Creating A Wild Environment

Did you know

At least 85-90% of the rabbit’s diet should consist of hay, grass and dried grass, as a guideline as much as the size of the rabbit’s body! They also need a small amount of nuggets – 20-25g per kg ideal bodyweight is all that is needed. You also need to make sure they have some green leafy salad as part of their diet and water should always be made available.

Wild Environment

In the wild, rabbits have plenty to keep them occupied, from foraging to digging to territorial defence. Pet rabbits, on the other hand, often lack stimulation, which can lead to behavioural problems and poor health. Much like humans, they need to be kept physically and mentally active, some of the ways in which you can do this is as follows:

Digging

Digging is a favourite pastime of rabbits, both domestic and wild. By providing digging substrates, such as a child’s sand pit or wide plant pot filled with earth or child-safe play sand, your pet rabbits will be able to dig away without damaging your garden or escaping.


Marking

Rabbits’ homes are their castles and in the wild they are very protective of their territory, marking out anything they see as theirs using chin secretions, urine and droppings. These markings also help them to feel reassured as their environment smells familiar. Pet rabbits will also display these behaviours and you should allow them to do so.


Variety

Just like humans, rabbits become bored if their environment remains the same, so consider an occasional change of scenery. However, be careful as too much change can be stressful. Wild rabbits’ survival depends on an intimate knowledge of their surroundings in order to escape from predators, so structural changes to your pet rabbits’ ‘warren’ should be kept subtle, such as changing their toys and regularly providing new ones.

You can replicate a rabbit’s natural environment by providing some of the items below:


  • Tunnels - that are wide enough for the rabbits to pass through easily
  • Tree stumps - from trees that are safe for rabbits to chew, e.g. apple, that have not been sprayed with chemicals) to act as look out points (platforms)
  • Safe, unsprayed twigs - which can be hung up so that they can pull them
  • Suitable toys - there are many rabbit toys available commercially; ensure any you buy are safe and that your rabbits use them
  • Digging Box i.e. a planter filled with earth for digging
  • Platforms for hiding under and climbing on
  • Constant access to safe hiding places, such as cardboard boxes
  • Games, such as food items in brown paper which they have to unwrap
  • Put food in multiple places so they have to move around to find it
  • Use food balls - the treat balls made for cats work well) to feed their nuggets as they will spend longer eating and have fun chasing them around


Rabbits become bored of toys quickly, so rotate items regularly to keep them interested. Ensure there are enough resources for all your rabbits to use at the same time. Regularly inspect items for damage and potential hazards and repair, discard or replace any items that become dangerous.


Training

Not many people know that rabbits can be trained. Pet rabbits really benefit from positive reward-based training like ‘clicker training’, which can be great for their physical and mental stimulation. For example, you can train them to rear up to collect a healthy treat and to use litter trays. However you must only use positive reward-based training methods and must never shout at or punish your rabbits as they are unlikely to understand and are likely to become nervous and scared.