Secure puppy or rabbit pens 30-36” tall are best for indoor “starter” housing. If bunny jumps out, you can clip a sheet across the top of the pen for a couple of weeks until she establishes boundaries. You can put linoleum or plastic chair mats over your carpet or flooring during “potty training” and to prevent bunny from chewing or digging the carpet. We like the saying, "pen the electronics, not the rabbits!" because that gives bunnies the most space while protecting your home. Please note that playpens must be indoors only for safety reasons; outdoor pens either trap bunnies so they cannot get away from predators, or don't hold rabbits in (bunnies will tunnel under unless pens have a bottom).
The X-Pen (Exercise pen or playpen) Option
X-pens are dog exercise pens that can be purchased at local pet supply stores. They cost as much or less than a large cage. 36” tall pen is suggested. Until you can be sure bunny won’t escape over the top, just clip a sheet to the top of the pen creating a roof (this can be removed after a few weeks) or purchase a taller pen. Pens can be adjusted to fit various spaces/size.
- - If your rabbit is not able to live in a larger indoor bunny-proofed room or area, then an X-Pen is the next best thing.
- - Room for bunny to exercise a bit
- - Easier for human companions to interact with the rabbit; bunny does not “defend” against you like in a cage.
- - Room for large toys, cardboard boxes, tunnels, hide-aways.
- - Much easier to clean than a cage especially when the rabbit is spayed/neutered and litter box trained.
Setup: use hard waterproof flooring (hard plastic desk mat, linoleum) to protect your floor, wrap an old sheet tightly around flooring, and set up the pen on top of the sheet/flooring. The setup in the photo above shows rabbits on seagrass mats over a linoleum floor. Add litter box layered with litter and fresh hay (oat or timothy), toys, water dish, dish for pellets etc.
Alternatives to the exercise pen: put a baby gate or Dutch door across the doorway to one room, and bunny-proof that room; section off a corner for your bunny; build your own large, indoor rabbit habitat using 1” x 2” welded wire and untreated lumber. Click here for a lookbook of housing suggestions.
Rabbits do not tolerate heat, dampness, or drafts. Your rabbit should be in a quiet, safe location close enough to human activity so she doesn’t become lonely.
Don’t forget – Bunny still needs exercise time outside of the pen, unless it's a very large enclosure!
Outdoor housing is dangerous and not recommended.Rabbits are prone to heat stroke (anything over 85 degrees is life-threatening) and can be killed by raccoons, hawks, dogs, feral cats, fly strike and other predators. Rabbits are great escape artists: they can burrow under backyard fences or squeeze out of very small openings, never to be seen again. Raccoons are adept at opening hutch doors and rabbits can die from a heart attack when a predator attempts to break in.
We do not advocate housing rabbits outdoors. Supervised exercise time outside may or may not be safe, depending on your setup and the level of supervision; but we do not recommend that. It takes only a moment for tragedy to strike and we have heard many stories of hawks, coyotes, dogs on retractable leashes or other animals killing rabbits right in front of their caretakers.