If you have a particularly friendly and social rabbit, you might be able to play with them! This can be a great way to bond with your rabbit and get them used to human interaction. While many people will expect that their rabbit can play like a dog or cat could, as prey animals, rabbits won’t always enjoy the same games as those pets do.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t play with your rabbit, and if done right, playtime can be an important bonding experience for you and your rabbit.
Do Rabbits Like to Play?
Some rabbits enjoy playing with their owners, while others need more time to warm up to the idea of interacting with you.
Many rabbits are not going to be the most cuddly and friendly pets from the start, since they will need to get used to your presence first. This can make it difficult to interact and play with your rabbit when you first get them, which makes it important to ensure that you have established a sense of trust between you and your rabbit.
If your rabbit hasn’t gotten used to humans yet, they are going to be less willing to try and play with you. This can make it seem like your rabbit isn’t interested in interacting with you, but it is rather a matter of uncertainty and fear of the situation.
Once your rabbit feels more comfortable around you, it will be more willing to hop up to you, sniff, and curiously interact with you and be much easier to play with. However, not all rabbits are going to be interested in playing with you, and forcing them to do so can stress them out.
How Much Playtime Do Rabbits Need?
Exercise and playtime out of your rabbit’s enclosure are important for their well-being. While this might come as a surprise to some rabbit owners, rabbits can be quite active pets. They can get bored and even stressed if they are cooped up in their cage all day, even if you meet their minimum enclosure size, and give them lots of toys.
You should ideally let your rabbit play and exercise for 2 to 5 hours per day, as long as it is done safely, and your rabbit has access to their enclosure for food, water, and hay. While this might seem like a long time for some people, part of being a responsible pet owner is to ensure that you can meet their exercise requirements.
6 Tips on Playing and Bonding with Your Rabbit
Below are six tips that can make playtime and the whole bonding experience more fun for you and your rabbit.
1. Get Down to Their Level
Rabbits are naturally prey animals and they are constantly aware of their surroundings and anything that could pose a threat to them. So, if you haven’t already established a sense of trust with your rabbit first, they are going to be fearful of interacting with you.
When playing with your rabbit, try to get down to their level. Rabbits might become fearful if you try to pick them up without warning or play games where you are towering over your rabbit. Many rabbits would prefer to hop up to you and play on the ground, rather than being picked up and placed higher up where they may feel uneasy.
2. Make Your Rabbit Feel Comfortable
Since playtime with your rabbits depends on trust and a feeling of safety from your rabbit, you should never force your rabbit to play with you or get upset if they aren’t very interested. This doesn’t mean your rabbit is a boring pet, but rather one that needs a bit of encouragement to play with you, or perhaps you need to find the right type of play that captures your rabbit’s interest.
Ensuring that your rabbit is comfortable when playing with you is going to make the whole experience feel more rewarding to them. If your rabbit is feeling emotions like stress and fear during playtime, it may make them uninterested in playing and bonding with you in the future.
Try to be patient with your rabbit and interact and play with you on their terms, since this is going to keep them comfortable during playtime.
3. Play Games That Interest Their Natural Tendencies
While we might prefer playing games that we like, it is important to understand that rabbits don’t really have the same ideas of play as us. Rabbits enjoy different things, and activities that might disinterest us could be seen as a great playing experience for rabbits.
Rabbits generally have their idea of play and entertainment like foraging, eating, and interacting with other rabbits. Instead of throwing a ball to your rabbit as you would with a dog, choose games that interest your rabbit’s natural tendencies like eating or foraging.
By providing them with activities that engage their interest, your rabbit is going to feel more at ease playing with you because they are genuinely enjoying what they are doing. For example, if your rabbit is playing with a foraging toy, you can sit down on the floor with them and move it around so they can hop after it. This will also allow your rabbit to get used to your presence.
4. Use Food As a Reward and Motivation
Most rabbits love their food, and if you have had your rabbit for a while now, you might have already figured out which foods they like best. To make the playtime experience more positive for your rabbit, reward and motivate them with their favorite food and treats. However, don’t overdo the treats, especially if they are not healthy enough to be fed in large quantities.
5. Create a Safe Play Area for Your Rabbit
Unless your rabbit has a large and clean cage, you probably won’t feel very comfortable sitting inside it. Instead, you can create a free-roam area for your rabbit in a secured space. Be sure to bunny-proof the room by removing wires, electrics, harmful foods and plants, and anything that your rabbit could injure themselves on.
This room or enclosed area can function as a free-roaming place or a play area while allowing your rabbit to get a break from their enclosure. This will make it much easier for you to interact and play with your rabbit in a safe environment, rather than having to worry if they are going to escape or get hurt.
6. Monitor Your Rabbits Behavior to See What They Enjoy
Not all rabbits are going to enjoy the same activities during playtime, so be sure to monitor your rabbit’s behavior to see what they like best. If you find that your rabbit is getting bored during playtime too quickly, you should probably switch to activities that interest them more. If you have multiple rabbits, it can take a while to find games and play activities that interest the majority of them.
Rabbits Are Social Animals
Regardless of how much time you spend with your rabbit by exercising and playing with them, you should still ensure that they have the right company. Rabbits are social animals that should always be kept in pairs or groups. While you as their owner can still become one of their best friends, your rabbit still needs another one of its kind for the company.
If you choose to keep your rabbit in opposite-sex groups, one of them will need to be sterilized (spayed or neutered) by a veterinarian to prevent breeding and unwanted hormonal behaviors. Some of your rabbits’ best playtimes and bonding experiences will be with another compatible rabbit friend.
Playing with your rabbit is going to be a rewarding and fun experience for both of you. Whether it is something as simple as letting your rabbit roam around a safe room while you read or work or making forage toys and interactive games that you and your rabbit can play together. As long as your rabbit is kept safe and supervised during playtime, you and your rabbit can enjoy plenty of playful moments together.
Featured Image Credit: Dean Clarke, Shutterstock