Buyer's Guide –
How to Find the Best Bunny Cage?
If you are preparing to go bunny cage shopping, you need to take a look into the following considerations. That way, you will be able to make an educated choice.
Choosing the right bunny cage is important – same as you found it essential to select the suitable apartment or house for yourself.
Size is the most crucial factor. Rabbits are active animals that prefer spacious living conditions. They need plenty of room to hop and stretch. The general rule of thumb is that the cage should be at least four times larger than the rabbit. If purchasing the cage while your rabbit is still a baby, use its expected adult size when choosing.
The height of the cage is also worth careful evaluation. Rabbits like to hop and stand on their rear legs. When doing these activities, they do not like bumping their heads over the roof. Ideally, the cage should be high enough for your rabbit's ear tips not to touch the top when standing upright on the rear legs.
3. Hiding space
Some condo-type plastic bunny cages have built-in hideouts to support the rabbit's hiding instincts. Having a hiding space is vital for the rabbit's wellbeing and sense of security. Therefore, if the cage does not feature a built-in hideout, you need to provide one.
Bunny cages can be made of plastic, wood, or metal. Each material has its pros and cons. In general, bunny cages featuring plastic bottom and metal wire sides and top are a trendy choice. They are easy to clean, friendly on the rabbit's footpads, and promote adequate air ventilation.
There are two basic flooring types – continuous and mesh floors. Wire mesh floors used to be a popular choice because they promote a higher level of cleanliness. However, today their overall effect on the rabbit's wellbeing is questionable.
Here, we will briefly explain the negative effect of wire mesh floorings. Namely, the footpads are very sensitive and can get easily damaged if the rabbit is always stepping on an uncomfortable surface. A study showed that wire mesh floors are frequently associated with sore hocks that eventually culminate in ulcerative pododermatitis.
However, it is not always about the footpads. For example, another study showed that rabbits kept on wire mesh floor were more likely to develop eye and ear lesions and have higher blood cell counts (probably due to the lesions).
Finally, rabbits kept in cages featuring wire mesh floors are more inclined toward escapism efforts, increasing the risk of injuries. On the other hand, to avoid injuries, some rabbits may refrain from moving at all, which is mentally discouraging and can cause obesity.
In terms of safety, you obviously want a sturdy and durable cage that will not collapse over your bunny and one your rabbit will not be able to chew through or demolish.
You also need to check the locking mechanisms on the cage. Bored rabbits can be very creative when looking for a way out, and unless the cage is well-secured, they can easily escape.
7. One vs. multi-level
Both the one and the multi-level cage have their pros and cons. For example, the one-level cage is easier to clean, while the multi-level usually offers more mental stimulation for rabbits.
If you prefer a multi-level cage, you need to pay extra attention to the cage base size as usually multi-level cages are not particularly spacious (they provide a larger overall area, but that area is scattered on various levels), and rabbits need it large and continuous living space.
8. Easy to clean
Unlike the previous considerations, this factor concerns you as you will perform the cleaning tasks. Generally speaking, one-level cages are easier to keep clean than multi-level cages. The material should also be waterproof and allow thorough washing. Wood, for example, can be difficult to be clean and can start to smell.
Obviously, it would be best if you considered the price tag factor. Usually, the price is a good quality indicator. It is better to invest in a more expensive, high-quality cage that will withstand your rabbit's habits (which can sometimes be destructive) than to get cheaper versions that need frequent replacements.
How Big Should a Rabbit Cage Be?
The recommended rabbit size suggestions vary among different sources. However, they all agree that the minimum space requirement is 1.1 square meters or 12 square feet, but bigger is always better.
The minimum space requirement is 1.1 square meters or 12 square feet, but bigger is always better.
Simply put, the cage size should be at least four times larger than the rabbit itself. The rule of the thumb is that a smaller rabbit will need a cage with dimensions 61 x 90 cm (24" x 36") and a larger rabbit with dimensions 76 x 90 cm (30" x 36").
These are the general guidelines explaining the minimum size of the rabbit cage:
- Long and wide enough for the rabbit to be able to comfortably lie down fully stretched in any direction and to turn around unimpeded.
- Spacious enough so the rabbit can take an unhindered sequence of three to four hops without bumping on the enclosure walls. One medium-sized rabbit hop is 45 cm (18") long.
- Tall enough for the rabbit to be able to stand on its rear legs without its ear tips touching the roof. This is basically around 60 cm (2') for small and medium rabbits and 90 cm (3') for giants.
Rabbits are designed for active lifestyles – plenty of running and hopping. Being confined to a small place affects their mental wellbeing and increases the risk of physical health problems such as obesity, muscle wasting, and spinal issues.
With that being said, we should note that regardless of the bunny cage size you choose, your rabbit will still need a couple of hours per day outside its cage – indoors or outdoors.
In both cases, the area should be rabbit-proofed and safe. Indoor rabbit-proofing refers mainly to covering all wires and cables and houseplants (holy, tulips) that can be potentially dangerous for rabbits. Additionally, you should block the off-limits areas with puppy gates and any wooden furniture protected with plastic.
If allowing your rabbit to spend time outside, you need to ensure it is safe from predators (including your other pets if they are not friendly with the rabbit).
It is worth mentioning that rabbits are most active in the early mornings and late evenings. So, it is best to plan their outside-of-the-cage time within these periods of the day.
What Do Rabbits Need in Their Cage?
Providing the best bunny cage (nice-looking and spacious) for your rabbit is essential, but there is one more thing you need to consider – the interior design of the cage or, simply put, the basic items every rabbit needs inside its cage.
Food bowl and hay rack
Every bunny needs its own food bowl. The size of the food bowl depends on the bunny itself, and the material depends on the cage type. If using a multi-level cage, it is advisable to get a plastic bowl as rabbits often throw their items around, and if it is ceramic, it will easily shatter. If using a one-level cage, you can choose between plastic and ceramic food bowls based on your preferences.
The hay rack is not classified as essential, but it will prevent unnecessary messiness within the cage. If you are not using a hayrack, you can pile the hay in the corner, but your rabbit will probably scatter it around the enclosure. If not litter-trained, it can pee on the hay and make it inedible.
Water bowl or bottle
There are two basic water sources for rabbits – bowls and bottles. Which one you should use depends on you and your rabbit. For example, if your rabbit pees and poops inside its bowl (this is more often than one would think), it is better to get a vacuum-based water bottle.
The bedding is not an essential item for rabbits, and while some bunnies hate it, others love it, meaning you should provide bedding and let your rabbit make its decision.
For some rabbits, the bedding can be confusing (gives them a feeling they are living inside a giant litter box) and make them pee and poop everywhere. On the other hand, some rabbits will appreciate the cozy comfort provided by the bedding material.
When providing bedding, it is vital to use safe options (recycled paper, aspen shavings, or fleece) and avoid softwood shavings like cedar or pine. This is because these materials alter the liver enzymes if consumed, leading to liver damage and increase the risk of cancer.
Litter and litter box
Having litter and a litter box is not mandatory, but it will help keep the cage more hygienic and increase the timeframe between two cleanings.
Normally, rabbits will do their business in the cage corner or, if provided with a particularly large cage, literally everywhere. However, if there is a litter box and you invest a little bit of time and patience in litter training, your bunny will soon start using the box as a toilet.
Hideout or hut
As prey animals, rabbits like to hide into dens or burrows. This is an instinctual habit, and it makes them feel safe and relaxed. It is like their private place where they can go when they want to be left alone.
The hideout should be made of rabbit-friendly materials and be sturdy. If you have more than one rabbit, keep in mind that every rabbit needs an individual hideout. It is also recommended to provide one communal hideout where all rabbits can sit together.
Environmental enrichment is a relatively new concept that started developing alongside the more intense animal welfare movement. The goal of environmental enrichment is to encourage species-specific behavior, prevent boredom, and discourage abnormal or potentially destructive behaviors.
Today, we know that environmental enrichment is vital for pet rabbits. According to a study, rabbits provided with environmental enrichment are more prone to active behavior, positively impacting their overall wellbeing.
Chew toys are essential for every rabbit because they offer three benefits:
- Keeps teeth trim
- Mental stimulation
- Physical exercise
- Destruction distraction.
It is worth mentioning that every rabbit has different preferences when it comes to toys. For example, some rabbits may prefer wood sticks and others willow balls. This means you might need to do some experimenting before finding your rabbit's favorite toy.
Digging boxes are an excellent environmental enrichment option for rabbits. You can use a commercially bought digging box or use a large plant pot, litter tray, or sandpit.
As for the inside of the digging box, you can choose between several materials, including shredded paper, earth, or child-friendly sand.
In the wild, rabbits tunnel all the time. The activity keeps them both mentally and physically stimulated, and it supports their natural burrowing instincts.
The tunnels you provide should be carefully chosen – made of durable materials that do not break easily and cannot hurt the rabbit and large enough to prevent your bunny from getting stuck.
Interestingly, rabbits like to look into their mirror reflections, especially if kept alone. They provide comfort and promote relaxation. Expectedly, female rabbits enjoy mirrors more than males do.
If providing a mirror for your rabbit, make sure it is well-secured in the cage, and it cannot harm or fall over your rabbit. Also, check the edges – they must not be sharp.
Okay, this may seem like convincing you to get another pet bunny, but rabbits truly are social creatures and naturally live in large groups (in the rabbit world, they are known as nests or colonies).
Solitude in rabbits can trigger an array of behavioral problems ranging from boredom and withdrawal to destructiveness and hyperactivity.
Summing Up – Good Rabbit Cages
Choosing the right bunny cage is important – same as you found it essential to select the suitable apartment or house for yourself. Therefore, when going bunny cage shopping, it is advisable to be prepared – you should do extensive research regarding the fundamental considerations.
All in all, to make the right purchase, you need to pay attention to size, type of cage, and maintenance requirements. Once you have chosen the cage, you can include your rabbit in the interior designing process and let it decide which items it prefers, and which can be removed.
Read Next: Best Litter for Rabbits in 2021
Ivana Crnec is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine specialized in domestic carnivores. She graduated from the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. Ivana is a certified canine nutritionist and also certified in HAACP food safety system implementation. She currently works as a veterinarian while completing her postgraduate studies. Her research has been published in international journals.
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your rabbit’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.