'What I'd buy my bunny for Christmas…'
How better to celebrate the joy that your pets bring you, than by giving them a festive treat? To help you find the perfect present, we've asked three experts for their top recommendations on fun, safe and healthy gifts for your furry friend.
1A boredom-busting toy
Petplan vet Brian Faulkner's choice: Wooden Hide and Treat Game, £10 from petsathome.com
'Rabbits can often surprise their owners with their intelligence and agility,' Brian says. 'They also really enjoy time spent playing with you, which is why this interactive game is an especially good festive season gift.
The wooden box comes with pull-out blocks that allow you to hide a few pellets or a small treat inside. Your rabbits will need to work out where the treat is hidden, and then use the strings to pull the right drawer out. It's fun and rewarding play, and you'll be amazed at how quickly your bunnies catch on. As with all chewable toys, I'd just recommend checking the game regularly for wear and tear and replacing it when appropriate.'
2A mind-stimulating maze
Clinical animal behaviourist Inga MacKellar's choice:
Dave's A-mazes Bunny Maze 16, £20 from davesa-mazes.com
Thankfully, a number of more inventive and imaginative rabbit toys have now become available,' says Inga. 'One of the most innovative I've found is Dave's A-mazes Bunny Maze 16. It's produced by a rabbit owner who really understands the kind of play these small animals enjoy, and consists of a flat-pack cardboard maze with 16 compartments for your rabbit to explore.
The maze is ideal for keeping your bunnies happy and occupied during the winter months, as it gives them the opportunity to display behaviour they would naturally engage in when exploring their warrens in the wild. If your bunnies need some encouragement at first, you could place small amounts of hay or pellets in the various compartments to entice them into exploring further.
While the manufacturer states that the maze can be built upwards into a second tier, I'd suggest keeping all the compartments at floor level for stability. As an added bonus, the maze is meant to be suitable for all rabbit sizes and is easily assembled and dismantled.'
3A sweet festive treat
Clinical animal behaviourist Rosie Bescoby recommends:
'While plenty of hay and a few green, leafy vegetables are the most important parts of your rabbits' daily diet, the festive season might leave you feeling like your bunnies deserve an extra-special treat,' Rosie says. 'And as long as your pets are healthy and aren't overweight, it's perfectly OK to give them the occasional extra snack.
I prefer natural items where possible, so my favourite treat for rabbits is dried pineapple. Bear in mind that it's high in sugar, so I'd recommend giving only a pea-sized amount for special occasions, and never more than once a day. Bunnies absolutely love the taste, and it also works wonderfully as a reward when teaching a new trick. Why not try getting your rabbits to come on command this Christmas?
Overall, it's important to remember that a rabbit's digestive system is designed to handle a diet high in fibre to support the growth of good bacteria, and it's worth stressing that sweet fruits like pineapple should be kept to a minimum. Think of these treats as your bunnies' “candy”: really tasty, but only good in moderation.'