Enrichment for Harlequins Contrary to the beliefs of some, rabbits

Enrichment for Harlequins
Contrary to the beliefs of some, rabbits actually enjoy having toys and playing games. Harlequins in
particular are active and intelligent rabbits who will become bored if they are not fully entertained. A rabbit
in an enriching environment is rarely bored and is more likely to be physically fit. Poor weight and lack of
mental stimulation lead to health problems and a shorter lifespan. An active rabbit is also less apt to
partake in undesirable behaviors such as pulling out their own fur, chewing the cage, or digging in their
food or water bowls. Plus, a happy and playful bunny is a lot of fun to watch!
Keep a variety of toys on hand for your bunny to cycle through; a few toys in his cage and others for him
to play with when he is out of the cage. Rabbits enjoy a wide range of playthings and you can spend as
much or as little as you like on them. Some toy ideas include:
Rabbit toys made of sisal, corn husks, or wood
Wooden parrot toys
Whiffle balls
Plush toys (keep a close eye on these for signs of chewing or ingesting the material)
Wicker baskets
Baby teething rings
Litter box filled with hay, potting soil, play sand, or shredded paper for digging
Cardboard boxes or tubes (such as those from rolls of paper towels)
Pine cones
Branches from rabbit-safe trees (ex. Apple, maple, willow, and roses)
Out of cage play allows your Harlequin more space to stretch his legs and new places to explore. I
suggest at least 30 minutes of cage-free play per day. There are a few options for free time; you can
incorporate as many of them that work for your situation.
Rabbit Proof a Room: If you have a spare bedroom, bathroom, or just want your bunny loose in the living
with you it is important to rabbit-proof first. In order to rabbit-proof:
Remove electrical cords or encase them in plastic protectors
Remove houseplants or put them out of bunny reach
Pick up books, clothing, and other items you don’t want to be chewed
Pull out any furniture that you don’t want your Harlequin to chew or jump on
o Rabbits can jump higher than you may realize, my own Harlequins love to climb on a cat tree
Buy or Build a Play-Pen: This option is perfect to offer your Harlequin a safe way to play outdoors. Dog
exercise pens are fairly inexpensive, readily available, and easy to put up and take down. You could even
travel with one to the park or on vacation. You can construct a simple playpen from a 2x4 frame and
staple chicken wire to it. If your pen is on carpet, use a plastic chair mat for protection.
Harness and Leash: Finally, a harness and leash is a fine tool for letting your Harlequin out of his cage.
Just remember that rabbits are not like dogs and cannot be “walked”. Be sure to choose a harness made
specifically for rabbits and fits your Harlequin properly (you should be able to fit 1-2 fingers between the
harness and your rabbit). The harnesses are often called H harnesses because they resemble a capital
“H” when laid out. The top bands should fasten across the rabbit’s chest, the lower bands should fasten
behind the front legs. Pet stores usually sell harnesses for rabbits but they are fairly simple to sew from