Pet rabbits need some kind of fun stimulation. Here's some
information on toys and playtime for pet rabbits.
Toys and Playtime
Play is as essential to your rabbit as food and shelter. As in
humans, play provides rabbits with exercise that can often help
to prevent obesity, disease and depression.
Toys are an important part of a rabbit's playtime. Without them,
rabbits can become destructive and ill-tempered. Toys and play
offer necessary mental and physical stimulation to a rabbit, and
help relieve the stress of this sensitive animal.
Naturally playful, a rabbit can spend hours entertaining herself,
other animals and you as she runs wildly around the house,
leaping over sofas, chairs and ottomans. As though supervising a
hyperactive child, you must keep your frisky pet busy and out of
A rabbit enjoys chewing on tasty objects to strengthen her jaw
muscles and wear down her continuously growing teeth. Because
it's a lot of fun, your rabbit will chew on almost
anything-including that heirloom quilt of yours. Two of her
favorite objects are wooden baseboards and chair legs. Electrical
cords are also irresistible to rabbits. To protect your rabbit
from electrical shock, make sure that all cords are inaccessible
In addition to chewing, your rabbit also likes to push and toss
objects around. Commercial rabbit toys to amuse her are available
for purchase. You can also easily whip up a few homemade toys.
Untreated straw baskets
Natural wood blocks (no pressure-treated wood, plywood, particle
board or pressed board)
Canning jar rings
Rolled oats boxes, with the ends cut off
Soft drink cans with a few pebbles inside for noise
Rubber balls (unless your rabbit chews on them)
Wire balls with bells inside
Baby toys, such as rattles and giant key rings
Hanging bird toys with bells
Rice or maize mats (available at most home decorating stores)
Cardboard boxes, with openings cut in the sides
Things to jump up on (rabbits like high places with good views)
Baskets filled with shredded paper
Use your rabbit's personality and age as a guide to selecting
toys for her. Just know that you'll need to be innovative to keep
your rabbit happily occupied; rabbits can grow quickly bored with
While toys are important, they're not substitutes for your time
and attention, or for the companionship of other pets. If she's
ignored and left alone in her cage all day, your rabbit will find
a destructive outlet for her boredom and loneliness.
Playing with Your Rabbit
Your rabbit has a broad silly streak to go along with her usually
rambunctious behavior. She always looks for opportunities to have
fun, and to express her joy in play.
Playing with your rabbit is an important bonding experience,
giving you the opportunity to know your pet's foibles and
idiosyncrasies. It's important to establish a specific time each
day dedicated to playing with her. A regular play period not only
satisfies her need for fun and companionship, but also allows you
to inspect her for any signs of illness.
Handling a rabbit during play requires special considerations. A
rabbit is more sensitive than the average cat or dog and
frightens easier than other, more robust pets. Ironically, she
can also be aggressive, but this behavior usually surfaces only
when she feels threatened. For example, if you stick your hand
into the cage too suddenly to take your rabbit out for playtime,
she may nip at your hand. Why? Because you may have startled her,
or interrupted her at the wrong time. Rabbits are quite
territorial, and don't enjoy having their space invaded by
During exercise, your rabbit may become over stimulated. Don't
"roughhouse" with her the way you might with a dog or a cat. She
may feel the need to protect herself by biting, scratching or
kicking you. Her behavior is not because that she's mean, it's
because she needs to feel safe during play.
Rabbits have definite boundaries and will defend them if they
feel threatened. To respect your rabbit's boundaries, you must
acquiesce often and play the game by her rules. One of the rules
she's likely to enforce is that during play you must get down on
the floor with her. Rabbits usually prefer that you play with
them at their level.
Handle with Care-And Respect
Try to avoid lifting your rabbit during play, because this
agitates her. If you must pick your rabbit up, grasp the loose
skin on her neck and shoulders and lift gently, remembering not
to dangle the pet in the air, but to support her by cupping her
rear end. Never grab your rabbit by her middle; this could
seriously damage her internal organs. And never lift your pet by
her ears only, because that can tear delicate flesh, or break
intricate blood vessels.
Make sure to teach any children playing with your rabbit how to
handle her properly. Emphasize that rabbits are not toys, and
that they can bite if they're made to feel threatened. It's a
good idea to supervise any children under seven who are handling
Taming Your Rabbit for Play
There are ways to curb your rabbit's inappropriate aggression
during play. Taming her for play requires gentle and affectionate
training tactics. You never want your rabbit to feel unsafe,
because a scared rabbit is a mean rabbit. For example, if she's
tearing up your carpet, try to stop her by moving your hand
forward while saying "No." She will probably growl and snap as a
While your first inclination may be to swat her for chewing your
rug, this would be a serious mistake. Never answer aggression
with aggression, as you might with a larger animal. Swatting her
on the nose with a newspaper won't teach her a lesson; it will
only make her feel that her environment is unsafe, which will
lead to more aggressive and defensive behavior.
So how do you stop your pet from scratching, nipping or biting?
Conventional rabbit training advises that when she nips, you must
respond with a loud shriek. This is supposed to send her a
message that biting is unacceptable. But your shrieking may also
make her more nervous and frightened. You'll need to weigh your
rabbit's temperament before trying this method.
If yours is a nervous rabbit, you may need to turn on the charm
at first. When you approach her, protect yourself with long
sleeves, long pants and gloves. Keep your hands away from her
face. If she bites, gently push her away and murmur some
endearment, such as "Why hello, pumpkin." Try to pet her at the
same time. Eventually, she'll associate your touch with
Before opening your rabbit's cage to allow her out for play,
greet her cheerfully. Then, throughout playtime, be particularly
gentle, allowing your rabbit to take the lead and decide when she
no longer wants to play. As social as rabbits are, sometimes they
just want to be alone.
Always greet your rabbit's aggression with understanding and
respect; it's simply her way of telling you she's upset. Try to
figure out what agitates her, and when you do figure it out, try
to avoid it. Handling your rabbit's defensive tactics lovingly
and calmly will comfort and encourage her.
Purchasing Safe Toys
You can purchase pet-safe cat or dog toys, balls with bells
inside and stuffed animals, noisemakers and a wide range of other
items that will keep your rabbit fascinated. But be careful to
ensure that the toys are not dangerous. Only exceptionally
durable toys will do, because your rabbit will try to eat them as
well as play with them. Provide him with an assortment of toys
that have no small parts, toxic materials or choking hazards.
Ferret mazes or cat tunnels are also fun, and stackable
containers to jump or hide on are a perennial favorite.
Play time for you and the kids: Stuffed Plush Rabbits & Animals
Delightfully Enjoyable Rabbit & Animal Calendars