Not much beats watching a happy rabbit. If you have never witnessed a joyful binky (a happy rabbit will jump spontaneously, often twisting or kicking his back legs up) or a relaxed flop to one side, then you ought to make it your mission to observe your rabbit engage in happy activities. My rabbits also grind their teeth quickly and close their eyes when I rub their cheeks if they are happy. All rabbits show happiness differently but most of them exhibit the behaviours above.
Today, I will give you 5 simple steps you can take to make your rabbit happy. Also check out my other post on how to bond with your rabbits.
Step 1: providing safety from predators
You will need to understand that rabbits are prey animals which means they can be scared of anything. A new noise or unexpected action like something falling off a table can scare or startle your rabbit so much, he runs off frightened.
Reducing fear and providing security can give way to happiness. Rabbits work out beforehand where they can hide if a predator appears. If they know they are within easy running range of a safe place, they will be more relaxed. A rabbit that feels safe will perform more happy actions like flopping.
What you can do: Provide places for your rabbit to hide. Cardboard boxes with two exit holes or long tunnels work well. Rabbits like to know they won’t be cornered so by giving them two exit holes, they can always escape. If you have a house rabbit, have a hiding place in every room. If you have an outdoor rabbit, ensure there is enough places for your rabbit to bolt to when scared.
Here’s a list of hideouts that rabbits love (click on the picture to see more info):
Step 2: providing exercise
Ever heard of the ‘a hutch is not enough’ campaign? Rabbits confined to hutches and cages for long hours will grow bored, obese and frustrated. I’m not saying that obese rabbits won’t have fun, they can but being locked up all day doesn’t allow for much fun and being obese shortens life span, causes more disease and ultimately shortens happiness. Wild rabbits do a lot of running and jumping every day so it follows that domesticated rabbits need exercise to keep happy. A happy rabbit will binky like no tomorrow. In a hutch, there is little room for binkying. To witness that happy behaviour, you will need to let your rabbit out to exercise and have fun.
What you can do: Easy, let them out! Outdoor rabbits can have a run. If you are busy often and want to let your rabbit have room to roam, you can attach a run to your hutch. With some careful DIY, you can make it a safe place for happy rabbits to have fun. House rabbits can be allowed out to exercise around the house when you are at home to make sure not too much trouble occurs.
Otherwise, you can use play pens to make an area for your rabbit to live, which is large enough to provide exercise room for when you are not at home. My garden isn’t fully rabbit proofed so my solution is to use a play pen instead (the play pen is designed for dogs but it also works well with rabbits as long as you get the tallest one). My two rabbits would run and jump around the minute we put them inside the pen. It is a good exercise for them and they definitely love it. I have listed below two play pens that I use for my two rabbits and I highly recommend them.
(click on the picture to see more info)
|Soft Pet Playpen|
Also, check out my article on indoor rabbit housing. Throw in some toys, rotate them often and voila! Rabbit fun will ensue.
Step 3: Feeding the right food
Rabbits are grazers. Happy rabbits get to graze all day. This might sound weird but rabbits combat boredom by eating. Sometimes I do that too. Providing good quality timothy or meadow hay is a good way to prevent boredom and increase happiness. A decent amount of veggies also puts a hop in your bunny’s step. Whenever I walk in with a bowl of veg, both my boys binky and run around me. They do that too when I measure out their pellets which is why this step is called feeding the ‘right’ food. Pellets make rabbits happy but too much can lead to obesity and like I said earlier, that can reduce happiness in the long run. Same goes for sugary treats or fruit.
What you can do: Unlimited hay for grazing fun. Clean and safe vegetables should be given every day, look at my article on what rabbits eat to see what veg you can feed your rabbit. Reduce pellets to a reasonable amount and resist the urge to feed more when your bunny begs for it. Offer fruit and sugary treats in moderation for that little boost in happiness. Fruits are a better choice to store bought snacks. No grain treats, that is a rabbit you have, not a hamster!
Step 4: Company
Safety in numbers and the more the merrier! Living alone can be sad, especially if your owner is out all day. Rabbits can even fall in love. That is one of the best things about having rabbits. Even if your love life seems hopeless at the moment, you can at least give your rabbit the chance of finding love! Rabbits can keep each other company, groom each other and binky together.
What you can do: While rabbits like company, they can be picky about who they get. To improve your chances of finding the right match, why not give a rescue centre a go and give a rabbit a new home? Most centres allow you to bring your rabbit over and help you find a pair to match him/her to. When you see your rabbit flopped on the floor next to his or her new friend, you will feel just as happy as they do. Just make sure you follow the next step!
Step 5: Spaying and/or neutering
Instincts can be very strong and most rabbits desire to mate and pass on their genes. These instincts can be very frustrating for both domesticated rabbit and owner. Your rabbit might take part in behaviours such as spraying of urine or leaving loads of droppings outside of the litter tray. There is also a higher risk of uterine cancer in unspayed females and testicular cancer in unneutered males. rabbits that got along fine when young might fight when the hormones kick in. Frustrated rabbits might hump things you would rather they did not. Lastly, you might get an unwanted litter of rabbits if you have a male and female housed together. Spaying and neutering can help relax your rabbits and help them lead a happier life so more time is spent binkying and less time is spent humping your shoe. In another article, I outlined the pros and cons of neutering and the risks involved. You will find more indepth information there!
What you can do: Call up a vet and book an appointment as soon as your bunny is at the right age. Sooner rather than later is safer if you have more than one rabbit living together. Rabbits that fight prior to neutering or spaying have a harder to getting back together.
There you have it. I hope these steps will help your rabbit find happiness. How does your rabbit show his or her happiness? Drop a comment in the box below and let me know, I love hearing about happy rabbits!