Keeping your rabbit indoors, whether it be temporary due to the weather or permanent because of living arrangements, can come with different challenges compared to the traditional outdoor setup.
However, more and more homes in the UK are choosing to keep their pet rabbit indoors. They can make wonderful additions to families as they have such big personalities, can still have an active and fulfilled life and will ultimately be protected from predators, the weather and the extreme heat or cold.
An indoor rabbit will need somewhere they can sleep and eat or retire to in order to feel safe. Indoor hutches, also known as cages, are popular, as are pens or simply keeping your rabbit free-range but safe.
How big should an indoor rabbit cage be?
First thing’s first with the most vital question. A rabbit cage will give your bunny somewhere to eat, sleep, hide, and go to the toilet. It is basically a mini house.
The recommended minimum measurement is 180 x 60cm
They will also need somewhere almost three times this size to play and socialise in.
Check out the minimum dimensions in terms of how wide your rabbit is when led out, how much distance they can cover with three or four hops, and how tall they are when on their back legs. You will need something which can accommodate all three points comfortably.
This means that most rabbit cages on the market may not be good for medium or giant breeds.
Caring for indoor rabbits
There are a couple of vital pointers which you need to consider before bringing your rabbit indoors, or indeed adopting one to keep inside.
Do you have indoor space?
You will need to fit their cage for sleeping and eating somewhere, as well as give them a run or playpen so they can exercise and stretch their legs. Therefore, an indoor rabbit could end up taking up more room than a small dog or cat. You need to think about whether they will have enough room and whether it will cause too much of a disruption
Rabbits still need to go outdoors occasionally for some fresh air and sunlight. Can they be taken outside safely, whether this is in their cage or a playpen?
Are there large enough cages available?
A pair of bunnies will need a cage at least 3m x 2m x 1m, but the bigger the better. If you have more rabbits, check there is something suitable first. Are there ones which can accommodate your rabbit and still fit in your space? Also, remember you need to give them somewhere to sleep, eat, play and dig, go to the toilet, and hide if they are scared
There are dedicated indoor rabbit pellets out there which have a boost of Vitamin D, to make up for the lack of outdoor attention they’re getting. This isn’t to say it’ll be perfect for your bunny, but bear their diet in mind to ensure they’re getting a balanced diet and making up for what they’re missing out on otherwise.
General rabbit care
Your rabbit will still need vaccinations and boosters, a healthy diet, the occasional groom and attention. You need to read up on rabbit care and ensure you are well prepared in all areas, from what to feed them to being able to explain their behaviour traits. Rabbits are prey in the wild so are good at hiding their symptoms – but if everything is perfect from their living abode to their diet, changes in behaviour will be what signals something is wrong
Rabbit-proofing your home
Rabbits should be given plenty of space, but this should be secured and sheltered. If, however, you do decide that you’d like to give them free rein of the room or house, you will need to take precautions.
Watch out for wiring (which should be covered), any small spaces in which they could become trapped, and anything which they could cause damage to such as furniture. Rabbits are known for their chewing, and even those which have not displayed this behaviour before could start to nibble anything which they have not come across before.
Don’t forget about skirting boards, chair legs and even floorboards or carpet. If you don’t want these to become damaged, it is best to restrict their freedom or maybe reconsider indoor rabbit ownership.
Rabbits can actually jump quite high, so don’t leave anything on sofas, chairs or shelving. Check for drinks and cleaning solutions left out, including diffusers or plug-ins. If you have plants around, check they’re pet-friendly (or better still, remove them from the accessible areas).
House training a rabbit
Rabbits are naturally very clean, so while the thought of house training a rabbit may seem wild, it is more achievable than you’d imagine.
Neutering your bunny will prevent them from spraying, and they should also be given a dedicated space to go to the toilet. This can be a rabbit or even a cat litter tray, without a lid, and in an area which they can always access and where they already go to the toilet.
Some litter can be harmful to rabbits. Avoid anything scented, clay-based or clumping, and anything too large and hard such as wood pellets. Paper pellets or shredded paper is good, as is some straw
A litter tray should be twice the size of your rabbit at least. You may wish to limit where they can go so they learn quicker while still giving them enough space
It is probably inevitable that they will go somewhere they shouldn’t the first few times, so clean up straight away and it will not only stop any smells or permanent damage but will also mean they are discouraged from going there again
Encourage good behaviour
Clearing up straight away discourages them from repeating their placement, so of course, leaving some poo pellets in their tray will encourage instead. This can also be done with urine if they have gone on some newspaper
Never punish them
They don’t know why you are telling them off. Always reward positivity and ignore accidents and you will see much better results (and will still have a happy bunny)
Rabbits love to chew while they poo! Keep some feeding hay nearby so they can snack as they do their business
Outside space for indoor rabbits
As mentioned above, all rabbits benefit from being taken outside on occasion. The sunlight and fresh air, as well as freedom to move, can work wonders for their health.
But you need to remember that indoor rabbits can find this overwhelming at first. The change in temperature, the natural grass under their paws and even a slight gust of wind could make them very nervous.
If you currently own your rabbit or have experience with them, you will know that they do not have paw pads. The fur is all they have to protect them, so always be careful on which surface they walk on as you don’t want hard rough flooring to cause sore hocks or pain. This is also apparent indoors if they are on rough carpets, hard flooring or on rugs.
Rabbits are always best kept in pairs or even small groups, so if you only have space for one when it comes to your indoor setup, you may want to reconsider.
This isn’t to say they can’t do just fine on their own, though. Provide them with plenty of toys, activities and ensure you spend time with them too. They don’t often like being lifted, so sit down with them and allow them to come to you.
Alternatives to rabbit cages
If your rabbit is too large for one of the rabbit cages available online or which we have reviewed, you can adapt other products into cages instead:
Often have plenty of room for your rabbit plus all of their little houses, toilet and eating areas and play areas
Great for exercise areas if you need to restrict their freedom, but can also be adapted into living headquarters
- Large Bird/Small Animal Cages
You can use cages for more active animals such as chinchillas and ferrets too. People have even refurbished chicken coops – just always remember to safeguard it from chewing, sharp bits and make it secure. While some of these may originally not be on the floor to give them the chance to hop in and out, they can be adapted to suit a rabbit with loads of guides out there.