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Rabbit-Proof Your Home, How to


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Rabbit-Proof Your Home Rabbits are chewers. They enjoy small, dark spaces. They're naturally curious. These three characteristics alone are reason enough for you to "rabbit-proof" prior to allowing your rabbit free access to your home. Rabbit-proofing your home will protect your rabbit and your belongings. Get down on the floor, and imagine for a minute, that you are a rabbit. Look at all of the wonderful places you have to explore and the many chewable items available for your enjoyment. Now, think of yourself as your rabbit's guardian, and what you need to do to protect him. Rabbit-proofing your home is absolutely necessary if your rabbit will have any free roam outside of his cage.
Remember, daily exercise is crucial for rabbits, so it's important to allow some outside cage time for exploring. Many owners set up an indoor fenced exercise pen for their rabbit, so the rabbit-proofing does not need to be quite so intense. The following potential problem areas exist in many homes. If you carefully address practical solutions, you will be able to provide a safe environment for your rabbit.

Potential Problems and Solutions
Electrical and other cords Cleaning supplies
Wooden furniture and baseboards Plants
Upholstered furniture Fireplaces, space heaters, and candles
Carpet and drapes Fans and air ducts
Books, newspapers, and magazines Open exterior doors and windows
Closets Child - rabbit interactions
Kitchen area Interactions with other pets
Food  

Potential Problem: Electrical and other cords Electrical cords are a very serious threat to a rabbit. Chewing through a cord could cause severe burns, or even electrocution. There are other cords that can be chewed, including phone, computer, stereo, cable TV, and appliance cords.

Solution: Simply raising the cords above floor level may not work. Remember, when sitting up on their hind legs, rabbits can reach a foot or more in the air. Placing cords behind furniture will not prevent your rabbit from reaching them, either. Rabbits can fit into some pretty tight spaces. Bitter sprays often do not work, since rabbits tend to like bitter tastes. Three possibilities that may be effective include:

Potential Problem: Wooden furniture and baseboards Rabbits especially love to chew wood. Again, a bitter spray will probably not be effective since rabbits tend to like bitter tastes.

Solution: A rabbit has a basic instinct and necessity to chew. Training the rabbit not to chew these items may help, but just saying "no'" will not be enough.

Potential Problem: Upholstered furniture Rabbits may not only chew the upholstery that you can see, they may get underneath the furniture and chew the underside. Some rabbits will climb into the hole they have made. Use caution with recliners, since rabbits may get underneath them and into the mechanism.

Apple & Wolfberry Chew Twigs & Tooth Sticks Solution:

Potential Problem: Carpet and drapes Some carpets and drapes appear to be almost irresistible to some rabbits. Often, they will start to pull up or chew on carpets in the corner of the room or chew on floor-length drapes.

Solution:

Exercise Pens for Small Animals Potential Problem: Books, newspapers, and magazines You may not care if your rabbit chews last week's newspaper, but there are many paper items you do not want your rabbit to chew.

Solution:

Potential Problem: Closets Open closets can literally provide a feast for your rabbit. Shoes, clothes, belts, boxes - all of these are potential chew toys. In addition, your rabbit could accidentally be locked in a closet without access to food, water, or a litter box.

Solution:

Potential Problem: Kitchen area The kitchen can pose special hazards for a curious rabbit. Open cupboards and drawers, open areas on the back of appliances, and toe kicks on lower cupboards are just several of the places that may look inviting to a rabbit. Removing the rabbit from one of these areas may mean moving the heavy appliances, with the possibility of hurting the rabbit in the process, or removing the bottom of the cupboard to free the trapped rabbit underneath.

Grey Flemish Rabbit Solution:

Potential Problem: Food Food for other pets, grocery bags full of food, waste baskets containing food items, and food set out on low tables will all appear as fair game to a hungry rabbit.

Solution:

Potential Problem: Cleaning supplies Chemicals, detergents, rags, sponges, rubber gloves, and other cleaning supplies can be very dangerous to rabbits. Even if the chemical is in a closed container, the container should be out of the reach of the rabbit. Rabbits can chew containers, knock them over causing spills (if the cap is not tight), or there may be chemical drips on the outside of the container.

Dwarf Rabbit Solution:

Potential Problem: Plants Some common houseplants can be poisonous to rabbits. Even if they are not poisonous, a rabbit can make a disaster from a potted plant, chewing the leaves and digging into the soil.

Solution: Plastic/artificial plants are not a good alternative, since the plastic could cause gastrointestinal irritation or blockage.

Potential Problem: Fireplaces, space heaters, and candles Any type of fire is always dangerous. Your rabbit can become seriously burned, or tip over a hot object and start a fire. Take special care to protect your rabbit and your home.

Solution:

Potential Problem: Fans and air ducts As they are for children, fans can be hazardous to rabbits. An ear or inquisitive nose could be seriously injured. A fan could also be potentially tipped over by a rabbit.

Solution:

  • Never place a fan within reach of a rabbit.
  • Cover all air ducts to prevent a rabbit from exploring and becoming lost in the maze.

Potential Problem: Open exterior doors and windows Open doors and windows provide an easy escape for a curious rabbit.

Solution:

Potential Problem: Child - rabbit interactions A rabbit could be hurt, or hurt a child if he is handled improperly. For a child, a rabbit litter box may have the appearance of being a fun place to play.

Solution:

Tubbies Small Pet Cage Potential Problem: Interactions with other pets Care should be taken when introducing your rabbit to other pets, including other rabbits. Fights between two rabbits can be very serious and cause severe injuries. It is natural instinct for wild canines and felines to prey on rabbits. Sometimes, the reverse is true, and the rabbit can actually be more aggressive.

Solution:

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