Rabbits can be fantastic pets but it takes time and regular gentle handling, ideally from a young age, for them to feel comfortable around humans. In the wild they are prey for a substantial number of species so they like to have bolt holes in their environment that they can escape to when they feel threatened or worried. Housing rabbits next door to kennels is not the most sensible of plans as this will cause them worry and stress; this is why making sure they have safe spaces in their run is so important.
Wild rabbits have lots of things to keep them occupied and busy but it isn’t always the case for pet rabbits so creating the right environment for them to prosper is key. They need activities to encourage natural behaviour and to keep them from getting bored or depressed. Here are some of a rabbit’s natural behaviours and how you can help encourage these at home.
Digging: we all know rabbits love to dig, and we all know someone whose pet rabbit has destroyed their garden so try placing a child’s sandpit full of earth in their run that they can dig in; this also helps narrow down the possibility of escape!
Marking: rabbits are territorial creatures and can be protective of their own environment. They use scent to mark their territory in the wild and should be allowed to do this in a domestic environment. Using the scent glands on their chins, their faeces and their urine marks their territory and helps them to feel more safe and secure in their own environment.
Variety is the spice of life, and so it is with rabbits too. Rotating access to their toys can help to keep them from becoming bored, as can an occasional change of scenery. We don’t mean moving house of course, but little things like creating a tunnel for them to use, using digging trays and platforms made out of tree stumps for them to stand on. There are lots of ways to keep your rabbit happy and entertained. Try scattering their nuggets around their run so that they have to search for them and using food treat balls can also help to stimulate them; these actions keep them exercising too which helps them stay amused.
All sorts of household and garden items can help to enrich a rabbit’s environment, just make sure that they are safe to use. Some really handy hints can be found on the RAW website
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