Playing for Keeps

At the House Rabbit Society, we take rabbits and rabbit care very seriously. We know our members feel the same way, which puts all of us in a very small, select group. Others may think of rabbits–if they think of them at all–as cute, or worse, tasty; prolific; timid; etc.Those of us in the know also know that silliness is a primary though often hidden facet of rabbit nature. We have been present at the sacred Silly Dance, the goofy head-shake, the glorious smile. There is nothing quite like seeing a pair of ears appear behind the cardboard box you placed on the floor a moment ago, followed by that irresistibly impudent (“Who, me?”) wide-eyed face. Except, perhaps for that glimpse of a twitching tail as it disappears round the corner of your desk, daring you to catch her if you can, reminding you to put down your pen and check your watch. What time is it? It’s time to restore your spirits and let your inner rabbit out to play.

I’ll bet that like me, you have been known to get down and get silly with your bun. You have learned, as I have, that playtime is bonding time. Play is also a diagnostic tool. You’re familiar with Ms. Bunyip’s daily routine, so you know to pay close attention if she doesn’t kick up her heels or circle your legs at her usual time and place. A play-date with your bun, where the two (or more) of you invent interspecies entertainments, is education at its finest, useful, absorbing, and fun.

Unlike the predatory tendencies of our cats and dogs, rabbits are hard-wired the other way. Compared to cats and dogs–and humans–most rabbits have less “fight” in them and are more easily stressed. This makes stress management, in the form of toys and games, all the more important to their well-being. And thank heaven for that. Because once you’ve been admitted to the joyful mysteries of rabbits at play, you’re hooked for life.

Amy Espie

House Rabbit Journal Volume III, Number 6, December 1995