Rabbit behaviour

How to prevent bunny boredom with a living space where they can dig, run and play every day. How to train your rabbit to use a litter tray.

Rabbits: Behaviour

In this section we’ll look at:

  • The ideal approach to your rabbits’ behaviour
  • Preventing boredom
  • Research

The ideal approach to your rabbits’ behaviour

Give your rabbit a lot of space and a variety of things to do so they don’t get bored. In their living space they should be able to dig, run and play every day. So give them planters filled with potting compost for digging, large diameter tubes for running through and cardboard boxes for exploring.

Ensure they have the company of another rabbit for companionship and play.

Handle your rabbits regularly from a young age – especially in the in the first month after they’re born – so they are used to being handled as adults.

Rabbits can be trained to understand commands and to use a litter tray – they are more intelligent than many people believe.


How to prevent bunny boredom

Give your rabbits a large hutch and run so they can get lots of exercise. Read more on Creating a suitable environment for your rabbits .

Add some toys, platforms to climb onto – and safe, untreated logs for your rabbits to explore. Give them a plastic tube or a cardboard box: as well as being something new to discover, they make ideal hiding places as rabbits can get scared easily. Most items are available from pet shops and pet supermarkets.

Give them variety. Keep some toys stored away: use different ones each week. This helps keep toys interesting for your rabbit – and also gives you a chance to clean them.

Rabbits find digging irresistible. So give them a planter filled with potting compost – it saves your grass from becoming a haven for holes! Ensure their run is sunk into the ground about 40cm, so they can’t burrow out and escape.

Train your rabbit to use a litter tray. Put some of their droppings in it. Offer a food reward, e.g. a small, natural rabbit treat, each time your rabbit jumps into the tray and uses it. Use a non-clumping, non-toxic litter.

Research

PDSA reveals the state of our pet nation each year in a comprehensive measure of animal wellbeing in the UK – The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report.

Since 2011, over 17,000 pet owners, veterinary professionals and children have been surveyed to find out how dogs, cats and rabbits are cared for. Here are the findings for rabbits and their behaviour:


Overview

Not enough rabbits are getting the mental stimulation they need on a daily basis. This can be improved in three simple ways: the companionship from another rabbit; positive contact with their owner; and having suitable toys and objects for them to hide in and interact with.

Read our PAW Report here

Key findings from our most recent report:

Bored bunnies – over 1 million rabbits are lacking mental stimulation.

  • Only 39% of rabbits play with toys on a daily basis. Just 23% dig, which is important natural behaviour. The reason may be that toys are not provided, or they aren’t the right type, or they aren’t changed regularly – so the rabbits become bored with them.

  • Only 40% of rabbits can exercise in a run every day – a significant fall from 58% in 2011.

  • Significantly more rabbits (18%, up from 4% in 2011) have no opportunity at all for exercise every day.


Improve one thing today ... let them run and play. Give them a large exercise run with items they can explore and interact with: tunnels for hiding in, compost-filled planters for digging, cardboard boxes to investigate. Change the items regularly to keep your rabbit interested.


Environment
Companionship