You’ve had your rabbit for a while and perhaps the novelty is starting to wear off. Does it seem like bunny is resting comfortably when you leave in the morning and is still right where you left him when you return home? If you’re beginning to think your bunny is a boring pet, you couldn’t be more wrong – bunny just needs something to do while you’re away!
I call these things boredom busters. Rabbits need mental stimulation during those long daytime hours, in addition to getting several hours daily exercise outside their enclosures. Being crepuscular creatures, bunnies are most active at dawn and dusk, and by nature tend to rest during the long day- and nighttime hours. These are the times bunny might enjoy some additional mental stimulation – especially if yours is a solo bun.
Toys – things to shred, chew, gnaw on or eat – are great boredom busters. The trick is to remember to rotate toys so they seem new again to bunny and not to deluge bunny with too many toys at once. Many specialty websites, like BusyBunny.com and BinkyBunny.com, have a wonderful selection of rabbit toys from which to choose. But luckily, boredom busters don’t have to break the bank. Many of my bunnies’ favourites I make out of things I find lying around the house or around town, or that I buy cheaply at my local grocery, hardware, craft or dollar stores.
Some basic boredom busters for bunny to chew on or toss around are: dried pine cones (watch for sharp points & sap); a small straw hand broom; untreated wooden curtain rings (remove any metal hooks first); willow branches (fresh or hand-twisted into small wreaths); untreated, unstained bamboo, jute, wicker & seagrass baskets, plate holders, placemats, table runners or doormats; small clean yogurt cups or lids and hard plastic bottle caps. Some bunnies like super balls, ping pong balls, wicker balls or cat jingles to fling about or chase. Or try buying some undyed, untreated sisal twine at your local craft/hardware store to make your own small loops as chew toys. Twist the twine about itself in a small circle or figure 8 shape and bunny’s fun can begin (make certain that any loops are smaller than bunny’s head size.)
Depending on where you reside, don’t forget about natural growing tree branches and grasses, assuming these are rabbit safe and unsprayed/untreated. Apple tree twigs are favourites with bunnies as are green and dried willow and aspen tree branches. Pine firewood can also be given to gnaw on.
Plastic baby toys can also entertain a bored bunny – try plastic keys or small rattles for bunny to fling about. A plastic slinky may also serve this purpose. Hard plastic caps from drink or juice bottles are also fun to fling around or, stack them on top of each other so bunny can knock them down.
Munchable flooring options for bunny’s abode can include untreated, unstained bamboo window shades found at discount retailers (remove all metal parts & any long, string cords first) and plain seagrass placemats, runners or doormats. Large, flat, thin, clean pieces of cardboard are given away free at warehouse stores and can be used to line wire cage bottoms, while also doubling as bunny’s shredding material. Sections of phonebooks (most are printed with soy ink now) become excellent shredding toys and will keep bunny busy ripping pages for a long while!
Let’s not forget about cardboard boxes of various sizes out of which you can cut windows – or you can allow bunny to custom design his/her own! These are found free at large warehouse stores or sometimes at your local grocery store. Make certain the boxes are clean and avoid detergent/cleaning product cartons in case a toxic residue is present which might make bunny ill if inhaled or ingested. I collect boxes of different sizes & shapes to use as hay boxes for my own bunnies. One can be very creative carving/cutting out small windows to allow bunny access to their hay with minimal mess. Cutting a hole big enough for bunny’s head to get at the hay is key, but too large a hole means bunny will hop inside the haybox!
Lastly, I leave you with two easy “boredom buster” games to construct at home which have brought hours of delight to my bunnies! Take a clean, empty, paper egg carton and cut three double rows off the end so they will still close securely. Place a small treat which your bunny loves – maybe a small piece of dried/fresh fruit or an almond sliver or a banana slice or a fresh herb/green – inside the egg indentations & secure the lid again tightly. Bunny can smell the treat inside and must devise a way to open the carton to eat it! This may take a while to achieve, but a determined bunny will succeed in the end.
Similar is the idea of a round, plastic grape tomato holder with a three inch diameter round opening at the top. The opening is too small for bun’s head to fit inside to get directly at the treat, but big enough for the treat to fall out if bunny flings it about long enough. Drop a favorite healthy treat inside and watch bunny attempt to extricate it. My bunnies never tire of playing this game and are always rewarded with a treat for their efforts. A small, clean yogurt cup & lid with a hole cut into it can serve the same purpose.
Last, but not least: the easiest & cheapest boredom buster of all! A friend of mine likes to leave the radio playing softly in the background while she is away during the daytime and swears listening to music helps her bunny pass the day happily. My suggestion is not to play anything too loud and to stick with easy listening or classical music that won’t frighten bunny.
So, no more excuses! Start making your bunny some boredom busters today and remember to rotate them regularly! Wishing you and your rabbits loads of fun with these edible, chewable, shreddable, tossable and listenable boredom-busting ideas.
Written By: The Bunderful Iris – Guest Blogger