Pine cone rabbit treats are a great way to provide stimulation and a healthy chew toy for your bunny. With a simple process you can prepare the pine cone so that it is a safe chewing toy that the rabbits really enjoy.
Foraging for Healthy Pine Cone Rabbit Treats
The other day I went to the bank. Not unusual but this particular day, a large pine tree had fallen over in the high winds. This was a mature beautiful pine and pine cones were everywhere! It was a forager’s dream. I knew that pine cone rabbit treats were a good activity for bunnies but hadn’t found any to give to our rabbits. I did the banking business I had come for and asked if I could collect some pine cones. Asking permission before foraging on property that isn’t yours is always a good idea. A short time later I had two large reusable grocery totes filled with pine cones.
Since I hadn’t given our bunnies pine cone rabbit treats, I asked two other rabbit owners for advice. I knew I had read something about the pine cones needing to be prepared before giving them to the rabbits. But what type of preparation was needed?
Preparing Pine Cone Rabbit Treats
Both friends told me the same information. The preparation is intended to keep the rabbits from getting any mites, or other insect pests, along with any diseases that could be on the pine cone. I was assured that no insecticides or weed killer had been used around the trees, too. It was obviously a very healthy older pine tree and I was sad to see it toppled by the wind. Also, I was sorry that I couldn’t carry off more of the pine cones and the broken pine limbs for the goats! While I am sure that wild rabbits just jump right in and gnaw away on fresh pine cones, I decided to err on the side of caution and follow the procedure for making pine cone rabbit treats the safe way.
Collect the pine cones from a pesticide free source.
Wash the pine cones in a sink full of warm water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Remove dirt clumps, insects, and dried sap.
You may need to keep pushing the pine cones under the surface of the water until they get wet.
Spread the pine cones out to dry for three or four days. You can also use a dehydrator set on low to speed up the drying time.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the pine cones in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake on low heat (around 250 degrees F) for 2 hours.
Cool the pine cones completely.
Give your bunny his new Pine Cone Rabbit Treats!
Why Do Rabbits Need Toys?
Rabbits kept in captivity as pets need a lot of mental stimulation in order to not become destructive. Toys are one way to provide the activity needed to keep the bunny healthy. In addition, bunnies need something hard to chew on or their teeth will become overgrown. Rabbits in the wild wear down their teeth by chewing branches and other hard surfaces. Pet rabbits benefit from this too. If you don’t provide suitable toys they will begin chewing on furniture and baseboards and other objects you wish they wouldn’t chew!
Providing chew toys that you make at home is an economical way to provide the mental stimulation and physical exercise that your pet needs. When gathering sticks to make a chew bundle, make sure the wood is safe for rabbits to chew. Maple, Alder, Pear and Willow are good choices. Small branches from an apple tree make a tasty treat! Do not use branches from cherry, plum, peach and apricot trees as they can be toxic.