House rabbits should never be kept completely confined to a cage. Exercise is vital for the rabbit’s health. All too often we hear well meaning but poorly informed people describe rabbits as easy to keep because “they can be caged and don’t take up much space!”. This idea has led to many rabbits being caged for most of their lives with the distinct possibility of developing both physical and behavioural disorders. They are designed to run and jump and move about a large area.
Indoor rabbits can be housed in an indoor hutch or cage. A wooden or metal hutch is suited for indoors too but are not necessary. A simple cage with a solid base and lots of hay is just as good.
If you let your rabbit run loose around the house, make sure you supervise your rabbit and “rabbit-proof” the areas and things that they cannot have access to. Things such as electrical cords and access to any nice furniture should be restricted as rabbits like to chew.
Rabbits can be litter box trained relatively easily. When beginning training, confine your pet in a small area, either in a cage or a blocked off section of the room, and place a litter box in the corner. Try to pick the corner your pet has already used for his/her toilet. Make sure the sides of the box are low enough so that your pet can get in and out easily. It is helpful to put some droppings in the litter box. Some people had also found it helpful to put some hay in the box to encourage defecation there as rabbits usually pass stool while they are eating. In exercise areas, provide one more litter box than the normal number of rabbits you have and put newspaper or plastic under the litter box to protext your floors from accidents. Never punish your pet while in the litter box.
Pelleted litter makes the best bedding and is preferred over wood shavings, corncob and kitty litter. Pelleted litters are non-toxic and digestible if eaten, draw moisture away from the surface which keeps it drier, control odours well, and can be composted. Do not use clay or clumping kitty litter (we have had cases where rabbits have eaten these products and died from intestinal impaction). There are a wide variety of pelleted beddings available through pet stores, veterinarians and rabbit clubs. Softer litter is suggested for rabbits that spend a lot of time in their litter box.
Make sure your rabbit has access to daylight in order for them to absorb enough Vitamin D to keep them healthy. Place them in the morning sun but not directly in the sun’s rays. Remember to move their cage to a cool and dim area so they can rest without any disturbance.