More than just a how to guide to getting ready for a new bunny, but a comprehensive guide on how to share your home with a rabbit.
Every rabbit should have a place to call their own! Not only does this fulfill their instinctual desire for their own territory but it will prevent territorial disputes in the future. (Trust me you don’t want your bunny to claim your couch or bed as their home.) The modern day Holland Lop comes from the European Rabbit. Unlike cats and dogs whom are migratory animals, rabbits create their own homes underground. Generations upon generations will develop these massive underground burrows with winding tunnels that can stretch for miles. These homes keep them safe from predators, it is deep in their nature to desire a home/burrow that they may call their own. So next time the bunny starts to feverously dig into your carpet to build their own burrow, ask yourself, “Did I provide my bunny with a place they feel safe and can call their own?”
There are three types of shelter: the hutch, pen and grid. Just because your bunny has a hutch or play pen doesn’t mean they are not free roam, as you can easily leave the door open.
- Modern day hutches are designed to be easy to clean.
- Pick a hutch that has a hidey hole built into it. That’s a room with 4 walls, a ceiling, and a doorway.
- Pick a hutch that doesn’t have full wire flooring, so your bunny doesn’t develop sore hocks. As wire floors can break the skin and develop into nasty infections.
- No hutch is large enough to provide enough running space for a bunny to get adequate exercise. So your bunny must be let out daily to exercise. Many people attach x pens to their hutches.
- Pick a hutch that has some solid walls and not all wire/mesh ones.
What is an X pen? A large outdoor dog exercise pen.
- Has more room for your bunny to run around, adding segments to your x pen can make it large enough so your bunny can exercise within their shelter.
- While x pens are cheaper than hutches you’ll still want to provide them with hidey homes, a litter box, and a hay feeder. In the end they are not that much cheaper.
- Provides no floor protection, many people cover the floors of their x pens with old fleece blankets or children’s playmats.
- Some pens can be fit into any shape.
- Get the 40 inch tall ones.
- Modularly build your bunny a perfect little home using a grid system. You can make multiple levels, ramps and hidey homes. Grids come in wire, frosted glass and solids. Just remember to zip tie your joints together for structural integrity!
- You’ll need to come up with some sort of floor cover to prevent sore hocks.
- People get really fun and creative with this building format.
- It’s great for bedrooms, when you can’t build out then build up.
A litter box often serves as a bunnies feeding station and potty station. Bunnies like to poop as they graze and many people find it best to place the hay feeder inside or right by the litter box. Rabbits are grazers and will spend a great deal of time here so make it big!
One of my favorite designs for a litter box is a large storage bin with a hole cut into the side. However it does require a little box cutter knife work. This is my favorite because it’s very good at keeping your home clean, less litter and hay make it outside of the box onto your floor.
The bottom of the litter box should be lined with a rabbit safe litter like wooden pellets, recycled newspaper pellets or puppy pee pads.
Large cat litter boxes or large under bed storage bins are also popular litter boxes for bunnies. If you want a more elegantly designed litter box there are many artisans on Etsy who make lovely litter boxes/feeder stations for rabbits.
Hay Feeder (optional)
While hay feeders are not necessary, they do help you in the long run by saving money and making sure there is always clean hay for your bunny when you step out of the house for longer periods of time. Hay feeders come in numerous styles and materials.
Any hay feeder you find at your pet store will likely be too small for a bunny and you will find yourself refilling it numerous times a day. It’s better to go online and find one that’s larger. An adult rabbit should eat 1 to 2 times their body size in hay daily, so the hay feeder should be no smaller than an adult rabbit.
Some savvy owners create their own hay feeders out of boxes and with a little box cutter magic, you have yourself a perfect hay feeder.
You can go hay feeder less and just place handfuls of hay in their litter box, but the down side of this method is you’ll waste more hay this way. Hay placed directly in the litter box tends to get soiled rapidly and much of it becomes wasted.
Really only 2 options here, the no flip water bowl or rent a coop’s water feeder. This water feeder design is very good; it’s easy to refill, no spill design, and no wet ears. Never use one of those store bought water bottles, it is the #1 cause for bunny dehydration.
Rabbits have a natural tendency to try and eat just about everything. It’s all part of growing up, putting things in your mouth to see if it’s edible. The other reason rabbits chew is to wear down their front teeth. One of the best ways you can prevent your bunny from chewing on furniture, baseboards and carpet is by having a few chew toys on hand. I have found if your bunny is going to chew on something they rather it be edible. So here are my favorite chew toys that have served me well.
All bunnies should be supervised while free roaming, to prevent any bad habits from forming. As soon as you catch your bunny chewing on something they shouldn’t be, offer them a chew toy instead. They will find these sweet and edible treats far more desirable than your furniture.
Protecting your bunny and home. All exposed electrical wires should be tucked away or covered with a protective sheath. I’ve found most of my bunnies chew cords between the ages of 3 months and 6 months old, once they learn they are not pieces of hay they generally stop nibbling on cords.
If you have a plant in your home move it out of their reach or create a small barrier.