There are going to be times when you need to keep your rabbit where you know it can’t come to any harm and be sure its cant get up to anything naughty in your home. This may be when you are at work or asleep or just simply when you don’t want your rabbit getting under foot. An obvious way to do this is to get a rabbit cage from a pet store however many bunny owners choose to give their rabbits a bit more space by making an enclosure that will allow enough room for them to really stretch and binky about and can also include a litter tray, hay feeder and some toys to enrich the environment so they don’t get bored on their own.
An enclosure is easy to build without any DIY skills and all the elements can be purchased cheaply from a home or pet store. The main things to consider are what to make the fencing out of, the common chooses are wire fence from a pet pen or a re purposed home office storage solution such as NIC cubing that can be used to build large enclosed structures. Next you will need to think about the flooring which needs to be something that is tough, easy to clean and wont be a problem if it gets chewed occasionally. Where you set this up in your home is also important and lastly the fun bit of setting it up with the necessary litter tray, food station and lots of toys to keep you bunny amused.
So if you do want to build your bunny the best possible enclosure or upgrade the one it has then take a look below and you will see with a little effort and not much cost you can keep your bunny happy and take the worry out of the times whey you are away.
How to build a pet pen enclosure
The simplest way to build a pen is to use the section from one or more pet pen to create a perimeter fence. Be mindful of how you clip these together as the plastic clips that are typically supplied with the pens can be chewed through by a resourceful bunny so its worth adding something more sturdy like a few additional cable ties or wire. Remember rabbits can be quite springy so keep an eye on this at first to see if your rabbit is capable of escape in which case you may need to build the sides up a bit or put a cover over the top.
Alternatively if you want your rabbit to be totally secure it can be helpful to build the enclosure around a more secure cage such as a hutch or dog cage. This can be easy attached to the wire fencing to link to the rest of the perimeter.
How do I build an office cube enclosure
A slightly more complicated but also more substantial alternative is to custom build an enclosure by lashing together storage cube shelving. These are grids of wire about 12″ across originally designed for office storage however with a pack of cable ties and some imagination and a little effort they can be used to create your rabbit his own enclosure with lots of levels and area. The advantage of this is it can be made to fit into any area of your home It can be extended or re-arranged to keep enriching your rabbit enclosure and can include levels to build it upwards. The roof can also be filled in to prevent escape. The main disadvantage of this type of system is it can be a bit fiddly to put together and having access to the area inside can be awkward which makes it hard to clean out or catch your rabbit if you need to take them to the vets.
What to use for the floor
Bunny enclosure can get a bit messy so its best to cover the floor to stop any permanent damaged. Its also good to cover over hard floors as this offers a bit of insulation and slippery floors can make some rabbits a bit timid and even cause discomfort if their nails are long. Heavy carped floors can also be unsuitable for rabbits feet if they spend all day on it and they can also be hard to clean.
Choice of floor can be tricky and there are a number of options people go for which best suits their bunny. A good solid option can be to get a rug that fits the space, make sure its made of a natural material so avoid synthetic materials with rubberised back in case your rabbit chew them. A cheaper option can be to use a section of carpet, often carpet stores will have some cheap offcuts you can pick up at a discount piece, again make sure these are pure wool and does’t have a plastic backing. DIY stores also offer cheep outdoor carpet solution that can be very hard wearing and they will cut these to size which will avoid waste.
An easy to clean way to cover the floor is to buy some children’s puzzle mats as these are tough and easy to wiped clean, keep an eye on this to see if its being eaten as this may be harmful.
If your find your rabbit has a habit of chewing the floor material then its best to try and change this habit especially if its a synthetic material as it could cause a digestive problem. The best way to stop your bunny chewing the floor is to provide lots of safe chewable alternatives to keep them out of trouble. A great idea can be to cover an area of the floor with grassy mats as these are relatively cheep and made to be good for rabbits.
Where to put the enclosure
You need to find somewhere calm and secure for your enclosure to live, remember rabbits don’t like loud noise and are easily scared so avoid chaotic spaces like a utility area with noisy appliances or kitchen or pantry where the crashing of pans or food smells may be disturbing. Rooms where children play can also disturb your rabbit and if they are in a den make sure it is not next to stereo speakers or a TVs as the amplified noise may be upsetting. Make sure the temperature in the room is even and does not overheat in the summer or get to cold in the winter.
The best place is a corner of a heated and ventilated room in your home that does not get any though traffic and is not in direct sunlight so your rabbit can be safely left alone to relax.
How big should the enclosure be
There is no limit to the maximum space you can give your rabbit and the bigger the better so this really comes down to how much space you can give up in your home, the cost of the pen and the flooring as well as the effort it will take to clean it out which for larger pens can be greater as rabbit like to spread mess around.
You do need to be careful about the minimum space required and you can find some good advice regarding this on the RWAF website. You should consider the minimum space to be big enough for your rabbit to carry out its natural behaviours such as hopping about, at least three steps, it needs to be able to stretch up and reach its full height and you will also need extra room for the other things inside the enclosure such as a litter try, water bowl or feeder, hay feeder and some toys and a hideaway. Remember rabbits can pick up quite a lot of speed when the binky about so you don’t want them crashing in to things.
In the enclosure – Food and water station
Your rabbit is going to need a variety food sources. Most importantly you should provided lots of hay, this is often best delivered in a hay feeder situated above their litter tray as this will encourage you bunny to keep good litter training habits. A food bowl can also be used to help contain food such as fruit or vegetables or pellet foods. Your rabbit is also going to need a water bowl or water bottle and its best to situate this near the food station.
In the enclosure – Litter tray
You are going to need a litter tray and its best to situate this in a corner where it can be easily reach to make cleaning it out more convenient. If you rabbit is new to it enclosure or learning litter training then you may need a large tray till it gets the hang of it. When your rabbit gets used to the space and its fully litter trained then you may be able to save floor space with a corner litter tray.
In the enclosure – Toys
If you are away for long periods then you’re going to need to provide you rabbit with lots for stuff to do. This includes lots of safe toys to toss about, explore in and chew to keep them stimulated. Each rabbit has its own favourite toys and behaviours so as you learn these you will know what to discard and get more of from the pet store. Its best to keep a store of toys and rotate them to keep them interested.
In the enclosure – Platforms and ramps
To help provide exerciser and a stimulating environment you can provide a few platforms or boxes they can jump up on or ramps the can run up and down. You can either make these yourself or get them from a pet stores. These will take up additional space in the pen so make sure your rabbit still has plenty of floor space to run around.
In the enclosure – Hideaways
Some rabbits like to have a bit of shelter that will make them feel more secure and give them a place to rest. There are lots of things you can use for this including pet tents, cardboard boxes or tubes.
Need more help? Why not ask the Bunny Proofing group!
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