Adorable Rabbits

Miniature Lops and Netherland Dwarfs

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How to house your rabbit

Pet rabbits can live happily either indoors our outdoors. So long as you cater for their physical and behavioural needs, they'll stay happy and healthy.

Keeping a single rabbit alone in a hutch cannot even begin to meet the requirements of a social and active animal like a rabbit. In fact, it's cruel: rabbits living in caged solitary confinement develop all sorts of physical and behavioural problems.

 

 

Houserabbit cages: A vital accessory!
Everyone wants a free range houserabbit, but unless you are prepared to put up with a scene of devastation (and possible danger for your rabbit), you'll need a cage to start off with until your rabbit is sufficiently trained and your house sufficiently bunny proofed!

 

 

Don’t feel guilty about using a cage. Houserabbits regard their cage as home, not prison. Wild rabbits spend hours underground in very confined warrens. Your rabbit won’t mind being based in a nice roomy cage, so long as he can come out for several hours every day. You can build up his freedom gradually without sacrificing your home.

 

Even once your bunny is perfectly trained, cages can still be useful.

  • A cage provides a sanctuary for a rabbit if there are children or dogs around the house, either permanently or likely to visit.
  • A familiar cage is a great asset if your houserabbit goes on holiday.
  • Most people have to confine their rabbit from time to time, for example if decorating the house or entertaining.

Features to look for in a houserabbit cage

  • Space and comfort for the rabbit.
  • Effective use of space in your home, such as being able to use the top as a shelf.
  • Ease of cleaning and minimal potential for mess escaping.
  • Aesthetically attractive for indoor use
  • Adequate headroom.
  • Durability.

Minimising mess from hay & litter

Rabbits must have access to hay at all times - it's vital for both their digestion, their teeth, and to reduce boredom and behavioural problems.

 

But there's no denying that hay can be messy stuff indoors! Hay racks help a bit, but most people just pile hay in a deep-sided litter tray - bunnies love to munch and poop at the same time! Or, you could put hay inside a cardboard box with a pop hole cut in the side. Your rabbit will love to hide in the box, where he can eat and dig to his heart's content.

What about choosing litter for your rabbit's tray? You need something that will absorb urine and odour, be easy to handle and dispose of, and that isn't hazardous to your rabbit.

 

Stick to wood, paper or straw-based cat litters are the most popular choices for UK houserabbit owners, although even simpler is a layer or newspaper with a handful of hay or straw on top. Newspaper isn't all that absorbent, though, so this combination needs to be changed every day to avoid a nasty whiff from the litter tray.

 

Always avoid dangerous 'clumping' type litters - if rabbits eat these litters, they can develop intestinal obstructions. Clay-based cat litters are the usual suspects, but problems have also been reported with products made from hemp and corn cob.

 

 

Fold up dog cages
Probably one of the most popular options for houserabbit cages in the UK, and justifiably so. These cages consist of a large-gauge metal mesh frame, which folds up to suitcase-sized, lined with a removable plastic tray. They're relatively attractive to look at, especially the brass coloured finish which is the most popular.

 

They're available in several colours if you shop around, silver or black being the most commonly found alternatives to brass. Because these are designed for dogs, they have brilliant head room, but the larger sizes are proportionately very bulky indeed.

 

Playpens

How about a big playpen instead of a cage?

There are two main sorts of playpen design. The first is designed for puppies, and consist of a modular systems where a varying number of mesh panels are linked by clips. Alternatively, a traditional wooden-framed chicken or rabbit run (choose a rectangular rather than triangular design) could be used it you have sufficient space.

 

 

Traditional hutches
A traditional wooden rabbut hutch isn't the most obvious choice for a houserabbit cage, but they're not such a bad choice if you want to use the top as a coffee table or shelf!

 

The quality of most pet shop hutches ranges from poor to abysmal, but whereas flimsy hutches are totally unsuitable for an rabbit living outdoors (who need a sturdy, weather-proof, predator proof home raised off the ground as well as a large run) thin plywood is perfectly adequate to contain an indoor bunny when unsupervised.

 

Baby gates and custom-made cages

Don't forget the other options - using a baby gate to block off a utility area, for example. You'll probably need to adapt most gates with chicken wire or weld mesh to keep your bunny the right side of it!