Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rabbit Housing Series: Housing Possibilities

The first of three installments in the Housing Series deals with variations in housing possibilities.

I’m often asked about the best way to house rabbits. Of course, indoor housing is a must. But once inside, should a rabbit be caged? Penned? Allowed free-range?

While many bunny owners allow their rabbits to live in a free-range environment 24/7, this decision should be influenced by a variety of factors. First, consider the available space: is there an entire room that can be closed off and completely rabbit-proofed? If not, then keeping your rabbits penned up while you're gone may be a safer option.

Consider also the naughtiness level of the rabbit in question. Some rabbits are less inclined to chew and dig, and these guys are prime candidates for a free-range situation. In others, these behaviors are deeply ingrained and keeping them in some sort of containing structure (dog crate, pen) while they are unsupervised is highly recommended. As long as you allow your rabbits several hours of out-of-cage time daily, using a pen or large dog crate is perfectly acceptable.

Naughtiness Level: High

Picking the area of the house to place the pen should be thoroughly planned out. It’s important that your rabbit be kept in a relatively high-traffic area of the house, such as the living room. This keeps the animal from becoming isolated and bored, and also makes giving the rabbit out-of-pen time easier. You should not have to pick up and carry your rabbit to a room where he or she can lounge—the constant chasing around and picking up is not conducive to a harmonious relationship.

It is much easier to keep the pen in an area of the house where you spend the most amount of time, and simply open the pen and let your rabbit out when you're home. When it’s time to pen her up, train her to hop to her pen for a treat. This is much lower stress, and with rabbits, the lower the stress, the better for everyone.

Stay tuned for the second installment in the Housing Series, in which we will explore setting up the perfect rabbit pen!