“Breathe deeply so you don’t strain a muscle squealing at how cute she is!”
“Make sure you have lots of photo storage on your phone, you’re going to need it!”
Or, maybe even, “From now on, take a closer look before assuming someone dropped Cocoa Puffs on the living room rug!“
But seriously, if you knew someone who was adopting a rabbit for the first time and you could only give them one piece of advice, what would it be?
Something to do! Everybody needs something to do, including pet rabbits. Besides just giving your bunster a rockin’ good time, it also helps keep them from doing things you might not like them doing! But how to give your bunny a steady supply of entertainment without breaking the bank? One way is to make your own puzzle toys.
A puzzle toy is simply a rabbit-safe object that hides food. Your bunny should be able to detect the presence of the food, and then do something rabbity, like dig — or chew — or pull — to get at the food. Presto! He not only gets something tasty to eat, he also gets an activity he’ll enjoy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating puzzle toys for your whisker-nosed friend.
“Isn’t it time you took a nap?” Moraea asked, licking her paws and preparing to give her face a good wash.
“It’s only 9:30 am,” I replied. “I’m just getting my day started. Anyway — wait — you speak English???”
“Of course we do,” said Moraea, looking sideways at me as she pulled down one ear to lick it. “How else do you think we manage to edit your blog posts?”
“You edit my —”
“Stop trying to change the subject,” she interrupted, and shook her ears a few times. “It’s almost nap time. When are you going to sleep?”
“Not until about ten o’clock tonight.”
“What?! Why so late?”
Clearly, she needed to learn an important fact about the difference between human daily activity cycles and those of rabbits.
“Moraea, people and rabbits have different sleep patterns. You rabbits are what’s called crepuscular.”
Moraea froze, one half-groomed leg outstretched, a look of disgust on her little koala-nosed face.
“UGH!” she exclaimed. “That sounds like how you’d describe that picture of a festering wound I saw on WebMD!”
“You were looking at — ? Never mind! I know it’s a strange word, Moraea, but it’s not as bad as it sounds! It just means you are active in the mornings, like 5 or 6 am to maybe 9 or 10 am, and then you nap through the afternoon. Then around 4 to 6 pm you start to wake up again, and you stay lively until 9 or 10 at night.”
“Right. Of course.” She put her leg down for a moment and pondered. “But I’ll still get up in the middle of the day sometimes for a snack and a bathroom break.”
“Yes, I sometimes do that in the middle of the night, myself.”
“I see. But you only sleep at night?” she asked, working her tongue between each little toe with care.
“Exactly! You guys are different because you’re prey animals. You evolved to avoid the huge numbers of other species that would love to eat you. In the morning and evening, there’s light but not bright light. So neither the night predators nor the ones adapted for daylight can see very well. Those are the safest times of day for you to come out of hiding and graze.
“Sometimes people think rabbits are boring pets or that you guys aren’t smart or don’t do much. It could be because they try to play with you in the middle of the day when you’re all sleepy. They really need to try it when you are awake and rested. That’s why I always train you and Finnegan in the morning or the evening. Make sense?
My girl had hopped away silently, as rabbits do, and was fast asleep in the corner.
The Fluffy Tail of This Blog Post
While humans are diurnal, sleeping when it’s dark and active during daylight, rabbits take a different approach. Like many prey animals, they avoid being active during full daylight or darkness and opt for the in-between times. This sleep pattern is called crepuscular. So use morning and evening to interact with your bunny. In the middle of the day, let her get her beauty rest!