Why is it important to provide toys?
Toys are important because they provide:
- Mental stimulation. Without challenging activities to occupy your rabbit when you're not home, your rabbit, especially a solitary rabbit, will get bored. This could lead to depression and/or excessive destruction. The creative use of toys can extend your rabbit's life by keeping him interested in his surroundings, by giving him the freedom to interact with those surroundings, and by allowing him to constantly learn and grow.
- Physical exercise. Your rabbit needs safe activities to keep her body in shape as well as her mind. She needs things to climb on, crawl under, hop on and around, dig into, and chew on. Without outlets for these physical needs, your rabbit may become fat or depressed, or may create jumping, chewing, or crawling diversions with your furniture.
- Bunny proofing for your home. As is clear from the above descriptions, toys are not just for your rabbit, they also keep your house safe. By providing your rabbit with a selection of toys chosen to meet her age, sex, reproductive status and temperament, you have fulfilled most of the requirements of bunny-proofing your home.
What are good bunny toys?
If you find your rabbit ingesting plastic or cardboard toys, switch to a different type of toy that the rabbit is not interested in eating.
Some good toys to start with:
- Paper Bags and Cardboard boxes for crawling inside, scratching, and chewing. Bunnies like them much more when there are at least two entry points into the boxes.
- Cardboard concrete forms for burrowing
- Cardboard roll from paper towels or toilet paper
- Untreated wicker baskets or boxes full of: shredded paper, junk mail, magazines, straw, or other organic materials for digging
- Yellow Pages for shredding
- Cat toys: Batta balls, and other cat toys that roll or can be tossed
- Parrot toys that can be tossed, or hung from the top of the cage and chewed or hit
- Baby toys: hard plastic (not teething) toys like rattles and keys, things that can be tossed
- Children's or birds' mobiles for hitting
- "Lazy cat lodge" (cardboard box with ramps and windows) to climb in and chew on. Also, kitty condos, tubes, tunnels, and trees
- Nudge and roll toys like large rubber balls, empty Quaker Oat boxes and small tins
- "Busy Bunny" toys found at www.busybunny.com
- Plastic Rainbow Slinkies
- Toys with ramps and lookouts for climbing and viewing the world
- Dried out pine cones
- Jungle gym type toys from Toys R Us
- A (straw) whisk broom
- A hand towel for bunching and scooting
- Untreated wood, twigs and logs that have been aged for at least 3 months. Apple tree branches can be eaten fresh off the tree. Stay away from: cherry, peach, apricot, plum and redwood, which are all poisonous.
- Untreated sea grass or maize mats from Pier One or Cost Plus
- Things to jump up on (they like to be in high places)
- Colorful, hard plastic caps from laundry detergent and softener bottles. They have great edges for picking up with their teeth, make a nice "ponk" sound when they collide, and the grip ridges molded into the plastic make a neat "rachety" sound when rabbits dig at the cap. The caps are nice for human-stacks-on-floor and bun-knocks-down kind of games. Note: Be sure not to choose caps from caustic material bottles (e.g.drain uncloggers, bathroom cleaner bottles) since a residue of the cleaner might remain no matter how much washing off you do.
Tips on Building Box Toys
Chris Rosenzweig writes...
I read the article about toys and I have an additional suggestion. We built a "bunny box" for our rabbits. It's basically a large cardboard box with door-holes, as mentioned in the toys section, but with extras.
We started with a large cardboard box about two feet by three feet and eighteen inches high. Then we added layers of flattened cardboard boxes to the bottom until the pile was about three inches thick. We also put a smaller box inside the larger box.
Our male rabbit seems most interested in taking down the walls. Our female rabbit loves digging through the layers of cardboard at the bottom. And they both enjoy "interior decorating" which consists of moving the little cardboard box around inside the bigger box. The little box inside is open on one side, so they can crawl around inside that as well.
One thing to keep in mind is the placement of the doors. In our first attempt at a bunny box, the little box inside was large enough to cover up both doorways. One of our rabbits moved the box and cut off his access to both doorways. Of course we rescued our sweet, frantic bunny and added some additional escape routes.
The other thing we've learned is not to make the box too tall. Our current bunny box is low enough to the ground so that they can jump on top of it and play up there as well.
Linda Springer writes...
I had the fortune to help my neighbor with some baby bunnies before they were adopted out. Their favorite toy was a shoebox in which I had cut little windows and doors, leaving the flaps as awnings. I recommend placing the doors cater-corner.
The babies especially loved playing "flee the monster," racing into one end of the box, then popping diagonally out the other side. They also enjoyed nibbling the awnings and Popsicle sticks stuck in the walls, peeking out the windows, and jumping on top for King of the Mountain. I loved when six babies would cram inside the box at once to dig at the sides.
When they were larger, they still loved a cardboard box playhouse with windows and doors, but their new favorite game was racing through a network of cardboard tunnels made of long, narrow boxes from a golf store or hardware store, slit lengthwise and propped up to make a rough half-cylinder.
The little tykes also loved circling under the brim of a plain straw hat (they looked like carousel animals), sitting in it or on it, and eating it up. They energetically dug at tipped flower pots with a little potting soil still in them. They tossed and chewed baby-sized rings cut from toilet roll tubes. They were fascinated with jumping in and out of a little cardboard gazebo I made them with a roof but open sides.
And can they climb! One little escape artist went straight up three feet of chicken-wire and would have gotten free of the outdoor pen if I hadn't caught him in the act. (I know now that chicken-wire isn't good for rabbits.)
Basically, the babies loved everything adult bunnies love, but scaled to their size.
House Rabbit Society