To ensure your rabbits get the maximum benefit from the resources you provide, follow these simple guidelines:
- Ensure all materials used are non-toxic and have smooth, rounded edges.
- Regularly inspect items for damage and potential injury points.
- Repair, discard or replace any items that become damaged or dangerous.
- Keep a close eye on your rabbits when first giving them new items in case any of the new toys or objects make them stressed or frightened. If they do appear stressed or frightened by a new item, you should remove it and monitor their behaviour. If concerned about the welfare of your rabbit(s), please speak to a vet for advice.
- Ensure rabbits always have the opportunity to move away and hide from novel items and social contact (with other friendly rabbits or people).
- If you have more than one rabbit, ensure there are enough items for each rabbit, to avoid them competing for their favourite item or keeping it all to themselves.
- It is best to regularly rotate the toys and objects that you give to your rabbits to maintain their interest and prevent them from becoming bored.
- It is important for your rabbits to have a predictable routine – so if they get used to receiving a certain toy/item at a specific time each day this must be continued to avoid your rabbits becoming distressed.
- Do not fill your rabbits' enclosure with so many enrichment items that they can no longer exercise easily. Rabbits need to be able to run, jump, stand fully upright on their back legs and take a sequence of continuous hops.
- Fabrics such as towels, blankets, 'vetbeds', rugs or carpet could cause your rabbits harm if ingested. Therefore only provide such materials if you are sure that your rabbits will not chew and ingest them, or only when you can supervise your rabbits.
Ensuring enrichment is beneficial
It is also really important to monitor your rabbits' use of the enrichment you provide, to check that it is benefiting your rabbits and improving their welfare. Some questions to ask yourself about each of your rabbits include:
- Does my rabbit use the enrichment item?
- Which types of enrichment does my rabbit prefer?
- How does the enrichment affect my rabbit’s behaviour (e.g. increased range and/or frequency of normal behaviour such as play and foraging)?
- How does the enrichment affect my rabbit’s physical health (e.g. improved weight or fitness)?
- Is my rabbit using his/her environment in a more positive way (i.e. using all the space available to him/her, using the additional space/height provided)?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can then tailor the enrichment you provide to ensure it meets your rabbit’s individual needs.
You'll find ideas and advice about the different types of enrichment that you can try on the following webpages: Hiding places, Platforms, Toys and objects and Dietary enrichment.
Positive social interactions with people and other friendly rabbits can also be an important part of enrichment; find out more about rabbits' social needs on our Company webpage.