Rabbits are social creatures who love playing games with humans. Still, their play style differs from cats and dogs, whose activities stem from hunting instincts.
Rabbits are natural prey animals, so they possess the instinct to freeze or flee when they encounter a perceived threat. Sudden movements, surprises, or loud noises are all sources of anxiety for them, meaning that games such as chase are unsuitable. Instead, let’s think like a bunny and pick out some of the best games for your fluffy pal.
Nibble and Run
Grab a little bunch of tasty greens and sit somewhere within your rabbit’s play area. Call their name and wait for them to approach you. When they come, reward them with a little nibble before moving to another place. Again, call their name and wait for them to come to you before rewarding them with a bite of the tasty greens.
This game is an excellent way to get your bunny hopping around and can strengthen the bond between the two of you as they learn to associate approaching you with a reward.
Grab a few plastic cups (transparent ones are a good way to begin) and turn them upside down. Place your rabbit’s favorite food underneath one of the upturned cups and encourage them to come over and investigate. The aim of the game is to retrieve the food from underneath the cup, but you’ll probably have to show them how to do it at first. Once they get the hang of it, give them lots of praise for completing the task and try mixing the cups each time they play.
Build a Cardboard Castle
Engage in a simple craft activity that your bunny will love and create their own cardboard castle. Grab a cardboard box and cut out two openings your bunny can move through comfortably. Increase the enrichment of you rabbit by providing burrowing materials in the base, such as shredded newspaper or scraps of cardboard. And create more space to explore by adjoining additional boxes. Keep the tape to a minimum though, as it can get caught in your rabbit’s fur.
Rabbits don’t possess the hunting instincts of a cat or dog, so they’re unlikely to run after a ball. What they do like to do is pick up and toss around objects with their teeth. Suitable items include willow balls, toilet paper tubes, small wooden blocks, and plastic bottle caps. In this game of reverse fetch, you are the dog and will need to retrieve the object every time your bunny tosses it away.
Once you retrieve the item, place it back in front of them and watch the fun start again.
Rabbits are mischievous creatures and will love knocking things over. Try using plastic bowling pins for them to run through and watch them delight in pushing each one over with a gentle nose bump.
If you don’t fancy bowling, why not try teaching your rabbit a different sport. Play soccer and allow them to kick a small ball around, or see if they can break the world record for the most basketball hoops scored by a bunny.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, you should never chase your rabbit as it can terrify them. Still, that doesn’t mean that they can’t chase you. Some rabbits love to chase their owners around. And these fluffy creatures respond best when offered small rewards. How about grabbing a small handful of food and allowing them to “steal” a piece from you each time they catch you
Everyone loves a treasure hunt, and your rabbit is no different. Foraging is one of their natural behaviors, which means they’ll love the mental stimulation of sourcing their own food. The best way to play this type of game with your rabbit is to create an obstacle course that allows them to mimic how they would forage in the wild.
Low “walls” made from the sides of cardboard boxes create a good obstacle that you can encourage your bunny to jump over using the word “hop.” Challenges like this enrich your rabbit’s environment and allow the two of you to bond as they learn to respond to your commands.
Choose The Right Games for Your Bunny. When choosing which games are the best to play with your rabbit, seek those which suit their personality. For example, do you have an anxious rabbit who startles easily? Do they enjoy exploring or prefer to stay in one area? Do they like to be petted, or do they merely tolerate it? Understanding your bunny’s likes and dislikes can help you structure your best playtime routine.
Create A Playtime Phrase. As we’ve mentioned, rabbits don’t like to be startled or surprised, so creating a phrase that tells them a game is about to begin is a good way of avoiding a stress response to an unexpected event. Include their name in the phrase; for example, “It’s playtime, Millie,” or “Millie, let’s play a game.”
Play Games on The Ground. Keep playtime at ground level to avoid the risk of your rabbit falling. In addition, if you get down to their level, your bunny will feel much less threatened than if you tower over them.
Moderate Play Sessions. When you’re playing with your rabbit, ensure they have access to water or snacks. If they hop away for a nap, let them be, and don’t try to force the games. Instead, keep games between 10 and 20 minutes long to offer some enrichment for your rabbit without overwhelming them.