Rabbits like to play and hide under furniture and will return again and again to places of shelter to explore and rest. This natural instinct is essential to their survival in the wild helping them avoiding predators. Unfortunately this means that no matter how many time you say No! its unlikely you will get them to stop this pattern of behaviour
There are a number of reasons why this can be a problem. The spaces under furniture such as beds and sofas can contain unsafe materials for rabbits such as staples and indigestible plastic fabrics. It can also quickly turn into a nightmare if your rabbit manages to get inside your sofa which can be very dangerous and lead to you virtually dismantling the item of furniture to free them.
Wooden furniture such as coffee tables, sideboards and dressers can cause of problems if your rabbit can play under them. Rabbits have a varied diet which includes many things we would normally consider inedible. They will try out most things as they go about their daily business of wearing down their teeth, looking for some interesting non-digestible fibre to supplement their diet. What starts as a few scratches on wooden furniture can soon lead to well chewed, rounded off corners. Over time this damage can build up and you can find your home looking rather tatty.
Spaces that give access to plugs and power cables and the back of electrical equipment such as behind the TV are very dangerous. It only takes a moment when your back is turned for damage to occur that could lead to expensive repairs or potential risk of electrocution.
Fortunately there is a common and easy solution to this problem, simply go around and block off these items of furniture. This essential bunny proofing task is the only way to keep your bunny and furniture out of harms way. In this article we have lots of tried and tested ways experienced bunny owners use to make these spaces “no go” areas. Starting off by using some of the day to day objects in your home or to some of the more permanent solutions you can install if you are more confident with DIY.
Arrange furniture and ornaments into the best position
The first thing you can do to resolve a lot of the problems associated with bunny behavior is to re-think how you arrange the furniture and ornaments in your home. Work on creating less places in your home where your rabbit can explore or get into trouble. Where possible eliminate gaps between furniture by moving them up against each other. Where spaces still exist often a well placed sofa or other home decoration can be used to cover the space.
Sofas and chairs
It is important to make sure your rabbit does not play under or behind your sofa or arm chairs in your home as this can be dangerous for your rabbit and cause damage which can leave your home looking tatty or be expensive to repair.
Firstly the materials used underneath the sofa are often dangerous for rabbits, they can include staples and indigestible plastic materials which if eaten can cause harm which may need veterinary treatment. There is also the possibility that your rabbit could chew a hole in the flimsy coverings and crawl inside and get stuck.
There are a number of ways to block the space underneath your sofa, the most common being to lay a heavy material around the edges such as a few lengths of wood. If you are happy to do a bit of DIY this can be easily built into a simple frame to make it more secure and keep it centered under the sofa.
If there is a crawl space between your sofa and a wall its common for rabbits to favour this space to sit in as it is out the way and makes them feel well protected. This however can be dangerous if the sofa was to be pushed back by someone sitting on it carelessly. Its best to make sure your sofa is pushed up against the wall or their is something stopping it sliding back.
You may find that if the sofa has an arched back this can still leave a space which your rabbit will try and crawl into. Its important to block this space off to either by using a few well placed bits of furniture. If this is not possible then a more permanent solution can be found by using a couple of bits of wooden board or sections of a pet pen. These can often be wedged in up against a heavy piece of furniture or tied onto the side of the sofa. If you have made a frame under the sofa you can attached the material to this.
Going under furniture can be dangerous for a house rabbit.
It is best to block off the spaces under furniture such as sideboards, dressers or chest of drawers. There can often be rough finishing, splinters and possibly even nails or staples that can hurt you rabbit. Permanently block these areas off by placing some lengths of wood under the space, they can be hidden a few inches in underneath so as not to stand and will go unnoticed. If you are feeling handy these can be knocked together in a simple U shaped frame to make it more secure.
Block off access to the space behind your TV
Your rabbit should not have access to areas where you have cables leading to electrical equipment such as behind your TV. A simple way to do this is to keep all your TV boxes and audio equipment together in a cabinet, if you choose one with glass doors you will be able to keep the doors shut and still use your remote controls. Position the TV against a wall in front of a plug or in the corner where a plug socket is so you dont need to trail any cables up to it. You can block off the sides of your TV or cabinet to stop access to behind it with some other bits of furniture. Alternatively you can use a couple of sections of a pet pen or wooden board. A popular way to do this that is less obtrusive is to make a fence out of some grids from office storage cubes. These foot square wire grids can be lashed together using cables ties and these can make a good shield on either side.
Screening off areas of your home with sheets from a pet pen.
Fully bunny proofing all the areas under furniture can be a massive task to undertake and it can often be a lot simpler to fence off a whole area. This can be done by taking a pet pen and breaking it up into sheets and using these to screen off sections of the room. These can then easily be packed away when your bunny is not roaming freely.
Blocking off the space under the bed
If you have a bed made from a frame that is off the floor then it’s best to find a way to stop your rabbit going underneath. Rabbits have a habit of chewing at the wooden materials or sheets and mattresses which can cause a lot of damage. The man made materials can also be dangerous if digested. Rabbits have different sleep patterns to us so if your rabbit roams in your room at night their chewing may also keep you awake.
A quick way to block out this space is to put some plastic storage tubs there, they are cheap and come in a variety of heights so if you measure the gap up before you buy them you can buy some that will fit snugly. A more permanent solution is to place some lengths of wood around the edges of your bed. If you are feeling handy these can be knocked together into a simple frame, making it more secure. Alternately some broken up sections of wire office storage shelves such as NIC cube storage can be used. These can be tied together and to the legs or bed frame.
Training and discipline
It can be hard to stop your rabbit trying to explore out of bounds places by training them. Firstly you have to catch them in the act or any telling of will be wasted, secondly you have to judge the right amount of discipline to use. You should never shout at, scare or hit your rabbit as this will probably make them want to hide under your furniture more. The best way to let your rabbit know its not allowed to do something with their name followed by a firm NO! If this does not work a stronger deterrent can be used such as a water mister, keep this to hand and when you catch your rabbit being naughty spray a mist of cold water over them. Another common technique is to use a empty jar filled with coins that you can shake as a warning.
Enrich you home with lot’s of tunnels and hideaway alternatives
You cannot stop a rabbits natural instinct to look for shelter and if you have removed a lot of the spaces that form naturally in your home then you need to provide lots of acceptable alternatives to fulfill this need in them and keep them happy.
Rabbits will instictively seek out shelter
Rabbits naturally like explore and seek out places for shelter and can crawl into very tight places. This instinctive behaviour is essential in the wild to avoid predators.
- Block off spaces under wooden furniture to stop damage from chewing and provide lots of safe and acceptable alternatives for your rabbit to play in.
- Block off any gaps leading to the back of electrical equipment like your TV center.
- Block off access to the underside of wooden framed sofas that may have unfinished materials like nails, house rabbits can even crawl inside sofas.How to stop your rabbit going under and behind furniture
- Don’t leave a space behind your sofa in case it slides back and squashes your house rabbit.
- Block off any spaces that may contain materials that may be dangerous such as staples, nails and unfinished surfaces
Need more help? Why not ask the Bunny Proofing group!
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