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How to have a

Safe Environment for

your Pet Rabbit





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Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment for your Rabbit
http://www.adoptarabbit.com/articles/packet/habitat.html


Housing

Your rabbit will need a space to call home even if he is allowed
to roam freely in the house. This will give him a sense of
security. And it allow him to be safely confined if there are
children or other pets in his running area. Here are several
options for this living space.


1. Wire cage

Buy the largest cage you can afford for the space in which it
will be placed. The general rule of thumb is that the length of
the cage should be 4-5 times the size of the full grown rabbit
when he is stretched out and the height should allow enough room
for him to sit up comfortably. A sitting board should be placed
inside the cage to protect the rabbit's hind feet (hocks). This
board may be untreated wood, cardboard, a grass mat, or a rug.
However, if the rabbit digs and pulls on the rug you will want to
remove it immediately.


Ideally, the cage should have both a side and a top opening. If
there is only one opening it is best to have it on the side with
a swinging door hinged from the side. Be sure the opening is
large enough to accommodate a litter box. You can enlarge the
cage door or add another opening yourself by purchasing
appropriate materials at a home improvement center.

There should be a metal tray below the wire floor. Line this with
newspapers or a paper based litter. Do not, under any
circumstances, use pine or cedar shavings in the tray or in the
litter box. Toxic fumes will be emitted and over time can damage
the rabbit's liver and lungs.


2. The condo

Another option is a two or three story condo with wooden ramps
going from one level to another. You can build it yourself or
special order it. Be careful that the ramp is at a comfortable
angle so the rabbit will use it.


3. Wire exercise pens

Collapsible wire exercise pens can be placed on hardwood or
linoleum floors. You can make these yourself or purchase one from
a local pet or feed store. This enclosure allows you to get in
with the rabbit and open it so he can roam. Inside this area you
can place a wooden or cardboard box for him to hide in and chew
on, several litter boxes, food and water dishes, and toys. If
your rabbit is a jumper pay special attention to the height of
the pen.


Why keep a rabbit inside?

Housing your rabbit inside has many advantages. Your pet will
become part of your family just like the cat and dog. Your rabbit
needs companionship and he will receive it if he lives near you.
His wonderful personality and unique bunny behaviors will delight
you. Furthermore, you will get so familiar with your rabbit that
any changes in his behavior, (i.e. activity level, eating or
bathroom habits) will be observed when they first appear. These
changes may indicate serious or even life threatening conditions
and may warrant your immediate attention.


Outside housing

If you make the choice to house your rabbit outside there are
some special considerations.

Location of your rabbit's housing is of extreme importance.
Always be sure he has access to shade and protection from wind
and rain. A rabbit can die from heatstroke when the temperature
in his living area rises above 80. A wet, cold rabbit is
susceptible to pneumonia. What appears safe during the winter may
be just the opposite on hot summer days.


Your rabbit needs a strong, secure hutch that will protect him
from predators and the weather. This consists of a hutch covered
on the top, sides, back, and floor with wood. The door should be
wooden framed. Heavy welded wire should be firmly attached to
this framing. Under no circumstances should chicken wire be used
outside. A determined rabbit can chew through it and dogs,
raccoons and other predators can easily rip it off and kill your
rabbit.


Inside this wooden hutch should be a "bedroom" box where the
rabbit can hide from predators and be given additional protection
from the weather. In cold weather straw should be stuffed into
this box allowing the rabbit to burrow into it to keep warm. A
rabbit can die of a heart attack if stressed and certainly having
a marauding predator clinging (or worse) to the hutch would be
enough for this happen. Being able to hide will help ease some of
this stress.


A single rabbit isolated in an outside hutch is a very lonely
rabbit so consider getting him a companion rabbit. This will help
keep your rabbit warm and offer him some companionship when his
humans are not available to interact with him on cold, dark
winter days.


It is best to have the hutch in a safe exercise area where your
rabbit can be free to run and play during waking hours. An open
pen leaves the rabbit vulnerable to hawks, stray cats, and dogs
during the day, and owls, raccoons, cats, dogs, and other
secretive predators at night. Therefore, the top should be
covered with heavy wire, thus preventing any predator from
harming the rabbit, day or night. The floor of the run should be
covered with wire to prevent him from digging out. Another option
is to bury the wire on the perimeter 9-12 inches below the
ground. The sides should be made of heavy welded wire with a
minimum height of 48 inches and, ideally, reaching to the top. It
is important to close the rabbit in the hutch at dusk to protect
him. Things are very different outside after dark.


For temporary daytime exercise a portable rabbit run can be built
into a rectangular shape with wood framing and heavy welded wire
attached all the way around. The top can be hinged for easy
access to the rabbit. It is easily cleaned or moved from place to
place.


Safety first: Rabbit proofing

Before bunny is let out of his inside cage you should spend some
important time on your hands and knees assessing the environment
from the rabbit's vantagepoint and then make necessary changes to
protect your rabbit and your furnishings.

Most rabbits love to chew, so you must protect all your exposed
electrical, computer and telephone cords. Rabbits are attracted
to them and a few quick teeth nips can take out a phone or
computer, at the very least, and at the worst, injure or kill
your rabbit. Hide the cords if you can. Remember that rabbits can
get into some very tight places so be careful. It is best to
cover the cords with heavy, clear, plastic tubing which is cut
down the side using an Exacto knife. This allows them to be
placed inside the tubing. A determined rabbit with time on his
paws can chew through the tubing but in most cases it will
protect your cords. Other more sturdy options are hard plastic
telephone wire covers, split loom tubing, PVC pipe, or computer
cord covers. Check these covers frequently to make sure they are
intact.


Relocate any houseplants. Rabbits will eat any plants within
reach. They won't know or care whether they are poisonous or not.


Wooden furniture, wall moldings, and rugs can become victims of a
digging or chewing bunny. Getting to know your rabbit's habits is
crucial. If he is a chewer or digger (and most are) you can try
using bitter apple or lime or a cheap perfume on the items on
which he is working. You can get plastic corner covers to protect
moldings and place linoleum, carpet squares, phone books or
sea-grass mats where he is digging.

Attempting to train your rabbit may or may not be successful. He
is doing what rabbits do. Try using the word "No", and stomping
your foot or clapping simultaneously. You can try using a squirt
bottle and saying "No". If he is destructive his living space may
have to be restricted or be moved to a more "rabbit friendly"
area of the house.
By: Rabbit Advocates


So Sweet and Colorful Rabbit & Animal Calendars


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