Home, Sweet Home

Before making any final decisions as to your rabbit's living arrangements, try to imagine what life is like for your rabbit and the real reasons why you chose one option over another. For example, did you choose a cage because that is the only option you are familiar with or is it truly the best choice for your situation? Today there are more choices for rabbit's habitat then ever before. Make sure to investigate all your options.
One thing you will not find recommended here is keeping your rabbit in an outside hutch. Having your rabbit live outside in a hutch is not a good idea for several reasons:
  • Despite what many people think, domestic rabbits can  not tolerate the extremes of weather like wild animals can. They often die from heat stroke or from freezing.
  • Hutches are a prime target for predators including dogs, cats, large birds, possums and especially foxes. Ask any rescuer how many times they have heard "I used to have a rabbit, but it lived outside in a hutch and a dog got it".
  • If outdoors your rabbit is also more susceptible to diseases spread through contact with other animals or animal droppings. Bats, flying foxes, birds, mice and rats are all carriers of diseases that can take the life of your rabbit.
  • Hutching your rabbit out doors can also increase the chances of infection from many diseases. The most common are RHD/Caleci or Myxomitosis. A vaccinations against RHD is available in Australia. To date we do not have access to the vaccination against Myxo in Australia. These diseases are spread through fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and the common Aussie blowies/house flies. Housing your rabbit outside will directly put your rabbit’s health at risk.
  • If you leave your rabbit outside you will not be aware of any changes in behavior that may indicate that your rabbit is ill, and needs medical attention.
  • If you keep your rabbit in a hutch you will never get the opportunity to learn the joy of owning a bunny.
The most common living arrangement chosen for rabbits is the cage. Cages are not necessarily bad if they are chosen carefully and used properly. A cage should act as a home base or safe area for your rabbit, not as its only habitat. Cages are great to keep your rabbit out of trouble during the day while you are at work or at night while you are asleep, but the rabbit should be allowed to have exercise time, out of the cage, while you are home. Even during exercise time it is good to keep the door open to the cage to provide a safe area if they become frightened and to help with litter training.
Size does matter in more ways than one when purchasing a cage. First keep in mind the age of your bunny. If you have a baby or young bunny, buy a cage large enough to accommodate their estimated size as an adult. Rabbits can outgrow cages quicker than kids can outgrow shoes. Second, the cage should be at least FOUR times the size of your rabbit when they are stretched out. Remember this is where they will be spending their days, how would you like to spend hours on end in a room the size of an apartment bathroom?

Also important when purchasing a cage is how the bottom is constructed. Most cages have a wire bottom over a metal tray. This is okay if your rabbit is messy or not perfect with their litter box; however, rabbit's feet were not designed to walk on wire hence they must be given someplace solid to rest on. Prolonged exposure to wire floors causes open wounds (sore hocks) that are very painful and often difficult to heal. Placing a piece of wood, lino, carpet or cardboard covering about 2/3 of the cage floor works best. Also lining the tray with newspaper helps to make things neater and easier to clean.

Other options include plastic slats over a metal tray, often more expensive, but much safer and easier to clean or a solid bottom. Some stores are now selling guinea pig style cages only much larger (four foot long) for rabbits. These work well, but you do need to place a piece of cardboard on the bottom because the plastic can be slippery. NEVER FILL THIS TYPE OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF CAGE WITH WOOD SHAVINGS. Not only are you creating unnecessary work for yourself, the shavings smell when wet and prolonged exposure can be toxic to rabbits.
Home Decor
Your rabbit's cage should be a pleasant environment. In addition to the standard food bowl and water bottle, make sure she has toys to entertain her, a litter box for necessities, maybe a synthetic sheepskin rug to lay on and, if space permits, a wooden sleep box. For your own home décor, try laying an old sheet and/or piece of plastic under the cage to make clean up easier.
One of the newer options on the market for rabbits is a multilevel condo. These are a huge advantage if your horizontal space is limited. Condos allow you to double or even triple your cage space by providing multiple levels connected by a ramp or series of ramps. A few rabbits may need a little encouragement or help to learn how to use the ramps, but most discover the joy of the multiple levels quickly. They also allow your rabbit to explore heights in a safe environment. You will have hours of fun if you decide to construct a Bunny Condo specifically to the needs of your individual rabbit. These condos are easily assembled and disassembled which make them convenient if you and your rabbit need to relocate. These condos are constructed from metal grids covered in white plastic and are joined by nylon cable ties. They are available in Australia from Bunnings Warehouse, Hardware House and selected discount stores such as Clint's Crazy Bargains. They are known as Start-A Cubes or Add-A-Cubes. They retail from between $5 and $8 dollars for a pack of five from standard hardware shops, but are much cheaper from a discount store. Most condos are made up of approximately 30 grids, so the cost works out to be about the same as a big cage from a pet store, the difference is that you design it to you and your rabbits specific needs, which are usually much more inviting than the standard cage set up. For instructions on construction refer to our web site. Be sure to peek at Fuzzwah's very own condo named ‘The Purple Palace’ .
Two companies that provide condos are Leith Petwerks (www.leithpetwerks.com or 1-812-824-1488) and Safeguard cages (see above). For other options you could search the web.
Free Roaming
Once you have a mature, fairly well trained rabbit and have sufficiently bunnyproofed, it may be possible to allow your rabbit free roam of your house or portions of your house at all times. Many people who have free roam rabbits don't even own cages. Their rabbits meander around the house just as a cat or dog would do. This situation does not work for everyone (nor is it recommended for those with kids or other animals) but it is perhaps the best way to enjoy your rabbit's companionship.