Housing options for rabbits have improved dramatically in the past several years. Free range living in a rabbit-proofed house (with SUPERVISED outdoor playtime) is the ideal situation for a rabbit to live up to it's full potential and optimum lifespan. They are happier, healthier and more able to become a full-fledged member of your family. There's nothing like being greeted home by a loving bunny after a hard day in the outside world!
If bunny needs a safe area of his/her own while you're not at home, try closing off one well rabbit-proofed room to keep bunny out of trouble. Don't forget the toys! A roomy exercise pen is the next best thing. It consists of a heavy wire "wall" which unfolds into an adjustable pen. It has no floor or ceiling, allowing for good air flow and a less "closed off" feeling than a cage. They are sold in three different heights, 24 in., 30 in., and 36 in. if you have a jumper. Some come with a gate.
Never put a rabbit in a small wire cage or an outdoor hutch. Putting a rabbit in a wire cage is the equivalent of your being confined to a closet. Sound comfortable? Wire is very bad for bunny feet, causing hock sores (which, if left untreated, can result in severe bone infections) and also arthritis. Putting a rabbit outside under any conditions is just plain cruel. Depriving such a social creature of interaction is a horrible thing to do to a rabbit, not to mention a danger to it's health and life. (Read more about this in our "Outdoor Dangers" section.)
If other household factors (such as dogs or small children) make caging your rabbit the safer option, get a large, roomy cage...even larger for bonded pairs. Each rabbit should have living space a m inimum of five times the size of the rabbit. There are two-story cages available now that most bunnies love. Some cages look very furniture-like to better fit with your decor. Most cage companies will custom make their cages to your specifications.
No matter what form of housing you decide on, your rabbit's well-being should be your main concern. Keep in mind also that no matter how nice the cage is, no rabbit should spend 24 hours a day locked up. Rabbits, just like other animals, need to exercise for good physical and mental health. So however you house your bunny, make sure they get some running around time and one-on-one interaction on a regular basis. You'll both enjoy the benefits of a healthy, happy bun.
Rabbits are intelligent, inquisitive creatures. They need stimuli for entertainment and exercise. A bored bun is a destructive bun. There are tons of rabbit toys on the market. Rabbitshop.com sells many.
You can also use ordinary household objects as rabbit toys. Here are some examples:
Another idea: Take a paper bag, fill it with hay and a few of bunny's favorite treats, poke a few holes, tie it with a bit of twine and voila! hours of fun for bun.
Always keep your bun's size in mind, and don't give him anything he can get his head stuck in. (Milo and I learned this the hard way with a kleenex box. Boy was he cheesed!)
Chewing habits vary by rabbit - some are munchers, some aren't - but I haven't met a bun yet who can resist an electrical cord. This can result in electrocution. Pull as many cords up off the floor as you can and cover the rest with a strong cord cover. There are different styles and sizes available.
Some folks use flexi-tubes, a pliant plastic tube with a slit to tuck the cords into. My buns ate those before I figured out they were better for gathering cords together and mounting them up off the floor. (We have employed those screw-in hooks you hang coffee cups with...screwing them into the back of a desk and hanging cords on them. We've even used duct tape in non-visible places.)
I prefer the hard covers, they're available in different sizes with elbow joints to go around corners and an adhesive strip on the back, snapping shut to keep cords extra safe. (Home Depot.)
We have eliminated access areas to multiple cord areas like the T.V. and computer by stuffing heavy-duty chicken wire between the wall and unit, bent into an arc and tucked in. Make sure they can't get behind any major appliances. Never assume a bun can't fit somewhere, they're prey animals and built to squeeze through small openings.
If you have potted plants, keep them out of bunny's reach. Besides becoming a major source of joyously messy excavation, many plants are poisonous to rabbits and they can't tell the difference between safe and unsafe. Put them where foliage can't fall to the floor.
Anything left out at bun level is fair game. This includes but in no way is limited to: clothes, shoes, books, toys, food, paperwork, briefcases, and those little rubber buttons on the remote control. Mine has none left, my fault for repeatedly leaving it on the couch. We refer to these nibbled items as "rabbit approved".
All family members must remember to check under furniture before flopping down on it, bun may be napping under there.
Closing doors behind you should become second nature to prevent bun getting lost. Windows should have firmly fitted screens if bunny is the adventurous type and likely to hop up on the windowsill.
You will have to learn to be aware of whether or not there's a small furry body underfoot as you walk. Consider putting bun someplace safe when entertaining so he won't get stepped on or let out.
If your rabbit is clever enough to open cupboards I recommend putting baby locks on them to prevent the ingestion of cosmetics, cleaning solvents, sponges etc. Keep the toilet lid down to prevent drowning. Never leave medications where bun can get them.
With a bit of initial rabbit-proofing you and bun can live a long, safe life together. Now go make sure the remote's not on the couch. See some photos of rabbit proofing here.
You can purchase pens, bowls, food, treats, litterboxes, medications, toys, hay, & litter at our adoption center. There are many other items for your bun available from us at: rabbitshop.com. Shop til' you hop!!! (All proceeds go to the rabbits.)copyright c. mc intire 2006. not to be used or posted on alternate websites without author permission.