Rabbits are amazing, but they do have some behaviors that are a little destructive. It’s not uncommon to find that they chewed into an important wire or dug into the corner of your carpet. Luckily there are some tried and true ways to bunny proof your home. You can make sure your rabbit doesn’t end up in any dangerous situations, and help keep your home safe from your troublesome rabbit.
The goal of rabbit proofing is to keep your rabbit safe, protect your belongings, and give your rabbit more productive ways to use their natural instincts. Without all three of these aspects, you are going to continue to face challenges with your indoor rabbit.
You’ll need to go through your home and look at it from a rabbit’s perspective. Get down on your hands and knees to look around and see what dangerous or destructive behaviors your rabbit will be able to get into. With a little foresight and preparation, you can keep your rabbit from chewing on wires, digging into your carpet, and just being a little troublemaker. I’ll be going through the common rabbit bad behaviors that are destructive to homes, so you can learn from my mistakes and bunny proof your home.
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What is Rabbit Proofing?
Rabbit proofing, also called bunny proofing, is when you go through your home to:
- Prevent destructive behaviors of your rabbit
- Keep your rabbit safe
- Give your rabbit fun alternatives for chewing and digging
The goal is to allow your rabbit to exercise or roam free without having to keep a constant watch on them. Sometimes you only need to rabbit proof the room where you let your rabbit out to exercise. But you can also choose to rabbit proof your whole house so your rabbit has more space to be free and join the family.
If you’re going through this guide and find ideas that will be useful for you, check out my list of items I use to bunny-proof my own home. I have links to the products that I found useful, so you don’t have to go searching for some of these obscure items.
How to prevent your rabbit from biting wires
No, your rabbit did not chew through your favorite headphones just to spite you. Instead this comes from an instinct based in their burrowing roots. And I mean that literally. Wires look like roots. Your rabbit will come across something that looks like a root and think ‘Oh! I need to clean this up and get it out of the way before is grows and blocks my tunnel.’ Okay, maybe not in so many words, but that’s where the instinct comes from, and that’s why you see so many rabbit owners distraught when they find their rabbit chewed through their phone charger. Again.
But we all know that chewing on wires can be really dangerous for bunnies, especially if your rabbit finds something while it’s plugged in. So for our wallets and for our rabbit’s safety we need to find ways to keep the wires safe.
Block off areas with a lot of wires
The first thing to do is try to consolidate as many wires as you can into just one or two spots. Then block those areas off from your rabbit. This could mean locating wire-heavy technology (like a TV station or computer setup) in a room where your rabbit is not allowed. You could also put up a fence or blockade to keep your rabbit away.
The other option is to keep your wires off the ground. You can set up hooks along the wall and behind furniture to make sure your wires are lifted and your rabbit can’t get to them. Be careful around places where there might be chairs or other pieces of furniture your rabbit can use to jump onto places they don’t belong.
Cover your wires
You want to cover any wires that your rabbit can reach with some plastic split loom tubing. This has honestly been a life saver (wire saver?) for me. For one, rabbits are much less likely to bite into thicker tubes. And two, if your rabbit does go for the tube, it will take them time to chew through the plastic cover to the wire inside. This gives you time to notice your rabbit’s behavior and replace the plastic cover.
How to prevent your rabbit from digging at the carpet
Rabbits are natural burrowers, which means digging is a natural behavior for your rabbit. This is especially true of female rabbits. In the wild, it’s the female rabbit (the doe) that digs the new tunnels to nest in, with her litter of baby bunnies.
Growing up, my family had 3 male rabbits, and although they showed a little bit of digging, it wasn’t incredibly destructive. But now that I’ve got female rabbits, I see just how far this behavior can go. There is a corner of the room with a patch of carpet missing because of my girl (Oops!). But I’ve been taking action and implementing some changes to help keep my rabbit’s digging habits from destroying the house.
First I want to point out that you won’t ‘cure’ a rabbit’s digging habit. It is a natural part of their behavior and trying to force them to stop is like telling them to stop being a rabbit. It just won’t happen. So the best actions you can take is try to divert their attention and protect the vulnerable areas of your house.
Cover the corners
If you can, keep your rabbit in rooms with hardwood flooring and use area rugs that you won’t mind if your rabbit digs at. But if that’s not possible, the first thing to do is to put something down to cover the carpet, especially in the corners of rooms and around doorways.
Plastic mats are going to be the most durable way to prevent your rabbit from getting at the carpet. But you can also use smaller bath mats or even just plain old cardboard. I also position pieces of furniture in corners to keep my bun away from these tempting digging spots.
How to prevent your rabbit from biting baseboards
Rabbits also have a tendency to chew on things that we really don’t want them to bite. Because rabbit teeth continuously grow, they need to wear down those teeth. So of course, it’s natural that rabbits have evolved to have some extensive chewing habits.
Having hay as the main part of their diet is very helpful for their dental health, but rabbits also need a variety of chew toys. And even if they have enough toys, sometimes they decide they want to chew on the baseboards instead.
Use cat scratcher mats
A solution that I have used with my bun is those flexible cat scratcher mats. I attach them to the wall using command hooks. The mats are the ones that are made to be able to wrap around the leg of a table so they can also be used to prevent your rabbit from chewing on furniture legs.
These ones have been especially useful for corners of rooms and around doorways because of their flexibility. You do want to make sure you get mats that have at least some thickness to them though. The first one I got was too thin, and my rabbit chewed right through it in no time and was right back to chewing on the wall.
Block baseboards with wooden planks or cardboard
A solution that I’ve seen mentioned on some old forum posts is buying planks of wood and attaching them to your baseboards. This is the best long term solution, but it does take a little more skill to implement. It’s also not really an option if you live in an apartment or rent your home if you aren’t allowed to make alterations.
For those of you who don’t have this option or who need a cheaper solution, you can set up a row of flattened cardboard boxes against the wall. It’s not the prettiest solution, but it gets the job done.
Set up a fence around the perimeter of your room
This is the solution that my roommate chose for her two boys. She got a number of those DIY storage cubes, and linked them up (using zip ties) in a full perimeter around her room so her boys couldn’t chew on the wall. It’s been a very effective solution for her and definitely worth a shot if you’re having some trouble getting your rabbit to stop biting the baseboards.
Block access to baseboards with furniture
One way to keep rabbits away from baseboards is to creatively place your furniture against the walls so that it blocks your rabbit’s access to the baseboards. While you are unlikely to be able to block off the entire perimeter of the room, you will limit the amount of work you will have to do. Now you will only need to take measures to protect a small portion of the baseboards in the room, rather than the whole length of it.
Use a bitter apple spray
You can purchase or make a bitter apple spray that will work as a bad-taste deterrent to keep rabbits from chewing on anything they shouldn’t. I have had a little bit of success with this method. But I find I need to re-apply the spray to every available surface very frequently, so this is usually a last resort for me.
If you want to make your own bitter apple spray, combine two cups of apple cider vinegar with one cup of regular white vinegar. Shake well and spray wherever you need to. You could also use lemon juice instead of apple cider vinegar if you prefer.
How to prevent your rabbit from nesting under furniture
Rabbits like to explore areas under furniture, such as sofas or beds. Sometimes they will decide that these are great places to build a home or nest and they’ll start to dig into the carpet underneath the furniture.
This is a behavior that people often don’t catch until they’re rearranging their furniture one day and — Oops! There’s a big hole in the rug. So you’ll want to take some steps ahead of time, to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Block off the area under furniture
The first option you can try is to block off the area underneath your sofa, bed, cabinet, etc. You can use DIY storage cube fencing to block the gap along the bottom of your furniture. Use zip-ties to connect the panels together, and use command hooks to attach the fence to the walls or furniture.
Put plastic mats down under furniture
Like with carpets at the corners of a room, you can also deal with this scenario by putting plastic desk mats down underneath your furniture. For any piece of furniture that you can’t or don’t want to block off, this will work well to keep your rabbit from destroying the rug.
You can also go the cheaper route and put flattened cardboard boxes down along the floor. You want to make sure you check and replace these every once in a while though. Rabbits can dig and chew through cardboard relatively quickly, and you don’t want them to get all the way through to the rug.
How to bunny-proof other areas
Great job! You already took care of the hardest parts. Now it’s time to check on all the little things that your rabbit might try to get into. With just a little more work, you can keep your rabbit from getting into anything dangerous or destroying anything important.
You want to keep any objects that are harmful to rabbits outside of their reach. This includes cleaning supplies and other chemical products you keep under the bathroom or kitchen sink. It also includes houseplants that are poisonous to rabbits, candles, and human food that your rabbit might get curious about.
The best and easiest way to stop your rabbit from accessing these items is to keep them behind closed doors or out of reach. So keep cabinet doors closed and put food on countertops that your rabbit can’t hop up to.
Some rabbits, however, are masters at getting into places they shouldn’t be. My rabbit, Elusive learned how to open cabinet doors. But don’t worry! If you’ve got one of these really smart and determined rabbits, just install a childproof lock on your cabinet doors
Books and papers
Rabbits love to chew on paper, and books are no exception. They’ll hop right up to the bookshelf and pull a book off, only to tear it into pieces. And there was more than one occasion growing up when my rabbit really did eat my homework (or at least shred it to pieces).
The obvious first solution is to block off your rabbit’s access to your bookshelves. But that’s not always possible, so here’s where a little reorganizing will do the trick. Put anything you need easy access to on the top shelves, and make sure your rabbit can’t reach them.
Remember, rabbits are pretty tall when they stand on their hind legs. Then you want to get some plastic bins that will fit on the lower shelves and pack them with the rest of you books. Voila! Now your rabbit can’t chew up your collection.
For all other papers, just make sure you pay attention to where you leave things. Don’t leave anything important laying around in a place your rabbit might be able to reach it.
Appliances such as heaters and fans can be dangerous for our curious bunnies. They could get a nose or an ear caught up in the fan blades or burn themselves with a space heater. They can also manage to knock down these appliances, potentially causing a fire.
The best thing to do is make sure these appliances are out of your rabbit’s reach. So put them behind a gate or put them up on a ledge. Above all, never leave your rabbit unattended when they have access to a fan or space heater.
Distract your rabbit with safe chewing and digging options
After you’ve made sure your rabbit can’t get at anything dangerous, it’s time to give them alternatives. Digging and chewing are natural behaviors for your rabbit, so you need to give them an opportunity to use their natural instincts without being destructive.
Chew toys are great for distracting your rabbit and also keeping their teeth trim and healthy. Rabbit chew toys can be anything from wooden toys, to cardboard toilet paper rolls, or even applewood sticks. You can make your own chew toys using cardboard toilet paper tubes and other items you can find around your house.
If you are having difficulty finding toys that your rabbit actually likes to play with, I recommend this online store called Small Pet Select. I found this shop about a year ago and got their toy sampler. They sent me a variety of toys from what they had in stock so I could offer them to my rabbit and see what she likes best (she really loves their hay balls!).
I’ve come to really trust the quality of all the products I get from Small Pet Select and cannot recommend them enough. I’ve partnered with them to give you 15% off your order if you use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout!
This is a way to make a safe place for your rabbit to dig to her little hearts content without destroying your home. Just find a box that your rabbit can fit into (could be plastic or cardboard, whatever you have available), and fill it with fun toys for your rabbit.
You could use crumpled up or shredded paper, some of their wooden chew toys, some toilet paper rolls, etc. Then hide some treats in the box to encourage your rabbit to dig in the box instead of your carpet. You’ll want to make sure you refresh the toys and treats in the box every now and then, but this is a happy way for your rabbit to partake in her natural behavior without hurting your house.
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Can rabbits be litter trained?
Rabbits can be litter trained so that they can roam around the house, like a cat, without the worry of cleaning up a lot of smelly messes. It’s also a lot more convenient to clean the cage of a rabbit who has been litter trained since the whole mess will be in one easy to clean litter box.
What is the best thing for rabbits to chew on?
Wooden chew toys are the best for a rabbit’s teeth. But cardboard and applewood sticks are also good options. It’s also very important for your rabbit’s dental health to give them a lot of grass-based hay (like timothy hay).
- “Rabbit Proofing.” House Rabbit Society, Mar. 1, 2013, rabbit.org/faq-rabbit-proofing.
- “Chewing.” House Rabbit Society, rabbit.org/faq-chewing.
- “Bunny proofing your home.” Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group, longislandrabbitrescue.org/bunny-proofing.