Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Essentials: Rabbit Proofing

Rabbits are not meant to be kept pent up in a cage their entire lives. They need to be able to run around and explore a large area in order to develop intellectually, physically, emotionally, and socially. While keeping your rabbit in dog cage or a large rabbit cage is a good idea when you're gone at work or sleeping, rabbits need to be let out to roam and explore for a few hours daily.

As we know, rabbits are curious creatures. It's almost as if they have a sixth sense which they use to seek out trouble. If there's something they shouldn't get into, they're going to find it.

However, there are some easy things you can do that can not only save you money, but more importantly, your bunny's life.

Electrical wires, telephone cords, computer cables: Rabbits love biting into a good electrical wire. It's got the perfect texture; maybe it's a similar enjoyment as
we have with chewing gum. Either way, if wires are exposed, there's a good chance they will get gnawed through. Electrical wires are doubly dangerous because depending on the amount of voltage contained inside, your rabbit could be shocked to death.
The easiest thing to do is move your furniture in a way so that the wires are blocked. Other options include covering wires in a cable sleeve, or cord protector, or taping it down in the corner with duck tape (not the most aesthetically pleasing option but it works).
Carpet, baseboards, and wood furniture: I've found the best way to control the unpleasant situations of teeth-marked furniture or pulled up carpet is by patient and attentive training. A loud clap or sudden "no!" can startle a rabbit away from a tasty wooden table leg and if done so consistently, the rabbit can be conditioned to not nibble on these valuables. Providing alternatives here is the key. (See below for a list.) And since one of the appeals of carpet, baseboards, and furniture (besides the interesting textures!) is that they are stationary (unlike most rabbit toys), consider wiring a cardboard box to the side of the cage or wedging the wooden chew toy between the cage wires. For some reason, it's a lot more fun to chew things that don't move!
Poisonous plants: The Sacramento House Rabbit Society has a extensive list of plants that can harm your rabbit. However, keeping any large plant on the ground is pretty much asking for trouble. Even if it's not poisonous, chances are your rabbit will eat the leaves, dig up the soil and cause an all-around mess. Best to just move your plants out of these rooms or keep them off the ground.
Miscellaneous objects:
For specific objects that you don't want your rabbit to get to, you might have to get creative. For instance, if your closet doesn't have a door, use hanging shoe shelves to keep shoes out of reach. Fold your bed covers in half so they don't hang over the edge and provide easy chewing access.
One of the best things you can do is provide lots of safe distractions such as cardboard boxes and tubes, balls, newspaper (only if your rabbit doesn't ingest it), timothy hay, wood toys and mineral chews.

Boredom is usually to blame for heightened troublemaking,
so giving your pet lots of supervised roaming time, entertainment and interaction diminishes their troublemaking capacity.


shortcake said...

"Boredom is usually the blame for heightened troublemaking" -- so bunnies ARE just like humans! :D

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