Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Enrichment Fun with your Rabbit

Guest Blogger: Suzanne Denk, Animal Enrichment Specialist       

Here are some great ideas to keep your hopper happy and mentally stimulated.  Enrichment isn't just all fun and games!  Keeping your rabbit's mind working is an important part of owning a rabbit.
•  Hide treats or hay in a cardboard egg carton
•  Weave newspaper strips or sisal through the bars of his pen
•  Make a tunnel with a cardboard box by cutting off the ends

•  Free form craft paper or newspaper into a tunnel. Roll edges of tunnel to secure.


•  Fill a paper lunch bag with hay
•  Give a small towel for bunching and tossing
•  Read a story to your rabbit
•  Toilet paper tubes with fringed edges are fun to toss and tear
•  Make a paper fan and clip to the bars of his pen
•  Make a pellet pierogi:  Using the paper liner from the timothy pellet bag, cut a circle from brown craft paper or newspaper.  Fold the circle in half.  Place pellets, hay, or a treat along the fold.  Roll the edges of the paper to seal and form a pierogi.   
• Challenge him with a puzzle feeder.  Puzzles are not just for dogs & cats!
• Give your rabbit a small sandbox filled with a deep layer of shredded newspaper for digging.
• Provide balls with bells, baby key rings, a plastic slinky, or wooden blocks.  Rotate toys regularly to keep them new and interesting.  

Foraging game:  A rabbit in the wild must hunt for his food.  This little game will encourage a rabbit to exercise while searching, sniff to follow the trail, and think to find the treat.  Stimulating the olfactory sense stimulates the brain.  

• Show the rabbit the treat then hide it: in your hand, under your leg, behind a toy.  Let them sniff out the treat. 
• Make a trail of fresh greens across the room, hiding some of the pieces.  You may use a Romaine lettuce leaf, parsley leaves, or a few pinches of dry organic botanicals.
•  If the bunny makes quick work of the trail, you can take one leaf and slowly drag it along the floor to leave behind its smell.  Hide the treat at the end of the line and see if the rabbit will use its nose to follow the treat.  Too easy?  Hide the treat in a paper lunch bag. 

 Enrichment activities…
•  Reduce stress
•  End boredom
•  Give the opportunity for the pet to think and use his mind
•  Direct a pet’s energy to appropriate activities
•  Provide a chance for the pet to use all of the senses
•  Improve quality of life with variety and mental stimulation
•  Benefit physical and behavioral health
•  Build confidence
•  Only take a few minutes each day
•  Are fun for people and pets!

Note: Always supervise your pet so you know he can play safely with a new item

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