Your new pet rabbit needs a place to live and play. Before you bring him home, check out rabbit cages to make sure you provide a comfortable, safe environment. The cage you choose does not need to be fancy, but it should not be outdoors.
Many people make the mistake of assuming that a rabbit can live happily tucked into a corner of the backyard in a little wire cage. That’s just not so! First of all, your rabbit will be subjected to cold, rain, and wind that he doesn’t like. Second, if he’s alone in a wire cage you won’t know if a predatory animal—even your neighbor’s dog—is threatening his safety. And those backyard cages can be invaded by bugs.
So what kinds of materials make the best rabbit cages? The wire versions we mentioned above are fine for your pet, as long as it’s kept indoors and not too small. If your rabbit is a smaller one weighing about 8 to 10 pounds (4 kg), his cage should measure 2 x 3 feet (60-90 cm). Go a little bigger for a bigger rabbit or if you have two.
It’s important to avoid floors made of wire. Many people see the wire floor and a removable cleaning tray beneath it and think that’s perfect for their rabbit. But wire floors will injure your rabbit’s feet. And since rabbits generally take pretty well to litter training, they’re not really necessary.
If you happen upon a cage that you like and it does contain a wire floor, cover it with a piece of plywood. You can also use a sisal mat. Rabbits enjoy sisal or grass mats not only for comfort but also for traction and texture. A solid plastic like Coroplast (a commercial corrugated plastic product) is also acceptable for use in the bottom of the cage. Rabbits also enjoy straw, but avoid wood chips because of the oils they contain.
Whether you look at rabbit cages made of wire or with slats, the next consideration is the size of the opening. You will need a cage door big enough so that you can move your rabbit in and out easily. Actually, rabbits like to exert their independence by moving in and out on their own, so don’t feel that you need to usher or grab your pet. You also need easy access to move around the litter pan, feeding dish, and water bottle.
It’s also possible to adapt a purchased cage to create two levels. Your rabbit will love traveling up and down the ramp between floors.
He’ll need an area where he can retreat for a sense of security and peace. Place a soft piece of sheepskin inside. Construct a tiny area in the cage so he can actually hide. And always keep his area full of simple toys—even an empty cardboard roll.
Many people like to acquire playpens for their rabbit’s outdoor play. They are fine as long as they are in addition to and not in place of rabbit cages. Your rabbit will enjoy time outdoors where he can nibble on fresh grass, as long as you haven’t sprayed chemicals recently. Just be certain to stay with him to keep him safe!