Rabbits are great pets, but sometimes they can be little troublemakers. They are natural burrowers and foragers, which means rabbits are big chewers and diggers. They can dig into carpets, chew on furniture and baseboards, and overall wreak havoc in an unprepared home.
This destructive behavior can end up putting some apartment dwellers on edge. You don’t want your fuzzy roommate to end up damaging the apartment. Small apartments can also pose a problem in the amount of space a rabbit gets. They may be small animals, but rabbits need space for their enclosure and space to exercise.
Luckily there are some easy ways to turn an apartment into a safe and friendly environment for our pet rabbits. If you’re thinking about bringing a rabbit into your apartment life, check out these tips so that you can make sure your new companion is a happy and healthy bunny.
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1. Make sure your apartments allows rabbits
Even if you are living in an apartment complex that markets as pet-friendly, it’s a good idea to check to make sure rabbits, specifically, are allowed as pets. Sometimes the policy in the lease agreement only mentions cats and dogs as possible pets, so bringing any other type of pet home would be considered breaking the lease agreement.
Ask the management directly if rabbits are allowed in the apartment before bringing a rabbit home or moving to a new space. The last thing you want is to be forced to surrender your pet because management is adhering to a too-strict pet policy.
2. Spay or neuter your rabbit
A much less obvious step you can take to keep your apartment safe and your rabbit happy is to get them spayed or neutered. Rabbits who have been fixed are much less likely to exhibit potentially destructive behaviors. They will be less likely to spray urine and spread poops around the house to claim their territory. This, especially the pee, has the potential to damage carpets and can even strip wood floors of their varnish.
In general, rabbits who have been neutered are also calmer. They won’t be moody and aggressive roommates. Neutered rabbits may still dig and chew into things when they’re bored, but it’s usually much less persistent than their unaltered counterparts.
3. Have a home base for your rabbit
To help your rabbit live happily in your apartment home, you’ll want to make sure you set up a home base enclosure for them. This will be a place where your rabbit can go to feel safe, and it will be a place for setting up your rabbit’s litter box and food bowls. You can give your rabbit some boxes and small rabbit furniture to have fun with and hide in too.
You’ll want to make sure your enclosure is big enough for your rabbit. A correctly sized enclosure should be 3-4 times the full length of your rabbit. The width should also be 1-2 times the length of your rabbit, and it should be tall enough to allow your rabbit to stand all the way up on their toes.
Even if you intend to allow your rabbit to have free roam of your apartment, you’ll want to get a home base area set up for them. Not only does this give your rabbit a safe place to retreat to, but it is also important to have an enclosure when you expect inspection or maintenance personnel to be going into your apartment. This way you’ll have a place for your rabbit when you’re required to keep your pets out of the way.
4. Use an enclosure that’s easy to clean
In an apartment, you don’t have the luxury of having a water hose outside where you can wash out a rabbit cage. You can try to clean a cage out in a bathtub, but that’s not always a smart choice. I’ve known some people who tried using a bathtub inside and ended up with a clogged drain because of all the hay. Hay clogs everything!
Instead, I recommend using an enclosure that is easy to clean and doesn’t require extra scrubbing. Use a rabbit ex-pen as their enclosure! You can place an area rug underneath the area of the enclosure for better protection of the flooring in your apartment. To clean these enclosures, all you have to do is move the gates aside, sweep up what you can, and vacuum the rest.
These ex-pens are also great because they can fit into whatever shape you need them to. If you only have weird sized space available to put the rabbit enclosure in your apartment, these pens can do the job.
5. Use space saving furniture
In a small apartment, you only have a limited amount of space. It can be difficult to fit all of your furniture in while also making sure your rabbit’s enclosure is big enough for them. Ideally the rabbit’s enclosure should be about 3-4 times their length, which can add up to a lot of space.
This is where you can use vertical space to make sure everything fits. What I did to solve this problem was get a loft bed. This way I could use the area underneath as my rabbit’s enclosure, and not lose any floorspace.
If you don’t want to get a loft bed, you can do something similar by using the space under a table, countertop or desk as the rabbit’s enclosure. It would be easy to wrap your ex-pen gate around a table so you can use the space underneath for your rabbit.
6. Cover carpets
Many rabbits are big diggers. They’ll try to dig into the corners of rooms or dig into the carpet under pieces of furniture. If your rabbit is a digger, you’ll need to take some precautions to make sure they don’t damage the apartment’s carpet.
First, you’ll need to do what you can to block the corners of rooms. These are the areas that rabbits tend to dig into the most. Use furniture to keep these corners completely blocked off from your rabbit.
I also use area rugs and plastic mats to cover areas where my rabbit digs that can’t be blocked by furniture. They can block off larger areas that your rabbit tends to dig into. If your rabbit is persistent, they will eventually get through the area rug, but a damaged area rug is much easier to replace than a damaged carpet.
Sometimes rabbits will eat strands of carpet as they go. I recommend getting area rugs made of seagrass, sisal or another natural fiber. This way you won’t have to worry about your rabbit ingesting anything that’s dangerous for them.
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7. Clip your rabbit’s nails regularly
Clipping a rabbit’s nails regularly can also reduce the amount of damage they are capable of doing to the apartment. Sharp nails can make scratches on wood flooring or make short work of any carpet. Long nails can also snag and break easily, causing the rabbit to bleed all over the carpet.
By clipping your rabbit’s nails frequently, you won’t have to worry as much about ruining wood flooring. Even if they like to scratch at the wood, your rabbit won’t be able to do much damage. Clipping their nails regularly can also keep them digging through those area rugs you have covering the carpets.
8. Block baseboards
Rabbits can also do a lot of damage by chewing on baseboards. Baseboards are right at that perfect height for a rabbit’s teeth to gnaw on. That kind of damage is difficult to fix and can be dangerous to rabbits depending on the kind of paint the apartment uses. The good news is that this is not an issue for all rabbits. Many will completely ignore baseboards, so pay attention to your own rabbit’s behavior and make changes when necessary.
There are a number of things you can try to do to keep your rabbit from chewing on the baseboards:
- First try to block off areas that you can. Move furniture in front of the baseboards. Use cat scratchers along the edge of the room to keep your rabbit away. It’s ugly, but I even use flattened cardboard boxes along the edge of my room to keep my rabbit away from the baseboards.
- For places that you can’t block, you can try using a bitter apple spray. It should make a gross taste for your rabbit, so they won’t want to keep chewing on the baseboards. You can either buy these at a pet store or online or you can make your own. Add equal amounts of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Shake it all together and spray it on the baseboards.
- The other thing that I’ve tried and had a lot of success with is using tape. I put strips of masking tape along the edges of the baseboards to stop my rabbit from chewing on it. It’s been working surprisingly well, so I recommend giving it a go. The only caveat I have with this technique is, if your rabbit tries to chew on the tape anyway, you should remove it. You don’t want your rabbit ingesting a lot of tape. Not good for digestion.
9. Rabbit proof wires
It is absolutely essential that you get your wires covered or completely out of your rabbit’s reach. Be very careful with this one because rabbits are notorious for seeking out wires and snipping them with their incisors. This is unfortunate for our many appliances, but it’s also very dangerous for rabbits. They could accidentally get electrocuted.
You’ll want to make sure you rabbit-proof your own wires that you bring into the apartment, but also make sure to search for any wires already in the living areas. Sometimes the wires that power the apartment or connect the internet snake out of the walls around the baseboard level.
You’ll need to make blockades to make sure your rabbit cannot get to these wires because if your rabbit gets the wrong wire, they could cut off power to a whole section of the apartment. That’s not going to be cheap to fix, and it’s very dangerous for little bunnies.
Block of areas that have a lot of wires, such as under desks or in back of television sets. For any wires that you cannot get completely out of your rabbit’s reach, you’ll want to use plastic wire covers. These thicker tubes will deter your rabbit from chewing on them, and the plastic cover will give the wires extra protection.
10. Litter train your rabbit
If you’re living in an apartment, you’ll definitely want to litter train your rabbit. It’s pretty much a necessity. They need time to exercise in the apartment, and you don’t want them pooping and peeing everywhere and damaging the floors. It’s much easier to keep an apartment clean when your rabbit is litter trained too.
Litter training your rabbit also makes it a lot easier to keep an eye on your rabbit’s health. Their everyday poop can help you catch signs of illness early and get them the help they need. And it’s a lot easier to see the actual amount and size of your rabbits poop when it all goes in the same spot everyday.
Some rabbits are very easy to litter train, while others take a lot of time and patience. Younger rabbits and older rabbits tend to be the most difficult, but every bunny has their own personality. And some are just stubborn.
11. Keep a quiet apartment
Lastly, you’ll want to keep your apartment life as calm and quiet as possible. Inevitably in an apartment that allows pets you’ll have noise and the occasional dog bark from surrounding apartments. There will also always be sounds of other people and households going about their daily lives. That can be scary for a little bunny, so it’s more important than ever that you help your rabbit feel safe in their own home.
Try to keep your home life scheduled and predictable, so your rabbit knows what to expect. Rabbits are much more confident and friendly when they have a routine and feel that they have some control over their daily lives.
It’s also best to avoid large get-togethers and loud parties. Unless you have a particularly confident rabbit, they are likely to be scared when there are a lot of strangers around with a lot of new smells and loud noises. In a peaceful, calm household rabbits will be able to thrive and be happy and healthy bunnies!