Fortunately, these days more people know that rabbits shouldn’t be kept in small cages and that they need plenty of space to move around in. However, there are more reports of overweight rabbits than ever before, which is an indication that not only are they being fed the wrong diet, but that they are not getting sufficient exercise. The problem is that whilst most rabbits have access to extra areas for exercise, access is often irregular. For example, many owners don’t let their rabbits run around when they are naturally at their most active, which is in the early morning and evening.
A lack of exercise can be incredibly damaging to a rabbit’s overall health and well-being, leading them to develop various health problems, some of which could prove fatal. Developing depression is also a risk for rabbits that don’t have adequate opportunities for exercise.
The main concern for a rabbit that doesn’t get enough exercise is their general health. Spending too much time in a hutch or small enclosure can lead them to gain lots of weight, or potentially even become obese. Not only can exercise help to ward off a range of health conditions, such as GI Stasis (a potentially deadly condition in which the digestive system either slows down or stops altogether), but it can also reduce the risk of them developing urinary tract diseases and bladder stones, which can be very painful.
Additionally, if a rabbit doesn’t get an adequate amount of activity and exercise, over time they can become less sociable, anxious and even depressed. Many depressed rabbits withdraw from their owners, refusing to interact. They might hide or stay in their cage, not responding to attempts to pet or play with them.
To make your rabbit’s outside run more fun, consider putting lots of toys in there. You can find a range of rabbit toys in good pet shops, and they’re usually very affordable. Choose things that they can climb on, crawl under, hop on, dig into, and chew on. You could also place an empty cardboard box or one or two big PVC tubes in the run, in order to make tunnels for them to run and hide in. If you find that your rabbit is ingesting cardboard or plastic toys, choose a different type of toy that your rabbit is not interested in eating. This can avoid them developing digestive issues.
Providing your rabbit with enough exercise is vitally important. Rabbits are energetic creatures that need their playtime to stay fit and healthy, not just physically, but emotionally too. If you already have a rabbit as a pet, or are thinking about welcoming one into your family, you need to ensure that there’s an area for them to run freely and safely around. As long as you provide your pet rabbit with plenty of exercise in the morning and at night, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t stay healthy and happy for a long time to come.