Mental stimulation is important for the happiness and well-being of your pet rabbit. Your rabbit should always have toys available to play with, as rabbits that do not get proper mental stimulation often resort to destructive behaviours to pass the time. There are many toys available at pet stores for rabbits, although for a more cost effective toy you can look to the outdoors. Pine cones are ideal for rabbits that love to chew, and can result in hours of fun. It is important that they be prepared and dried before giving them to rabbits in order for them to be safe for chewing.
Gather the pine cones from outside. Make sure that the pine cones you pick up have not been treated with pesticides or any other chemicals harmful to rabbits.
Wash the pine cones in a sink full of warm water and 1 cup vinegar. Using your hands, make sure to scrub off any dirt, sap, or bugs on the cones.
Let the pine cones soak for 20 to 30 minutes in order to remove any remaining sap or bugs that is stuck on them.
Prepare a place for the pine cones to start air drying by laying down some paper towels.
Rinse the pine cones thoroughly with fresh water and then place them on the paper towels to dry.
Air dry for 3 to 4 days, or to speed up the drying process, bake them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 93.3 degrees C and line a baking tray with parchment paper or aluminium foil.
Spread pine cones out onto the baking tray in a single layer and then place in the oven. Bake for one to two hours, until pine cones are fully open. Keep a close eye on the oven in case of fire or smoke.
Remove pine cones from oven and let sit until they are fully cooled. Treat your rabbits and watch them enjoy their new toy.
- Stuffing dried and open pine cones with fresh veggies makes them more enticing to wary rabbits. You can also customise your pine cone toys by tying two cones together with string.
- Pine cones must be watched closely when being baked in the oven in case there is smoke or fire. It is unknown whether sap from trees is toxic to rabbits or not, so it is better to be safe and remove all sap prior to giving the pine cones to your rabbit.
- Do not use bleach on pine cones to remove sap and bugs. It is toxic to rabbits.