We’re all rabbit lovers here, so we want to make sure our little fluffers have the best cage for their home. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation out there about what a rabbit needs. You’ll see pet stores marketing hutches that are too small, or recommending that domestic rabbits be kept in a hutch outside.
So with all of this information out there, how do you choose the best cage for your rabbit?
What size should your rabbit enclosure be? In general you should get a cage or enclosure that is at least 2ft by 4ft for an average sized 5 pound rabbit. Keep in mind that if you have a larger rabbit you will need to give them more space.
You’ll have to consider the amount of space available in your home and determine the type of enclosure that suits your needs. Wooden hutches, metal cages, or even free-standing gates are all appropriate materials for you to use as your rabbits home. Your priority should be to make sure you are getting a cage that’s big enough for your rabbit.
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Choosing the right cage for your rabbit
Your rabbit’s cage is their home. It’s where they will be living for most of the day, so you want to make sure this is a place that will be safe and comfortable for your rabbit. It should be a place that they won’t mind going home to when you need to leave for work in the morning.
What size cage should I get?
The most important consideration when choosing the right rabbit cage is the size of the enclosure. It shouldn’t be so cramped that your rabbit just can’t wait to get out. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all hutch. Full-size rabbits can vary from dwarfs that weigh in at around 2lbs to some flemish giant rabbits that can weigh more than 25lbs!
A correctly sized cage will give your rabbit room for three to four hops along the length of their enclosure. The width should be at least one hop length, and the rabbit should be able to stand all the way up on their hind legs without bumping their head against the top.
So how do you estimate the hop length of your rabbit? Measure the full length of your rabbit when they are sprawled out on the floor. For an average sized, five pound rabbit, this will probably be somewhere around one and a half feet. So for an average sized rabbit you want to have an enclosure that is at least 4ft long by 2ft wide by 2 ft tall.
Remember this is a minimum size. You can always go bigger!
What if I already bought a cage that’s too small?
It’s okay, don’t panic! I made this same mistake too. Your rabbit might already be attached to the cage they have, so moving to a completely new enclosure could be a little stressful for both of you. The best solution is to get a rabbit playpen and attach it to the outside of the cage. This will give your rabbit the necessary space to be a happy and healthy bunny all day long!
What if I have more than one rabbit?
Believe it or not, you don’t need a bigger space for two rabbits. They’ll still have plenty of space to play without bumping into each other, so you should decide on the enclosure size based on the size of the bigger rabbit.
If you have three or more rabbits, I would start to increase the space a little. And if you have four rabbits I would double the space. At this point, you could also consider rabbit-proofing an entire room for your rabbits to live in together.
What different types of cages are there?
There are a lot of different types of enclosures to choose from for your rabbit. Any of these options could be the right choice, so consider each of these options to decide what is best for you and your bun.
Pet exercise pen
A rabbit playpen is a freestanding and collapsible fence that you can use as an enclosure. This is by far my favorite option. It gives you a lot of flexibility for how you shape the enclosure, so it will fit into unusual spaces.
A pen also makes cleanup a lot easier. You can just move the gates aside to vacuum up any mess. It’s also pretty easy to get a second playpen and connect it to the first if you want to expand your rabbit’s living area.
Depending on the type of flooring you have, you will need to get an area rug to go with it. Rabbit paws don’t do so well with slick floors, so you’ll have to cover up any hardwood or tile floors. I recommend getting an area rug made of natural fibers (such as seagrass) so that you don’t have to worry if your rabbit chews on it.
Large dog crate
Another great, but unconventional option is getting a large dog crate for your bunny. Usually these will have flat flooring, rather than wires, which is better for your rabbit’s feet. They are also easily collapsible to make it convenient for cleaning up messes. And this is very easily transportable, so if you want to eventually bring your rabbit on a car trip, this could be a good option for you.
Some wooden hutches are too small, but there are many sold that are a good size for rabbits. Some of them are even two or three stories tall! This is probably the most aesthetically pleasing option, but keep in mind that most hutches are not designed to be easy to clean.
You do want to be careful about the type of wood used for the hutch, though. Cedar is a common material used for these hutches, but cedar is poisonous to rabbits when they ingest it. Since rabbits have the instinct to bite wooden objects, a cedar hutch can be a real danger to your rabbits.
Almost all metal cages on the market are too small for rabbits. I have seen a few tiered cages that offer enough space though, so they are still an option. If you find a metal cage that’s big enough, you want to make sure the cage does not have wire flooring. Rabbits can get painful sores on their feet from standing on wires all day. If you do have a cage with wire floors, put a mat or towel down on the bottom to cover up the wires so your rabbit doesn’t have to stand on them.
There are a number of plastic cages on the market, but most of these are too small rabbits. If you have a very small rabbit, you might be able to find something with the correct dimensions, but I would still see if there are any other options available first. You could also get a plastic cage in addition to a playpen to expand your rabbit’s living area.
What if I don’t have very much space?
For a while I was living in a very small apartment with my bun, so I had to find some creative ways to make sure my rabbit was getting enough space. I chose to get a loft bed and use the area underneath as my rabbit’s enclosure. This automatically freed up the entire area under the bed for my rabbit without losing any living space!
You can also play with the idea of creating vertical enclosures. Look for a cage that uses a smaller amount of floorspace but has multiple levels with ramps and platforms.
If you can’t find an enclosure that already has the platforms built in, you could try your hand at DIYing a cage that exactly fits into the space you have available. Just be sure everything is secured and sturdy. The last thing you want is for your structure to collapse and your rabbit to fall down.
What about exercise? How much space does a rabbit need?
For most rabbit owners, you won’t need any additional fencing to create an exercise enclosure for your rabbit. A room in your house will do just fine.
You’ll want to make sure you bunny-proof the exercise area thoroughly, so your rabbit can’t get at any wires or chew on anything dangerous. If you haven’t fully bunny-proofed the room, make sure to supervise your rabbit closely. These little fluffers can be quite the troublemakers.
Your rabbit should have at least one to two hours of exercise a day, but more is definitely better. I try to make sure my bun has time outside of the enclosure whenever I am home.
Rabbits are most active in the morning around dawn and in the evening around dusk, so it’s best if you can let them out to exercise around one (or both) of these times.
The free range option
Letting your rabbit loose in the house full time is a great option. But rabbits can be troublemakers, and that trouble can put your rabbit into some dangerous situations.
If you are bringing your rabbit home for the first time, you want to make sure to keep a close eye on them for the first few weeks while you let them roam. Keep them in an enclosure whenever you can’t watch them.
This will give you the chance to learn their habits and quirks, and figure out just what kind of trouble they like to get into while you fully bunny-proof your house. You can find their favorite hiding places, figure out what furniture needs to be moved, which wires need to be covered, or where barriers need to be put up to make sure important and dangerous objects are outside your rabbit’s reach.
Of course, you will also need to ensure that they are litter trained, so your rabbit doesn’t pee and poop all over your house.
Even if you choose to have a completely free range rabbit, it’s still a good idea to make sure they have a home-base enclosure set up. This will be where you keep their litter box and give them their hay and daily pellets. Having a home base gives your rabbit some stability so they have a safe place to hide when they’re feeling scared.
It is a little more difficult to litter train a rabbit than a cat, but with a little patience it is entirely possible. It is much easier to litter train a rabbit who has been spayed or neutered, since this will limit the amount of territorial spraying of the rabbit.
It is much safer to keep a pet rabbit indoors. In a hutch outside, rabbits are faced with many dangers, including predators, parasites, and extreme temperatures. Your rabbit will be a much happier and healthier part of your family if you keep them inside.
- “Housing.” House Rabbit Society, rabbit.org/faq-housing