When it is time to choose new housing for your rabbit, or housing for a new pet bunny entering your home, it can be confusing. There are so many types to choose from. Each style offers a staggering variety of pros and cons. How do you choose the right pet rabbit cage? Our list of 21 important facts about indoor pet rabbit housing should help clear up your confusion and help you pick the perfect home for your pet bunny.
What Are the Differences Between a Rabbit Condo, a Hutch, and a Puppy Pen for Pet Rabbits?
This is a common question and one of the most confusing aspects of choosing pet rabbit housing. Part of the issue is that there is no real standard of naming bunny housing, so any manufacturer can call their products anything they like. That makes it hard to shop, let alone hard to research.
Even so, there are some basic facts about each of these options that tend to stay true, no matter what the product is called on the shelves. By understanding the features of each basic type, and what you should expect from bunny housing, you can make an educated decision when it comes time to buy.
Read on for 21 important facts about rabbit condos, hutches, and puppy pens.
1. Rabbit Condos Save Space
Generally speaking, a rabbit condo is completely enclosed in wire mesh and comes with two or more levels. The levels are like the floors of an apartment building or the stories in a large house. Each level is accessible to the bunny by way of ramps or travel tubes. Condos are usually modular and can be reconfigured as needed, even going up four or more levels. And that is where they really shine.
Rabbit condos were designed with small spaces in mind, so they use more vertical space than horizontal. This saves floor space for you without sacrificing play room for your bunnies.
These specialized rabbit cages often have multiple access points at each level. The access points help keep the cage easy to clean and can help you reach your bunny if she tries to avoid being picked up.
2. Rabbit Hutches Are Sturdy
A hutch is typically an all-in-one enclosure made to withstand some abuse. Hutches are usually raised off the ground and often include some storage space under the main section. These enclosures are nearly all one level, though some come with a small perching or lounging platform.
Hutches typically have a small sleeping or hiding area with solid sides, top, and floor. The feeding area and a small play area are attached and open to the air with mesh wires over a solid frame. They have one or more access points, though some have removable fronts.
Hutches are almost always made of wood or other heavy materials. This makes them incredibly durable. They are built to stand up to weather, though this article is focusing more on indoor use.
3. Puppy Pens Are Portable
Many people utilize puppy pens for their rabbits, but usually not as a permanent enclosure. Puppy pens are designed to be used as temporary play yards and exercise pens. They are portable and often fold down quite small for storage or travel. They can be set up in different configurations.
Puppy pens for rabbits are usually made of lightweight wire mesh on the sides, but not the top or bottom. Some puppy pens are made of fabric mesh, but these aren’t recommended for rabbits.
4. Hutches Are Large
Hutches take up a lot of floor or ground space. They’re meant to be permanent cages. This means they were never meant to be moved about. Their impressive size means they’re not suitable for small spaces such as apartments or dorm rooms. But that makes them the perfect choice for large houses or suitable outdoor areas.
Hutches can weigh hundreds of pounds, so be sure you bring help when you’re ready to bring one home. Most can be constructed out of scrap wood and wire mesh, but it’s usually best to purchase a hutch made specifically for rabbits.
A benefit to these large structures is that they are hard to knock down. Even the most exuberant rabbit won’t be able to jump enough to make it topple. And predators and small kids can push on them as much as they like without it falling over.
5. Play Pens Are Not for Permanent Use Outdoors
Yes, this article is about indoor enclosures, but many people use puppy pens outdoors, so we’ll talk briefly about that here.
Because of their open tops and lack of mesh bottoms, these portable play yards are not completely secure and rabbits should never be left alone in one when used outdoors. Flying predators can snatch a rabbit right out of the top of a puppy play pen. Rabbits are also excellent diggers. Without a bottom, a puppy yard can be quickly dug out of and your rabbit could get lost.
Another issue is that puppy play yards are self-supporting, but they can’t support a lot of weight. They’re not capable of withstanding any pressure on the sides, such as a child’s ball bumping into them. Any impact will cause the puppy pen to buckle or move, leaving room for injuries and accidents as it topples over or becomes unstable.
All that said, they are a great choice for rabbits who don’t have a lot of space in their regular enclosures. Puppy play pens are an excellent choice for daily playtime either outside or in another room in your house.
6. Rabbit Condos Are Modular
One of the best parts of having a rabbit condo is how easy they are to switch up and adapt to your available space. Since they’re designed with vertical growth in mind, you can often keep building a rabbit condo upwards right to the ceiling.
But many rabbit condos also offer the ability to expand horizontally. If you happen to move to a bigger apartment or house, for example, you can add more sections to the rabbit condo and expand your bunnies’ play space.
Rabbits like to explore new areas. When you have a rabbit condo, you can add new sections with new toys or mazes to explore to keep your rabbit entertained. Since rabbit condos are also usually quite lightweight, they tend to be easy to create neat shapes and interesting mazes without much effort.
7. Rabbit Condos and Hutches Provide Superior Protection
Every rabbit owner should be concerned about protecting their precious bunnies from predators—even indoors. The only way to do so is to be sure the permanent cage is totally enclosed.
Most rabbit condos come with a top, but not all do. Hutches, however, always have a top of some kind. As long as your rabbit condo has a top, or you can add one yourself, it should be about as secure as a big rabbit hutch.
Condos and hutches utilize strong wire mesh on the tops, sides, and floors. These keep out predators of all kinds. Nothing can dig up through the bottom, nothing can get in through the sides, and no birds can swoop in and hurt your bunnies.
The caveat to this rule is small pests such as mice can still get inside. If the wire mesh isn’t fine enough, mice can enter. However, keeping the condo off the ground can prevent this. Hutches are usually held off the ground anyway.
8. They All Provide Adequate Air Flow
All the enclosures mentioned here typically come with adequate air flow to keep your bunnies cool in the summer. The wire mesh is designed to let your bunnies catch a nice breeze in the play area.
Air flow isn’t just about staying cool, though. Rabbits need fresh air to stay healthy.
This becomes an issue if the condo, hutch, or puppy pen has a mesh that’s too fine, however. This super fine mesh can prevent proper air flow and cause respiratory issues for your rabbits.
So too is it an issue if the spaces in the wire mesh are too large. Too much space allows too much wind into the cage and your rabbit could get chilled.
It’s worth noting that too fine and too wide of mesh is not usually a problem in most pet rabbit housing. It’s only mentioned here so you can be sure your chosen enclosures meet your bunnies’ needs.
9. Hutches Provide A Hiding Spot
Hutches always come with a built-in hiding spot. It’s typically built right into the frame, so it’s very sturdy. Hiding spots are essential for rabbits. They need a dark, quiet, fully enclosed space to get away from noise and light.
Hutches sometimes have built-in sleeping quarters that double as the hiding spot. Hiding spots will be small while sleeping areas can be pretty large. Check that the bed area has a solid floor. Since the rest of the hutch is made of wire mesh, the hiding and bed areas are designed with a solid floor to give your bunnies’ feet a rest.
If you’re building your own hutch, be sure to include at least one bed and hiding spot.
10. Puppy Pens Can Protect Your Furniture
Even if you allow your rabbits to roam free in your house, you can still use a puppy pen. Since most puppy play pens are portable and fold down for storage, they usually can be detached from themselves to create a long, sturdy fence. If you brace each end behind heavy furniture, or if you attach them to the walls, they can’t be knocked over.
Many rabbit owners will unfold the puppy play pen and push it against a wall to block their rabbits from accessing electrical outlets or cords. Some use them to circle around potted plants or other furniture they don’t want their bunnies to destroy.
Puppy pens are a great way to keep bunnies confined to a room without having to close the door. You can let your rabbit play in one room while you step out to another briefly. Just put the puppy pen in front of the open door and you can still watch your bunny.
A word of warning, however. Rabbits are great jumpers. If you include some furniture in your rabbit’s play area, and it’s too close to the puppy pen, they may jump out. Just be aware of what’s in the play area.
11. Rabbit Condos Can Be Low-Cost
Of the three enclosures mentioned here, the rabbit condo has the best mix of security and low-cost. Because they are completely enclosed, rabbit condos can be used as permanent housing. But they’re also often on the lower end of the price spectrum.
Their low prices come from being modular and often portable. You’ll only need to buy a small piece at a time to expand your rabbit’s living area or play space. That means a lot less cost up front for a suitable cage.
It’s important to note here that some rabbit condos are rather expensive. Just because this style can be cheap, it doesn’t mean every brand will be. If you decide to go for the more expensive kinds, be sure to check which added features you’re getting. If they don’t offer a lot more features than the lower priced ones, why not save yourself some money?
12. Rabbit Condos Can Grow with Your Bunny
The low cost of rabbit condos and their modular nature also means you can start small and get bigger as needed. Most rabbit condos come with a play area and sleeping zone big enough for a baby rabbit. As the bunny grows, you can simply add another section to the floor or even start building vertically.
No other cage option has this feature, so a rabbit condo is an excellent choice for those just starting out with rabbits. Start small and build on as needed!
It’s also an awesome choice for those who wish to slowly add more rabbits to their home. And anyone who wants to breed rabbits should invest in a rabbit condo, too.
13. Puppy Pens Offer More Space
Like rabbit condos, puppy pens can grow as needed. They can also change their shape on a whim. They offer a lot more space for rabbits, but they can also be shrunk down without much trouble.
They are portable, as we mentioned earlier, but they can also be used to simply extend a rabbit’s permanent enclosure. The downside is that they can’t have constant access to this extra space since puppy pens have no tops. But, setting up a puppy pen as a play yard under your supervision is almost as good as expanding a rabbit condo.
14. You Can Get Inside the Puppy Pen with Your Rabbit
This might be our favorite part of puppy pens for rabbits. . . you can actually get inside the play area with your bunny if you use a puppy pen! Most puppy play pens are quite large, which means a person can easily fit inside.
Puppy pens also come with built-in doors. That makes it easier for you to get inside, too. These neat little yards make it possible for you and your rabbit to spend lots of time together in a safe and secure enclosure.
15. Hutches Come in Many Styles
Rabbit hutches were designed to blend into any decor. For this reason, you can find hutches in a multitude of styles, size, colors, and configurations to match your home.
Since most hutches are made of wood, at least in part, they can also be painted. That makes it easy for you to show off your personal style with the hutch or make it blend right into the background.
16. Rabbit Housing Should Be Chew-Proof
While rabbit condos, hutches, and puppy pens come in a variety of styles and shapes, you should be sure to check the construction materials. Rabbits chew. It’s a natural behavior and you should not try to stop them.
However, chewing can be quite destructive and can even damage an improperly designed enclosure beyond repair. Be sure your rabbit can’t chew through the wires on the sides, top, or floor. Also, be sure they’re not chewing through the wooden parts.
17. Rabbit Housing Should Be Easy to Clean
Whichever style you choose, your rabbit’s new house should be easy to clean. Wood, such as that used in hutches, tends to absorb rabbit urine. That can make them hard to keep clean. On the flip side, the rabbit condos and puppy pens don’t offer much protection for your floors or walls since they are entirely made of wire mesh.
You can add plastic sheeting or trays to help catch the urine and feces. These trays can be used in any type of enclosure. Some people choose to line their rabbit enclosures with waterproof puppy piddle pads or hospital bed liners instead.
18. Leave Room for Toys
All rabbit housing, no matter how small, needs to have room for rabbit toys. Bunnies need to play. If there isn’t enough room in your rabbit’s space for several toys, your cage is far too small. It’s time to upgrade!
If you can’t add more permanent space, add a puppy play pen to be used each day for supervised play time. While it’s best to keep toys in your rabbit’s cage at all times, using a play pen is a decent temporary solution.
19. Puppy Pens Are Okay for Permanent Indoor Use, Maybe!
There are some times when a puppy pen is okay to use as your rabbit’s permanent indoor enclosure. While we never recommend using them as a permanent enclosure outdoors, they can be suitable indoors in certain situations.
Specifically, you can use a puppy pen indoors unsupervised if you don’t have any other pets in the home. Other pets should never be trusted with a rabbit, either loose or in a puppy pen.
The same can be said for households with small children. As discussed above, puppy pens are self-supporting, but only to a point. They cannot withstand any kind of impact, no matter how light. This can cause serious injury or even death should the pen collapse.
If, however, there are no other pets in the home and there are no kids, many people successfully create a rabbit oasis using only puppy play pens.
20. They All Last A Long Time
All three options listed in this article have a track record of lasting a long time. For the rabbit condos and the puppy pens, the metal wire mesh is nearly impossible to bend, break, chew through, or damage. However, it is susceptible to rust, so do keep it dry.
For hutches made with wood, as long as you take care of the wood parts, a hutch can last up to fifty years!
21. Proper Enclosures Encourage Bonding
Any sturdy, well-built, high-quality enclosure will provide you and your rabbit something invaluable. The opportunity to bond. With enough open space to see one another and interact during the day, your rabbit will get used to seeing and hearing you. By providing appropriate hiding spots and soft bedding, you are showing your rabbit respect and kindness, which he can clearly understand.
A good rabbit enclosure, whether it’s a hutch, a puppy pen, or a rabbit condo, will last a rabbit’s lifetime and give you both plenty of opportunities to bond and connect. The simple act of cleaning the cage with your bunny present shows her that you care. Changing her toys every week shows her that you understand her need for stimulation. When you feed and water him, he knows that you are there to protect and care for him.
In these ways, a rabbit’s enclosure becomes part of his connection to you. It is a shared space, in a sense. So, treat the enclosure well and your rabbit will reap the benefits, just as you will.