 pm

Great tips and strategies. I especially like the idea of a woven cardboard ball.

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