What do rabbits like to do?
Keep rabbits busy
Rabbits love variety and, like all other pets, need something meaningful to do. Rabbits should not be left to their own devices, even if they are kept by two people. Even then, boredom quickly arises and the long-eared people get stupid thoughts. If you don't have a job, you just look for one - but that's usually not what the rabbit keeper wants. Not to mention the physical consequences of chronic boredom.
Employment is necessaryIf a rabbit is underutilized, mental problems often arise due to the underload, which in the end are also expressed on the purely physical level. Obesity and the resulting "diseases of affluence" are not long in coming for bored rabbits.
But do not worry, if you want to employ your rabbit in a meaningful way, you don't have to force yourself to become a rabbit animator.
The employment of the wild rabbit
What does a rabbit in nature do all day long? His daily routine is by no means just dozing, cuddling and sleeping, on the contrary, in nature rabbits have a real full-time job! They are constantly expanding their tunnel system, dealing with foraging and eating, defending and marking their territory, raising their young or engaging in mating games.
And what does the typical everyday rabbit look like in human care? Quite monotonous, because a lot of what is part of your daily routine in nature is simply missing in the home. Food does not have to be worked out first, it arrives punctually every day in the bowl and only needs to be plastered. Digging is also severely restricted when domestic rabbits are kept in cages or in enclosures. Reproduction and rearing of young animals are usually taboo for domestic rabbits, as they are either neutered or live in unisexual relationships. Compared to their wild fellow rabbits, domestic rabbits are chronically underemployed - to put it simply: unemployed.
If this unemployment is not stopped, rabbits tend to find other occupations. Most of the time they then develop rather unpleasant characteristics, suffer from destructiveness and become conspicuous through behavioral abnormalities. There are also specimens that are literally dying of boredom. The rabbit becomes depressed and stops eating and moving. It doesn't have to come to that.
Spiritual challenges in everyday rabbits
In order to make the rabbit's everyday life meaningful, it is not only enough to be physically active by simply hopping around, cognitive abilities also need to be challenged (and promoted). Depending on the type of rabbit, various variants are possible, but be careful, not every rabbit gets warm with every activity. What is a super exciting thing for one hoppers, can bore the next long-eared to infinity.
Almost all rabbits love toys - and food. However, it is not enough to put one of the colorful toys for rabbits from specialist shops in their cage or to hold a snack stick in front of their noses. Rabbits must be animated accordingly! Often the extravagant toys are not what makes a rabbit's heart beat faster. Simplicity is usually the trump card and, in addition, does not put a heavy strain on the rabbit keeper's budget. Various packaging materials made of cardboard or wood are very suitable.
Caution poisonousWith the activity material, heavily treated or colored variations should be avoided in favor of rabbit health.
Cardboard boxes make many rabbits happy because the game variations are plentiful. It can be used as a hiding place for dozing, climbing, jumping over or in, or gnawing. Stacking several boxes on top of one another also adds variety and stimulates the rabbit's mental abilities. Even more variety and the necessary animation bring little tidbits that are hidden in the individual boxes.
Engaging rabbits physically
A healthy mind is good, but what use is it if it is in a sluggish body. Physical activity is just as important for rabbits, because this is the only way to keep muscles and joints supple for a long time and Meister Lampe to stay fit into old age. The rabbit run does not only include objects that can be used to hide and doze off, but also objects that can be “climbed”.
Items for climbingTree trunks or self-made ramps are well suited for climbing and climbing, preferably with a small viewing platform, because rabbits love to let the area work on them in elevated places.
The digging instinct must also be taken into account. After all, its nature does not change just because the rabbit lives in captivity. Cave systems that are kilometers long cannot be realized in captivity, but since digging and building are among the main occupations in rabbit life, a worthy replacement must be provided if the long-eared person is to feel comfortable. Digging boxes with different materials are very suitable for this. For example, a plastic box filled with sand, newspaper, litter for small animals or straw, in which the rabbit can let off steam to their heart's content.
Make the digging box more interestingIncidentally, such a digging box can be spiced up if small obstacles (in the form of branches) are built in or bits of food are hidden in it.
As a "substitute for tunnels", great cave systems can be created by slightly moving the furniture, especially when running free in the apartment. Simply move the barrier or sofa a little away from the wall. Every now and then, however, the backs of the furniture should be checked for possible gagging. Play tunnels for cats, long cardboard boxes or old cardboard tubes are also suitable. A home-made combination of different cardboard boxes and tubes is also welcome.
Activities with feed
(Almost) every rabbit can be encouraged to exercise with food. It is normal for rabbits to work for their feed, because in nature there is no constantly full feed bowl. The feed can therefore also be worked out in captivity! Intelligence toys such as those available from specialist dealers for dogs and cats are very suitable for this. These are mostly made of wood or hard plastic and, after the animal has previously acted, release a treat.
Food balls for dogs can also be used well for rabbits. The specialist trade also has metal balls especially for rabbits, which can be filled with greens or hay, or hay balls made from willow, which can also be eaten later.
Make rabbit toys yourselfRabbit toys can also be easily made by yourself. For example, by looking for a somewhat thick branch that has several small branches. Carrot or apple pieces, strawberries or a piece of corn on the cob can then be skewered on this.
Horse mackerel can also be spiked with delicacies and skewered into the ground or hung on a string a little higher. Pine cones, like hollow pieces of wood (these can also be drilled into the wood yourself) are great arrangements to hide small pieces of food in them, which the rabbits then have to work out. Here, too, there are no limits to the imagination - provided that the selected materials are rabbit-friendly and non-toxic!
Circus lessons for rabbits
Young rabbit keepers in particular enjoy teaching their four-legged house mates little tricks. Here you get a quick sense of achievement and the long-eared people are sensibly occupied. With the right incentive, the rabbit can be taught to jump over small obstacles on command or to make males relatively quickly. Special delicacies are very suitable here to stimulate the hopper's motivation.
Getting into the basket is also a great and practical exercise, as transports cannot always be avoided for rabbit keepers. If you don't want to transport the whole cage with you, the long-eared rabbit has to be put in a transport box and that usually means pure stress for the inexperienced rabbit. If you make the pet carrier particularly tasty with treats at an early stage, the rabbit will happily hop in itself. With a little patience, even on command!
Agility for rabbits
Certainly not for everyone and from an animal welfare point of view, sporting competitions for rabbits are not entirely undisputed. The noisy environment during the competition and the transport mean pure stress for the already stress-sensitive rabbits. In the so-called Kaninhop competitions, the rabbit, which is kept on a leash, has to compete on an agility course consisting of various obstacles.
Such a course is very easy to build yourself and brings a lot of fun and variety to everyday rabbits at home - without any stress. There are hardly any limits to the imagination when designing the obstacles and many rabbit representatives surprise their owner with enormous ambition and sportiness, provided that the incentive (the treat) is right! Just give it a try and encourage your long-eared ears to hop over a small obstacle. Start with a low height and then slowly increase the requirements.
If your rabbit can already hop over open miniature obstacles, as they are known from equestrian sports, try "the wall". An obstacle that prevents the rabbit from looking to the other side. Here, too, you start with low heights and increase slowly. Ramps, seesaws, long jump, slalom or tubes can also bring wonderful variety to everyday rabbits. Just give it a try and build a small fitness trail. Patience and attractive treats ensure many hours of fun with your hopper.
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