How Do I Play with My Rabbit?

How Do I Play with My Rabbit?

Bunny play-time is so important! Rabbits don’t merely sit in a corner and munch on hay all day, they want to have fun too! While playtime not only gives them fun and exercise, it also strengthens the bond between you two and stimulates them mentally. So, how should you get started, and what sorts of games should you play with your bunny?

First, know the ground rules, the games you play with your rabbit are only limited by your imagination.

The Ground Rules

1. Know Your Bunny: Observe your bunny’s personality. Does he startle easily? Or does she like to explore? Knowing what your fur pal’s preferences are helps you choose activities that the two of you can enjoy together. Rabbits communicate mainly through their body language but they do occasionally grunt to show you their displeasure! It is important to watch for any signs that your rabbit is scared or uncomfortable with a game. If you see these, don’t play that game.

2. Think Like A Rabbit: Rabbits are prey animals, so they have the instinct to flee, freeze, or fight when faced with a perceived threat. Rabbits usually are not fond of loud noises, sudden movements by others or even being picked up. Getting startled is no fun for rabbits. This pretty much rules out surprise or chase games.

3. Be Gentle: Rabbits have delicate bones and skin, so any roughhousing is a strict no-no. Do handle them with care and do not carry them unnecessarily! 

4. Stay Grounded: Get down on your rabbit’s level to play any game. Being on the ground eliminates any risk of falling. When your rabbit is on all fours, they will feel more secure and at ease to enjoy the game with you.

5. Make Space: Opt for a floor area with plenty of room for the chosen game or games. Clutter, the presence of other animals or being in a walkway might prove hazardous.

6. Keep It Brief: Depending on the game, play sessions should probably only last 10 to 20 minutes. Keep their litterbox and water bowl nearby so they can always take breaks (and leaks) when they want to! Take your cue from your pal. If he or she loses interest or hops away, don’t force the game. 

7. Be Open To Invitations: Your rabbit might decide that it’s time to play. If a toy gets tossed at you, a ball is rolled your way or you get “the nudge,” join in when you can. Your buddy wants your attention.

If any game seems to frighten your rabbit or make your pal nervous, try a different game. Feel free to use tiny treats to entice your bun to stay put or do something. Use only rabbit-safe treats and only in small amounts so your friend doesn’t fill up on treats instead of healthy hay. Some bunnies take to some games but not others. Pay attention to how your rabbit reacts. He or she might even show you a game to play.

Simple Games to Play with your Bunny 🐰

1. The Ball Roll
  • Sit on the floor a few feet from your rabbit and roll a ball slowly back and forth between your hands to show your rabbit that the ball rolls back and forth.
  • When your rabbit is looking at you, try rolling the ball slowly toward your pet. The goal is to either have your rabbit stay put and ignore the ball, or else actually push the ball back to you. If your rabbit stays put but ignores the ball, bend forward to reach the ball and give it a push back toward you.
  • Do note that a rabbit does have a blind spot and it’s right in front of their nose. We suggest you place the ball at least 10cm away or next to their eyes so they can see it clearly. We also recommend treat balls where you can place treats inside the ball and roll it around. Some rabbits will learn to roll the ball around just to shake the treats out!
  • Give your rabbit several weeks to catch on. You can even try setting up a row of balls in front of your rabbit to see what he or she does with them.  
2. Toy Toss (aka Fetch!)
  • Place several rabbit-safe, lightweight, small, sturdy toys around your rabbit
  • If your buddy is the type who likes to toss things, this game is made for him/her.
  • If he begins tossing toys, get them and place them back at his feet. It’s like fetch, with you being the fetcher.
  • A cheap toy will be a clean toilet roll with hay stuffed on both ends. Cardboard are safe for chewing and the hay are wonderful smelling food to entice them to toss the roll around!
3. Hot & Cold
  • Remember the hot and cold game where someone hides something when you’re out of the room, then calls you back in and you have to find the item, with them directing you by saying you’re getting warmer or hotter when you head in the right direction or are near it, or saying you’re cool or cold if you head in the wrong direction or away from it?
  • Try the same thing with your rabbit using a treat. Hide the treat when your rabbit is out of the room. When your rabbit comes back, tell him you’re playing hot and cold. Then give verbal clues as your rabbit moves around. Make your tone excited for getting closer to the treat and bored for farther away. Some bunnies will take to this game, and some won’t
  • Instead of saying hot or cold, you can also say simpler words such as ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ or simply call their names when they get it right!
4. Hide & Seek
  • If your rabbit comes when called, then hide-and-seek is another game to try.
  • You hide and then call out to your rabbit. It’s then up to your pet to find you. Consider giving a small treat when that furry face appears at your side. The challenge here might be finding new places to hide (hiding under a blanket in different locations adds options)
5. Toy Chase
  • Put a string on a toy and walk by your rabbit, dragging the toy slowly.
  • A treat on top might encourage your rabbit to “chase” the toy. Some rabbits might enjoy batting at a toy you dangle in front of them, rather than chasing after something.

Anything can be turned into a game. Whatever you try, just keep safety in mind and pay attention to how your rabbit reacts. Have fun!

Written in collaboration with Bunny Wonderland Singapore.

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