Rabbits are a popular house pet and with the right care and knowledge, they can live for 8-12 years. One of the reasons they are so loved as pets is because they are relatively easy to train for use of a litter box. They are usually quiet, require less space than other pets, are low maintenance to care for. What’s a surprise to some about rabbits is that they are regularly affectionate and playful companions.
What is the best way to maintain a healthy and cozy rabbit habitat? In this post, we’re going to look at cleaning on different levels and how to best go about cleaning your rabbit’s cage.
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How to clean a rabbit cage
To begin with cleaning, find a safe space to move your rabbits to during cleaning. This should be a spot where they do not need to be supervised, or a place where someone in your household can supervise them. Depending on where the habitat you have for your rabbits is located, you can close off that room and let them hop around with you while you clean.
Let’s talk about the simplest but most important kind of cleaning first: everyday cleaning and maintenance. This will go a long way to sustaining the health of your rabbit long term and make weekly and monthly cleanings much easier for you.
The focus of everyday cleaning will be substrate or litter cleaning. Even if your rabbit is litter trained, their enclosure should have some sort of bedding that they won’t eat.
What you need for litter cleaning:
- Replacement litter
- Container to put old litter such as a plastic bag or bucket
- A litter scoop or small broom and dustpan
The choice of litter you use is a personal choice but keep in mind that each bedding type has its disadvantages and advantages, while some of them even come with health risks to your pet. I used to use cedar woodchips but learned from my vet that these can cause breathing-related health issues in small animals.
My vet recommended I switched to a paper-based bedding. I started using Carefresh but switched to Yesterday’s News, which is a paper pellet marketed as a cat litter. However, it works excellent for rabbits and other small animals because it is dust free and doesn’t track throughout the house. It is also compostable, and while cleaning I remove the soiled pellets and put them into a container before taking them out to the compost.
This is the rabbit cage cleaning process:
Your rabbit is somewhere safe, and you’ve got all your tools assembled. Since rabbits often keep their mess to one area of their pen, remove any items in the way. Unless I am in a hurry, I often remove all the items just to check underneath to be sure.
Using the litter scoop or small broom and dustpan, remove any soiled litter and put into the container or plastic bag. Make sure to check the whole enclosure, to be sure that no spots are missed or neglected.
When you’ve taken out all the soiled litter, put new litter into the areas where the soiled litter was previously. Afterwards, I like to sprinkle fresh litter throughout the habitat and mix the older but clean litter with the fresh litter.
When removing the soiled litter, also remove any food items that have been uneaten, such as leafy greens, fruit, or other vegetables. Another part of cleaning the rabbit cage is cleaning items, such as toys, chew blocks, water bottles and food dishes. I give my rabbits fresh food and water every morning and clean out their water bottle and food dish with water and a good scrub.
Equally important to everyday care is weekly care. For weekly care, you will need:
- Replacement litter
- Container for old litter
I start my weekly cleaning a little bit differently than everyday cleaning. After moving my rabbits, I take all of their toys, food dish and water bottle out of the enclosure. I put the toys, along with the water bottle and the food dish, in a bathtub full of hot water and a small bit of soap.
The enclosure I have is the Tucker Murphy Arthur Double Wide Large Credenza Pet Crate, and although it is made of wood, I have provided enough enrichment in their cage that they don’t bother with the actual crate itself. To prevent damage to the bottom of the crate, I have plastic trays.
For weekly cleaning, I remove all of the litter and put it into my reusable container. I then take out the trays and put them in the bathtub with the toys and dishes. I let those all soak as I clean out any left behind litter with my small broom and dustpan.
Once the litter is out I use a damp cloth with a small bit of Nature’s Miracle Cage Cleaner to wipe down the inside and outside of the enclosure. While that air dries, I turn to the tub full of items. First, I wash every item in there and rinse it thoroughly before leaving it to air dry, except for the trays. By the time that is done the habitat is dry and ready for the dried trays to go back in and be filled with litter.
Putting everything back together
Freshly cleaned with new litter, now I replace the non-washable toys and items, followed by the ones that were washed. I always make sure to dry every item that goes in if there is any water clinging to it.
I refill the water bottle and refill the food dish with fresh pellets and place some fruits and veggies around the enclosure in hidden places and provide enrichment to my bun buns that way. Once everything is done, I gather my rabbits and put them in their freshly cleaned home.
Although it is important to wash your rabbits’ habitat, remember that you shouldn’t wash the rabbits themselves with water because they can get into shock.
Regularly replace items within your enclosure when they become worn down or ineffective. Allow yourself to be creative with the enrichment you provide for your rabbits as they’re social creatures that need stimulation and entertainment.