Rabbits love to play, and if left to their own devices they may very well find something inappropriate to play with….such as the baseboards, your favorite Persian throw rug, or the upholstery on your living room furniture. Fortunately, rabbits are easily and inexpensively entertained: like the small child who is given a fancy toy and ends up playing with the box it came in, bunnies are happy with simple things. There are many toys that you can easily, quickly and inexpensively make at home. These low-cost solutions often provide the most enjoyment and amusement for both you and your rabbit.
Favorite rabbit activities can include digging, chewing, pushing things around with their noses, hiding and tossing things around (subcategory ‘tossing things around that make noise’). For the diggers, a shallow cardboard box filled with shredded paper or timothy hay can provide endless entertainment. Telephone books (remember telephone books?) with the outer covers ripped off are fun for some bunnies to dig on and rip pages off of. Chewers (this would include nearly all rabbits) often enjoy cardboard toilet paper rolls with timothy hay stuck inside, as well as small cardboard facial tissue boxes with hay stuck inside (remove any plastic wrap that may be around the opening of the box). These toys also offer opportunities for the rabbits who enjoy flinging their toys. Untreated willow or apple tree twigs are also fun options for bunnies, serving a dual purpose of keeping bunny’s constantly-growing teeth worn down a bit.
Pine cones are a favorite with some rabbits, providing an interesting alternative chewing surface to your antique furniture. You can drag home whatever pine cones you find but you will need to ‘bake’ them first in order to remove the tree sap, which can be harmful to your rabbit.
Who knew that polar fleece is (the only) safe fabric for bunnies? Apparently the fibers are so short that they will not digestive problems for these chewers. I learned this from the OHRR website, and a brilliant article on Do-it-Yourself Bunny Toys by Rebecca Allen.
Many rabbits love to hide and hang out in tunnels. Cardboard cement molds from the home improvement store make wonderful tunnels for your bunny to run through or hide in, or you can just cut doors into the ends of cardboard boxes and place the boxes end-to-end. Even just one cardboard box with a door cut into it offers hours of entertainment for the house rabbit, which will hop on top of it (possibly launching himself onto your bed or a table), go inside and explore/hide/nap, and chew on the box walls. You can also poke holes in the sides of the box and stick some hay in these holes, or perhaps some dried herbs. Bunny will have to sit up or stretch up to reach these snacks, providing him with entertainment, nutrition and some exercise. Note: buying pots of herbs from the nursery is infinitely cheaper than buying them already cut from the grocery.
The flingers enjoy homemade cardboard ring ‘balls’ made from toilet paper rolls – and this is a great activity to get kids involved in. Click here for simple, illustrated instructions.
Canning rings are one of the best bunny toys ever. Just lob a ring into their habitat and watch them throw it about. If you want some real knee-slapping entertainment, get a large key ring (think of a jailer’s key ring) and fasten two or three canning rings on it for a toy that can be shaken and rattled or else flung and retrieved (by the rabbit, not you). Rabbits will toss this toy, retrieve it, and toss it again! It is lightweight and noisy, the dream combination for rabbit toys and perfect for the elderly and/or mobility-impaired rabbit. Even rabbits who are on the less playful side will usually take a fancy to these. Another option would be plastic key rings (used as human baby toys), but many rabbits will opt for the noisier metal canning rings (especially at 3.a.m.).
Some bunnies also enjoy pushing rolling toys around with their noses – the Go Cat Go toy or the Booda Ball are both very good choices. Both of these can be filled with Calf Manna or other safe treats to get the bunny started with the toy. Large, hard plastic toy balls for toddlers (see slideshow) are a great option for the bigger bunnies.
Not all bunnies will enjoy all these toys, but all bunnies do need to be active, physically and mentally. Try different toys until you find the ones that your bunny prefers. Keep in mind that you are the most fun of all for your bunny. Your bunny would vastly prefer to be playing games with you.
Play with your house rabbit and see what sort of toys and games s/he likes. All bunnies are different and your bunny will have his or her own entertainment preferences. As you spend time with your bunny, those preferences will become more obvious…and spending time with you is, after all, your bunny's very favorite entertainment option.