If you are planning on getting a new rabbit or are moving a rabbit from an enclosure to free roam, you’re probably wondering what steps to take to make your house safe for your pet. There are several precautions you should take to make sure your house is properly “bunny-proofed.”
How do I rabbit-proof my room? Cover all wires, table and chair legs, and block off any doors to areas you don’t want your rabbit to enter. You may also want to remove house plants that may be toxic.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Wires?
If you have any electrical wires running through the room where you want to keep your rabbit, it’s important to cover or remove them before allowing your rabbit in the room. Wires are prime chewing territory for rabbits, and at best leaving wires uncovered could cause damage to your electronics and appliances; at worst it could seriously hurt your rabbit due to electrical shock or choking. You can try several courses of action to keep your wires safe from rabbits:
- Bundle them together when possible and tuck them out of the way
- Feed them through PVC pipe or other tubing
- Use hard plastic cord concealers
- Use flexible spiral wire wrap
Different options may work best for you depending on where your electronics are and how often they’re plugged in. Always keep an eye on the wires even if they’re protected, as your rabbit may try to chew on the covering. Rabbits with a tendency to chew more often are most likely to chew through the spiral wrap rather than PVC pipe or cord concealers.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Outlets?
Rabbit-proofing outlets is very similar to baby-proofing. You can invest in outlet covers to hide outlets from curious rabbits, and you may even want to cover low outlets with wires plugged in to prevent your rabbit from pulling a plug out or chewing on the plug. Rearranging your furniture to cover up any low outlets is a good option if it’s possible, but if it’s not you can try covering the plug with flex tubing up to the wall, as well as covering the wire with that or another type of covering. Rabbits will usually go for cords rather than plugs or outlets unless they’re particularly avid chewers, but it’s better to be safe. Outlets with nothing plugged in can simply be covered over with a piece of paper taped to the wall if necessary.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Other Electronics?
Items like laptops, game consoles, and even televisions can all be targets for rabbit chewing if they’re within reach. Especially if you care about the appearance of your items, you want to make a habit of putting them up before you let your rabbit out into the room. Game consoles can go into cabinets when they’re not being used, along with controllers or any other items used for gaming. Laptops can be moved to a desk or a bag to keep them out of reach, but if you put them in a bag make sure to remove the bag from the room. Keep any lower surfaces clear of television stands so that your rabbit can’t climb on top of them to reach your TV and start chewing. The same goes for end tables that may have lamps or clocks on them. Definitely don’t keep your rabbit in the same room as a Roomba or other appliances such as vacuum cleaners.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Furniture Legs?
Unfortunately, one of a rabbit’s natural sources of chewing material is wood, so if you have wooden furniture legs they’re very likely to get attacked by your bunny. Telling your bunny not to chew is going against its natural instinct, so the best thing to do is to provide easier alternatives. Try covering your furniture legs with tubing such as PVC pipe or flex tubing, and then providing other sources of wood for your rabbit to chew on. This will draw it away from the places you don’t want it to chew, and towards the more easily accessible options like wooden chew toys. The same goes for baseboards and paneling; place chew toys or other wood in front of the wood you’d like to protect, prompting your rabbit to chew on the first thing they see. Persistent rabbits may get a taste for a particular leg or piece of crown molding, which can be difficult to dissuade. Bitter apple and other pet deterrent flavors often don’t work for rabbits, but you can try spraying lemon or lime juice mixed with water on the area you’d like to keep your rabbit away from.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Furniture Upholstery?
Rabbits will chew on both the outside and the underside of furniture upholstery if they can get at it. Chewing on the outside may be discouraged with citrus oils or by reinforcing replacement behaviors, while chewing on the underside can be prevented by blocking off access to the underside of the furniture. You can do this with wooden frames (although be prepared for your rabbit to chew on these), piping, boxes, or anything else that will prevent your rabbit from getting under the furniture. You can also take a plastic carpet runner and turn it upside down so that the spikes are pointing up and place it under or in front of the furniture, which will discourage your rabbit from going there. Be extra careful when it comes to keeping rabbits out from under furniture, as they will sometimes chew holes and then crawl into those holes. This can be especially dangerous when it comes to recliners due to the machinery inside of the chair. Always make sure you know where your rabbit is before raising or lowering a recliner, especially if they have shown a tendency to chew on furniture upholstery.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Doorways?
You may want to allow your rabbit in one room while blocking off other rooms, which is easily done with a pet gate or baby gate. However, not all gates are made equally. If you get a gate for your rabbit’s room, that gate should:
- Be at least 36 inches tall
- Sit away from any surfaces that your rabbit could climb to jump over
- Be made of metal, to prevent chewing
- Have slats that are close enough together to prevent a rabbit squeezing through
If you can’t find a baby gate that meets these requirements, there are some possible substitutions. You should avoid plastic for baby gates, but a gate made of untreated rabbit-safe wood may stand up to chewing for a while. Gates with spaces that are too wide can be fortified with paneling or chicken wire at the bottom. You may also be able to use a shorter baby gate if your rabbit is not much of a jumper or is older or injured and cannot jump.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Closets?
Rabbits enjoy small, dark places, so it’s very likely that if a closet is available, it will try to go in it. The closest you want to protect may contain anything from your favorite pair of shoes to your nice luggage or even to important documents or belongings. Rabbit-proofing your closets is similar to rabbit-proofing your doors. Of course, the easiest solution is to close the door if possible. Rabbits typically can’t open doorknobs but may be able to push open doors that aren’t all the way closed, so make sure the door is completely closed. If you need to keep the door open or the closet doesn’t have one, you can use a baby gate or pet gate to block the doorway. You can also try removing anything at floor level like shoes, bags, or low hanging clothing such as dresses. This would involve:
- Relocating some things such as bags sitting on the floor
- Buying a shoe hanger or similar accessory
- Folding up or relocating low-hanging clothing like dresses
- Placing items on a shelf or in organizers off the floor
This way, you can have the closet door open and still retain some of its functionality while allowing your rabbit in the space.
How Do I Bunny-Proof House Plants?
Many house plants that seem normal or harmless to humans are actually highly toxic to rabbits and other animals. These plants can include:
- Tomato leaves
The best thing to do is to completely remove the plants from the room if you plan to leave the rabbit in there. If this is not possible, place them on a high table that your rabbit cannot jump to, and make sure to move any other furniture or surfaces that might create a path to it. If a curious rabbit sees a plant, they will probably try to get to it, so you should put the plants out of reach and out of sight. If you want house plants within reach of your rabbit, either for them to snack on or because you don’t have anywhere else to put them, some safe varieties include:
- Wheat grass
You should check your plants daily to see if your rabbit has chewed on them. If there are signs of chewing on any dangerous plants, you should contact a vet immediately.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Carpet?
There are two things to worry about when it comes to rabbits and carpet: spraying and chewing. The only solution to spraying is to spay or neuter your rabbit. Both male and female rabbits will spray and urinate to mark their territory if they aren’t fixed, and it’s almost impossible to train the behavior out or discourage it. If you have more than one rabbit, you should spay or neuter them anyway to prevent breeding or fighting among them. Once your rabbit is spayed or neutered, the behavior should go away completely on its own.
When it comes to chewing, you should think ahead and cover any worn or ragged parts of the carpet with furniture or other objects. Rabbits are most likely to go for anything that is already exposed or easy to reach and chew on. If your rabbit chews on a particular part of the carpet, you can also try covering that spot to discourage chewing there. However, if your rabbit chews everywhere you may want to consider adding more chew toys and other distractions to discourage your bunny from carpet chewing. While some may do it simply because they enjoy it, some may do it as a boredom or attention seeking behavior. Providing your rabbit with more entertainment and praising it and playing with it when it uses these other sources is a great way to encourage a replacement behavior.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Curtains?
If you have floor-length or low curtains, there’s a high likelihood that your rabbit will see them as a target for chewing. Worse yet, they may pull on them and possibly pull them down, which will cause damage to your house and possibly even injury to your rabbit. If possible, you may want to change out any floor length curtains for shorter curtains that are too high for your rabbit. If this isn’t possible, you should pin your floor-length curtains up so that they are high enough to keep them out of reach. Depending on the size of your rabbit, you may want to pin them as high as two feet off of the ground. If your curtains hang behind furniture, you may be able to leave them down, but keep an eye on your rabbit to see if they try to reach or chew on the curtains. If your rabbit does show an interest, it’s best to pin the curtains up; this will prevent particularly clever or determined rabbits from finding a way to get to them.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Bookshelves?
Books and paper are prime targets for chewing because of their material. If you have newspapers, books, magazines, or loose papers in a place where your bunny can reach them, you should expect that your rabbit will chew and tear them up. This is because of the similarity to grass and hay and your rabbit’s natural desire to create a nest. It can also just be fun for them to tear the paper up, just like tearing up a toy is fun to other pets. If possible, get bookshelves with doors or a glass front. This will keep your rabbit from reaching them completely. If you don’t use the bookshelf that often, you can try placing wood paneling in front of the books to block your rabbit from getting to them. You can also take a plastic carpet runner and place it spike-side up in front of the bookshelf for about a foot or so, which will discourage your rabbit from getting near it. Determined rabbits may still get to the bookshelf, however, so it may be best to keep your rabbit in a room without a bookshelf.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Cleaning Supplies?
If you are letting your rabbit out in a kitchen or laundry area, there may be cleaning supplies or other chemicals nearby that you want to keep your rabbit away from. Rabbits are often very curious and may go looking for spaces to crawl into such as cabinets where chemicals may be kept. Once there, they may chew on the containers and accidentally ingest the chemicals. Household chemicals toxic to rabbits include:
- Window cleaner
- Wood polish
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Instant Plumber
- All-purpose cleaner
You should ideally keep your chemicals up in a locked cabinet where only adults can reach them. If you don’t have storage space or keep your cleaning chemicals somewhere like under your sink, you may want to purchase a latch or lock of some kind for your cabinet doors to keep your rabbit out. Don’t risk allowing rabbits near cleaning items even if the container is closed, as they could easily chew through it or knock it over.
How Do I Bunny-Proof Food?
Rabbit-proofing food is almost as important as rabbit-proofing chemicals, as many foods can be just as toxic. Make sure garbage cans are large and heavy enough that your rabbit can’t knock them over, and don’t overfill them or let them overflow. Don’t leave food on low coffee or end tables where your rabbit could easily reach it. You also shouldn’t leave your rabbit out while you’re feeding other animals like cats or dogs, as rabbits can’t safely eat other pet foods. You should be especially careful not to leave hot foods or drink where your rabbit can get to them, as this can cause serious burns. Make sure there aren’t any “stepping stone” surfaces for your rabbit to jump onto in order to get to higher counters and other surfaces where food may be sitting.
Should I let my rabbit free roam? This depends on your living situation, other pets, children, and whether you will be home to supervise your rabbit. While free roaming provides important exploration and stimulation for your rabbit, it may not be safe in certain situations.
Where should I put my rabbit’s enclosure? Put your rabbit’s enclosure away from fireplaces or windows in a room where you will see them often. If you have other pets, you may want to keep the enclosure separate from areas where the other pets can go.
How often should my rabbit be out of its enclosure? It’s good to let your rabbit out whenever you have the time to supervise it. Exploring larger spaces is good for happiness and boredom levels and keeps your rabbit healthy.