Thinking about having a bunny as a pet? The first step is to ensure that he has a comfortable living space. The cage will be your rabbit's home when it's not nestled in your lap or playing around the house. Therefore, it is essential to invest in a large and resistant cage, with plenty of room for him to move. Line the bottom with a layer of substrate and place basic items such as a food bowl and a drinking fountain. Finally, offer some toys or treats to keep the rodent entertained and happy when you're not around.
Part 1 of 4: Choosing the Cage
Step 1. Buy a cage with enough space to comfortably house the rabbit
Make sure there is enough space for the animal to move easily. In general, he should be able to stand on his hind legs without his ears touching the ceiling. A pen of at least 3 m² is usually sufficient to accommodate most medium-sized rabbits.
- Larger species, such as the English Lop and the Flanders giant, need a nursery that is at least 4 m².
- The cage has to be even bigger if you plan to raise more than two rabbits.
Step 2. Buy a cage with divisions and more than one floor
In nature, the rabbit walks through dark, closed spaces. If you open the wallet a little more, you can buy a cage with room divisions or with more than one floor, which allows the animal to have a little more privacy. So he can have peace and quiet whenever he wants.
- A cage with dividers is a little more expensive than the standard one, but the extra expense is worth it, as the internal space is greater.
- Regardless of the type of aviary chosen, each rabbit that lives there needs to have its own den. Having a place where he can stay is only good for the pet to deal with stress.
Step 3. Choose a cage that has a sturdy plastic bottom
The rabbit is likely to injure itself or bind its paws if the cage has a wire bottom. A nursery with a solid bottom also has the advantage of being easier to cover and clean.
If you already have a wire-bottomed cage that you plan to use, cover it with a piece of cardboard or wood to provide a safer surface for the rabbit to walk on
Step 4. Choose a nursery with a large door
The cage door should have an opening large enough for all the accessories to be placed inside without difficulty, which includes the food bowl, drinking fountain, bed, toilet tray and all the toys of the moment. After all, it's obvious: the door cannot be too small for the rabbit itself to pass through without squeezing!
Some nurseries have multiple entrances, such as a side door or at the top, making it easy to place and remove various items
Step 5. Make sure there is plenty of room for the animal to exercise
The rabbit is a little creature full of energy that doesn't like to sit still for too long. For this reason, most of the space in the environment should be devoted to play and exploration. Ideally, he should be able to make three or four complete jumps from one end to the other. The ability to move freely makes all the difference to the pet's well-being and health.
- In a standard 3 m² aviary, only ¼ of this space should be set aside for the animal to feed and sleep.
- Put some basic objects for him to exercise, such as balls and boxes, creating a miniature obstacle course.
Part 2 of 4: Placing the Basics
Step 1. Choose a safe bedding for the rabbit
Try to buy substrates made specifically for rabbit habitats or that are safe for that animal. One of the best materials to use is hay, which, in addition to covering the floor, is edible and keeps the rabbit warm on the coldest nights. A pregnant female and kittens need alfalfa hay, while adult rabbits may have grass hay.
- Another option is to use a bedding made with wood or recycled paper that doesn't release particles.
- Avoid splintering pine or cedar wood as they can be toxic to rabbits.
Step 2. Spread the liner across the bottom of the cage
Place a 5 cm to 7.5 cm layer of lining, distributing the material evenly from one corner to the other. If you use hay, make mounds in all corners for it to eat, leaving a clear area in the center of the nursery for play and sleep.
- To make cleaning easier and protect the cage surface from leaks, add some dog sanitary mats or a layer of newspaper under the substrate.
- Create a high layer of substrate so the rabbit doesn't get ulcerative pododermatitis, a very common painful condition that occurs when the animal comes into contact with a hard, moist surface. A thick liner makes the floor soft and keeps the bunny out of feces and urine.
Step 3. Reserve a place for the bed
The rabbit usually sleeps on any soft, padded surface, but a separate bed, in addition to being fluffy, makes the cage more equipped and complete. Place it in a corner or lean against the wall so your little friend has plenty of room to eat, play, and stretch his legs.
Some items that serve this purpose are braided rugs, a small hammock and a plush bed, similar to a dog
Step 4. Include a sanitary tray
Train your pet to use the bathroom properly. Thus, the cage is cleaner and more hygienic. Find a sanitary tray of the appropriate size for the species created and line it with a layer of recyclable paper. You can also add chopped newspaper and hay, if you have any.
Do not use cat litter. It is dangerous if the rabbit ingests it
Part 3 of 4: Giving Food, Water and Toys
Step 1. Install a drinking fountain
The drinking fountain is a source of fresh, clean water throughout the day. Secure it to the side of the cage with the fasteners that come on the back of the item. Note that the mouthpiece is set at a low height for the rabbit to effortlessly reach.
- A 600 ml water cooler provides an amount of water that one rabbit needs to drink in two days or two rabbits drink in one day. However, it is better that each animal has its drinking fountain to avoid fights.
- The rabbit may prefer to drink water from the bowl. However, the bowl can overturn at any time with the little fumbling and can collect debris such as food, faeces and bedding. In other words, the need for cleaning and changing the water greatly increases.
Step 2. Place a container of food inside the cage
The bowl should be big enough to keep the rabbit well fed, but it should also get through the door without difficulty. Leave a small space between the food bowl and the drinking bowl to prevent the food from getting wet.
- If you prefer to offer a more balanced diet, put two separate containers: one for the ration and one for fruits and vegetables.
- You can also feed the rabbit without the bowl. Just spread a handful of feed or put loose vegetables in the bottom of the cage once a day. In this case, the pet is forced to look for food, which is great to sharpen its instincts and occupy it.
Step 3. Fill the bowl with a balanced dry ration
Extruded feed is often the most popular choice, but you can also buy a mixed organic feed. Dry foods are more concentrated and have a higher nutritional value, so only offer a small handful a day. Access to hay, on the other hand, should be unlimited, so that the rabbit will have something to eat whenever it feels hungry between meals.
- You can also put a few pieces of carrots, celery, or vegetables on his plate a few times a day, offering a tasty snack and a bit of variety.
- Don't forget to replenish any hay that runs out. The best food for wild rabbits is grass; hay is the second best option (and the most viable in the cage).
Step 4. Place different toys
The rabbit spoils soft plastic in the blink of an eye, so the harder the toys, the better. Many pet stores sell wooden blocks, perfect for him to chew. Other cool examples for energetic bunnies are pieces of rope, cardboard, tough fabrics or PVC.
- Chewing toys is not just a matter of fun, it's also a matter of health. A rabbit that doesn't wear out its teeth can't eat properly because they get too long.
- Avoid toys made from soft wood as they can chip and the pet can choke.
Part 4 of 4: Caring for the Rabbit Cage
Step 1. Change the upholstery when the layer is less than 5 cm
The hay or straw layer starts to shrink in size after a few days, as the rabbit takes the opportunity to snack. When this happens, replenish the amount that was eaten to fill in the empty spaces. Other types of substrate, such as recyclable material, do not need as much replacement, but should be changed whenever they get wet or start to smell bad.
Remember that your rabbit always needs a comfortable layer of bedding in the cage
Step 2. Wash food and water containers periodically
Once a month, wash items thoroughly with warm water and mild detergent. Rinse them very well when finished, as soap residue can be harmful to the rabbit.
- If your food bowl or drinking fountain is made of ceramic, you can even put them in the dishwasher to save time and energy.
- You may need to wash containers more often if they look dirty or if they come in contact with urine or faeces.
Step 3. Clean the toilet tray
Get into the habit of cleaning the tray every day to keep the pet's environment hygienic. If he finds that the place is always clean, he is less likely to use other parts of the cage as a bathroom.
- Always wear rubber gloves and dispose of animal feces in a tightly closed plastic bag.
- A spray of white vinegar or diluted bleach can be a good way to neutralize odors and remaining bacteria.
Step 4. Disinfect the entire cage once a week
After placing the rabbit in a safe space in the house, move the cage out into the yard and spray a solution of one measure of bleach and ten measures of water on all surfaces. Allow the solution to act for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse well with a hose. Wait for the cage to dry completely and only after that place a new layer of bedding.
- Occasional disinfection eliminates odors and kills harmful germs that can make your pet sick.
- Eliminate all traces and vapors of bleach, before returning the rabbit to its house.
Step 5. Keep an eye out while your pet is in the cage
Spy on him every hour to make sure he's happy, peaceful, and doing well. If you spend too much time alone, your rabbit can get hurt or run out of food and water without you noticing.
The rabbit is a sociable being that cannot stand continual confinement. Let him out of the cage for a few hours a day to play, explore or be close to you
- You can transform a dog cage into a nice space for rabbits that are too active or too big.
- If you have several bunnies, don't put more than two animals per cage. Otherwise, they won't have enough water, food, or space to grow up healthy and happy.
- The rodent does best in homes without cats, dogs or other large territorial animals that could harm it.