Bringing a Rabbit home for the first time

If you are thinking of getting a house rabbit or have just brought a rabbit home for the first time then there is some simple bunny proofing you can do to make your home safe and help stop some of the damage that can occur. In this beginners guide to bunnyproofing we cover some of the safety basics such as how best to hide away electrical cables as well as lots of tips and tricks veteran bunny owners have discovered to prevent damage to furniture, carpet and other parts of your home.
baby rabbit
Everything you need to know about bringing home a rabbit

Setting up an indoor enclosure

Rabbit pen

Before you start bunny proofing your home the first thing you will need to organise is a pen or indoor enclosure. This will be the place your rabbit will spend time when they are unsupervised or you don’t want them roaming freely, for instance when you are at work or at night when you are in bed. It needs to be a safe and secure place so you can be certain your rabbit will not come to any harm. It should be large enough for them to stretch and exercise in and contain all the things they need such as food, water, a litter tray and various toys to keep them occupied. There are lots of types of indoor bunny enclosures that people use so its a matter of picking the one you think will suit your bunny and also fit into your house.

This will also be the place where you best to start litter training which is essential if you are going to keep house rabbits. Please follow the link to the article below to get the know how that has been passed down from bunny owners that have been through this process.

Making electrical wires safe

Rabbit chewing electrical cable

Rabbits find chewing wires irresistible, no matter how many times you tell them ‘NO’ you will find the moment your back is turned their natural instinct to chew cord and cable will overcome them. Rabbits have razor sharp teeth that can cut through the soft insulation in seconds leading to a nasty, even fatal accident which is why bunny proofing the wires in your home is one of the first and most important jobs you need to do before you can let your rabbit roam freely. This may seem a daunting task at first however it only needs doing once and with a bit of time and ingenuity it is possible to make your home 100% safe by either moved wires out of reach by tucking them behind furniture or protecting them with a split length tubing or creating blocked off areas such as behind your TV.

Chewing carpet

Carpet chewed by rabbit

Having firstly made sure you home is safe the next thing you will probably need to think about is how to stop some of the damage your rabbit may cause. Rabbits love chewing and digging and its very common for some damage to occur to carpeted areas. If unchecked this can lead to a significant amount of damage, costly repairs or a loss of landlords deposit. What’s more the constant distraction of having to jump up and stop this behaviour can spoil the time you are supposed to be spending relaxing and enjoying their companionship. There is no one solution to stopping carpet chewing however there are lots of tips and tricks people use that can help. The first thing to do is find ways of covering areas that are getting attention, this can range from putting some cardboard boxes in the areas in question or covering them over with a rug. Ceramic tiles are often a popular way of holding down loose carpet and keeping it out of reach. The next thing to do is provide lots of acceptable digging and chewing alternatives so your rabbit can exercise this natural behaviour. Making a digging box can be an excellent alternative and grass mats that can be purchased from pet stores are good for keeping your rabbit out of trouble.

How to stop your rabbit chewing wooden furniture, doors and base boards

bunny proofed bed

Anything make of wood in your home is likely to be chewed to some extent. The soft wooden corners of furniture, doors and skirting board can be irresistible to rabbits who will chew and even eat the material. Although not typically harmful it can leave your home looking tatty and its best to try and avoid this habit wherever it develops. The only way to stop the damage is to cover areas in some way. Bitter spray or other deterrents rarely prove successfully. The way this is often achieved is with various types of fencing, Cardboard can be used however it typically doest last long and can encourage the problem. In the case of skirting boards products such as office storage cubes can used. These kits made of 1 foot square of wire used to make storage shelves can be re-purposed, broken up and used to fence of access. Areas where you have a lot of furniture can be totally screened off using larger sections of pet pens. Other tips and tricks people have discovered are to wrap a toy like fiddle sticks or willow bridges around the legs of tables or corners of cupboards or base boards. Soft edges can also be covered over with strips of plastic obtained from DIY stores. As always providing lots of acceptable alternatives for your rabbit to chew on sis essential. And keeping a constant supply of hay and chew toys will always help ease the problem.

Often many of the exotic and attractive plants in your home can be dangerous even poisonous if eaten by your rabbit. Unfortunately your rabbit will not be able to tell whether a plant is good to eat or not and is likely to want to try so its important to make sure you move all the plants in your home well out of reach and harms way. Make sure that falling leaves don’t end up in area where your rabbit can roam also.

Safety in the back yard or garden areas

bunny proofed gate in yard

If your rabbit can access outdoor spaces you will defiantly need bunny proof it to make it safe and secure. The first concern is preventing escape, make sure you block of gaps in hedges and under fences and gates. Whatever you do it will have to be substantial as rabbits are more then capable of excavating an escape tunnel a few feet deep. You may need to bury some boarding or wire into the ground. Always do routine checks of the perimeter looking behind bushes or anywhere they can tunnel without you noticing. Next you should offer some protection from attack by predators. Make sure there are plenty of safe places for your rabbit to run and hide and always put them away safely at night when they are the most vulnerable.

Playing safely on and around the sofa

Rabbit chewed sofa

Your sofa can become a centre of attention for your rabbit. Some simple bunny proofing and a few rules can be used here to make sure it’s safe. As a first step you and your family members will need to learn to avoid placing hot food or sharp objects on the arms of cushions. Rabbits have a habit of jumping up without looking which can lead to a nasty shock. Also make sure you are careful not to pile up too many loose cushions as these tend to get climbed over and can cause you rabbit to slip off. TO improve safety further it is sensible to bock off access underneath your sofa, especially if you have a wooden framed sofas as it may have unfinished materials like nails, staples and rough wooded edges that can cause harm. A real problem can occur if your rabbit crawling inside which is not only dangerous but can lead to you dismantling you sofa to get it out. Lastly its best to avoid chairs with reclining mechanisms and rocking chairs altogether, rabbits can gain access to these or become trapped in them and get badly hurt.

Making the bathroom and kitchen safe

rabbit bathroom

Areas such as you bathroom and kitchen can be unsafe for rabbits and its sometimes best to restrict access to them altogether. Often the use of a pet gate in the door can help make access these areas easier and help stop paws to get trapped underneath. If you do want to let your rabbit roam in your kitchen or bathroom then you will need to be mindful of the dangers. These include watching your rabbit doesn’t get underfoot, you should move any cleaning or other chemicals out of reach and in the bathroom always make sure your toilet seat is kept shut in case your house rabbit jumps in.

Need more help? Why not ask the Bunny Proofing group!

We are a community of house rabbit enthusiasts with a specific interest in sharing our experiences of living with these special pets. We like posting tips on enriching our rabbits environments, preventing damage to our homes and making them safe for our rabbits to inhabit.