Rabbit Housing Tips
Rabbits can live indoors or outdoors, or a combination of both. Continue reading to find out what types of cages are best and what you should have in your bunny’s cages to keep them happy and healthy.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Indoor Rabbit Cage/Enclosure
There are many rabbit specific houses available for purchase. Most have thick plastic bottoms and wire or metal sides and top. These are sturdy and can hold up to rabbits chewing on them. If the plastic bottom is thin and feels flimsy, your bunny will likely be able to chew through it over time.
The enclosure should be about 5 times larger than your rabbit. You can also have your bunny live in a pen, not a true cage. This often allows for more room. Just be sure the area is easy to clean (not on your carpet!) and your bunny can’t escape.
Outdoor Rabbit Hutch/Enclosure
These types of cages are typically elevated and made of wood and wire. Be sure the doors are sturdy and have locks to keep your bunny in and predators out. You need to put some disposable carpet pieces or a piece of plywood on the bottom so your bunny has a place to sit and rest that is not wire. The wire is hard on their feet and can cause wounds and pain if they have nowhere else to go. If the flooring is uncomfortable, your bunny may also spend all their time in the litter box which is not ideal.
Part of the cage should be enclosed or covered so your rabbit has a safe place to go if it starts to rain, if she gets scared, etc. If you live in areas where it gets hot and humid during the summer, have the cage in the shade and ideally a fan directed toward the enclosure to keep them cool. You may need to bring your bunny inside to the A/C during very hot days.
Winter Modifications for Outdoor Rabbit Hutches
Rabbits can tolerate cold weather very well. You may need to use cardboard, plexiglass, or plastic to cover the majority of the hutch to keep the draft/winds down. Do not completely cover the hutch since your bunny still needs some airflow. You can also move your hutch into the garage to keep them warmer and reduce wind exposure.
Replace the water at least twice daily since it may freeze. You never want your rabbit to be without water. Rabbits housed outdoors will also need more food during the winter months.
Special Considerations for Rabbit Cages
Be sure to keep the cage doors locked when you are not around to supervise your bunny. They are very curious and can get into trouble by chewing on electric cords, furniture, shoes, and floorboards.
Be sure to have a heavy bowl for the pellets and greens. Rabbits love to flip things over, so this will help prevent that and the food wastage that goes along with a spilled bowl.
Have hay on the floor/ground and also hang some from the top or sides of the cage. Rabbits will urinate and defecate in the hay on the ground, so you want to provide clean, fresh hay for them to eat higher up in the enclosure. You can also hang fresh greens from the cage for them to find and eat. Fresh hay should be provided daily.
Water bottles or heavy bowls are both options. Water bottles are often preferred since they can’t flip it and spill it, and it also keeps their fur and dewlap clean and dry. If your bunny is not used to a water bottle, you can put a little sweet fruit juice on the water bottle tip to encourage them to try it. Water should be replaced daily.
Your rabbit needs soft surfaces to sit and lay on. You can use layers of hay, paper-based bedding like CareFresh, or wood shavings. Use caution with wood shavings as some, like pine, can have irritating odors and cause your bunny to sneeze and have watery eyes. Bedding should be replaced at least twice a week or more often if your bunny does not have a separate litter box in the enclosure.
You can get litter boxes with low edges that are designed to sit in a corner for your rabbit’s enclosure and for other areas of the house. You can use the bedding, hay, or regular litter in the box. Change daily.
Rabbits are prey animals and they can get easily spooked by loud sounds, fast movements, and even shadows. Be sure your bunny has a hide box in her enclosure and a few around the house for her to go to when needed.
Have toys around the house and in the enclosure for your rabbit. Things they can chew up are ideal, such as toilet paper rolls, wicker or straw items that are free of paint, wooden chew toys from the pet store, certain sticks, and branches (be careful as some are toxic), and you can also hide food and treats for them to find.
Your rabbit should never be left unsupervised in the yard. It only takes a second for a predator like a hawk, cat, dog, or raccoon (to name a few!) to get your bunny. A rabbit pen, enclosed patio, and dog run are all options to help keep your bunny safer when outside.
Be sure to read our articles on Plants Safe for Rabbits and Toxic Plants for Rabbits so you know what to avoid outside.
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