More than anything, rabbits are famous for their adorable leaps and hops. But does this skill make them good at climbing things too?
Rabbits are surprisingly adept climbers thanks to their powerful jumps and excellent agility. While they struggle with vertical surfaces, these animals can utilize even tiny footholds to great success. Furthermore, bunnies often climb for fun and enjoy sitting at high vantage points.
Below, this article explains how and why rabbits climb things. Along the way, we’ll also look at what kinds of obstacles your bunny can scale with ease.
How Rabbits Climb
Rabbits lack many of the evolutionary tools for climbing that other animals have. Cats, for example, can use their claws to grip almost any surface. Meanwhile, some monkeys have a tail that acts as an extra limb.
However, rabbits make up for this disadvantage with their impressive leaping abilities.
The average adult bunny can launch itself up to 3 feet vertically. Even more amazingly, they also horizontally soar as far as 9 feet.
When you combine these jumping skills with excellent balance, it’s fair to say rabbits are very agile.
Here are some things owners often report them scaling:
So if your wall or fence has small ledges, your bunny may easily climb it—especially if there are slats or openings for them to utilize.
Rabbits have claws which you might think would help them scale obstacles. But as it turns out, these nails are specifically for digging burrows. As a result, they’re of little help in getting over barriers.
Why Do Rabbits Climb?
We generally attribute climbing to tree-dwelling critters, such as squirrels and chimps. So why do rabbits, which are known for sleeping underground, also do it?
As it turns out, bunnies climb for numerous reasons—from survival to enjoyment.
Here are some examples of why they’ll clamber up objects:
- Survival and escape: Scaling high obstacles is crucial for a bunny’s survival. Many natural predators of rabbits, such as wolves and coyotes, are lackluster climbers. So getting up into a tree can provide them with safe refuge.
- Foraging: These critters will scramble around shrubbery and trees for food in the wild. Bunnies particularly love diving around berry bushes. Here’s a video example:
- Vantage points: Many animals seek raised areas to scope out threats, and rabbits are no different. It’s a big reason your pet may try to get on couches and tables.
- Fun: Believe it or not, our furry friends often love to climb. House furniture can act as an obstacle course for energetic bunnies.
How High Can Rabbits Climb?
As for how high rabbits can climb, the sky’s the limit.
If there is sufficient footing, these critters can keep going up to their heart’s content. There have even been cases of them getting to the tops of trees and roofs of houses.
However, there’s a big difference between how far they can and should climb.
While it might be easy for a bunny to ascend, they often struggle mightily coming back down. It’s much like how cats are infamous for getting stuck in trees.
Furthermore, rabbits can only safely fall about 3 or 4 feet. Beyond that height, the risk of injury for them goes way up.
As a result, you should stop your furry friend from scrambling up too high.
If you can’t physically reach and pick them up, then they’re probably not at a safe elevation.
Can Rabbits Climb Stairs?
Generally, rabbits have an easy time getting up and downstairs.
Even better, steps can be a lot of fun for your pet, as it provides them a chance to do lots of bunny hopping. Many owners even report their pets sprinting up and down them for fun.
However, there are situations where rabbits might get hurt on staircases.
Below are some points to consider before letting your pet roam on them:
- Steepness: Steeper, more narrow steps can be challenging for young bunnies to scale. Awkward footing may even lead to them falling down.
- Flooring: There’s a big difference between carpet and hardwood stairs for your bunny. Smooth surfaces make it more challenging (and more dangerous) for them to climb.
- Barriers: Ensure that your stairs have railings to prevent falling off the side. If not, you should probably stop your furry friend from ascending them.
- Foot traffic: Don’t put your pet on the stairs at times when they see lots of traffic. The sudden motion might scare them and cause a fall.
Can Rabbits Climb Up Trees?
Rabbits can be surprisingly adept at getting up trees. But there are several caveats.
For one, bunnies lack retractable claws and rotating wrists—which are critical adaptations for climbing. As a result, they struggle to scale vertical surfaces.
In other words, a bunny typically needs low-hanging branches or sloped trunks to get up a tree.
However, once up in the canopy, rabbits move with much more ease.
These critters have remarkable balance despite often looking clumsy. They’re not as graceful as cats but can confidently navigate narrow footing and leap between tree limbs.
In rare cases, bunnies may even burrow into small rotting trees. These unusual dens provide both an elevated vantage point and protection from predators.
Still, be careful letting your pet climb up your backyard maple. It may get stuck if there isn’t a noticeable route down.
Can Rabbits Climb Over Fences?
Whether or not your rabbit can scale a fence depends on a couple of factors—specifically, the size and type of fencing.
As mentioned earlier, an adult bunny can leap up as high as 3 feet into the air. So fencing any lower than that is a cakewalk for them to scale.
Furthermore, different kinds of barriers pose particular challenges for your pet.
A wrought iron fence will generally be impossible for them to scale. Since the bars are usually vertical and slick, there’s nowhere for a bunny to get a foothold.
Wooden fences are more straightforward for rabbits to tackle. The horizontal planks offer more places for a bunny to balance. Plus, wood is a natural material for them to grip.
But above all, chain link and chicken wire barriers are the easiest to climb—because these barriers have lots of small footholds for a bunny to utilize. Here’s a cute example:
However, they will have a much tougher time coming back down than going up. So, ensure your pet never climbs too high without supervision.
Is Climbing Good for Rabbits?
Climbing is an excellent way to provide enrichment for your pet rabbits.
It might seem counterintuitive since bunnies aren’t known to leave the ground often. However, rabbits enjoy scaling objects and get numerous benefits from doing so.
Check out these reasons why you should let your bunny do some (safe) climbing:
- Health: Allowing your furry friend to scramble around obstacles is an excellent form of exercise. Doing so activates muscles your rabbit might not use in a small enclosure.
- Reduced stress: Letting your bunny explore new heights can give them more confidence. High vantage points help your pet scope out its surroundings and feel more secure. Additionally, exercise from climbing may help reduce their anxiety.
- Bonding: Next time you watch a movie, allow your pet to roam around the couch. Your rabbit will trust you more if you let them scramble on your lap and around your head. Plus, who doesn’t love cuddling with a fuzzy bunny?
However, you should help your bunny back down if they seem nervous at tall heights. Some signs of fear include freezing, shaking, and flattening their body.
Climbing Toys for Rabbits
It’s tricky to find toys specifically for rabbits to climb.
But thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives that you can try. They may take a little bit of work to set up, but the effort is worth it to enrich your rabbit’s life.
Here are some climbing toy ideas for rabbits:
- Furniture ramps: Consider adding steps or ramps around furniture if you let your bunny roam around the house. Doing so will make it easier for your furry friend to explore and hang out with you.
- Cat trees: As it turns out, cat trees can also be excellent for rabbits to play on. They love hiding in cubby holes and getting to high platforms. Generally, trees with low-incline ramps are best.
- Backyard playground: Many bunnies love to hop around obstacle courses. If you have the room, place some small slides, ramps, and makeshift bridges for your pet to enjoy.
- Cardboard DIY: If you’re feeling ambitious, consider building your own pet castle. Even something as simple as taping cardboard boxes together can provide endless fun for your bunny.
Additionally, always remember that safety for our pets comes first. So double-check that anything you construct is sturdy, stable, and not too high.
Rabbits are relatively capable climbers despite lacking some evolutionary advantages. They don’t have retractable claws or a powerful grip, but they make up for it with their prowess at leaping.
Your pet can scale most objects with sufficient footholds. However, they aren’t good at scrambling on vertical or smooth surfaces.