Not only do dogs and cats need variety and occupations in everyday life; small rodents such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and co. also need a species-appropriate pastime. Otherwise, everyday life in a cage can quickly become boring, which can cause aggressive behavior and mental problems.
Rabbits are very active animals in nature. They are constantly expanding their tunnel system, searching for food, or engaged in lovemaking. If a rabbit is kept indoors, they usually don’t have many opportunities to behave in a way that is appropriate for their species. Why this is important for a rabbit and which occupation is right for rabbits, you will learn here in the guide.
Behavior Of Rabbits In Nature
Rabbits are at home all over the world. They do well in most conditions, but they prefer large, wide-open spaces that give them plenty of room to burrow. This is because rabbits spend most of their time underground in tunnel and burrow systems up to 3 meters deep. One of their main daily tasks is to continue to expand the system, constantly enlarging it.
The underground burrow is where the offspring are born and raised. It also provides protection from cold and enemies.
Rabbits choose their habitat not only on the basis of soil conditions. Enemies play an important role in the choice. If there are too many foxes, cats, buzzards, or even humans in the vicinity, rabbits will rarely choose a place nearby. Here in Central Europe, they prefer the semi-open terrain. Large parks, cemeteries, or railroad yards are often chosen as habitats.
Since most of the rabbits’ life takes place in tunnel systems, we rarely notice their presence. The entrance to the rabbit burrow is a slightly wider tube that runs shallowly into the ground. Other entrances and exits are often hidden behind bushes and are hardly noticed by us humans. The many entrances and exits help the rabbits to quickly return to the burrow if an enemy is after them.
A rabbit living in the wild has many predators, which is why they are known to many as flight animals. The behavior and sensory organs of rabbits are designed for flight.
The life expectancy of wild rabbits is 10 years. However, very few will reach this age, as most young animals do not survive their first year. Cold winters and disease also lower the chances of survival for wild rabbits.
Employment For Rabbits – It Starts With The Cage
Now that you’ve learned a lot about a rabbit’s natural behavior and habitat, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with keeping your rabbit occupied. Knowing the lifestyle of a wild rabbit will help you provide a more species-appropriate environment for your rabbit.
Tame rabbits, unlike their wild counterparts, are exposed to fewer dangers, so they are less fearful than their wild relatives. The flight reaction is smaller and the fear of being chased by a predator diminishes.
Nevertheless, when buying a rabbit, you should already remember that the animals are not cuddly animals and plan for an occupation for rabbits. Most rabbits will tolerate being held or stroked, but they still have a strong flight instinct.
In order for your rabbit to have a great life indoors, you should make sure that the cage is of sufficient size. Commercially available cages are usually much too small and offer little space for activities and toys.
Tip: Your rabbit needs daily exercise in the apartment or in the garden because even larger cages are still too small for the small rodents’ urge to move. Try to open the cage several hours a day to give your rabbit enough exercise.
Rabbit Cages Properly Furnish
When furnishing the cage, you can include various objects for climbing and scaling. To keep your rabbit physically fit, viewing platforms, seesaws or logs provide a great opportunity for climbing and exploring.
The cage should be varied so that no boredom arises here and your rabbit is only eating out of frustration. In pet stores, you can buy some toys for rabbits. Pay attention to the material, because plastic is not good for nibbling. Of course, you can also make many toys yourself. A seesaw made of wood, several cups under which vegetables and fruit are hidden or a tunnel replacement made of cardboard rolls offer the little four-legged friends a lot of variety.
Helpful Tips On Employment & Toys
1. Digging Is Part Of Every Rabbit’s Daily Routine
An outdoor enclosure provides the perfect opportunity for the little rodents to dig to their heart’s content and are a super occupation for rabbits. They love to dig tunnels and passages. To prevent them from digging their way out of the outdoor enclosure, you should secure the outdoor enclosure from below with additional grids in the ground or stone slabs. If the enclosure is on flagstones, you can put a box filled with soil or sand in it, so that the rabbits can dig here.
In the apartment, you have to be a little more creative. Few people will put a box full of soil or sand in the middle of the living room. But how about a box full of toilet paper, fabric scraps, or sawdust? If the box still has a lid, your bunnies will get the feeling of being in a real cave. In an extra-large box, you can add branches or purchased tunnels to provide even more entertainment.
Tip: Your rabbits are guaranteed to chew on the cardboard. It’s best to choose a paper with no print and no glue residue.
2. Food Is For Playing
In the wild, rabbits occupy themselves with foraging all day. In a cage, the search for food is quickly completed, since food is always available. For more variety, you can make the food a little more interesting. Homemade vegetable ropes are great for entertaining little four-legged friends. Carve small holes in various vegetable slices and thread the slices onto a rope. You can then easily hang the rope in the cage.
Tip: The rope should be somewhat thicker so that it is not chewed directly through and absolutely free of any harmful substances. Sisal ropes or other ropes made of natural materials are particularly suitable.
If you have empty toilet paper rolls leftover, you can use them as rabbit toys. Fill the roll with hay and some treats, squeeze it at both ends and place it in the cage or on the floor in the house. Your rabbit is sure to discover the toy quickly.
3. A Playmate Always Goes Down Well
Rabbits are very sociable animals and should not be kept alone. Only when the little four-legged friends are kept at least in pairs are they happy. If rabbits are kept together, they can care for each other, groom, cuddle and communicate. By the common attitude clearly, less boredom arises.
Tip: The combination of two rabbits does not always work out smoothly. There are different recommendations whether you should rather keep two neutered males, one female, and a male, or two neutered females. The easiest way to reunite is to bring two siblings from one litter directly into your home.
4. Nature Offers Great Employment Possibilities
Rabbits need branches to nibble on in addition to hay, vegetables, and fruit. Nibbling and de-barking twigs are super activities and incidentally keeps their teeth at the right length. You don’t necessarily have to buy twigs. The next time you are out in the forest or have trees in your garden, you can simply collect a few branches for your rabbit.
Tip: Not all tree species are edible for rabbits. Elder, yew, and cypress are particularly poisonous and should not be collected. Branches of apple and pear trees, birch, hazelnut trees, and willow branches are particularly suitable and are readily eaten by rabbits.
Rabbits should have the chance to live out their natural behavior patterns even as pets. Employment for rabbits in the form of varied and large enclosures play opportunities and sufficient exercise is particularly important. If the rabbits are kept at least in pairs and there are also enough climbing and digging possibilities available, your rabbit will be able to occupy itself sufficiently.