Did you know your little loved one is wired to want to work for their food? The engrained instincts of rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and other small pets to forage for nutrition is directly tied to their natural behaviors in the wild, where calories are harder to come by.
In the wild, your pet’s wild cousins will spend hours each day searching high and low for sustenance. Your pet’s life is undoubtedly cushier than that of its furry ancestors, but the desire to forage remains. Supporting your pet’s foraging instincts offers many valuable benefits, including:
- It’s fun! Pets enjoy working for their food, and it’s a blast to watch them being active as they interact with the word around them
- It’s physically enriching! Getting up and moving is good for all of us and pets are no exception. Providing healthy foraging options provides your pet with valuable physical exercise each day. Pets that exercise on a daily basis are less likely to become overweight. This decreases the likelihood that they will suffer from obesity-related illness in the future.
- It’s mentally enriching as well! Being active and searching for food (rather than having it simply poured into a bowl 100% of the time) provides important mental health benefits for your pet and helps keep their mind sharp through daily exercise.
Foraging Foundations: How Do I Get Started Supporting My Pet’s Foraging Instincts?
Ready for some great news? Providing healthy foraging opportunities for your small pet isn’t rocket science! In fact, quite the opposite is true. If you’re new to concept of foraging, we suggest getting started with our article on how to support foraging in healthy ways.
Too Good to Be True? Watch Out for Muesli and Forage Mixes!
When it comes to promoting your pet’s foraging behaviors in healthy, meaningful ways, beware of products (particularly foods) that seem too good to be true. Muesli and forage mixes claim to support the foraging instincts of small pets, but have been shown to have the opposite effect. Learn more about the truth about mixes and foraging.
Ready to Add Some Fun and Excitement to Foraging? Let’s Accessorize!
Once you’ve mastered the basics of encouraging your pet to forage in healthy ways, it’s time to take foraging to the next level. Did you know Oxbow has a variety of enriching accessories designed to help? Here’s our favorites when it comes to foraging:
Made of high quality corrugate, this rocking roller is a furry fan favorite for its simplicity and interactive nature. The inside of the Hide & Chew Roll is perfect for stuffing with your pet’s favorite hay variety. Try hiding some pellets and a few healthy treat pieces inside the hay to make things especially enticing. In addition to chewing on the safe corrugate, your furry friend will gain hours of entertainment foraging for the hay and treats inside.
Not every pot is found at the end of a rainbow. Our fan-fav Forage Pot is designed to be hung vertically to encourage your pet to be physically active. The natural wood lid keeps the tasty contents of the Forage Pot hidden and requires your pet to work for their reward. Fill the high-quality clay pot with your pet’s healthy food of choice. To keep your pet engaged, try mixing the reward up on a regular basis. Imagine their excitement expecting to find their yummy fortified food of choice one day and discovering fresh leafy greens the next. Pure bunny bliss, we say!
Is your beloved bunny or precious piggie guilty of inhaling their food? No judgments here! We all get excited at mealtime, and sometimes it’s hard to avoid scarfing down our favorite foods. That’s why we specifically designed our Forage Bowl to slow things down at mealtime. The rounded nubs at the bottom of the bowl will make your pet work just a little bit harder for their precious pellets.
It’s no secret that big proponents of providing pets with hay in multiple locations throughout their habitat, and for good reason! Having hay available in a variety of locations is one of the simplest and most effective ways to promote foraging for your hungry little herbivore. Our Hay Forager makes a great addition to every habitat and attaches easily to habitat or X-pen walls. Stuff the high-quality burlap forager with your little loved one’s favorite hay (or, better yet, a mix of several) and enjoy watching them forage the day away!
Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? Your favorite fun-loving forager is sure to love the challenge of “cracking the code” to get to the hay or treats hidden inside the corrugate barrel. The Treasure Barrel clips securely and easily to the walls of your pet’s habitat or X-pen, encouraging them to “explore the space” in search of your food or healthy treat of choice.
It’s hard to pick a favorite when it comes to foraging and enrichment, but our Hide & Seek Mats would definitely be toward the top of the list. For long-time fans of our 100% hand-woven hay Timothy Club products, the Hide & Seek Mats are an exciting, foraging-focused addition to this fan-favorite line. Simply hide some food and/or healthy treat pieces within the nooks and crannies of the woven Timothy “tufts” and watch your pet’s foraging instincts on full display!
Does it get any cuter than the Garden Forage Puzzle? We don’t think so either. The puzzle brings garden-themed fun to the act of offering food and treats. Just fill up the carrot and lettuce-themed cups of the puzzle with a variety of healthy rewards and enjoy watching your furry friend nibble away one little cup at a time.
If there was a pet-themed escape room, we’re sure the Pull ‘n Seek would be a staple. Rather than searching for clues, however, this mentally engaging accessory is designed to stimulate your precious pet to complete the mentally-enriching task of pulling open the wooden drawers to reveal the delicious prize of your choice inside.
The Wobble Teaser is fast becoming one of our favorites when it comes to enrichment and foraging. This engaging accessory is a hit for pets and pet parents alike for the foraging fun and engagement that it adds to your pet’s day. Your smarty pants pet will quickly discover that a little nudge leads to their favorite food sprinkling out for instant enjoyment. And, with a clear design that allows you to visualize the food level, it’s easy to know when it’s time to refill your pet’s healthy food.
Eating food just from a bowl is so passé! Much like the Wobble Teaser, the Rolly Teaser requires pets to work for their food in a fun and active way. And, like the Wobble Teaser, the Rolly Teaser features an adjustable opening that allows you to control the flow of food. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy watching your little loved one roll their way to scrumptious nutrition in the form of their favorite food!