How to Prepare a Rabbit Cage

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28-06-2018, 20:00
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Expert Reviewed If you’re thinking about keeping a rabbit as a pet, your first step will be to make sure it has a comfortable place to live. Your rabbit’s cage will be its home when it’s not nestled in your lap or leading you on a chase through your home, so it’s important to invest in a spacious, sturdy cage that will give it plenty of room to move around. Line the floor of the cage with a layer of recycled bedding, then bring in the basic necessities like a food dish and water bottle. Finally, give your rabbit a few toys or other treats to keep it occupied and make sure it’s happy when you’re not around.

Choosing a Cage

  1. Purchase a cage spacious enough to comfortably house your rabbit. Make sure there’s enough room inside the cage to allow your rabbit to move around with ease. As a general rule, it should be able to stand upright on its hind legs without its ears touching the ceiling. A cage with at least 32 square feet of interior space (or about 3 square meters) will usually be big enough to accommodate most average-sized rabbits.
    • Larger species like English lops and Flemish Giants may require a cage as large as 44 square feet (4 square meters).
    • You'll need to go up to the next biggest size if you plan on keeping more than two rabbits.
  2. Invest in a subdivided or multi-level cage. Rabbits naturally gravitate toward dark, enclosed spaces. For a few extra dollars, you can buy a partitioned cage with separate rooms or levels that will allow your pet to enjoy a little privacy. That way, they'll be able to get some peace and quiet whenever they please.
    • A partitioned cage will run you quite a bit more than a standard one-room model, but can be well worth it for the added internal space it offers.
    • Regardless of which type of cage you choose, make sure each rabbit has their own shelter or space to hide. A private place to burrow provides a healthy outlet for your pet to cope with stress.
  3. Select a cage with a sturdy plastic bottom. It’s possible for rabbits to get snagged or develop painful sores when standing in cages with exposed wire bottoms. Cages with solid bottoms have the added advantage of being easier to line and clean.
    • If you already have a wire-bottomed cage you want to use, slide a flat piece of cardboard or scrap wood over the bottom to give your bunny a more comfortable surface to stand on.
  4. Choose a cage with a large door. The door of your rabbit cage should open wide enough for all the necessary accessories to fit through without difficulty. This includes your rabbit's food dish, water bottle, bed, litter box, and any toys they'll be playing with. And, of course, it shouldn't be too tight a squeeze for your rabbit itself!
    • Some cages have multiple entrance points, like an extra side door or an oversized hatch in the top, which can make inserting and removing various items easier.
  5. Make sure there's ample room for exercise. Rabbits are energetic creatures, and don't like to sit still for too long. For this reason, most of your bunny's cage space should be devoted to play and exploration. Ideally, it should be able to take 3-4 full hops from one end of the cage to the other. Being able to move around freely will keep it happy and healthy.
    • In a standard 32 square foot cage, only about 8 square feet is for feeding and sleeping.
    • Add a few simple exercise accessories like balls, boxes to create a miniature obstacle course for your rabbit to run.

Adding the Basic Amenities

  1. Pick up some rabbit-safe bedding. Look for bedding that’s designed specifically for rabbit habitats, or mentions that its safe for rabbits. One of the best all-around materials available is hay, which is edible and will keep your rabbits warm during colder nights. Pregnant females and babies should be given Alfalfa hay, while fully-grown rabbits can have Timothy hay.
    • Another option is to use a dust-free bedding made from recycled wood or paper.
    • Avoid using pine or cedar chips or shavings, as these can be toxic to rabbits.
  2. Spread your bedding material along the bottom of the cage. Put down 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) of bedding at a minimum, making sure it’s evenly distributed from corner to corner. If you’re using hay, mound it around the edges of the cage so that your rabbit can graze while still having an open area near the center for playing and sleeping.
    • For ease of cleanup and extra protection against leaks, consider adding a couple absorbent puppy pads or a layer of newspaper beneath the bedding material.
    • Provide a deep layer of bedding so your rabbit doesn’t get sore hocks. This painful condition is extremely common and occurs when rabbits sit on hard, damp surfaces. Deep bedding cushions your pet, lifting them off of soiled spots.
  3. Set aside a place for a bed. While rabbits typically have no problem sleeping on any soft, cushioned surface, a separate bed can make a useful and adorable addition to a well-outfitted cage. Place the bed near one corner or wall so your fluffy friend will have plenty of room to eat, play, and stretch its legs.
    • Bunny beds are available as woven mats, tiny hammocks, and small plush beds similar to the ones dogs like to curl up in.
  4. Add a litter box. Training your rabbit to use a litter box can help you keep its cage cleaner and more sanitary. Shop around for a small litter box in a size suitable for the species you’re keeping and cover the bottom with layer of recyclable paper-based litter. You can also use a mixture of shredded newspaper and hay if you have any extra lying around.
    • Stay away from clumping cat litters. These can be dangerous to rabbits if ingested.

Providing Food, Water, and Toys

  1. Install a water bottle. A drip bottle will supply your rabbit with fresh, clean water all day long. Mount the bottle from the side of the cage using the slender metal hooks on the backside. Make sure the nozzle is positioned low enough for your rabbit to get to without being forced to reach.
    • A 20 oz (600 ml) water bottle will provide water for a single rabbit for about two days, or for two rabbits for one day. It’s really best that each pet have its own water bottle to avoid conflict.
    • Your rabbit may prefer to drink out of a bowl. However, bowls are easily turned over and may collect debris like food, droppings, and scraps of bedding, which means you’ll need to clean them regularly.
  2. Place a food dish inside the cage. The dish you choose should be big enough to keep your rabbit fed, but small enough to pass in and out of the cage without difficulty. Leave a little space between the food dish and water bottle or bowl to keep your pet’s food from becoming soggy.
    • If you’d prefer to feed your rabbit a more balanced diet, spring for two separate dishes—one for pellets and one for fruits and vegetables.
    • Scatter feeding makes it unnecessary to have a food dish at all. Simply sprinkle a handful of pellets or greens throughout the cage once a day. Foraging is good for sharpening rabbits’ instincts and giving them something to do.
  3. Fill the food dish with a well-balanced dry food. Pellets are the most common choice, but an organic dry food mix is also a nutritious option. Dry foods tend to be densely concentrated and have a high nutritional value, so you should only give your rabbit a small handful each day. It's okay for them to have as much hay or grass as they can eat if they get hungry in the meantime.
    • You can also drop pieces of carrots, celery, or leafy greens into your rabbit's dish a couple times a day to give it a tasty treat and add some variety to its diet.
    • For variety in your rabbit’s diet, provide a hay rack you fill daily. The best food for wild rabbits is grass, so providing hay to your indoor pet is a close second.
  4. Give your rabbit lots of toys to play with. Rabbits can chew through soft plastic in no time, so the tougher the toys, the better. Many pet stores sell wood blocks that are perfect for nibbling. Rope, cardboard, and scraps of durable fabric or PVC also make good playthings for energetic bunnies.
    • Chewing on toys isn’t just fun for rabbits, it’s good for them, too. If their teeth get too long, it can make eating uncomfortable.
    • Avoid giving your rabbit toys made from softwoods that might splinter and present a choking hazard.

Maintaining a Rabbit Cage

  1. Replace the bedding when it gets thinner than 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm). Hay or straw bedding will begin to dwindle after a few days as your bunny makes a snack of it. When this happens, just add another handful or two to fill in the bare spots. Recycled bedding materials won’t need to be refilled as regularly, but you should change them whenever they get wet or begin to smell.
    • Remember that your rabbit needs to have a comfortable amount of bedding in its cage at any given time.
  2. Wash your rabbit’s food dish and water bottle periodically. Once a month or so, give both containers a good scrubbing with warm water and a mild liquid soap. Be sure to rinse them out thoroughly when you’re done, as leftover traces of soap might make your rabbit sick.
    • If you bought a ceramic food dish or water bottle for your bunny, pop it in the dishwasher to save time and energy.
    • It may be necessary to clean your rabbit’s food bowl or water bottle more frequently if they look especially dirty or come into contact with urine or feces.
  3. Scoop out the litter box daily. Get in the habit of changing out dirty litter every day to keep your pet’s environment healthy. Providing your rabbit with fresh litter will make it less likely to use in the bathroom in other areas of the cage.
    • Always wear rubber gloves and use a plastic bag you can seal or tie off to dispose of your rabbit’s droppings.
    • A spritz of white vinegar or diluted bleach can be useful for neutralizing lingering odors and bacteria.
  4. Disinfect the entire cage once a week. After moving your rabbit to a safely contained part of your home, take the cage outside and spray it down with a mixture of 1 part chlorine bleach and 10 parts water. Let the bleach solution sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse the cage thoroughly inside and out using a garden hose. Let the cage dry completely, then put down a new layer of bedding.
    • The occasional disinfecting will eliminate odors and kill off harmful germs that could make your rabbit sick.
    • Make sure all traces of bleach (including the fumes) have dissipated before allowing your rabbit back inside.
  5. Keep an eye on your rabbit while it’s in its cage. Peek in on your rabbit once every hour or so to make sure it’s happy, comfortable, and safe. If your pet is left unsupervised, it could hurt itself or run out of food or water without your knowledge.
    • Rabbits are social creatures, and don’t do well with continual confinement. Be sure to give your rabbit a few hours out of its cage every day to play, explore, or cuddle.

Tips

  • A dog kennel can easily be converted to a luxurious living space for an active or oversized rabbit.
  • If you own multiple rabbits, limit them to two per cage. Otherwise, they won’t have the water, food, or space they need to be healthy and content.
  • Rabbits make the best pets in homes without cats, dogs, or other large, territorial animals that might cause them harm.

Warnings

  • Never use chicken wire to contain a pet rabbit. Their teeth are much harder than the flimsy wires, and they could injure themselves if they chew through them.

Things You'll Need

  • Rabbit cage
  • Hay or recycled wood or paper bedding materials
  • Water bottle
  • Food dish
  • Litter box
  • Rabbit-safe litter
  • Toys
  • Water
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Spray bottle
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