The idea of letting your fuzzy little bunny roam free throughout your home can be a little intimidating. No worries, it's easier than you may think!
First Things First
Bunnies are naturally curious and they may have instincts to burrow, dig, and chew, but with a few basic precautionary steps, you can create a safe, bunny friendly environment. Start by walking through your home, or the area you plan on letting your bunny roam, and note any potential hazards. Electrical cords should be removed from your bunny's reach, even when they stand on their back paws. If you are unable to remove any cords, they can be wrapped in electrical wrap (found at any home improvement store). Other potential hazards should also be removed from your bunny's environment. Think like a bunny! Anything they may want to chew, sniff, or dig in should be moved from your fuzzy friend's reach.
Bunnies require mental stimulation. Place toys within easy reach for your bunny. The more options your bunny has to choose appropriate play things, the less likely they are to get into things they aren't supposed to. Don't worry, we will be sharing lots of tips and ideas for indoor boredom busters throughout the fall and winter! Apple tree branches, cat toys (without catnip), and wooden chews (we have them in our shop) are all good options for your bunny. Note your bunny's individual personality. Do they seem to enjoy digging? A cardboard box filled with paper shreddings or hay will keep your bunny occupied for hours! Watch how to make one here! Do you find them climbing to the highest possible spot in their cage? Try a cat tree with ramps so that they can sit on top and overlook their world. Do you have a big chewer? Grass mats and other wooden or grass toys are readily available at most pet stores and online. Do your homework and find what best suits your bunny and they will be happy and well behaved.
Keep your Bunny Safe
If your bunny enjoys climbing, you should ensure that anything they can climb or hop onto is secured and safe from access to potential dangers. Make sure they cannot hop over gates or fences or hop into containers or up stairs.
If your bunny likes to dig, ensure that they cannot dig under fences or dig in plants. Also ensure that anything your bunny may want to nibble on is well out of reach.
If you have other pets or small children, it is essential that your bunny remains safe. Pet or children's gates are a good option to give your bunny a safe place to explore while keeping them safe from potential harm. If you plan on keeping your bunny caged and only taking them out for supervised exercise, small animal exercise pens may be a good option. They can be easily assembled and disassembled when needed. These work well for supervised outdoor play as well.
Another option for outdoor play is a harness and leash. You can either use a small dog harness, or one that is marketed specifically for rabbits. Once your bunny is used to the feel of the harness, they will love being able to hop around and explore the outdoors!
Litter Training your Bunny
Once you have your home bunny-safe, you may be worrying about his/her bathroom habits. Most bunnies can be easily litter trained. Begin by observing your furry friend's natural bathroom habits. Rabbits instinctively relieve themselves in only one area. Once you are confident where your bunny likes to go, place a litter pan filled with wood pellets, hay, or soft commercial bedding in that corner of their cage. When you notice your bunny relieving itself outside of the litter pan, gently place him/her inside the pan showing them that this is where you want him/her to go. After a few days, your bunny will recognize the scent of the litter and associate that with the appropriate place to go to the bathroom. If you notice poops outside the litter pan, place them in the pan re-enforcing the idea that the litter pan is the only appropriate bathroom spot. After a few more days, you should be able to allow your bunny out of it's enclosure and as long as they have free access to the litter pan, they should use it. Due to the fact that bunnies GI systems are constantly moving, you may find a few bunny poops outside of the litter pan, but they should consistently urinate in the litter pan with very few poops outside of the pan. Be sure to clean the litter pan daily as your bunny will be much less likely to use a dirty bathroom.
Be careful with the litter you use, bunnies have sensitive skin and respiratory systems and some bunnies can even have allergies. Pine pellets are usually a safe choice. You can also use hay. Commercial products such as Carefresh are available as well, though these can be expensive.
Bunnies tend to back into one corner of their litter pan before relieving themselves and a high backed rabbit litter pan will usually combat this issue. You can also use cat litter pans, just be sure that your bunny has plenty of room to sit down and that there are no sharp edges. Bunnies tend to prefer a bigger space.
With a little care and consideration, you can create a safe, fun environment for your bunny to hop around and be a truly entertaining part of your family!
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