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October 26, 2009

Rabbit Housing

The Humane Society of the United States

rabbit green bkrnd

iStockphoto

The best place for pets to live is indoors with their human families, and this applies to rabbits, too. Many bunnies today live as house rabbits, roaming freely throughout the home just like dogs and cats do.

Outdoor dangers

There are several reasons rabbits shouldn't live outdoors:

  • Domestic rabbits are different from their wild relatives—they don't do well in extreme temperatures, especially summer heat.
  • Even in a safe enclosure, rabbits are at risk from predators. Just the sight or smell of a predator can cause rabbits so much stress that they can suffer a heart attack and literally die of fear.

Indoor digs

Whether your rabbit has free rein in your house or is confined to a "rabbitat," he needs a private space where he can feel safe and comfortable.

There are several different housing systems for rabbits. Whatever kind you choose, make sure to keep it clean and well-stocked with hay, water, and the other necessities that make his house a home.

Cage basics

Most rabbit cages sold in pet stores are too small. Your bunny needs more than just a few square feet for his home.

If your rabbit is free to roam through the whole house or an entire room, a small cage like this may be ok as a base of operations. But if your rabbit is in his cage for extended periods of time, he'll need a much larger place to live.

A rabbit's cage should be a minimum of five times the size of the rabbit. He should be able to completely stretch out in his cage and stand up on his hind legs without bumping his head on the top of the cage.

Look for larger, multi-level rabbit homes offered by some pet supply stores and specialty online retailers. These cages give your bunny a lot of room to move around.

Whatever type of cage you get, make sure that the floors and resting platforms are solid—not wire, which can hurt your rabbits feet.

Not all rabbits need a traditional cage. Another option is to use a puppy pen or x-pen to contain your rabbit. As long as the pen contains the appropriate amenities, that will work just fine.

DIY

If you're more of a do-it-yourselfer, you can easily build a home for your rabbit. Homemade cages are easy to make with a minimum number of tools. If you're willing to put in the time, you can build a very large, very nice cage for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one.

Rabbit room

If you have a large home with many rooms, you can even devote an entire room to your rabbits. For starters, avoid flooring that's too slick for rabbit feet, like linoleum. Textured tiles usually work well and are easy to clean. Carpeting is fine too, if your rabbits have good litterbox habits and you can trust them not to chew the carpet. Replacing a regular door with a transparent door or Dutch door can allow you to keep an extra eye on your bunnies.

Rabbit amenities

In any home, it's important for a rabbit have a secluded place to hide. A cardboard box with a hole cut in it will be fine (staples and tape removed for safety). Rabbits usually sleep during the day and night, becoming playful at dawn and dusk, so they may use this box as a bedroom.

Also, don't forget the necessities, like one or more litterboxes with litter, hay, and water, and plenty of great chew toys to keep your bunny stimulated.

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