Let’s get serious about rabbit cages. The ones they offer at the pet store? They’re honestly too small for your rabbits.
Rabbits need room to run and jump around. And that’s not even including their exercise requirements. They may be small, but they need a lot of space.
In this article, you’ll learn what kind of enclosures are suitable for rabbits. Let’s get into it!
Do Rabbits Need a Cage?
If your rabbits are free to roam in your home, then you don’t really need a cage for them, unless your rabbits are like mine and like their cage. Usually, all you need is their enclosure or just a main station for them.
That said, it does help to start out using the cage. If you find that your rabbit isn’t going in there, just remove it.
Should You Let Indoor Rabbits Be Free Roam?
It’s much better for your rabbit to be free to roam. While it’s a common practice for rabbits to be cooped up in a small cage, it’s not good for them. Rabbits need room to move around and exercise.
Of course, it’s not always possible to free-roam your rabbits, but it’s crucial that they at least have time in a day to run around the house/room or have access to a sizable exercise enclosure.
How Big Should an Indoor Rabbit’s Cage Be?
The “right size” for a rabbit cage will depend on your rabbit’s size (or how big it will grow) and how many rabbits you have.
Your rabbit’s cage should be long enough for 3-4 hops which comes down to around 4.5 feet for small breeds and 6 feet for large and giant breeds. It should also be wide enough for your rabbit to stretch out in, with room to spare for a litter box, hay feeder, and your rabbit’s dishes.
For an exact overview of how much space your rabbit needs, visit this guide.
How much time does your rabbit spend in a cage?
If your rabbit spends a lot of time in their cage with only a few hours of free roaming a day, then they should have a spacious cage. But, if your bunny has free access to the house 24/7 and the cage is only used as the main station, then it doesn’t have to be very large – as long as it can fit all the necessities such as hay, bowls, litter box, and a bed.
Best Indoor Cages for Rabbits
The rabbit cages you typically see in pet stores are certainly not the best cages for rabbits. Here are some way better recommendations.
Playpen (My Personal Recommendation)
My personal recommendation is to use a pet playpen. It has enough space for your rabbit to hop and run around, the spaces between the bars aren’t big enough for escape attempts, and they’re easy to move around and reshape.
Playpens also tend to be much cheaper than pet store cages while providing significantly more space.
Here are some recommendations:
Plus, you can bring it outside so your rabbit can get some fresh air and grass. Just cover the top to prevent any predators from swooping in and provide shade.
Large Dog Crate
Extra large dog crates made for giant dog breeds (54 inches long) have enough space for a regular-sized rabbit. However, you’ll need to look for one without large gaping separations between each bar. It’s much easier for rabbits (even larger ones) to escape than you’d think.
You can also wrap chicken wire around the bottom, but that’s a less aesthetically pleasing option. But what I really like about dog crates is that they mostly come with trays which make great bottoms that are super easy to clean.
Dog crates are a good option if you need a covered cage although they can be quite expensive.
DIY Enclosures With Snap-On Grids
With C&C grids, you can customize how your rabbit cage looks and how big it is. This is a great inexpensive way to ensure your rabbits have enough room.
You can build it to suit the space you have. For instance, if you have an awkward L-shaped area where another enclosure wouldn’t fit, you can build a cage with grids to fit that space.
DIY Multi-Level Condo
If you want to give your rabbits enough room, but you don’t have a lot of space, build upwards. This gives your rabbits the space they need, without taking up too much floor space.
Build a rabbit condo with multiple levels using grids or even wood. Use tiles on the bottom of each level and easy-to-climb ramps.
What to Use as a Cage Flooring
Now, most of the types of indoor cages for rabbits that I’ve recommended here do not come with floors. So, you’ll need to protect your floors. Here are some options:
- vinyl flooring that comes in rolls cut to size
- splat mats
- whelping mats
- rolled linoleum flooring
- laminate flooring tiles
- surface protection sheets
- large plastic dog kennel trays
See our rabbit bedding post for more ideas on what to use to protect the floor or bottom of your rabbit’s enclosure.
What Types of Cages to Avoid
Now, don’t be fooled by all the rabbit cages you see in pet stores. Many of them are actually terrible living spaces for rabbits. They don’t have nearly enough room! Here’s what to avoid when it comes to indoor rabbit cages.
Pet Store Cages
Pet store cages are often much too small, even for small rabbits. There is no room to hop around or move. The only instance that this would be acceptable is if used as the main station for a free-roam rabbit.
Aquariums / Fish Tanks
Aquariums, even gigantic tanks are no good for rabbits. This is commonly where pet stores use to keep the rabbits. But here’s the thing. Aquariums don’t have any air circulation, which inhibits your bunny’s breathing.
While it may seem cleaner, it’s not good for your rabbit. The wire bottoms hurt their feet and pose a huge risk of getting a toenail snagged.
Rabbit hutches may be the prettiest option, but definitely not the best. Most of them are not big enough for your rabbit. You can use a hutch only as a main station for a free-roaming bunny or as a part of their larger enclosure but don’t keep your rabbit confined in it for any amount of time.
Keep in mind that hutches are also difficult to clean as the wood soaks up the pee.
Benefits of Free Roaming Instead of Living in a Cage
There are a plethora of benefits to free-roaming your rabbits. I don’t think I need to tell you that having room to run around will always be better than being cooped up in a small cage.
Makes a Happier Rabbit
Rabbits that have all the room to run around are generally happier than ones stuck in a cage. Just like humans, rabbits need exercise and movement to release endorphins like dopamine. Otherwise, your rabbits could become depressed.
Prevents Joint, Muscle, and Bone Issues
Aside from your mental health, regular exercise helps rabbits to stay mobile for longer. Rabbits kept in cages for their lives are much more likely to develop mobility issues and joint pain. Staying active prevents these issues from happening.
Keeping Your Rabbit Fit
Obviously, not being active drives the risk of obesity up for your rabbit. You have to move to be able to stay fit. Rabbits that don’t have anywhere to exercise will take up eating to prevent boredom, which, in turn, will cause them to gain weight.
How to Free Roam Your Rabbits
Free roaming your rabbit can be tricky, given that every rabbit is different. Some rabbits get the memo immediately. Others will take weeks to adjust. The most important thing is to make them feel safe and comfortable out in the open, especially if they’re not used to being outside of a cage.
After that, you only need to worry about three things:
- bunny-proofing your home,
- having the main station for your rabbits,
- and, of course, litter training.
Otherwise, you WILL be living in squalor.
Creating a Main Station
Your rabbit’s main station doesn’t have to be a cage. It can be a corner in the main room of your house. Go with whatever your rabbits are comfortable with.
I still use my rabbit’s cage as his main station. I did try to remove it, but I think he likes the safety of it when he’s sleeping and eating. But, my older rabbit didn’t need a cage at all.
In the main station you’ll need:
- a bed,
- food and water dishes,
- a litter box,
- a hay feeder.
Litter Training Your Rabbits
Usually, litter training rabbits is relatively easy. Rabbits are inherently clean animals. Especially, if you start them young, they’ll take to it much quicker. Older rabbits may take a little more time.
Start by placing the litter box where your rabbits are already doing their business. To entice them further, scoop some of their poops or soiled bedding into the litter box. The scent will signal to your rabbits that this is where to go.
You can also entice them to use the litter box by placing a hay feeder beside the box so they can graze. However, in my experience, this can also make your rabbits never want to leave their litter box!
As you can see, the best cages for rabbits are not cages at all! Different fencing such as pet playpens, C&C storage grids, and dog crates all make a much better home for your bunny than the small rabbit cages sold in pet stores.
Instead of keeping rabbits confined in small cages most of their life, they should have ample room to move, run around and use up their energy. Rabbits are extremely active animals that don’t belong in small cages.
Ideally, a rabbit would be able to free-roam around the bunny-proofed home most of the time. If free-roaming is not an option for you, then a large playpen with daily supervised exercise time outside of their enclosure is also a good solution.