Playtime is an important part of life for many animals. It helps them develop physically and mentally and allows them to form social bonds. In this post, we’ll look at some of the most playful animals in the animal kingdom. From frolicking foxes to parrots that love puzzles, read on to learn about animals that really know how to have fun!
If you’re looking for a playful critter, look no further than the otter. Otters are semi-aquatic mammals known for their playful behaviour both in the water and on land. They are incredibly energetic and will happily spend hours playing and goofing around every day.
Otters love to wrestle and chase each other in the water. You’ll often see them repeatedly sliding down muddy or snowy banks as if they’re on a water slide. They also play games of tag and keep-away by tossing small rocks and shells to each other. Their play helps strengthen social bonds between individual otters.
On land, otters entertain themselves by sliding repeatedly down the same slope or by playing with toys like small stones or twigs. Some otters in captivity even figure out how to open latches and gates as a game! With their boundless energy and inquisitive nature, every day is playtime for otters.
Our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom, chimpanzees, are also highly intelligent and social. Like us, they need plenty of playtime to develop physically and mentally.
Young chimps can spend up to six hours per day playing! They participate in activities like wrestling, chasing, and tickling with other chimps their age. This helps them learn important social skills like taking turns, cooperation, and empathy.
Chimps also play with objects like sticks, branches, leaves, stones, and milk jugs provided by zookeepers. They derive great enjoyment from discovering new ways to interact with toys. You may see them roll items down slides repeatedly, toss them in the air, and try to catch them. This object play allows them to be creative and use tools.
Playtime continues into adulthood for chimps. Adult chimps have been observed making up their own unique games with set rules. For example, one popular game involves two chimps facing each other while rapidly hitting the ground in a coordinated pattern. Games like this require concentration, memory, and cooperation. Play is critical for their highly intelligent minds.
China’s black and white giant panda bears are beloved for their adorable antics. Despite their size, giant pandas are wonderfully playful animals.
Young panda cubs will wrestle with their siblings and mothers in the wild. They also like to cartwheel down hills and climb trees for fun. Pandas will roll and slide repeatedly in the snow or on hills to entertain themselves.
Pandas’ playful nature continues into adulthood. Pandas at zoos are given plenty of enrichment toys to spark their interest, like puzzle feeders, balls, and tire swings. They especially love rolling down their custom-built rock slides over and over again. Their silly expressions and clumsy tumbling make panda playtime delightful to watch.
Man’s best friend lives up to that title due to their loyal, affectionate nature. But did you know dogs are also one of the most playful pets?
Most dogs love playing with toys that mimic prey, like chew toys, ropes, and balls. Fetch is a favourite game as dogs happily retrieve toys over and over. Some dogs have even learned to play fetch by themselves, dropping a ball down a slope and then chasing and retrieving it!
In addition to playing with their owners, dogs enjoy roughhousing and chasing other dog friends at the park. Play-bowing, where a dog crouches down with their front legs on the ground and their back legs in the air, is an invitation to play. You can often see dogs play-bowing, tagging each other, and then sprinting off in wild circles together.
Dogs may be the only animal that continues to play well into old age. From puppyhood to their senior years, playtime is always fun for dogs.
Bunnies may seem delicate, but they love to play and leap! Rabbits enjoy running, jumping, and twisting mid-air in bursts of happy hops during play sessions.
Provide your rabbit with toys they can toss and roll, like hard plastic balls, keys, or empty toilet paper rolls. They’ll nudge and push these toys about for hours. Some bunnies even play catch with their owners by pushing balls back and forth.
Tunnels and cardboard boxes appeal to their natural burrowing instincts. They’ll hop in and out of these spaces happily. Rabbits also binky – jumping straight up in the air – when overcome with joy. You’re likely to see binkying during especially thrilling playtimes. With all their jumping and pouncing, rabbits no doubt know how to have a good time!
Cats may be known for sleeping the day away, but kittens and young cats are quite energetic. They especially delight in chasing fuzzy toys and batting them with their paws.
Laser pointers are an infamous cat toy. As the red dot flits around a room, cats joyfully leap after it. Some even learn to lead their owners to the laser pointer when they want to play.
Crinkle balls and toy mice make for good group play, as multiple cats can kick and toss them around together. Cats also love cardboard boxes to scratch, hide, and pop out of. And what cat doesn’t enjoy a nice game of pouncing on their owner’s ankles when they walk by? For cats, playtime is the purrfect way to pass the time.
Parrots are more than just pretty and talkative. Many species, like African greys, cockatoos, and macaws, are incredibly playful. In fact, play should be a big part of any parrot’s daily schedule.
Parrots love to climb, swing, flap, and even dance! Be sure to provide plenty of exciting toys they can manipulate and move about. Ladders, hanging toys, and swings are ideal. Puzzles where they have to move parts and open doors to uncover treats stimulate their agile minds.
Since parrots are social, you can have fun teaching games like peekaboo or passing a ball back and forth. Some may even learn to dunk a toy basketball through a small hoop! From dancing to puzzles, parrots thrive when playtime engages their bodies and minds.
Despite their massive size, elephants are incredibly playful creatures. Both African and Asian elephant calves enjoy rolling around and sliding down muddy slopes. They also love splashing about in the water, spraying themselves and others mischievously with their trunks.
Elephants play a variety of physical games together. Young elephants playfully push, rub, and lean on each other. Some even wrestle by locking tusks and pushing back and forth until one gives in. Elephant soccer is another amusing game where they nudge gigantic balls around with their feet, trying to score goals against each other.
Playing with sand is another favourite elephant pastime. Using sticks and leaves, elephants will draw elaborate designs in the dirt. Some researchers believe this shows imagination and creativity. Elephants know how to have a robust good time.
With their dog-like personalities, foxes are playful creatures. Young kits chase, pounce, and nibble their litter-mates in the wild. This helps them develop hunting skills.
Foxes also love to play with “toys” they find outdoors. You may spot them tossing around stones, flowers, or sticks they’ve found. Some even seem to play tag by chasing each other in circles.
In captivity, foxes eagerly play with a variety of toys. Jumping through hoops, hiding toys, and engaging with puzzle feeders are some of their favourite activities. Their inquisitive nature makes for lively playtimes. So even though they hunt small prey, foxes are also friendly animals that live to play.
These small, popular pets with vibrant plumage are full of spunk. Parakeets playfully zip around their cages when let out for fly time. Hanging upside down, fluttering, and chasing each other burns off their abundant energy.
You can teach a parakeet simple tricks like climbing a ladder or pushing a ball. Puzzle toys that require moving parts to uncover treats also keep them happily occupied. Mirrors are another favourite as they will chatter away at their reflection.
Parakeets often bond with their owners and may enjoy playing interactive games. Peekaboo, making them search for a treat in your hand, and learning to give you a “high five” with their foot are some fun tricks. Such a little bird has no shortage of playtime possibilities.