Keeping rabbits inside the home is becoming increasingly popular and due to the amount of time a rabbit gets to spend with its owners indoors, a deep bond can form between them. Because of this, it is sometimes acceptable to keep one rabbit as long as the owner spends enough time playing with the bunny that it won’t feel lonely.
Cages are the main method and the easiest to get hold off. Most pet stores with the space sell them and they are quite accessible online. A cage consists of a deep plastic tray with a wire top. Shop around and you will see that most cages come as a set, with a water bottle, food bowl, hay rack and a platform/hiding hole for the rabbit. Look at the points below to learn more about cages.
- Most cages are at a length of 100-120cm; this is fine for a rabbit that will be spending most of its time out of the cage. Ideally, you should choose the largest one you are able to afford. Whilst some manufacturers try to sell cages smaller than 100cm as dwarf rabbit cages, please do not use them! Anything smaller than 100cm is definitely too small. If you are buying a young rabbit, always choose a cage for its adult size.If your rabbit will be confined in a cage during your sleeping hours and your work hours, I would recommend you to find a cage that was 120+cm in size.If you will be rabbit proofing the room the cage will be in (or the entire house) and you are considering letting your rabbit roam free throughout the whole day, a 100cm cage will suffice.
- Rabbit cages have a door to allow you access to the pet. Some have more than one door for ease of access and size of doors can vary greatly. Whilst it does not seem like an important point to consider, think about a scenario where a door may be too small for you to spot clean with ease or to remove a litter tray. Some doors are more suited to guinea pigs than rabbits!
- Some cages come with metal wire flooring. These can damage a rabbit’s hands and feet so the flooring will have to be covered. This applies to wire doors that form ramps when opened.
- Like hutches, you can now buy two storey cages. But do not forget that the need for a ramp will mean areas of the cage are not usable.
Cages are rather like bedrooms for rabbits
You sleep in your room but you would not want to be confined to just your room. Adequate time out of a cage to exercise is a must. This applies to any other indoor housing method where the home itself is not very roomy. I would recommend the use of a cage if you are able to let your rabbit out to exercise often. They can be relatively inexpensive (but expensive for the amount of size you get) if you shop around on the internet and because most come with accessories, you do not need to buy those separately. They are also easy to set up; you can have a cage all ready in less than half an hour. Aside from bunny proofing your rabbits play area, there are fewer changes to make to your house and less DIY/creativity work needed.
When finding a place to put the cage, it would be better to place it in a room rather than a hallway. This is because hallways have a lot more draughts and can be quite busy noisy areas. Since cages and most indoor housing methods involve metal wire frames, they are vulnerable to draughts so careful thought into placement of these rabbit homes is needed. Rabbits are quite shy when in a new home so to put the cage in a hallway may frighten a rabbit and if your household is noisy, it might prevent your rabbit from relaxing.
Examples of Rabbit cages:
Ferplast Rabbit & Guinea Pig Cage 120cm
Ferplast Cottage Indoor Rabbit Cage
This is one of the most creative and fun ideas I have seen. It is extremely versatile, you will have the freedom to make your rabbit house exactly how you want it and if you want a change in scenery, you can always take it apart and start again. They are made from storage cubes called Neat Idea Cubes (by Fellowes) that were meant to be an alternative to other storage methods. You can combine several packs of these wire frames to make a quite large cage. They usually come in packs of 20 frames with connectors (you can also use cable ties). Here are two places that do them and the price (at time of writing) but feel free to shop around:
- 20 x 14” square frames at Wayfair for £34.99
- 26 x 14” square frames at Amazon – Grendle Enterprises for £47.50. There is an example of an animal house at this link.
You can add shelves and doors where you want and extensions if you feel like it. You will need wood to support any shelves you add and as rabbits do not do well standing on wire frames, you will need to place lino, carpet or wooden board on top of the shelves as lining. Doors can be secured with binder clips. Trays can be made from wood and lined with lino or made from corrugated plastic that can be scored and folded into a tray.
Lynne Skerlec may have been the first person to come across this idea and she has written about it and he adorable rabbit Blackie here.
Check out Rabbit Network and Michigan Rabbit Rescue for more instructions.
This website, Cavy Cages, is actually a guinea pig website but they have a lot of information on where to find materials and how to make. Be sure to check out their photo section for some amazing creative ideas that you can adopt. Oh, remember that you are building for a rabbit therefore some things that might apply to a guinea pig cube house will not for rabbits. For instance, guinea pigs do not jump very high so an open topped cube house will work but rabbits would be able to escape from open topped houses if the walls were not made higher.
Here is an example of 3 Bunnies adopted rabbit, Oliver’s home.
One disadvantage of making these in UK is that you may have trouble finding all the necessary equipment since these cubes are not as popular here. It can be just as expensive (maybe more expensive) than buying a cage, as these cubes are more expensive here in the UK than in the USA. It also requires time to build. A main advantage is that you are able to build a cage to suit your bunny’s needs, it can be big, have several levels, be made to a certain design to make the most of the area you have. For example, if you have an area of the room available that is ‘L’ shaped, a normal cage would not have allowed you to make the most efficient use of that area but with these wire frames, you can build an ‘L’ shape cage.
Like cages, be sure to think carefully about where to position a cube house as it is very susceptible to drought.
Exercise Pens and Dog Crates
This method of housing involves using a premade pen or crate and then renovating it to suit your needs. It is ideal for those who want some customisation similar to what cube houses has but has neither the time nor skill to build from scratch. Customisation can be as simple as laying down a bed and toys or as complex to adding shelves.
An exercise pen is a bit like a run but suitable for indoor use, like this one. If your rabbit is able to ace that jump, cover the top with cloth. An old bed sheet will do, this would put them off trying to jump out. There are also taller exercise pens available. You can buy exercise pens online; here is an example of one. They are quite convenient in that they allow you to move the panels in a way that will fit in the room that you have. Exercise pens can give you a lot of space without costing you the amount a cage might. Most pens come with a door that you can open and let your bunny out to exercise. Whilst using a pen as housing gives you plenty of space, your bunny will still need to be allowed out to play. Here are some pointers for exercise pens:
- Lining the floor with lino will protect your carpet and makes any spills easy to clean.
- Provide a place for your bunny to hide should they become scared.
- Cardboard boxes are cheap second levels and hiding holes. Your rabbit can jump on them to look around, can hide when scared and can dig or chew it for fun. Just replace when necessary.
- Cat boxes make more permanent second levels and hiding holes.
- Ramps can be made to reach second levels.
- If you do not intend to move the pen often, with a bit of DIY, you can use sheets of corrugated plastic or boards of wood to create a ‘wall’ to line the walls of the pen. It doesn’t need to be very high, just high enough to stop stray bits of hay and litter falling out will make for a neater home.
As a form of housing, I believe that an exercise pen is the quickest and possibly cheapest set up. You do not need to have a high level of DIY skill and if you ever need to move the pen or even move houses, the pen folds up. Your rabbit will get a lot more space to roam and if you have more than one rabbit, the extra space will mean they are less likely to fight. Cleaning is easy as you can literally step into the pen whereas using a cage, cube house or dog crate will require crawling into small spaces to grab things like litter trays. The biggest disadvantage of using an exercise pen is that it is not predator proof. To prevent cats jumping in, a cover for the top will do the trick. However the spacing between the bars in a pen is large enough for a paw to get in. If you have a cat that is likely to see your rabbit as a meal, you should consider searching for a pen with smaller spacing and providing several hiding holes so your rabbit can hide if it feels threatened.
For more exercise pen set ups, look here.
Dog crates for rabbits
Dog crates were made to keep dogs confined within the house. It’s primarily used for puppies that are too young to walk around the house unsupervised or are being toilet trained. Rabbit owners have adopted these as an alternative to cage housing. Crates offer a bit more room than a cage and a lot more height than a cage, however, they do not offer as much space as a pen might.
Example of a dog crate and example of a converted dog crate.
Here are some suggestions that you can apply to a dog crate:
- When choosing a crate, choose the largest one you can afford.
- Dog crates come with no base or a tray base that is insufficient to hold mess in. it is possible to build a tray with wood or corrugated plastic.
- Dog crates have a lot of height so it’s a good idea to take advantage of that by building shelves. Click this link to read a tutorial on how to make a dog crate into a multilevel home. The author mentions using MDF for the shelves. This is toxic to bunnies so unless you are able to cover it to ensure your rabbit cannot chew it, then you should choose a safer type of wood.
- If you are unable to make another level, using cardboard boxes will give your rabbits something to jump on.
- Placing lino or carpet on the base would make it more comfortable. If your bun is messy, lino would make it easier to clean.
Dog crates can be slightly safer than an exercise pen if you have cats and dogs as it has a roof. However, predators may still be able to stick their paws in. This method of housing does not easily allow for expansion as it is made to a set size. However, if you are unable to make a cube house or use an exercise pen and cages are too expensive, a dog crate can be a good simple choice. It is even better if you are able to add extra levels to keep your pet interested. Dog crates are easily transported which means if you ever need to move, it will be easy to fold it up and take with you.
Free Ranging Rabbits
Some lucky bunnies have the luxury to free range within the home. This basically means that parts of the house or all of it are accessible to your pet at all times. They have the freedom to go where they wish and this is the ultimate lifestyle for a house rabbit. However, you will need to bunny proof your house. To do a room or two is not so tough but when you think about all the wires you have in your house, then you realise there’s a lot that needs rearranging. Rabbit proofing is an ongoing process as rabbits are quite the thinkers, when you believe you have rabbit proofed effectively, your pet will find some other way to chew that wire. I will not talk about bunny proofing houses here, but go to this article for general bunny proofing.
Train your rabbit into using a litter tray
If you decide to have free ranging bunnies, you might want to start with something small like a dog crate or a small pen to train your rabbit into using a litter tray (See more details on litter trays and training). You will still need to provide a space that your bunny can call its own. Your rabbit will appreciate somewhere to hide when scared, somewhere to sleep and somewhere it can rearrange as it pleases. You can leave a crate, cage or pen open at all times and that can be your bunny’s space or you can even make use of a cat basket or carry case as a place to hide. The biggest advantage of this method is that your rabbit will be happier and you will see this in its actions. Rabbits love to interact and are naturally nosy, you will find that your rabbit will follow you around the house and try and join in with what you are doing. You will witness a lot more of your pet’s behaviours if you let it free range. If free ranging is something you cannot do, then please give your rabbits an appropriate amount of play time.
I hope this page has been helpful in choosing a method of housing to suit your needs. Feel free to contact me if you would like me to add anything to this page!