Homemade Enrichment Ideas

Rabbits are very curious, intelligent creatures. They need daily enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. But what is enrichment exactly? Enrichment is an activity that increases your rabbit’s mental and/or physical health. The best enrichment toys encourage a rabbit’s natural behaviors such as digging, chewing, and foraging. The key to enrichment is variety and while there are many toys and products on the market that provide enrichment for rabbits, the cost of regularly purchasing these items can quickly add up. Luckily, enrichment can easily be made at home using items you likely already have on hand.

A wide variety of toys can be made with an empty tissue box or toilet paper/paper towel roll(s). 

The first thing that you always want to ensure you do is remove the plastic film from the opening of the tissue box. From there, one of my bunnies’ favorite toys can be made simply by stuffing the tissue box with hay. Feel free to use the timothy hay you have on hand or take this opportunity to try other varieties of hay such as oat, orchard, or meadow. You could also add a little sprinkle of an herbal blend, or a few pellets overtop of the hay to encourage additional foraging.

The same idea can be applied to a toilet paper or paper towel roll. A tossable hay toy can be made by unraveling the roll at its seam and wrapping it back around a bundle of hay. 

Alternatively, you can fill a roll with an herbal blend, some pellets, or your bunny’s favorite treats, then loosely fold in the ends of the roll and watch as your bunny pushes and tosses it around trying to get what’s inside.

You can even create a puzzle out of a tissue box and 5-6 toilet paper rolls. Start by cutting the top off of the tissue box, then place the toilet paper rolls inside standing up side-by-side. They should fill the box as well as possible without them being too tight and difficult for your bunny to remove. Sprinkle an herbal blend, some pellets, or your bunny’s favorite treats over the openings of the toilet paper rolls and let your bunny work to get them out. Some bunnies pull out the toilet paper rolls one by one until they can reach the treats inside, while others will push and toss the box around until the treats fall out.

Another great enrichment toy that can be made with items you likely already have around the house is a dig box. You will need a shallow box, large enough for your bunny to dig and forage around in, treats for them to forage for, and obstacles for them to dig and forage through. Crumpled up packing paper or phone book pages (make sure the ink is soy-based) are perfect obstacles for a dig box. Sprinkle in an herbal blend, treats, or pellets and some hay for hours of fun.

Note: As with all toys and foods, make sure you supervise your bunny during their first interaction with a new item(s). While you should ensure that all the carboard and/or paper used in the toys above are from safe sources and free of toxins, glues, etc., if you find that your bunny is more interested in eating the cardboard or paper rather than the hay and other food items, then it may be best to look for alternative enrichment items for your bunny.

This next enrichment item is cardboard/paper-free and perfect for bunnies who love to toss and throw things. All you will need is the rim of two mason jar lids and a plastic shower curtain ring. Ensure there is no rust or sharp edges around the mason jar lids before using them for this toy, but simply loop the mason jar lids inside of the shower curtain ring before snapping it closed to make a chain of sorts. My bunnies love to toss this toy and seem to enjoy the noise it makes in the process.

Enrichment is so important to a rabbit’s health and happiness, but it doesn’t have to be complicated and it definitely doesn’t need to be expensive. Get creative with items you have on hand and mix it up to keep your rabbit engaged. Remember, a bored bunny is a destructive bunny!

Editor’s Note: You can find Shanleigh’s bunnies Obi, Rey, Val, Hershey, Copper, and Kahlua on Instagram at @obibunfuriends!

Reviewed by HRS staff

Author: Shanleigh Knittel, HRS Licensed Educator
Photo Credit: Shanleigh Knittel
Journal Issue: House Rabbit Journal, Fall 2023

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