Rabbit Rescue & Rehab
The New York City Chapter of the House Rabbit Society
Anatomy of a Rabbit-Safe Habitat
An appropriate home for your rabbit begins with a safe "home base." Cages and hutches found in pet stores are much too small and should be avoided in favor of an appropriate pen-style setup. A good home base will be large enough for your rabbit to move around, stand up, and lay fully stretched out, and will also provide sufficient space for their essentials; a litter box, hidey-house, food and water bowls, toys, and other comfort items like beds and stuffed animal friends. It is crucial for rabbits to have sufficient traction, so floors must be carpeted or covered with non-slip rugs.
Puppy Exercise Pen: Home Base
A puppy exercise pen is recommended to have as your rabbit’s home base. One pen consists of eight 2ft panels that create a 4ft x 4ft square. The pen should be at least 36” tall, and up to 42” or higher if the rabbit is a jumper.
Select an appropriately sized “cat-type” litter box for your rabbit. The size should be large enough that your rabbit can lay down comfortably inside the litter box. Avoid “corner” litter boxes, as they are not large enough for even the smallest rabbits.
The bottom of the litter box can be lined with newspaper sections, and then an unscented, non-clumping, and non-clay based litter can be added for additional absorbency, if desired. Options include compressed paper pellets, wood pellets, or paper pulp:
Whether you choose to add litter or not, the entire litter box must be topped with a thick layer of fresh, quality, timothy hay to allow urine to pass through and keep the rabbit’s feet completely dry. Your rabbit will eat from this hay, too! That means that your litter box must be very full of hay, much more than only what your rabbit will eat since some of the hay will become soiled and your rabbit will only eat what is clean.
A hidey-house is essential for your rabbit to feel safe and hidden within her habitat. A clean cardboard box without stickers, tape, staples, or other hazards that is large enough for the rabbit to stand and stretch out in will make a great hidey-house. The house must either be very tall so the rabbit cannot jump on top of it (and then jump out of her pen), or else have a peaked roof that the rabbit cannot jump onto.
Water and Food Bowls
Hanging water bottles are not a sufficient source of water for your rabbit. Use a bowl instead. It is more appropriate for the way a rabbit drinks, and will encourage more frequent drinking.
Choose ceramic or glass food and water dishes for easy cleaning and to prevent growth of bacteria. A flat, wide, water bowl will help prevent your rabbit from tipping it over. Most bowls sold specifically for rabbits are too small; look for a water bowl that holds about 3 cups.