Rabbit Housing Basics
Whether you are new to bun guardianship or just looking for ideas to upgrade your rabbit's digs, I have put together my list of recommended options for your indoor bunny!
How much space does a rabbit really need?
Size only matters if you don't give your bun enough free roam or exersice play time. Always consider how much time a rabbit will be in its cage throughout the day.
Provide at least 2-4 hours of Exercise, best is 6-8 Hours of Free Roam/ Exercise & Play Time
If your family can provide almost the whole day of the rabbit being allowed to come out for playtime, then the cage itself doesn't need to be all that big. The caveat, the space should be big enough to allow the rabbit to sprawl fully in multiple directions, with its legs kicked out, while also allowing room for a litter box and toys to fit comfortably in the process. If your bun can hop three times and turn around, then you are good.
More space is always better, but do give space slowly. This will help keep from overwhelming your bunny, but also will help keep them liter trained. If given too much space all at once, some rabbits get defensive, agressive or very timid hiding.
Types of Enclosures
Most of the plastic based cages advertised at pet stores for rabbits are simply too small for most bunnies.. Most of the good, larger cages, can only be found on the website of the pet store, so I would encourage anyone looking for rabbit cages to look around. One thing I would always try to do is make sure the cage can open for the top. It's not a requirement of course, but it does make a lot of things easier, like picking up and cleaning. Also if you get a smaller cage, it is paramount that you ensure the bunny gets enough exercise.
Short Story- Do NOT use a Pet Store wire cage.
Exercise Pens AKA X-Pens
Most people opt for the traditional enclosure, however there are many options when it comes to a rabbit's living space. One option that is quite popular (and my personal favorite) is pen living. Many rescues are strong advocates for this because it allows practically unlimited playtime; and most rabbits love it. Wire pens are recommended becuase the bun can chew through it. Cleaning pens is quite easy. Just move a panel to the side and vacuum, or sweep.
Drawbacks: if your rabbit is not litter box trained, you may need something to cover your flooring. One option is to get lenoleum reminant from the flooring store. Its easy to wipe down and sweep. Shower curtains, Carpet squares, cardboard, blankets, and tiles are also great choices to use under pens. Some rabbits can jump amazingly high leaping over 5 foot tall pens. If the rabbit is a jumper, another option may be best, or perhaps a closed top for the pen. Some people secure a bed sheet over the pen so that the bunny cannot jump over.
Dog crates are great easy to clean options becuase they have a plastic base. There are many different sizes so its easy to find the right size for your bunny and you can easily attach an X-Pen to give more space for exercise. We recommend nothing smaller than an XL or XXL for small to medium size rabbits and you may need two for a large and extra big bun. This will ensure the rabbit has plenty of room to run. Another option to look for is looking for crates with doors that open from the side. It makes attaching an x-pen much easier.
Drawbacks: Some aggressive rabbits may feel too restricted in too small of a crate. Look for our blog post on small cage agression (coming soon). Side note, they have a shallow base so you may need to clean it more often if your bun is a digger. I have also had some buns pee over the corner, you can eliminate this issue. If you run into this, check out my blog post on potty training tips (coming soon).
I should probably mention Hutches
Most hutches do not do well for indoor living. They are bulky and awkward to clean, especially if the rabbit pees outside its litter box. But its not impossible and can look gorgeous! While the upkeep may be more, I do love how they look! You should try to look for ones that give the bun stretch room so they can periscope and hop about. Also some people are able to convert old furnature into a custom hutch which is awesome.
Drawback: Another important issue to consider is removing the wire bases. While wire may be cleaner, it can harm the bun’s feet. The toes can become bent over time or even get caught in the wire without the owner knowing about it until the next day. After so long, the toes just kind of malform, and splay sideways, and the nails aren't straight anymore. Sore hocks, which are sores on the bottom of the feet, are fairly common as a lot of pressure is put on the hocks when a rabbit stands on wire, especially if the rabbit is overweight or has short fur like a rex. The good thing is most wire is able to easily be removed from hutches.
An entire room/house
If you have the space, and the rabbit is litter box trained, this could be a great option. However, any room(s) a rabbit is allowed to play in must be rabbit proofed. Rabbits love cords, table legs, baseboards and things like that. You can buy cord protectors which is highly recommended. For wooden items, some people use “sacrificial” wood so they chew on that instead of the baseboards. Always make sure the bun has lots of toys, it may help keep the rabbit occupied. Always introduce the bunny to a new space slowly so that he/she will not get overwhelmed. We also recommend that the rabbit still has a “bunny area.” Many people use a crate or cage that has their food, water and litterbox. It becomes their safe zone. When deciding where to let your rabbit have space, whether for playtime or an actual living space, steer away from places that are too noisy, such as kitchens and laundry areas. Noises can spook rabbits sometimes, so if a bunny is a bit more timid, a quiet place may be better for it to get used to its new owners and surroundings, especially at first.
Last tip, have fun and make your own!
It is less expensive then buying a premade bunny hutch; it can be customized to the bunny and owner’s needs. Google & pintrest is your friend: 'bunny condos' and 'convert furnature to a hutch' are my two fav searches. Some people use storage cubes and baby gates. You can buy the plastic bottoms, from dog kennels, as a stand alone with out buying the kennel, if you need to protect your flooring around the litterbox.