My Rabbit’s Living Space
Rabbits thrive best as indoor pets. In fact, an indoor rabbit can live twice as long as an outdoor rabbit. But just like a dog with its bed or a cat with its treehouse, a house rabbit can benefit from a space to call its own.
DOES MY RABBIT NEED A CAGE?
Your rabbit does not need a cage. However, an untrained rabbit probably should be kept in a homebase of some kind while you’re not home to supervise and at night when you sleep. House Rabbit Society encourages the use of an exercise pen (x-pen) over a cage. They usually provide much more running space than a cage, can be made larger or smaller, and are easy to move from place to place–which you and your rabbit may appreciate, from time-to-time. Also, since cage wire floors are dangerous for rabbit feet, exercise pens have smooth floors and are easier to clean than a cage.
WHAT SIZE HOUSING IS BEST?
Bigger is better! A rabbit’s home should be at least 4-6 times the size of your bunny when they are entirely stretched out–even larger if they are confined for a large amount of the day. Enclosure sizes also should be decided in conjunction with the amount of exercise time and space the rabbit has. One guideline to go by is at least 8 square feet of enclosure space combined with at least at least 24 square feet of exercise space, for 1-2 rabbits, in which the rabbit(s) can run and play at least 5 hours per day.
CAN MY NEW BUNNY RUN LOOSE IN THE HOUSE?
A rabbit who is learning to use the litterbox needs to have limited running space while they learn where their litter box is and what it is for. More space can be provided as your bunny shows they know where to “go.” Bunny proofing your home as well as learning what your rabbit’s temptations are (chewing books and baseboards, digging the carpet, climbing to the table top for that vase of flowers, keeping closet doors closed, etc.) are essential to keeping your rabbit and your home safe. This may take some time, so do not rush giving your rabbit free reign.
An untrained rabbit can get into a lot of mischief, so they should be kept in an enclosure while you’re not home to supervise and at night when you sleep. Rabbits are crepuscular, which means that generally they sleep during the day and during the night but are ready to play at dawn and at twilight. Be sure to let them out during the evening when you are home, and if possible, in the morning while you get ready for work. However, once your rabbit is familiar with your home, once you know what your rabbit does, and once your house has been fully bunny proofed, there’s no reason that they can’t have run of a room or even your entire home even when you’re not there.
HOW DO I MAKE MY RABBIT’S ENCLOSURE TIME MORE ENJOYABLE?
A rabbit’s primary living space should be seen as their “homebase”–that special place where they can feel safe and secure. Make the base enjoyable and they will enjoy being there, even when the door is open! Keep it supplied with a litter box, a hidey box for extra privacy or security, hard plastic baby toys, a soft rug or towel, and something wooden attached to the inside for chewing. When it is bedtime or time for you to leave the house, a nice veggie or fruit snack can make entry to the enclosure more positive. Feel free to cut openings in a cardboard box or purchase a variety of fun wooden and cardboard play houses available for your rabbit to climb and hide in. Be sure to rotate bunny’s toys and play houses and boxes, as rabbits can get bored. Here are some options: Cats and Rabbits and More and Pinky Bunny. You can also perform a search on Etsy.com for “toys for rabbits”
WHEN CAN I LET MY RABBIT RUN LOOSE IN THE HOUSE?
When your rabbit is better trained, and when your house (or the part that your rabbit will have access to) has been sufficiently bunny proofed, your rabbit can be allowed free run of the home (or part of it) even when you are not home. The more room your rabbit has to run around in, the more delightful you will find her as a companion.
Even when a rabbit has a lot of room to run around, they can still get bored. A bored rabbit is often a naughty rabbit. If you don’t make every attempt to provide your rabbit with lots of entertainment–in the form of boxes and climbing structures, willow baskets for chewing and consuming, safe sticks, magazines and phone books, grass mats, etc., then they will be able to make their own entertainment.