How to Choose the Best Rabbit Cage
Bringing home a new bunny can be exciting and fun. Once you are home is when the questions start! What to feed them, which kind of cage is best, types of bedding, water bowls or bottles? The list of questions can be endless and overwhelming. We all want what is best for our rabbits and in the long run that is the most important question: What is best for my rabbit. In this article we are going to discuss a few different types of cages and the pros and cons of each type. You will need to evaluate cages based not just on their looks and your preference but most importantly which will provide the best and safest home for your rabbit!
Recommended sizing guidelines vary from site to site. We try and make sure that all of our rabbits here at Charlie and the Pips have at least the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) minimum for the largest possible rabbit (even though many of our breeds are not upwards of 11-12 pounds). That being said we like to promote the minimum cage size of 5 square feet per rabbit with a minimum height of 14 inches. Most of our cages are actually at least 24 inches tall and about 6 square feet of floor space. This is a minimum and should be regarded as such. We provide playpen space and outdoor enclosures for our rabbits to enjoy during the non-winter months, and many of our house rabbits roam freely once they are litter trained! You should only consider bringing a rabbit home if you are able to provide it with the necessary space it will need to live a happy and healthy life!
Indoor / Outdoor
The next decision you will have to make is whether your rabbit will be primarily housed outdoors or indoors. Your options for housing in some cases will be similar but not the same. This decision should not be made lightly and will depend on a few factors: climate, housing, and the type of rabbit. You will still need to provide your rabbit the same amount of love and care no matter where it is housed. They will still require plenty of fresh veggies, food, hay, and water. Housing a rabbit outdoors does not automatically mean that owning a rabbit will be easier. In some cases housing rabbits outdoors can leave them prone to sickness and disease which can lead to costly vet bills. Consider all of your options before you decide where to house your rabbit. Remember that rabbits can withstand very cold temperatures but are sensitive to heat! They need to have adequate airflow and plenty of shade during warm spring and summer months. They should never be without water but this is especially key when temperatures are very hot. If your rabbit is housed outdoors consider fans, ice bottles, or other cooling methods to keep your bunnies comfortable!
Hutch Style Cages
Hutch style cages are often made of wood and generally have a housing area that is enclosed most of the way for the rabbit to sleep, hide, or play in. Additionally these types of cages have a “run” or caged portion where the rabbit can get some exercise. These are made in types that sit on the grass or floor or in models that are elevated so that the rabbit is up off the ground and away from predators. These kinds of cages, depending of the size and shape, can be great for indoor or outdoor use. Keep in mind that rabbits love to jump and run. They should be given as much space as possible to do just that! The great thing about hutch style cages is that in some cases they can be used indoors and then moved outdoors when it is possible for your bunny to enjoy some fresh air and grass. These types of cages can be a little bit more costly so they might not be for you if you are looking for an economical option!
DIY / Build Your Own Cages
There are many types of DIY cages out there. Pinterest is a wealth of knowledge on the topic of building your own rabbit cage. There are styles that turn old dressers into cages, wire cages that can be mounted or hung up, cube storage grates that can be fashioned into any size or shape, etc. If you are crafty and hands on this can be a great way to save yourself some money! Build your own cage using materials you already have or materials that are more cost effective than a traditional hutch style cage. These can also be built to suit an indoor or outdoor lifestyle! You can see below that we turned this old dresser into a hutch style cage for indoor or outdoor use! It just needs some paint and shelves for exploring and it’s ready to go!
Plastic Bottom Cages
I will caution you right from the start that MANY plastic bottom cages are not large enough for rabbits to live happily. Many pet stores and large chain stores market and sell these types of cages for rabbits and they just do not thrive in them. Make sure before you purchase one that you KNOW how large your rabbit can grow. Take into consideration the square footage requirement and the height requirement before you purchase a cage like this! Another thing to consider is that you will need to litterbox train a rabbit that lives in a plastic bottom cage. They will easily get sore hocks if forced to lounge, sit, and sleep in wet bedding. All of that aside there are some great plastic bottom cages out there that will make excellent homes for your bunny. These are also great for use as a “home base” or “nesting” area for rabbits that roam freely in the house. Keep their food and water and their litter box in there and you will be all set! If considering a case like this please look into something along the lines of a Living World XL Cage like this one! These provide the necessary space for a growing rabbit and will not force them to spend all their time just sitting still or sleeping! We have used these in the past and at present have one for Munch, and they work very nicely!
Wire Cages / Metal Cages / Dog Crates / Drop Pan Style Cages
We have some experience here at Charlie and the Pips with all three of these options. All of these cages have one thing in common: there is space for the droppings to fall through and be caught by a pan of some sort underneath. This is an excellent option for keeping rabbits clean and dry. Show rabbits especially need cages like this to avoid staining from bedding and droppings. I also like that these style cages are so easy to clean and to customize. Our rabbits have feeders and water bottles attached directly to their cages when they are made of wire or metal. It helps avoid wasted pellets and hay and it keeps them from eating anything that they might have walked on, soiled, etc. This can help keep rabbits healthy and happy. Our grow out pens and breeding pens are ALL made from this type of cage so that if any one baby gets sick they are less likely to spread the sickness. Sickness in rabbits can easily spread if they have access to droppings. They can eat the infected droppings without knowing and become ill! If you plan to breed rabbits, raise show rabbits, or if you raise rabbits for alternative options like meat or pelts, you are likely to use this type of cage in order to keep your rabbits healthy and happy.
Dog crates make a great option as a “home base” for house rabbits! We’ve used a divided XL size dog crate in the past for two of our house rabbits to have a home base at night! They go in there at the end of the day and we close their doors. It helps them feel safe and it keeps me happy knowing that they are not out all night unsupervised and possibly getting injured or into something dangerous! The plus to using a dog crate is that they’re easy to clean, have drop pan style bases, and they offer plenty of room for your bunny to hop around when the door needs to be shut! You can also customize them with shelves and nesting areas to offer them more stimulation in their cage space!
Hopefully you’ve learned a little bit about all the different types of cages out there. How do you house your rabbits? Are there any pros or cons that you feel we missed?