Posted: April 2, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT
Rabbits Pepper and Patches/© Courtesy Scott and Stephanie Potter
Where you place your rabbit's cage can affect its health.
A big part of owning a pet rabbit is deciding on where to house it.
Many rabbit enthusiasts recommend housing rabbits indoors. Outdoor rabbits can be preyed upon or frightened by neighborhood cats, birds of prey and other wildlife, and are more susceptible to parasites like ear mites.
Another outdoor hazard is heat. Rabbits do not tolerate hot weather well and can suffer heatstroke very quickly. A rabbit housed inside the home is more likely to receive frequent attention and interaction with household members — which makes the rabbit a more social pet.
As for the exact indoor location, situate your rabbit’s enclosure in an area of your home that receives some foot traffic, but not in a “busy intersection.” Your rabbit should be protected from a pet cat or dog, as well as from direct blasts by air conditioning or heating units.
You can choose one of several options for your rabbit’s indoor habitat.
© Gina Cioli/BowTie Studio
If rabbits live in a cage, give them daily out-of-cage time in a safe area.
1. If you have a room available to devote to your rabbit, rabbit-proof the room and provide it with all the accessories it needs, including a hideaway or a cage that has its door open. Use a pet gate, baby gate or some other method to keep the rabbit in the room. This setup allows your rabbit free-roam but gives it the option to retreat to its cage whenever it wishes.
2. If you can’t devote an entire room to your rabbit, set up a pet exercise pen enclosing as large an area as you have available. Again, include all the accessories it needs (litter box, food and water containers, toys, mats, etc.) and also a cage with its door open all the time or a hideaway.
3. If space is more limited, you can house your rabbit in a cage that’s big enough to contain all your rabbit’s accessories and still allow your rabbit to lie down, stand up and move freely. A larger cage is needed for multiple rabbits. The food station should be as far as possible from the litter area. Rabbits that live in a cage need to have a few hours of daily out-of-cage time. You can set up an exercise pen for this or supervise your pet in a rabbit-proofed room.
If you choose to house your rabbit outdoors, its pen must be fully enclosed and should have a solid top to prevent direct sun exposure and to keep rain out.
Also, offer your rabbit a hiding place, such as a box or tube, where it can feel safe if frightened. (A tall litter box with a large opening, turned upside down works well.)
Your rabbit’s enclosure should be easily accessible and visible, not hidden away in a corner of the yard. A pet rabbit requires daily interaction with you, so make time for indoor play, or create an outdoor rabbit run.
Rabbit Safety Tip: Think of a rabbit run as a swimming pool with children — never leave it unsupervised when the rabbit is in it.