Rabbit Health: Five Tips for Bouncier Bunnies
Healthy, happy rabbits need plenty of space to run around in and the opportunity to behave as they would in the wild. Here, the Rabbit Welfare Association (RWAF) shares some useful tips on keeping your bunnies bouncing with good health.
Provide plenty of space
The RWAF saying is, ‘a hutch is not enough’ – and that refers to every aspect of your rabbits’ care. By providing a permanent run of at least 2m x 3m (6ft x 10ft), with a height of at least 60cm (24in), you’ll be giving your bunnies the opportunity to rear up, jump and ‘periscope’ upwards. All of these activities help to stretch the muscles in your bunnies’ backs, preventing aches and pains and even spinal damage. A spacious permanent enclosure also allows your rabbits to be alert and active at both dusk and dawn, which is how they would naturally behave in the wild.
Make a digging box
Use any big storage box that is low enough for your bunnies to hop into – it could be an old potting tray or an under-bed storage box – and fill it with garden earth so your rabbits can have fun digging in it. If you’re happy to let them dig within their run, make sure they can’t tunnel their way out and into danger. If your rabbits are new to digging, you could begin with a shallow layer of soil and pieces of food ‘planted’ in the soil.
Throw away the feeding bowl!
Let your rabbits forage for their food, like they would in the wild. Give your bunnies their pellets in a feeding ball that can be nosed around on the ground. Greens can be chopped up and hidden inside clean plant pots, or pegged to the top of the enclosure so that your rabbits have to reach up to eat it. And hay can be presented in lots of exciting ways – stuff it into an unused hanging basket attached securely to the roof of the enclosure, or pack it into wicker tunnels, cardboard tubes, or cardboard boxes with a hole at each end.
Introduce toys and activities
Shredding a cardboard box will keep your bunnies entertained – especially if you hide treats inside. You can also encourage your rabbits to dig around in a large paper sack containing a mix of hay and chopped greens.
Build an obstacle course
Large, strong cardboard boxes can be climbed on using secure wooden ramps, and a hole in the side turns a box into a bolt-hole. Use clean plastic tubing with smooth edges to create tunnels, and give your rabbits somewhere to hide by placing large plastic plant pots on their sides, with bricks at either side to stop them rolling over. Remember to supervise your bunnies when they’re playing with homemade games and toys.