Updated: May 17, 2023
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 are 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 world 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 illnesses 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.
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 the 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 are our favorites when it comes to foraging:
1. Lettuce Forage Mat
Lettuce eat! This fun, garden-inspired accessory will provide hours of safe foraging fun for pets of all sizes. Made of super soft fleece, the many folds of our Lettuce Forage Mat are ideal for hiding pellets, healthy treat pieces, or your pet’s favorite healthy foods. The non-slip bottom will help keep the mat in place while your rabbit or guinea pig forages high and low to make sure they locate every last delicious bite.
2. Bamboo Ball Pit
Ball pits aren’t just for kids anymore! Our fan-fav Bamboo Ball Pit offers multiple layers of enriching fun and is perfect for multi-pet households. Simply sprinkle your pet’s foraging favorites through the pit and watch them work like never before for their food. What better way to reward all that hard work than by playing and chewing with the all-natural rattan balls to celebrate?
3. Pyramid Treat Hanger
If you’re looking for a way to encourage your pet to stretch those legs while foraging, the Pyramid Treat Hanger is just the ticket! This fabulous foraging accessory offers multiple layers of enriching chewing materials and can easily be stuffed with your pet’s favorite foods for a challenging treat that will engage both mind and body!
4. Timber Treat Teaser
Pets love puzzles! That’s what makes the Timber Treat Teaser so great for promoting foraging for small pets. Each wooden disk contains a cutout where you can hide your little loved one’s favorite pellets or small treat pieces. Simply fold up the disks, sit back, and watch your pet engage his best problem-solving skills to forage for the food inside.
5. Treasure Barrel
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.
6. Hide & Seek Mat
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!
7. Apple Twig Tree
The Apple Twig Tree is brilliant in its simplicity. Pets love chewing on the apple stick “branches” alone, but this accessory is easily elevated into a foraging masterpiece by simply adorning the branches with your pet’s favorite fresh greens and veggies. Eating healthy has never been so enriching!
8. Pull ‘n Seek
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.
9. Wobble Teaser
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.
10. Rolly Teaser
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!