Does My Rabbit Need a Cage?
Your rabbit does not need a cage. However, an untrained rabbit probably should be kept in a home-base of some kind, like an ex-pen, a large cage, or some other protected housing, while you’re not home to supervise and at night when you sleep. (NOTE: Check out San Diego House Rabbit Society’s terrific recommendations on ex-pen living!)
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 he or she can’t have run of your home even when you’re not there.
Is it OK to keep my rabbit in a cage with a wire floor?
Rabbits were not designed to live on wire floors–they’re hard on their feet (which have no pads like those of cats or dogs). If you must use a cage with a wire floor, you need to provide your rabbit with a resting board or rug for her to sit on, otherwise she will spend all of her time in her litterbox. But this is not ideal.
You can find cages with slatted plastic floors, which are more comfortable, or you can use a solid floor. As long as your rabbit has a litterbox in the corner that he chooses as his bathroom, there shouldn’t be much of a mess to clean up. But ex-pens or other types of situations are much easier to find, are roomier, and are friendlier for both your rabbit and yourself.
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 he’s entirely stretched out–more if he is 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. You can build or buy your rabbit a two-story “condo” with the floors connected by a ramp–they love this! For ideas on where to buy different housing options, visit here.
Can my new bunny run loose 24 hours a day?
An untrained rabbit probably 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 he or she can’t have run of your home even when you’re not there.
What can I do to make the rabbit’s enclosure time more enjoyable?
A rabbit’s home base should be seen as the rabbit’s “nest.” A special place where he can feel safe and secure. Make the nest enjoyable and she will enjoy being there, even when the door is open! Keep it stocked with baby toys, a synthetic sheepskin rug, a piece of wood attached to the inside (like a baseboard), and when you put him to bed at night, a nice veggie or fruit snack. For rabbits in an ex-pen, there are a variety of fun wooden and cardboard play houses available today for your rabbit to climb and hide in, which will make his time in his “home” much more enjoyable. Find them here, here, and here!
When is it OK to let a 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, he may 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, baskets, brooms, sticks, magazines, phone books, grass mats, etc., then he will make his own entertainment in your carpet, behind your couch or under your recliner.
Can I let my rabbit run loose outside?
Always supervise your rabbit when she’s outside. It takes just a few seconds for the neighbor’s dog to jump the fence and attack or frighten your rabbit to death.
Make sure that the grass has not been sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers. Check the yard for holes in the fence and poisonous plants.
Under no circumstances should rabbits be left outside after dark. Predators are possums, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, dogs and occasionally cats. If you have an outside enclosure that you feel is very secure, a rabbit can still die of fright while a predator taunts the rabbit from outside. For more info, see the Outdoor Hazards FAQ or the Rabbits Outdoors FAQ.