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#1 Posted : Tuesday, September 15, 2020 5:46:37 PM(UTC)

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Keeping a pet rabbit means keeping it entertained. Rabbits are alert, intelligent, playful animals that require mental stimulation for a full life. Apart from having free time to roam the house, or at the very least an enclosed area outside their cage, rabbits can benefit a lot from having playthings around. Here are some guidelines for how to pick out toys that will be right for your rabbit.

Rabbits have a few instinctive urges that are often expressed through play of some kind. Most prominently, rabbits love to chew. In fact, it is an absolute necessity for them, since their teeth grow continuously and must be worn down to prevent overgrowth. They are guaranteed to find something to chew on, whether you like it or not. The question is whether that something will be their food bowl, the sides of their cage, or your furniture- or a safe, cheap toy. Almost anything will fit the bill as long as it's somewhat tough and completely non-toxic. A simple block of wood will do, provided that it's not made from cedar or any other aromatic wood. A phone book printed with soy-based ink (most are, but check first) will do the trick too. Or a hard plastic baby rattle- just make sure it's tough enough that the rabbit will not actually be able to ingest plastic shavings. There are also commercially-produced rabbit chews available. Most are made of wood and sisal rope, colored with vegetable dyes, so they are completely safe for your rabbit to chew to its heart's content.

Secondly, rabbits love to dig. Many rabbit owners complain that their rabbit constantly kicks bedding out of its cage. This is a good sign that the rabbit has some pent-up digging energy that needs releasing. Unless you are actually able to give your rabbit a real patch of ground to dig up, you'll need to find a substitute. A box filled with shredded newspaper or towels should satisfy the rabbit's digging instinct. Again, make sure the rabbit isn't actually eating the towels, as the fabric will not be good for its digestive system. You may notice that the rabbit isn't so much digging as bunching and rearranging the towel- this is a sort of nesting behavior, and a sign that you might want to include more objects in the rabbit cage for it to organize.

Rabbits are inquisitive, and love to explore. Creating playhouses out of cardboard boxes is easy and free, or you can purchase pre-made ones for very little money- or you can use an old "cat condo" for the same purpose. Ideally, a play area of this kind should have at least two entrances/exits, as well as some peepholes. If possible, try creating a second story, as rabbits enjoy getting higher up for a better view of their surroundings. An even simpler way to create interesting environments is to create tunnels. A sturdy cardboard tube, such as a concrete form, stuffed with straw or newspaper will satisfy both the urge to dig and the urge to explore. Some rabbits will enjoy a simple flap at one or both ends for them to push through.

The most important toy your rabbit can have, though, is a human being. Rabbits are surprisingly social, and actively want the attention and interaction of play with humans. The rabbit's needs aside, it's also incredibly fun to play catch with your rabbit- they really do love to toss things around, or nose balls across the floor. They're also known to enjoy playing hide-and-seek, so if you see your bunny peeping at you from around the corner of the desk and then disappear, don't assume it's frightened- it may well want you to come looking for it. Some rabbits like to play with Slinkies, or rolling toys with bells inside. Above all, observe your rabbit's behavior, see what he likes to do, and improvise based on that. A rabbit that is getting plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and human companionship will be fitter and less prone to stress- which means a longer and happier life, and a better experience for you.

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