Housing and Supplies
Where your new rabbit will live is one of the most important decisions to make before you bring him home. Rabbits need a safe place inside your home; one that is climate-controlled and eliminates dangers for your new pet. You also need to consider space. We recommend that your rabbit’s housing be at least 6 times the size of your bunny when he’s relaxed and stretched out – more is always better, especially if he has to be confined for a large part of the day.
Tip: Keep in mind how much exercise time outside of their enclosure your rabbit will have during the day. A good guideline is at least 8 square feet for housing, combined with at least 24 square feet of exercise/play space. Please read more about housing suggestions on the national House Rabbit Society website.
Once you have determined how much space will be required, the next decision is the type of housing. There are many options for rabbit habitats:
- Reach-inside habitats (cages): A traditional cage needs to fit the size requirements highlighted above. The cage must include a litter box, food bowl, water bowl, and toys. We don’t recommend wire-bottom cages as they can cause sore hocks and other injury to a rabbit’s feet. Look for a cage with a side/front opening door so bunny can hop in and out at playtime. A top-opening panel is helpful for cleaning.
Ex-pens (dog exercise pens): Exercise pens (ex-pens) are typically sold for dogs as a collapsible metal pen. A 30-36” high pen is good for a rabbit as they can jump over short ones. A very simple setup for a rabbit is to put down a waterproof barrier, followed by foam interlocking exercise mats (found at hardware stores and some department stores). Next, cover the mats with a sheet or other fabric then place the pen on top. Ex-pens are portable, can be used for many things (like creating a play area), and are easy to clean.
- An entire room: If you have a room that you can dedicate to your rabbit, that is great! Note, however, that you don’t want your bunny to feel isolated and alone. If you choose this setup, be sure to spend plenty of time with your rabbits; remember they are part of the family! If your rabbits have free roam of a room, be sure to “bunny proof” it to keep them safe. The photo to the right shows a whole room setup. For more ideas, go to Kaninchen Info.
Tip: To bunny proof any room where your rabbit will be spending a lot of time, be sure to keep the room free of electrical cords, remove things that are not safe to chew, and be aware of furniture that she could get stuck under or in.
- Free roam of the house: This option requires extensive bunny-proofing to ensure bunny is safe from cords, plants, and other household pets. Your bunny will choose her favorite places in the house, so be sure to have plenty of litter boxes, water bowls and comfortable areas available to meet bunny’s needs.
- Condos made from grid / NIC cubes: This is an inexpensive and highly customizable type of cage. The 14-15” square grids are sold as shelving cubes at stores like Kmart, Target, Meijer, and office supply stores (look for brands like Neat Idea Cubes or Organize It). Condos can be made in all sizes and heights, and their included fasteners can be strengthened by using cable ties on the grids. Put a vinyl remnant under the condo if it will be in a carpeted room. Be sure to include a “door” by allowing one bottom front grid to swing on cable tie hinges on one side and clip shut on the other side. Find directions on how to build your own pen at rabbitnetwork.org.
Check out some of our volunteers’ habitat photos:
Now that you have built or set up a home for your new friend, make sure you add some important items. All homes must include the following:
- Water bowl: Use a ceramic bowl as it is more difficult for your rabbit to tip over and spill. We don’t not recommend water bottles as they drip and leak causing the rabbit’s cage to become wet. Dripping water bottles can also empty in a short period of time leaving your rabbit without water to drink throughout the day or night.
- Food bowl: Ceramic is best for this as well.
- Hay container: Rabbits need unlimited access to hay so it is best to have somewhere for them to find clean, fresh hay. Best practice is to refill your rabbit’s hay supply twice a day.
- Litter box: We highly recommend large litter boxes for rabbits. This allows for one end to contain a large pile of hay while the other end can be reserved for “other business.” In addition, many rabbits like to lounge and sleep in their litter box so the extra room is beneficial.
- Hidey house: This can be as simple as a cardboard box. Rabbits like to take refuge in their special spots during times of rest or sleep.
- Toys: like other pets – and even humans – rabbits can get bored. Toys help eliminate the boredom that leads to destructive behaviors (like chewing on flooring, furniture, or baseboards).
Tip: ideas for rabbit toys include hay-stuffed cardboard tubes, balls made of willow sticks, baby keys (made from hard plastic that rabbits can’t chew into pieces), phonebooks (printed with soy-based inks), cardboard boxes or tunnels, boxes with shredded newspaper for digging, and other durable items they can toss or throw.
Visit our shops and supplies page for a list of approved online stores to purchase safe rabbit toys. One of our volunteers is also posting homemade toy “how-tos” and reviews on her blog. Read her latest tips at http://bunnymomapril.blogspot.com/.
Links to other sites with useful information about housing options:
- http://www.binkybunny.com/BUNNYINFO/GreatHabitats/tabid/229/Default.aspx – This site contains photos of various types of habitats and NIC cube condo configurations.