Rabbits are naturally active, social, curious and intelligent animals. In the wild, rabbits will graze, play, explore and groom each other. When kept as pets, rabbits are often confined for long periods of time. Without adequate stimulation and environmental enrichment, these long hours of confinement can lead to boredom, frustration and poor welfare.
What is environmental enrichment?
The concept of environmental enrichment for animals is to enhance the quality of life of an animal by providing stimuli in the environment which will promote optimal physiological and psychological well-being. This is generally achieved by providing animals with 'choice' allowing them greater control over their environment.
What are some ideas to keep my rabbit entertained?
- Increase the size of your enclosure, to allow sufficient floor area and height to allow natural behaviours such as hopping, jumping and running. Include shelter in the enclosure so rabbits can choose where they spend their time. A second level with a ramp for access is beneficial.
- Add hiding places in the enclosure such as cardboard boxes.
- Provide toys and objects to encourage play and exploratory behaviours. Toys don’t have to be expensive – food wrapped in paper, tunnels made from cardboard boxes, plastic flower pots hiding food, cat litter trays filled with soil for digging, and sturdy bird toys which rattle all make great, inexpensive enrichment options for rabbits. Keep in mind toys should be rotated to avoid boredom and must be safe.
- Positive interactions with humans such as training, playing games, and grooming are excellent forms of environmental enrichment.
- Hiding food to encourage foraging or providing it in a way which makes the rabbit work (such as treat balls, food wrapped in paper etc) are a good form of dietary enrichment. Note, rabbits should always have ad lib access to good quality grass hay.
For more tips and tricks on keeping your rabbit entertained, hop over to the RSPCA UK website: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rabbits/behaviour/enrichment