How to play with your Rabbit

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Rabbits are fiercely independent animals, combine that with extreme prey animal instincts that tell them to run & hide and it’s easy to see why many people think rabbits make stand-offish, boring pets.  But the truth is, rabbits are really social animals.  They would love the opportunity to interact with you or play with toys.  Playtime with your bunnies helps build a bond between you and provides them with metal stimulation & exercise.  The two most important things to remember when playing with your rabbit are 1) do it on your rabbit’s terms and 2) go slow & be patient – the more you play, the more your rabbit will trust you

Play on your rabbit’s terms

*Take advantage of your rabbit’s most active times to schedule “play dates”.  Most rabbits are active early in the morning and at night

*Let your rabbit tell you when she is ready to play.  You will know she wants to play when she is tugging at your sleeves or pants leg, circling your feet or maybe booping your leg then running away.  Leave some toys out and let your rabbit approach them when she is ready

*Get down to rabbit level.  If you are standing,  your rabbit sees you as a giant and will be less likely to approach you or let her guard down to play with toys.  Sit, or better yet, lay down on the floor and wait for your rabbit to come to you.  She needs to feel safe & comfortable before she will drop her guard.  Don’t force her to sit with you.

*When your rabbit loses interest in a toy or in playing with you, let him go.

Go Slow & Be Patient

*Be patient, especially with a new rabbit or if you are just starting to introduce play.  Don’t push it if your rabbit seems uninterested, but try again the next day or at another time.  It might take several invitations!

*Rabbits are naturally timid, avoid sudden movements and loud noises.   Do not yell at your rabbit.  Unless your rabbit is already comfortable with your dog or cat, don’t let them in the room during playtime and try to minimize dog barking.

*Speak softly & happily whenever you are with your rabbit, even just to clean their cages.  Some rabbits also respond to rhythmic talking like reading aloud or singing.  You want your rabbit to associate you with feeling safe

*Do not try to rough house with your rabbit.  He will likely just become frightened

“Games” & Toys to Try

Spend some time observing your rabbit to see what her play personality is.  Rabbits like games that cater to their natural instincts.  Some rabbits like knocking things over, some like to steal things and then run off, some like shredding & digging, some like throwing things, some enjoy figuring out puzzles

Bowling bunnies:  get a child’s plastic bowling set and set the pins up for your bunny, stand up a few toilet paper tubes or empty oatmeal cans (stuff them with hay or treats for added interest)

Furry bunny thieves:  lay on the floor with an envelope, stick or other small object in your hand and let her steal it, take it back and repeat,  sit with an apple slice or other treat in your open palm and let your bunny take it.

Furry destroyers:  fill a shoe box with shredded paper and let her go to town, give him a straw mat to dig at, give her a newspaper or phone book and let her shred it up, cardboard boxes for them to hide in and chew on

Baseball bunnies: rabbits that like to toss things will love plastic baby toys (like plastic key sets), knotted jute ropes, small blocks of wood, plastic cat toys with bells, willow balls, toilet paper tubes

Brainy bunnies: logic games are great mental stimulation.  Hide a papaya tablet in a loosely closed fist, hold both fists in front of your rabbit and make him choose the fist with a treat before giving it to him.    There are all kinds of logic toys for sale that have your rabbit perform various tasks to get rewards.  You can make your own by cutting a couple holes in a toilet paper tube and putting small treats in it (make the holes larger than the treat), tape up the ends and have your rabbit roll it around to get the treats out

General toys bunnies like:
*make a cardboard “house” for your bunny by taping a couple boxes together and cutting out a door, she will enjoy running in and out, hiding and chewing on the house!
*Rabbits love tunnels, you can buy cat tunnels, use cardboard concrete forms or cut the bottoms out of a few large plastic pots and tape them together
*lay down flat on the ground, either on your stomach or back and let your rabbits climb on you, jumping up and down is great exercise for them

Want more toy inspiration?  Check out my post “Easy DIY Rabbit Toys” for easy (and free!) toy ideas!



  1. Victoria says:

    Thank you thisbis very helpful. I have threes rabbits(maddeline, mocha&lunar.)(lunar meanse moon eclipse) and lunar is the only one yhat will ley me pick him up. I’m going to try to play with them and see wah happens

    • Liz says:

      Is your rabbit neutered? That *should* stop him from doing that. If he is not neutered PLEASE don’t get a female unless you want a million little rabbits lol! Sometimes even fixed rabbits will mount each other though to show who is in charge. So your rabbit is either trying to show your friend who is in charge or is just getting his urges out (it’s actually more likely the first one if he is only doing it to your friend and not you who he already accepts as lead rabbit). Your friend (or you) needs to show the rabbit that behavior is unacceptable. When he does that pick him up and move him across the room and firmly say no. It might take several tries, but eventually he will get the hint.

    • Bethanynw says:

      Get him neutered at a rabbit savvy vet, don’t get a female or you’ll have 1-8 rabbit kits every 60 days or so 🙂

  2. Eleanor says:

    Hey so I have a standard Chinchilla and she is very shy and doesn’t get around much even when she has the opportunity to. She is also afraid of everything except for me. And has anxiety when I take her out of her cage. How can I get her to move around and play more? Is it something that I am doing wrong?

    • Liz says:

      I don’t have much experience with Chinchillas, but I know they can be a little skiddish as small herd animals. I would suggest you move really slow with her. Don’t take her out of her cage, leave the door open and try to tempt her out. Sit quietly on the floor and let her come to you. If she comes up to investigate you and runs when you pet her, you might need to just spend a few days letting her come to you without you petting her. Many small animals can be shy around humans and earning their trust can just take some time. My best advice would be to move slow, talk quietly and let her take the lead! 🙂

      • Eleanor says:

        Well she is a rabbit her breed is a standard chinchilla the name is confusing giving the fact she is not actually a chinchilla. Maybe she is named after the chinchilla not just because of the looks but because of the skittish nature.

        • Liz says:

          lol I have definitely seen standard chinchilla rabbits – I was just reading too fast! They were bred specifically to resemble chinchilla’s soft grey coats. But again, I would just start small and slow and hopefully she will come around!

  3. Pamela Primakov says:

    Hi Liz. We have a 5 month old lion head male who is adorable, mischievous, interactive and fiesty. We have a scheduled neuter date when he is six months old. He gets lots of interaction time with my busy home of teenagers but I fear as they head off to college he may need a more available companion. Thoughts on introducing a companion bunny ? I understand this can be a process and, if not done correctly, unpleasant for the bunnies.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Pamela, rabbits are naturally predisposed to living in groups and most rabbits will enjoy having another rabbit around eventually. The easiest bond to establish in adult rabbits is male/female as in the wild that is how most rabbits live (but please only do this after both the rabbits are fixed!!!). It can take about a month for the hormones to settle down after getting fixed. When introducing the new friends, it’s best to move slowly. Put them in separate cages next to each other for about a week to let them get used to the idea of another rabbit in the house. Let them out of the cage for free time only one at a time, or gate off an area for each rabbit. For the first meeting, you should sit on the ground with them to supervise and better to intervene. Start out giving them about 15 minutes of meeting time the first day, gradually increasing it by about 15 minutes a day until they seem to be cool with one another. What is likely to happen at the first meeting is some circling and mounting behavior. It is not about mating, it’s about establishing who is the dominant rabbit. It’s fine to let that happen, as long as they aren’t hurting each other. Good luck!

    • Kimberly Viggiano says:

      This is Great!…..I was just starting my investigating journey into getting a 2nd rabbit. My daughter has a 2 month old lion head rabbit. I feel he gets lonely and needs another playmate. We have shih-tzu’s that he plays with but I feel he needs another rabbit…Benny has made himself right at home and makes a great addition to our family. We do plan on getting him neutered. This site has given me great info and answered a lot of questions I had. Thank you.

  4. Ani English says:

    Hi Liz, my dear husband and I got our Patch from the local classifieds, so we don’t know how old he is or if he has been neutered (adult, probably, based on the condition of his hocks and that he is the size of a cat; unlikely on the neutered front). We have a friend who has expressed wanting to have a bunny playdate (hers is a female Netherland Dwarf, about a year old and not spayed?), so my question is if we are carefully supervising playtime, there would not be an express concern to fix either of our fur babies, yes?

    We do intend to give Patch a thorough check up and the surgery, but we have not yet found a small animal veterinarian (working on it) nor currently own a carrier (also working on it). I’d like to have kept this brief, but the last pieces of info I thought to provide are that we and our friend all work full-time, and each of our bunnies boasts uncontested reign of the home (the only bun). I am hoping you’re not going to outright advise against the playdate…

    • Liz says:

      I would say you have a couple real obstacles to the playdate idea. While rabbits do enjoy the company of other rabbits, generally it takes getting used to the idea of having another rabbit around. You would ideally introduce new rabbit friends gradually over the course of a couple weeks by keeping them separated by cages or gates where they can smell each other but not really interact. Some rabbits will just readily accept any new rabbit, but that is pretty rare. Your second obstacle is rabbits can be territorial, especially when they have free reign over a house. Who ever is hosting the playdate will likely be defensive about a newcomer in their space. You will have better luck if they meet on the male rabbit’s turf. The third & biggest obstacle is that neither rabbit is fixed. Not only do you not want them mating and reproducing (which can happen really quickly, they are fast little buggers lol), the hormones of unaltered rabbits are going to make him interested in basically nothing else other than mating. I wouldn’t outright advise against the playdate, but I would definitely get the rabbits fixed first and wait about a month after the operation for their hormones to settle down.

  5. Courtney says:

    Hello, I’m getting a Holland lop soon and was wondering if you had any advice? I had a rabbit about 2 years ago but he was older when I got him and didn’t seem to have been handled much before I got him. He was very shy and skittish I’m hoping for better results this time around.

    • Liz says:

      Congratulations! The most important thing you can do with your new bunny is to follow her lead. She will need some time to adjust and explore her new surroundings. As much as you want to cuddle, don’t force anything. Sit on the floor with her and let her come to you. Offer her treats and pets while she is near you, but don’t chase her when she hops off. After a couple weeks, I’m sure you guys will be best buds 🙂

        • Liz says:

          Rabbits are naturally pretty clean animals so litter training is easier than you might think. I would suggest hanging the hay manger over the litter box so she has incentive to hang there. Don’t go super crazy cleaning the box for the first couple weeks so she can get her “smell” in the area

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