Rabbits - Housing
What type of cage does my rabbit require?
In general, the biggest cage you can afford is too small! When it comes to cages, bigger is better. Cages should be made of material strong enough to prevent the rabbit from chewing its way out. Solid flooring is easy to clean and disinfect daily. A large, well-ventilated cage with a plastic bottom and wire walls and top is suitable. Wire bottom rabbit cages are acceptable but in order to decrease foot trauma (which results in a condition called pododermatitis or "sore hocks"), it is recommended to cover at least half of the wire floor with something solid such as plastic, Plexiglas, or untreated wood (remember, wood is hard to clean and disinfect). A concealed "hiding" area, such as a cardboard or wooden box, in the cage allows the rabbit to feel secure.
"They love to chew and can be very destructive to the house and furniture."
Rabbits should never be allowed to run loose in the house unless it is in a specially designated "rabbit proof" room or under strict supervision. They love to chew and can be very destructive to the house and furniture. There is always a chance of injury, such as chewing on exposed wires, electrical cords, carpet, or poisonous houseplants.
Does my rabbit need bedding in its cage?
The bottom of the cage can be lined with hay, wood shavings (not cedar), pelleted recycled paper products or other non-toxic products that are digestible if eaten. The cage must be cleaned daily of all feces and urine. Many rabbits seem to appreciate the addition of a soft towel, and this may help decrease the incidence of "sore hocks". Just make sure your rabbit doesn't chew or eat the towel; if swallowed, the fibers or pieces of material may cause an intestinal obstruction. If the towel is chewed by your rabbit, remove it immediately.
What else do I need in the cage?
Rabbits prefer to urinate and defecate in the same spot. Like cats, rabbits will quickly learn to use a litter box for this purpose. You can place the litter box and ceramic or steel food and water bowls in the cage (for rabbits, water bowls are preferable to dropper bottles, which must be inspected daily for clogging of the nipple). Ceramic bowls are heavier and less likely to be spilled than metal bowls.
Rabbits are playful and clever, and could become bored if not provided with some mental stimulation. Some rabbits like digging and some like chewing. Boxes, paper tubes, paper bags and hard plastic baby toys can make entertaining toys for rabbits. If you offer your rabbit some chew toys, it may prevent your rabbit from chewing inappropriate or valuable objects. Sticks or blocks of wood make good chew toys and are very inexpensive. Cherry wood should be avoided as it is toxic, and fresh pine branches emit a lot of sticky sap that could stick to the rabbit's fur and make a mess. Your rabbit may enjoy pet safe commercial cat toys such as balls.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Rabbits tolerate cold better than heat and are very sensitive to heat stroke. It is critical to keep their environmental temperature at or below 80°F (26°C); make sure their "house" is well ventilated. If you choose to house your rabbit outdoors, you should discuss this with your veterinarian.
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© Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.