You’ve brought a new bunny into your family. You’ve given it time and space to acclimate to its new environment, and now you’re ready to take the next steps in your relationship with your rabbit.
It takes patience to learn how to play with your rabbit in a way that’s both safe and fits your rabbit’s personality. Rabbits are usually not aggressive creatures; games like tug-of-war that you play with dogs can be both confusing and dangerous for rabbits.
But there are lots of enriching activities that you can enjoy with your bunny! Here’s a list of expert-approved games for rabbits.
How To Play with A Rabbit
Our favorite bunny games include:
- Obstacle courses
- Nose work to find hidden treats
- A gentle game of tag
- Playful petting
- Training your rabbit to do tricks
- Bunny agility or show jumping
- Playing outside
- Digging and shredding toys
8 Fun Activities To Do With Your Rabbit
1 – Create a Rabbit Obstacle Course
Rabbits love to climb, jump, and explore! Tap into these tendencies by building an obstacle course for your rabbit.
A bunny obstacle course can include challenges like mazes, tunnels, bridges, hidey holes, and jumps. You can purchase tunnels and climbing castles to incorporate into your design, or use cardboard boxes.
Just a few warnings:
- Rabbits chew on everything. Make sure you’re using safe materials in your obstacle course.
- Don’t let your rabbit jump from a height of more than 12-18 inches.
- Make sure your bunny will always land on a non-slippery surface.
2 – Hidden Treats or Nose Work
Rabbits are highly intelligent, and they have a strong sense of smell. These traits mean that they’ll enjoy searching for treats that you hide on a snuffle mat or within the obstacle course you build.
You can play the “shell game” with rabbits. Hide an irresistible snack (like a blueberry) under one of three cups and let your rabbit sniff out the hidden treat. Or hide it in your hand and see if your rabbit can tell which of your two hands holds the treasure.
You can also purchase treat boards with challenges or puzzles that bunnies need to solve before they get their delicious reward.
3 – Play Tag with Your Bunny
Have you ever noticed that rabbits like reciprocation? Bunnies are highly social and will often mirror your behavior. (For example, they may lick your hand after you pet them.)
Some rabbits enjoy playing tag. If you notice your rabbit following you, but then running away mischievously when you reach down to pet it, it may be inviting you to play.
Copy your rabbit’s behavior, and soon you’ll be playing tag. Follow your bunny, tap his back lightly, and then turn and jog in the other direction. See how he responds!
Warning: Playing tag is not chasing your rabbit. Do not run after your rabbit, especially while trying to grab it. This will trigger prey instincts and terrify your bunny.
4-Turn Petting Into a Game
Playtime with your bunny should adapt to your rabbit’s personality. Some rabbits prefer not to be touched, but others are very demanding when it comes to pettings. (My bunny Kayla would follow me around grunting at me until I rubbed her forehead.)
If you have a rabbit that takes pettings seriously, you can tease your bunny. While sitting on the floor with your rabbit, scratch the favorite spot behind its ears, and then stop.
See how your bunny responds. It may nudge you, nuzzle you, or even growl a little asking you to continue. Or he may start grooming you in return!
5- Train Your Rabbit to Do Tricks
Rabbits respond well to clicker training. They can learn to recognize their name and follow verbal commands.
You can train your rabbit to do tricks such as:
- Stand on its hind legs
- Come when called
- Ring a bell
- High five
- Jump through a hoop
The key to clicker training is to look for distinct, repeatable rabbit behaviors. Identify them to your bunny by pressing the clicker when your rabbit performs the behavior, and then follow it immediately with a reward.
Clicker training can also help rabbits learn to sit still during grooming or nail trimming sessions.
6- Rabbit Agility or Hopping
If you find your rabbit loves to do obstacle courses, you can take the sport to the next level and train it to do rabbit agility.
Unlike an obstacle course, which a rabbit can explore at its own pace, rabbit agility is a training sport where a rabbit must complete the course in a set order.
Rabbits have incredible athletic ability. Most bunnies love the challenges of weaving in and out of poles, running through tunnels, running up ramps, and hopping over fences.
In fact, Rabbit Show Jumping is a competitive sport in the United States and Europe. Rabbit show jumping is similar to rabbit agility, but instead of a variety of obstacles, bunnies only jump over fences.
The fences may be tall, so your rabbit will have to jump high, or set low but spaced widely for long jumps.
The highest rabbit hop on record is 106 cm or (42 in)!
7 – Outdoor Play
While rabbits that dwell indoors are safer and live longer than bunnies with outside cages, your indoor rabbit will enjoy getting outside to play. Bunnies love getting outside to dig, nibble the grass, and stretch their legs.
If your rabbit has never been outdoors before, he may be cautious at first. Start by sitting on the ground with your rabbit in your lap, and let him explore when he’s ready.
You can use a rabbit harness and leash during outdoor time. Let your rabbit lead you when it’s on the leash. Do not expect your rabbit to follow you.
Rules for Safe Outdoor Play
- Never leave a rabbit unattended outdoors. Not even for a minute.
- Stay in a fenced-in area, even if your rabbit is on a leash.
- Avoid lawns that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
- Watch out for poisonous weeds your bunny may try to eat.
8- Shredding, Digging Boxes, and Toys
Rabbit toys help your bunny stay mentally and physically active even if you aren’t available to play with him. But when you are home, it’s very entertaining to watch your rabbit play with its toys!
Here are our favorite categories of rabbit toys:
In the wild, rabbits use their claws to dig burrows called warrens – and they love doing it! Domestic rabbits need a chance to use this skill.
You can give your rabbit a sandbox, or fill a box with hay or shredded paper so your bunny can dig. Otherwise, you might find him digging up your houseplants!
Sometimes all a bunny needs to be happy is a sheet of paper towel. Rabbits have a blast shredding paper, cardboard, or grass mats.
Other good toys for rabbits include applewood gnawing sticks, balls, and bells.
Ground Rules for Playing Safely with Rabbits
Do bunnies like playing with you? Most rabbits do enjoy play time as long as it’s done in a way that’s considerate of a rabbit’s instincts and limitations.
These basic principles of playing with rabbits will help you keep playtime safe and well-suited to your long-eared friends.
Remember Rabbits are Delicate
While there are a few breeds of rabbits that grow as large as dogs, most bunnies are small and delicate animals. They’re also prey creatures, naturally toward the bottom of the food chain.
This means that playtime should never include roughhousing or aggressive games. Rabbits don’t wrestle like dogs; they never fight unless they truly feel threatened.
Don’t invade your rabbit’s space; he won’t understand that you are playing.
Don’t let small children play with your rabbit unless they understand how to behave quietly and gently. Even then, an adult should always supervise when children play with a bunny.
Let the Bunny Lead
Avoid frightening your rabbit by letting him set the level of energy for each play session. When you play with a rabbit, get down on the floor, at his level, and watch his body language carefully.
If you see signs of intimidation or nervousness, stop the game, sit calmly, and let your rabbit come to you when he’s ready. If he’s done playing for the day, respect that and don’t push for more.
The safer your bunny feels, the more energetic and fun he’ll become.
Create a Safe Play Space
Because rabbits are delicate animals, creating a safe play space is of paramount importance.
Once, when I was volunteering at a veterinarian’s office, a family brought their 8-week-old bunny, Bandit, in with an injury. Bandit was running and playing in their yard, the family said, but they had just built their home and their yard didn’t have any grass in it yet.
Instead, this tiny bunny had been running and jumping on uneven ground and hard sun-baked clay. He jumped, twisted, and broke his hind leg on this unsafe surface.
So, whether your play space is indoors or outside, it must have an even, easy-to-grip surface. It should also be free of predators, electrical cords, tippy furniture, or other dangers.
Build Playtime into Your Routine
Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk. They snooze both at night and in the middle of the day. (This waking/sleeping pattern has the fancy name of “crepuscular.”)
This means your bunny will be most interested in playing in the morning and the evening.
Make playtime a part of your everyday care routine for your rabbit. It may soon become a favorite part of the day for both you and your bunny.
Always be gentle when playing with your bunny, and have realistic expectations. A rabbit isn’t a dog, and won’t play with you in the same way as your other pets might.
But that doesn’t mean that rabbits aren’t fun! Actually, they are highly curious and playful. As you get to know your bunny and learn what games he enjoys, playtime will become a wonderful way to bond with your pet.
What games does your rabbit like? Do you have other rabbit playtime ideas to share with our community? Let us know in the comments!