All About Bunny Housing
Some rabbits have free run of the carefully bunny-proofed house where they are never caged. Rabbits not in this situation need to have appropriate housing provided for them. Here are some guidelines to use when selecting and outfitting housing for a newly adopted rabbit family member.
We also have a Special Needs Housing page!
Where will your bunny live?
Free run of the house
This is what we all hope for and many of us are able to achieve. This requires more work on your part. You must inspect every room for wires and other things that are dangerous to your rabbit. Houseplants can be toxic. If you have a computer room, you might want to exclude him from that room. The more room that your rabbit has the more delightful he will be to be around. Nothing is nicer than to have “Flopsy” curled up at the foot of your bed.
Caged part of the time
An “untrained” rabbit probably should be caged while you are not home. Rabbits are nocturnal, so they generally sleep while you are away. They are ready to play when you get home. If you work during the day, they won't mind so much being in a cage but, they must be let out for at least several hours to exercise and have social time with you everyday. Rabbits that are never let out of their cages have problems with muscle atrophy, they can’t even hop.
Confined to a room or cage only when you are away
Bored rabbits become naughty rabbits. If they are left to roam the house while no one is home to talk to them and pet them, they will find something to do. That is when they chew a hole in the leather couch or dig a hole in the carpet or chew the corners off of the sheet rock. Younger rabbits are usually the ones that get into this type of trouble. Often a bathroom or laundry room is a safe place for your rabbit to stay while he can’t be supervised. These rooms are easy to rabbit proof. Make sure they have their bed, food, water, litterbox and some toys.
It is a joy to watch your bunny play outside but…..
Do not let your rabbit play on grass that has been fertilized or had a weed killer put on it. Always supervise your rabbit while it is outside, it takes just a few seconds for a dog to kill or frighten your rabbit to death. Never leave your rabbit outside after dark. Predators are raccoons, stray dogs, cats, possums, owls and coyotes. Even in the city, these predators exist. Even in a secure hutch, a rabbit can be frightened to death by a predator attempting to get in.
Choosing Housing: Size Does Matter
Your rabbit's housing should provide adequate room for his/her personal belongings with enough space remaining for bun to stretch out and move around. The bigger the housing the better, but your rabbit should have, at a minimum, the following space provided for their housing:
Small to Medium
single rabbit 2' x 4'
bonded pair 4' x 4'
Large to Giant
single rabbit 4' x 6'
bonded pair 4' x 8'
Inadequate housing can cause a number of behavioral issues and will cause your rabbit's muscles to deteriorate.
Multi-level bunny condos are one way to give your rabbit the space they need while minimizing the amount of floor space dedicated to his/her housing. Rabbit condos can be ordered online from places like Leith Petwerks (leithpetwerks.com), made yourself from NIC cubes (search for "NIC condos" online to learn more) or you can build your own with bunny friendly materials. Another option, which requires less investment and offers more versatility, is exercise pens. Be sure to protect flooring under bun's housing; remnant pieces of linoleum work great for this.
Outfitting Bun's Housing
There are several items that will need to be included when outfitting your rabbit's housing.
Cover wire floors! Rabbits were not designed to live on wire floors, a house rabbit does not need a wire floor. Wire floors cause sores to develop on rabbits’ feet. All cages with wire floors must have a piece of plexi-glass or a piece of plywood that the rabbit can sit on. When using grass hay, the ENTIRE wire floor should be
covered. Carpet squares are good for some rabbits. If they chew on the carpet, you must remove it immediately or risk the rabbit getting an intestinal blockage.
Solid Flooring: Wire or wire-like flooring is not comfortable for your rabbit or good for their feet. This type of flooring can cause sore hocks which in turn can result in serious infections. Plywood covered with linoleum would be a suitable solution.
Floor Covering: Rabbits do not feel safe on slippery surfaces and could end up with serious injuries. All floor coverings should be washable and prevent slipping. Some suggestions would be carpet samples (provided they do not eat them), towels, cotton throw rugs, and sea grass mats.
Ramps: Multi-level condos often contain ramps to enable a rabbit to access other levels. Be sure that these ramps are covered with a nonskid, rabbit safe material or are equipped with wood slats to help provide traction.
Food & Water: Water and food bowls should be made of heavy, crockery or your rabbit will mistake them for toys and toss them around their housing. A space also needs to be provided for Timothy hay, which a rabbit should have access to at all times. A couple of different options would be to stuff the hay inside an empty tissue box (remove plastic) or in an all natural basket that has not been painted, stained or varnished. Craft stores, garage sales, and second hand stores are a great place to find baskets in a variety of shapes and sizes! More info on Food & Water.
Litter Box: It is important that your rabbit's litter box is an adequate size to prevent accidents. Fill with 1/2" of non-clay, non-clumping and rabbit-safe litter. You can use:
- All-natural wood stove pellets
- Crown Animal Bedding
- Carefresh Animal Bedding
- Corn Cob litter.
Their litter box should be emptied regularly to avoid odors which are harmful to your rabbit's respiratory system.
Hiding Box: Everyone, from time to time, needs a place to get away from it all; your rabbit is no different. They should have a hiding box available to them in their housing. Cardboard boxes work great for this and can be filled with Timothy Hay for your rabbit's comfort and enjoyment!
Toys: Your rabbit will also need toys to play with. Empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls work great, hard plastic baby toys and old telephone books are just a few items you can add to your rabbit's housing.
Cleaning: Your rabbit's housing should be completely cleaned once a week at least. Use a 1:1 solution of warm water and white vinegar with just a little dish soap for cleaning. Do not use pine scented, pine oil based or commercial cleaners.
Time out of the house: Appropriate housing does not eliminate the the need for bun to have exercise time outside of his/her housing. Rabbits should be allowed at least several hours outside of their housing to run, jump, explore and interact with their family daily.
You can buy a pre-made bunny condo...
Bunny Abode Condos
You can buy Bunny Abode Condos directly from Leith Petwerks or, better yet, get one locally from the Rabbit Meadows store in Seattle!
...or use an exercise pen to create adaptable housing...
X-Pens are available pet supply stores, and come in different sizes and heights. Wait to buy an X-Pen until after you know the size and energy level of your bunnies.
...or create your own out of "Neat Idea Cubes" (NIC)!
Photo from Michigan Rabbit Rescue
Here's a great page on creating a NIC rabbit house!
How to build your own rabbit condo--check out this awesome video from www.rabbitcondo.com. Check out their site too for lots of ideas & photos.