Rabbits may not be the most popular companion animal, but these sweet, adorable creatures can be highly rewarding to raise. They’re very curious, playful, and known to create strong social bonds with their humans.
New or prospective owners should familiarize themselves with all aspects of rabbit care, including how to properly bond and play with their new pet. Read on to find ten games you can play with your new rabbit and tips on executing successful play sessions.
The 10 Games to Play With Your Rabbit
1. Ball Roll
One of the simplest games you can play with your rabbit is rolling a ball back and forth. Sit on the floor a few feet away to acquaint your pet with this game. Roll the ball back and forth between your hands to show your rabbit the concept of rolling. Then, slowly roll it toward your pet when you see it looking at you.
It’s normal for your rabbit to be tentative about this game at first. It might move away from you or ignore it altogether. If it stays still when you roll the ball in its direction, lean forward slightly and roll it back to you.
Don’t follow your rabbit around or force it to watch you if it scurries away when you roll the ball toward it. Repeat the ball-rolling actions above once a day. The goal is to eventually get your rabbit to sit still when you roll the ball toward it or actually push it back to you.
2. Bunny Bowling
Rabbits enjoy games that cater to their natural instincts. While your bunny wouldn’t have bowling pins at its disposal in the wild, a bowling game can appeal to its naturally mischievous side. Set up toy bowling pins and see how long it takes for your rabbit to nose-boop them over.
3. Reverse Fetch
In a game of fetch with a dog, the dog does all the retrieving. The reverse is true when playing fetch with your bunny, as you’ll be the one doing the fetching. Some rabbits enjoy picking up small toys with their teeth and tossing them around. A toilet paper roll works great for this game as it’s inexpensive and easy to grip. You can intrigue your rabbit even more by stuffing the tube full of hay.
4. Tug of War
Tug-of-War is another great game you can play with your bunny using objects you probably already have in your home. For example, toilet paper rolls or cardboard are both great for this activity. Be gentle when playing Tug-of-War to not damage your bun’s teeth.
5. Cups & Treats
We’re all familiar with the street magic trick with the cups and balls, where the magician hides balls under cups and shuffles them around to confuse onlookers. This same concept can be played with your bunny, except instead of using balls, use tasty treats to intrigue your pet.
Use transparent cups for the first few times you play this game to make it easier on your bunny so it can get used to the concept behind the activity. Put your bun’s favorite treat on the floor and cover it with the cup. Encourage it to investigate the cups and determine how to get its treat out. As it becomes familiar with the trick, switch to opaque cups and watch as your bun uses its intelligence to get its reward.
6. Treat Chase
Buns can be prone to obesity, so including some physical activity in your playtime is important. Take some scented greens like parsley, and sit near your pet. Let it come to you to investigate, rewarding its curiosity with a small taste. Now, move to a different spot in your home and call your pet’s name. When it follows you, offer it another taste of its reward. Once it gets the hang of the game, run to another spot in your home to see if it’ll follow you.
7. Obstacle Course
You can easily build a rabbit-safe obstacle course with objects you already have kicking around your home. Use cardboard boxes, cat or wood tunnels, sheets, kids’ toys, and more. You can also buy obstacle or agility course kits on Amazon containing all you need to start.
Place snacks throughout the course to entice your bun to give it a try.
8. Logic Games
Logic toys and puzzles provide a fantastic brain workout for rabbits. They require some degree of problem-solving to achieve a reward, typically a tasty treat. Many online retailers sell logic toys for small animals, but you can also make them yourself.
If you prefer to buy a puzzle toy, we like TRIXIE’s Strategy FlipBoard. This toy has lids and hiding spots to challenge your rabbit to figure out how to access the treats.
DIYing a logic toy is easy. First, thoroughly clean a cylindrical oatmeal or coffee container. Punch it with several penny-sized holes around the exterior, and add treats inside that are small enough to fit through the holes you made. Keep a close eye on your bun to ensure it doesn’t start eating the container.
9. Foraging Games
Rabbits are natural forages, so encouraging your pet to engage in such behavior can be highly rewarding. Foraging and snuffle mats can be found on Amazon, or you could even sew your own if you know your way around a sewing machine. You can also create your own foraging game by hiding treats in layers of hay. You may need to help your bun out the first few times it plays foraging games, making this game a great bonding activity.
10. Trick Training
Training your rabbit to do tricks can be long and challenging, but it’s not impossible. It takes a lot of mental focus and patience for you and your bun, but the result is highly rewarding.
Use your play time to train your rabbit commands like come, spin, beg, and hop up. Then, you can teach it to do tricks like giving high fives and kisses.
Tips for Executing a Successful Playtime
Now that you know what games you can play with your rabbit, let’s look at some tips for successful play sessions.
Build a Relationship First
Because your rabbit is a prey animal, playtime is not as simple as sitting in front of your pet with the intention of playing. Rabbits can see us as huge, threatening predators until we give them a reason to think otherwise.
Think of Its Natural Activities
Your pet doesn’t have hunting instincts like cats or dogs, whose playtime often stems from their inclination to hunt. Rabbits will instinctively chew, dig, and forage. Knowing these natural behaviors can help you create games catering to your pet’s instincts.
Read Body Language
Everyone knows that cats hiss and dogs growl when they’re upset or scared. It’s not as easy to read a rabbit’s mood until you familiarize yourself with its body language.
Happy and curious rabbits will run and jump around the room. They’ll approach new things slowly, taking the time to sniff them out of curiosity. Finally, they’ll stand upright with relaxed ears and posture.
Unhappy or afraid rabbits will have rigid and upright ears. They’ll run away to hide and may even thump their legs.
Get on Your Rabbit’s Level
You’re much bigger than your pet when standing or sitting on the chair. Get down on your rabbit’s level to make yourself look less intimidating. Sit on the floor during playtime, especially until your pet begins to look at you as a family member and not a potential threat. There may come a time when you’ll be able to play with your rabbit when you’re standing, but you’ll need to build a lot of trust first.
Never Force It
Never force a game or interaction on your pet. Instead, let your rabbit dictate the length of your play sessions. If it is not receptive to the game you’re trying to play, stop, and try again another day. Forcing your pet into playing with you can make it resentful or even afraid of you. Be respectful and patient.
A little treat can go a long way when training your pet to play. Use treats as a reward for curiosity, but give them sparingly. You don’t want to overfeed it or cause digestive upsets with too many treats. Instead, try cutting the reward into very small portions so a little bit will feel like it goes a long way.
Schedule Play Time
Rabbits often thrive on routine, so having a daily play session at the same time every day may help them be more receptive to playing. Most rabbits are active during the early morning hours and at night, so these could be the perfect times to begin a play session.
Don’t interrupt your rabbit when it’s eating, using its litter box, grooming itself, or sleeping.
We hope our blog has provided some inspiration for games you can play with your rabbit and the tips you need to execute successful play sessions. It may take some time for your new pet to get on board with the games you’re playing and for you to find an activity that it enjoys. So remember to be patient and to play with your rabbit on its own terms.