Housing Options for Your Pet Rabbit
Author: P.A. Smith
At My House Rabbit, we advocate that pet rabbits live inside your home as opposed to outside in a hutch. There are several reasons to house your bunny inside. Not only will you ensure your bunny is protected from severe weather and predators, your bunny will become more of a member of your family when living inside with you because there tends to be more social interaction that way.
There are many options for housing your bunny indoors, including custom enclosures, puppy-pens, or simply a bunny proofed room. We'll discuss each option below.
We prefer to let our pet rabbits have free reign in a bunny proofed room. We chose to keep them in the room we use as an office. It is large with an open floor plan and generally speaking, one of us is always there to supervise. A section of the room contains their litter boxes, hay box, and food dishes on top of a plastic chair mat to catch any spills or accidents. They enjoy the freedom of exploring at a leisurely pace or taking a top speed run whenever they choose to. We provide cardboard castles for them if they feel the need to get away for a while.
A great option to consider is setting up a puppy-pen (or X-pen) in an area of your house for your rabbit. A puppy-pen can be purchased at many pet supply stores.
They are large enough hold all of the essentials for a rabbit and give them room to roam. Pens are easy to move when needed.
If you are concerned about your flooring or carpet, you can place a plastic chair mat, piece of linoleum, or an old rug at the bottom of the pen. (Make sure your rabbit doesn't ingest these materials however, because this can cause blockage. Keeping the edges out of reach helps limit this behavior.) The type of puppy-pens generally for sale do not have a top to them, so make sure you purchase one that is high enough that your rabbit cannot jump out.
Puppy-pens are useful if you intend to eventually give your rabbit free reign in a bunny proofed room. Limiting your rabbit's space in the beginning will allow him/her to grow accustomed to the location of the food and litter box(es). By gradually increasing the space, your rabbit will not feel overwhelmed by a large area. This helps prevent accidents and lower stress.
If you're handy, the sky's the limit when it comes to building custom enclosures. You can use wood, metal, repurposed furniture, and other materials to build a bunny condo. (See our blog post, Modern Bunny Hutch, for an example of a bunny house made from repurposed IKEA furniture.) One thing to note is that you should never build a rabbit enclosure with chicken wire because rabbits can chew the wire and hurt themselves. Also, if you decide to build with metal, the slats should be fairly close together so your rabbit cannot get his/her head through. Otherwise, your rabbit may get injured or strangled.
An easy way to build a custom enclosure is with wire storage cubes. Wire storage cubes, available at Target, Walmart, Sam's Club, and Amazon, can be customized into many different arrangements. Although slightly time-consuming, building a bunny condo out of storage cubes can present a fairly inexpensive option. (For step-by-step instructions on how to build a bunny condo with storage cubes, see the House Rabbit Network website.)
Of all the housing options, cages provide the least amount of space for your bunny, so if possible, we recommend trying a pen or custom enclosure setup first. However, if you do opt to house your bunny in a large cage, you must ensure the rabbit gets plenty of time of time outside the cage- at least a few hours daily. The options for cages are varied but require a few basics for the well being of your rabbit.
Cages must be large enough to accommodate your bunny. The bigger the better! There needs to be room for your rabbit to move about and lie down, as well as space for food, water, litter box and toys. Never use glass aquariums as they are seldom large enough and do not have enough air circulation. It is also best to have a cage with a front door so your rabbit can come and go on his/her own.
Some people prefer cages with wire bottoms because a litter pan can be placed underneath. This is generally fine, but you need to include a tile or a piece of wood or cardboard for the bunny to stand/lie on. Standing on the wire floor alone can cause damage and discomfort to your rabbit's paws.
There are many different housing possibilities to consider for your rabbit. Rabbits need a place where they feel safe as well as room to exercise and explore. The best option will depend on your living arrangements. But remember, rabbits are very social creatures, so choose a location in your home that won't leave your bunny feeling lonely and abandoned.