How To Make Your Rabbits Happy: 12 Ways To Keep Them Entertained And Pleased

by Lindsay Pereira
How to make rabbits happy

Whether you’re the proud, new pet parent of handsome dwarf rabbits or a long-time lover of bunnies with ample experience, you may be on the hunt for some unique ways to make your pet rabbit(s) happy. Long-eared, doe-eyed, twitchy-nosed or cotton-tailed, we’ve compiled a list of 14 great ways to ensure your darling family pets are thoroughly entertained and extra healthy.

1. Give a balanced diet full of yummy (but healthy), bunny-safe options

Since rabbits have a very sensitive digestive system, it’s crucial to provide them with nutritional meals and snacks so as not to irritate it. When selecting their food, keep these tips in mind:

  • Grass or hay are necessary for digestive health, the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, and a healthy gut. While pellets are needed in their diet, they should never comprise the majority of it. A bunny’s diet should be mostly grass and hay, thus limit pellets to the amount your vet suggests.
  • Avoid store-bought processed kibble, cereal blends, and commercial snacks as they’re high in unhealthy sugars and starches, and tend to have needless (and unhealthy) ingredients thrown in.
  • Stay away from muesli-style foods as they can cause serious stomach and teeth issues.
  • On a daily basis, your rabbit should have access to clean, fresh vegetables and herbs, as well as a limited amount of fruits.

2. Give them lots of space to race

It may be totally adorable to see that cute, little twitchy-nosed creature bound over to greet you from their caged hut – seemingly pleased with being in an enclosed environment. But don’t be fooled, that fluffster needs their fair share of outside-of-the-cage time.

This is necessary due to two main reasons: the level of exercise they need and their G.I. tract health.

  • Exercise: Those long, powerful legs aren’t there just for decoration. With the ability to reach sprinting speeds of up to 50 MPH, rabbits were born to run, hop, bound, leap… well, you get the picture. Aside from an inbred need to exercise and release energy, a lack of exercise can also cause your bestie to gain excess weight. Weight gain can quickly lead to a weak bladder and urinary tract disease in bunnies, often resulting in bladder stones.
  • G.I. tract health: Without the sufficient amount of physical activity, your rabbit can be at risk of developing G.I. stasis – a potentially fatal condition – where the digestive system slows down or comes to a complete stop.

At a minimum, it is recommended to take bunnies out of their habitats once every day. During that time, allow them enough space to run about in a safe place. As well, encourage exercise and running around during any extra playtime.

3. Provide delicious (and nutritious) niblets

Rabbits should have access to veggies at all times

As a human, you may have a different idea of what a treat is compared to rabbits. However, to ensure your pet stays healthy and happy, only offer them bunny-appropriate, vet-approved treats. Stick with all-natural niblets as opposed to store-bought, commercial treats for optimum health and to decrease tummy trouble that can eventually lead to bigger problems. The truth is, finding healthy treats for your pet is as simple as walking into the grocery store to shop for your own groceries. All it takes is a stroll down the produce aisle. What’s more, you may even have some delicious tidbits already, right in your very own backyard.

Here are a few great suggestions for treats. But, as mentioned before, there are restrictions to some foods, so make sure to check out our post about natural and healthy rabbit treats for more information.

Vegetables

  • carrots and their tops
  • beet tops
  • collards
  • chicory
  • dandelion greens (make sure they are pesticide and herbicide free)
  • dark leaf lettuce
  • bell peppers
  • parsnip
  • squash
  • clover
  • parsley

Fruit

  • apples
  • pears
  • peaches
  • papaya
  • pineapple
  • strawberries

Plants and herbs

  • mint
  • thyme
  • sage
  • clover
  • dandelion

See a more detailed list of recommended veggies and fruits at House Rabbit Society.

4. Keep a clean, comfortable cage

There’s nothing fun (or sanitary) about living in a dirty cage. Not only is the noxious odor harmful to sensitive bunny noses and the unsanitary conditions a generally unhealthy issue that can lead to a great many health problems, but clumps of dirty bedding can lead to intestinal blockages if ingested. At the very least, change their bedding every other day and clean out their habitat once a week. If you’re not entirely sure about the proper way to clean a cage, you may want to read through our post on daily and weekly cage cleaning activities.

5. Schedule quality play (and bonding) time

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to make your rabbits happy is to play with them. By doing so, you’re not only alleviating their boredom but you’re also strengthening your precious parent-pet bond. Playtime is a wonderful way to lower your bunny’s stress levels, increase their mental well-being, and also encourage always-needed exercise. In turn, these three benefits help your pet fend off illness and disease, so they can stay healthy – and happy!

  • Instead of one long block of playtime, try offering two or three slightly shorter rounds of playtime, of at least 15 minutes, spaced out through the day.
  • Consider researching a few fun activities to do with your rabbit online, such as building an obstacle course with cardboard boxes or scattering several crumpled sheets of newspaper about the room to provide entertainment and encourage exercise.

6. Bunny-proof your home to eliminate dangers

Bunny-proof your home

A safe bunny is a happy bunny. Take the time to address safety hazards around your house to eliminate the possibility of both damage to your property and dangers to your pet.

  • Use plastic corner protectors to shield the legs of wooden furniture
  • Place house plants up and out of reach – they could potentially be toxic to your rabbit
  • Use wire covers to block your electric cables

7. Stay on top of their health and schedule regular vet check-ups

Pay attention and observe any changes to your rabbit’s health on a daily basis. While they may not be showing any outward signs of distress or symptoms of health problems, they may be suffering from an ailment.

  • Look for behavioral changes: A pet’s behaviour can indicate pain or illness, so keep a keen eye and look for changes.
  • Keep an eye on problem areas: The fur and skin on their bottom and tail must be checked frequently, particularly in warmer or humid weather conditions. If urine or feces get stuck in those spots, it can attract flies, which may lead to a potentially fatal condition known as flystrike.

Make vet visits a regular occurrence to prevent health issues from happening. Find a clinic that specializes in exotic pets in your area and schedule annual check-ups to keep your fluffster in tip-top shape.

Keep an eye on their teeth

With a growing rate of 3mm per week, you’ll need to occasionally inspect your bunny’s fine front choppers to make sure they’re grinding down their teeth. When they don’t chew enough wood and hay to keep them at bay, a rabbit’s teeth can grow through their lips – ouch! Normally, your pet’s teeth are inspected by the vet at each visit, so don’t forget to book those annual check-ups.

Some signs of teeth issues:

  • Lack of interest in food
  • Pawing at their mouths
  • Frequently rubbing their faces

9. Upgrade their cage

Wouldn’t you be thrilled to upgrade to a mansion? An excellent way to make your rabbits happy is to move them into a larger living space. Not only are you providing them with a fun, new environment, but you’re also allowing them to have a living space that’s more favourable to exercise.

10. Create a space that challenges them

Bunnies are so cute, cuddly, and adorable – but they’re also super smart. Often, domesticated pets who are highly intelligent get bored easily, which can lead to destructive behaviour simply due to the lack of challenges in their lives.

  • Create a space that challenges them, either inside their cage or outside during playtime
  • After weekly cleanings, rearrange their habitat set-up
  • Enrich their cage with learning/challenge toys for rabbits
  • Hide healthy treats in their cage – don’t make it too easy to find!

11. Bring them outside

Supervised outdoor time for happy rabbits

When you’re a domesticated rabbit, the outside world can be a wild ride! Using a rabbit-appropriate harness or a pet playpen, take them for a short walk or grass nibble to your backyard. But make sure your backyard is pesticide free and safe for your pet. They’ll go crazy for that fresh grass!

While bunny-sitting my fur-niece, Cody, last year, I took a chance and decided to harness her up and take her for a grand adventure… in my backyard. Let me tell you, I’ve never seen a happier rabbit! At first, she was quite apprehensive, as she has very little experience in the outside world. But once I settled her into the little pet playpen where my guinea pigs were happily grazing, she chose to follow suit and partake of an abundance of fresh, crisp grass. Now, that’s bunny heaven!

8. Train your rabbit

Training your rabbit stops them from getting bored, and when you stop them from getting bored, you stop them from getting stressed! So, go ahead, teach your rabbit a new trick or two, you’ll quickly see how they learn tricks almost effortlessly. What many pet owners don’t realize is that their bunnies are incredibly smart, so training them gives them something to focus on and look forward to.

  • Try simple tricks like coming when they’re called or jumping into your lap.
  • You can also litter train your rabbit to keep their cage cleaner.
  • Rabbits are highly motivated by treats – but be sure to use healthy ones! By using a positive reward-based method, they can be taught to respond to a great deal of commands.

12. Add a companion (or two)

Rabbits are happiest when they have a companion (or two). If at all possible, always keep rabbits in pairs or groups. Not sure where to find another furry friend for your bunny? Local animal rescues are overrun with homeless pets in need of a good, loving home. Consider visiting a rabbit rescue near you to find another furkin.

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1 comment

Liz Flynn April 29, 2020 - 11:16 am

I think people forget that small pets can get bored in their cages/ hutches. There are some excellent ideas for ways to keep rabbits happy and healthy in this article. One of my former rabbits loved to play with cardboard boxes.

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