Do you want to let your rabbit roam free around your home, but aren’t sure where to start?
A free roam rabbit has the whole house to explore. They don’t live in cages and are free to hop around wherever they want. Rabbits are healthier and happier when they have free run of an entire house. But, it’s not as easy as opening the cage and just letting them be free. Giving rabbits free roam requires time, training, and lots of rabbit proofing to keep you, your rabbit, and your whole household safe and happy.
In this article, you’ll learn all about keeping free roam rabbits, including why rabbits should be free run, and how to create an ideal free roam rabbit setup in your home. I’ve had free roam rabbits for over a decade, so you can rest assured that you can learn from my mistakes.
Let’s get right into the comprehensive guide to having free roam rabbits.
*Disclaimer* This article is for indoor rabbits only. At no point should a domestic rabbit have free roam outdoors.
Should Indoor Rabbits Be Free to Roam?
Rabbits are often happier when they’re allowed to run around and explore. While it’s not always possible, giving your rabbits free roam is, in my opinion, the best thing you can do for your bun.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to just let your rabbits run loose without any preparation or thought put into it. I’ve made that mistake and ended up having to replace and repair many household items.
All giving your rabbits free roam takes is proper training, intense rabbit proofing, and a variety of other preparations. Once these necessary steps are made, your rabbits will be totally fine being free to roam in your home.
Benefits of Letting Your Indoor Rabbits Free Roam
There are so many benefits to having free roam rabbits. That means more opportunities for cuddles and kisses. Not to mention, a happier and healthier rabbit. Let’s talk about why your rabbit should be free to roam.
The most important benefit to giving your rabbits free roam is the improvement of their mental health. In my opinion, no rabbit in a cage is as happy as a rabbit that has free roam. Yes, a cage can offer comfort and security, like a burrow. But, nothing that is stuck in a cage is ever really happy to be there.
Bones & Joints
By keeping active, your rabbits can properly exercise all of their muscles and joints, which greatly reduces the risk of losing muscle mass in their senior years, as well as preventing arthritis and other bone and joint problems.
Giving your rabbits free roam is the best way to keep them at a healthy weight. Rabbits are prone to weight gain without proper diet and exercise. Obesity in rabbits can cause health issues like G.I. Stasis or even insulin resistance.
Kidney and Bladder Function
The exercise a rabbit gets through being given free roam can help kidney and bladder functions by shaking things up and removing sludge and reducing bladder stones. Your rabbit will also be more enticed with water, which helps both organs.
Are Rabbits Clean Enough to Be Free Roam?
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, rabbits are extremely clean critters and do their best to maintain cleanliness, not only for themselves but for their living spaces too.
They groom themselves and in my experience are the easiest pets to house/litter train. So yes, they are totally clean enough to free roam, as long as they have the proper litter training and available litter boxes.
Can You Have Free Roam Rabbits on Carpets?
If your rabbits are litter trained and are fixed (so they don’t spray), then free roam rabbits on the carpet shouldn’t be a problem. However, accidents will happen, so you may want to keep your steam cleaner handy.
Rabbits are also known to chew and dig up carpets. This isn’t just annoying but can get hazardous if your rabbit actually eats the carpet or snags a nail while digging. But this can be easily prevented by giving your rabbits safer things to dig and chew.
Do Rabbits Mark Their Territory Through Pee?
Both female and male rabbits spray to mark their territory. But, this problem is almost always fixed by spaying or neutering your rabbits. However, even after being fixed rabbits also mark their territory with a behavior called chinning.
Thankfully, this behavior is much less destructive and odorless (at least to humans). Chinning is where your rabbits will rub their chins on objects, leaving their scents everywhere, and often on top of the other.
What You Need to Do Before Letting Your Rabbit Free Roam
You can’t just let your rabbit run free without making some preparations and getting to know your rabbit’s habits. Here’s what you need to do before letting your rabbit have free roam.
Study Your Rabbit’s Behavior
Study your rabbits’ behaviors. Watch your rabbits during their exercise time. Where do they go? What do they do? How do they like to entertain themselves?
Observe and make note of all of these behaviors and specific places you’ll have to block off or deter your rabbit from going. If your rabbits are serial chewers, make sure they always have loads of healthy things to chew, so your house is safe!
The most important thing you need to do before giving your rabbits free roam is litter training. It’s the most important thing to teach any pet, really. Rabbit urine is extremely high in ammonia, which ruins floors and reeks.
Since they’re already big on being clean, litter training rabbits is extremely easy. Just put a litter box in the place where your rabbit urinates and poops the most. Praise and reward your rabbit when he uses the litter box.
If your rabbit misses, sweep it back into the litter box. Your rabbit will go wherever his scent is. After a while, you’ll be able to move the litter box or place different ones throughout your home.
Rabbit-Proofing Your Home
The next most important thing to do before letting your rabbits have free roam is to do some intensive rabbit proofing. Even if your rabbit isn’t a chewer or hasn’t destroyed anything yet, that doesn’t mean they never will.
The risks of not rabbit-proofing, in the best case, are destroyed household items and electronics. In the worst cases, it can result in a house fire or electrocution. So, to protect yourself, your home, and your rabbit, here are some rabbit-proofing tips.
If I’ve learned anything about having free roam rabbits, it’s that they LOVE gnawing on wooden furniture. And after trying multiple deterrents like toys and other things to chew, table legs just don’t stand a chance without proper protection.
If having other things to chew doesn’t work for you either, I highly suggest covering your table and chair legs with large flex tubing. It’s definitely not the best-looking option, but it works the best.
Now to the spicy hay, or in other words, your wires and electronics. This is the most crucial part of rabbit-proofing. This is where all the real risks lie, so you’ll want to be able to hide or block off all electric appliances and wires. If you can, have all your wires tucked away. If you can’t, cover them with flex tubing.
Blocking Prohibited Areas
Some areas you’ll probably want to black off are under your couch and your bed. My rule of thumb is that if it’s too low to be able to vacuum under, it gets blocked off. You can close the doors to your bedroom or use wooden blocks, storage cube fencing, or baby gates to block off all the places you don’t want to go.
Free Roam Rabbit Setup
Finally, we’re at the good stuff: your rabbit’s free-roam setup. Let’s talk about how to create the best setup for your rabbits.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to create an indoor free roam rabbit setup:
- 1 litter box per rabbit per room
- LOTS of different chew toys like willow branches or crumpled up pieces of paper
- Other enrichment activities like a clothesline of veggies and fruit or a series of ramps for your rabbit to climb up
- 1 main station with a litter box, food and water dishes, and hay feeder
Setting Up a Station For Your Rabbits
As I said, all free roam rabbits should have a main station that they can go to. At the station, you should have everything like a bed, litter box, a hay feeder, and your rabbit’s food and water bowls.
Make sure that you put your station in the room your rabbit frequents the most. It may be more helpful to put it where the cage originally was since your rabbit is already used to this area.
Where to Put Litter Boxes
You should put a litter box in every room that your rabbits will roam in. And, you should have a separate litter box for each of your rabbits because of territorial reasons.
In my experience, sharing a litter box doesn’t work, especially with two males. In most cases, it can actually lead to spraying, so it’s just safer to let everyone have their own.
Boredom Prevention for Free Roam Rabbits
Another rude awakening I got from giving my rabbits free roam is that they get bored really easily. And if they get bored, the first thing they’re going to do is get destructive. So, you must have a lot of things for your rabbit to do throughout the day.
It’s also highly advisable for rabbits to be in bonded pairs to prevent loneliness, boredom, and depression. So if you only have one bunny, you may want to consider getting him a buddy. That way, they can play together instead of being bored and chewing on things they shouldn’t.
Helping Your Rabbit Adjust to Free Roam Life
Remember that every bunny’s different, and even members of a bonded pair will act and adjust differently to being free roam rabbits.
Some rabbits prefer the security that a cage can offer, much like a burrow, and will need ample time to adjust. Others have the will to be free and take to it naturally. Here are some ways you can help your rabbits adjust to free roam life.
One Room at a Time
Having free roam of the whole house may be too much for your rabbit in the beginning. Try to keep them in one room for a few days, then open them up to another room, and so on. That way, your rabbit can adjust slowly and won’t get overwhelmed.
Keep Other Animals Away Unless Fully Socialized
Until your rabbit is fully comfortable with having the whole house to roam, it’s best to keep things quiet. That means keeping company and other pets away for a bit unless your rabbit is already fully socialized with them.
Keep Their Cage Around for a While
At the beginning of this free roam transition, it’s also a good idea for you to keep your rabbit’s cage around until they get used to being without it. Your rabbit’s cage represents a burrow, which is safety and security for your rabbit. So, until they’re confident without it, it’s best to keep it there. When they’re good without the cage, you can replace it with a main station, as mentioned above.
Other Tips for Free Roam Rabbits
Here are some other tips to help you with your free-roam rabbits!
Keep Your Floors Clean
This may already be obvious. But just in case it’s not, you can’t leave ANYTHING lying on the floor or anywhere your rabbits can reach. If you drop a piece of plastic or a Q-tip, pick it up before your rabbit does.
Keep All House Plants Off the Floor
Because rabbits are vegetarians, they’re going to be tempted by all those juicy house plants you have. But in all likelihood, that plant is probably toxic to rabbits. I generally never have plants in my house for that reason. But if I do, they’re put up high where rabbits can’t get it, and where my cat can’t knock it down for them either.