If asked to name the fluffiest, sweetest, most gentle animal in the world, most people would probably say it had to be the bunny. Rabbits are so upbeat and playful that we often think they need little more than a fresh dandelion to much on or a comfy bed of hay to sleep on, to be happy. Yet most new bunny owners may be surprised to learn that, like dogs, rabbits need exercise if they are to live a long and happy life; exercise is something we simply cannot postpone if we wish to do the right thing by our rabbit. Bunnies live in the here and now and they won’t understand why you can’t set aside a few minutes to give them the physical and mental stimulation they need. But here’s the good news: entertaining your bunny can be as good for you as it is for them, at least when it comes to stress busting and having the time of your life! Here are few tips that can bring the human-bunny bond to new heights of bliss!
* The Pampered Bunny: Bespoke Toys: The first step when it comes to developing a play/exercise routine for your rabbit is to get to know it; does it like racing through narrow spaces or tossing objects along the floor? If your bunny likes worming its way through narrow spaces, make it its very own tunnel with cardboard boxes, unvarnished wooden furniture and even old newspaper. Stuff one end of the tunnel with newspaper or cardboard and watch your bunny hone its burrowing skills as it attempts to dig and bite its way through the ‘road block’! You'll find a great idea for a cute paper tunnel here.
If, on the other hand, you notice that your bunny enjoys tossing objects across the room, it might be partial to treat- or hay-filled balls, which it will toss and run after for hours on end, possibly driving you crazy with all the ruckus! (Who said bunnies were quiet, anyway?). Even bottle caps and small wooden spoons are light enough for your bunny to toss around; whichever toy you decide on, make sure it cannot get stuck on your bunny’s nose and make sure it isn’t sharp.
* The Carl Lewis Bunny – Run! It’s the Bunny Monster!: You’d be surprised how many bunnies love playing cat-and-mouse. The bad news for you is, you’ll always need to be the mouse as rabbits generally get scared if you run after them! Take a few quick steps away from your bunny and see if he comes after you. If he does, pick up the pace for a few minutes. Be prepared to work up quite a sweat; your bunny is likely to be extremely persistent!
* The Conscientious Bunny – It’s Clean-Up Time!: Many bunny owners claim that their little one is usually extremely interested in brooms and mops. Once you’ve actually got the unpleasant housework out of the way, pretend to sweep the floor and watch your bunny pounce on the broom. Make sure to video the mayhem; it’s as cute a sight as you can imagine!
* The Fashion-Conscious Bunny: Bring out the Choos: Line up your sports shoes and see if your bunny will enjoy undoing all the shoe laces. Some rabbits are so crazy about shoes that they lift them up by the laces and toss them across the room.
* Sherlock Bunny: Anyone Up for a Game of Hide-and-Seek? Hide treats around the house and, in the same way you might do with your kids at Easter time, help your bunny find the treat with a bit of ‘subtle’ body language (like standing near the treat or moving the shrubbery the treat is hidden in).
* The High Jumper: Hang toys your bunny might be attracted to from a piece of rope and watch it box, bite and grasp for the toy (do not leave your pet alone with the rope as it could pose a choking hazard). For the toy itself, make sure to use a safe material like rope or wood, but beware of the type of wood you use, since cherry, redwood, peach, apricot and plum twigs or wooden toys are toxic to rabbits. Indeed, rabbit owners should be extra careful when exposing their pets to wood shavings (which some people like to use for bedding). The latter, sometimes used in bunny bedding, can cause lung disease – and not just in rabbits. Western red cedar, for instance is considered one of the most dangerous types of wood for rabbits and humans alike, since it contains high levels of plicatic acid, which has been found to cause asthma and other lung-related conditions . Pine dust can also be harmful. As a rule, you might want to avoid using any kind of dust in your rabbit's toys and bedding.
* The Curious Bunny: Lie on your belly after a full day’s play and enjoy the soft thumping sound as your bunny jumps over your back and sniffs around, in search of treats you can hide in your hands or beneath your belly. You can even play a game of peek-a-boo with a silky piece of cloth. If your bunny is very self-assured, gently drape the silk over his body and watch it make its way out. As always, observe how your bunny reacts to any proposed activity; a ‘one-style-fits-all’ mentality definitely does not apply to bunny games.
A Final Word on Safety: Like most passionate bunny owners, you probably consider your rabbit to be an important part of the family. Therefore, make sure that its surrounds are safe, both at play and rest time. Do not give them any toys with sharp or small parts (the latter are a choking hazard); keep dangerous items like cables, glass items and twigs that may have been treated with herbicides and pesticides out of their reach. Never let them play with plastic bags or objects attached to ropes, as these can cause them to choke. Finally, keep balloons and all rubber items hidden, as your curious bunny could consume them and suffer from possibly life-threatening digestive problems. And lastly, enjoy your bunny, every day of your life together!