by Barbi Brown (3B's Rabbitry)
DO BUNNIES NEED EXERCISE?
Of coarse, we all NEED exercise, it's just that we don't all get it!
The real issue is whether the bunny gets to run around in his cage, in the house, or outside. The cage should be large enough to let the bunny run around if he chooses to, and he probably will.
If he gets to run around the house he will delight you with flips and jumps and spins that you would think impossible. Just remember to bunny proof telephone and electric cords, computer cables and stereo wires.
Likewise in the yard they will find an exciting world of new things to explore, frequently at high speeds. The tough part is catching them! Keep in mind that playing in the yard will expose him to fleas and fur mites so watch for any signs of parasites and contact your vet for appropriate treatments. Topical flea meds can be toxic and only a couple of them are safe for rabbits.
Folding exercise pens are very helpful in providing a safe place to play and make catching them later easy.
You may also invest in a collar and harness combination designed for cats rather than a harness alone which they can easily back out of if provoked.
Tie a long string or rope to the end of the leash and let them drag it around the yard or house. Then when it is time to go back in the cage, pick up the leash and bring the bunny to you rather than chasing him. When you chase after them one of two things happen. Either your rabbit becomes frightened and runs or they think it's a game and the race is on! Believe me they can outlast the best conditioned marathon runner!
IF YOUR BUNNY RESISTS ENDING A PLAYTIME, PLEASE THINK OF HIM AS YOU WOULD A YOUNG CHILD. WHAT CHILD EVER WANTS TO COME IN FROM PLAY ? It is generally easiest to end an exercise session by habitually feeding them or giving them a treat. They soon begin to associate your call to go in with a pleasant dinner or snack.
You can get very creative in designing play areas. Cardboard boxes and large mailing tubes make great hiding and jumping places as do paper sacks. A kiddie wading pool full of clean sand makes a great place to dig and scratch without harming carpeting or lawns. Give him his own place to play and he'll leave your toys alone!