7 Essential Things That Rabbits Need in a Cage

Welcome to the world of rabbit ownership! Bringing one of these endearing yet quirky pets into your home is incredibly rewarding, but also comes with great responsibility. Rabbits have very specific needs when it comes to their housing requirements. If you want your bunny to live a long, healthy and enriched life, you must provide the essential elements to keep them comfortable and active. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about setting up the perfect indoor or outdoor rabbit habitat. You’ll learn how to bunny-proof their space, choose the right litter options, provide proper lighting and temperature control, select enriching toys, and so much more. By the end, you’ll be fully prepared to give your rabbit everything they need to thrive in their new home sweet home!

How to Prepare a Rabbit Hutch for a New Pet

Bringing home a new rabbit is an exciting time! Proper preparation of their hutch and habitat is key to getting off on the right foot. Here are some tips for getting your rabbit hutch ready before your new furry friend arrives:

  • Clean the hutch thoroughly. Use a mild detergent and warm water to wash away any dirt or odors left behind by previous inhabitants. Rinse well and allow to fully dry.

  • Add substrate. Line the floor with several inches of substrate to provide comfort and absorb messes. Aspen shavings, Carefresh bedding, and recycled paper products are good options. Avoid cedar shavings.

  • Consider adding a mat or rug. These help prevent sore hocks from developing on rabbits' feet. Ensure any mats or rugs are chew proof.

  • Set up litter boxes. Rabbits tend to pick a corner as their potty spot. Place a litter box with rabbit-safe litter in the corner(s) to encourage good bathroom habits.

  • Add a hay rack. Provide a way for your rabbit to access their primary food source easily. Hay racks allow you to hang fresh hay for them to munch whenever they please.

  • Check for safety. Ensure the hutch is free of sharp edges or anything hazardous your rabbit could chew. Make sure it secures properly to keep your rabbit safely contained.

  • Bunny proof. Rabbits love to chew, so protect important elements like baseboards or wiring so they can't be accessed and damaged.

  • Offer enrichment. Have toys, chews, and other mentally stimulating items ready for your rabbit to play with in their new home. Rotate different enrichment regularly to prevent boredom.

Preparing your rabbit's hutch properly goes a long way towards setting them up for health and happiness in their new forever home!

Space to Move

Rabbits are active creatures that need adequate space to hop around comfortably. The recommended minimum size for a rabbit cage is 4-6 times the size of your bunny when they are entirely stretched out. For example, if your rabbit is 16 inches long when laying down flat, the cage should be at least 64 inches long.

Bigger is always better when it comes to rabbit cages. Look for options that are multi-tiered to increase your rabbit's living space. If your rabbit will be confined for large portions of the day, aim for the largest cage possible. 24 square feet of floorspace is ideal for a single medium-sized rabbit.

The cage should allow your bunny to take at least three hops in any direction, fully stand on their hind legs without hitting their head, and lay down stretched out without touching the sides. They need vertical space to stand up tall as well.

Providing enough room for exercise prevents boredom and behaviors like excessive chewing. Multi-level cages allow rabbits to display their natural tendency to climb and explore different areas. Your bunny will be much happier when they have plenty of space to comfortably be a rabbit!

Soft Flooring

The floor of your rabbit's cage should be cushioned and comfortable on their sensitive feet. Rabbits have very delicate footpads that were not meant for walking on wire all day. Sore hocks, infections, and foot damage can occur if the floor is not soft enough.

The best options for rabbit cage flooring include:

  • Fleece or fabric cage liners – super soft and cozy if changed/cleaned regularly

  • Recycled paper pellet litter – absorbs moisture and cushions feet

  • Aspen wood shavings – avoid cedar or pine shavings which contain oils toxic to rabbits

  • Timothy or other grass hays – provides comfort plus food source

  • Carpets or rugs – ensure they are not looped for toe safety

  • Straw or hay mats – check often for dampness/mold

Whatever you choose, provide a minimum of 2-3 inches of material to create a sufficient cushion. Avoid wired cage bottoms or platforms, rough wood, or any other hard surface. The softer the floor, the happier those sensitive feetsies will be! Change out materials regularly to prevent odor buildup.

Food and Water

Easy access to fresh food and water is imperative to your rabbit's health. Be sure their cage is always stocked with their staple diet of hay, supplemented by greens and a small amount of pellets. The following feeding supplies are rabbit cage must-haves:

  • Hay rack to hold a generous amount of fresh hay. This allows the rabbit to eat hay at will. Timothy hay should make up 80% of diet.

  • Heavy ceramic bowl for pellets to prevent tipping. Limit pellets to 1/4 cup per 5 lbs body weight.

  • Water crock, bottle, or bowl. Change water daily. Use a bottle or heavy bowl to prevent spills.

  • Treat ball or hopper to dispense greens for mental stimulation. Or place greens in a bowl.

  • Manger or bin for daily salad portion. Leafy greens should make up remaining 20% of diet.

Having constant access to hay ensures your rabbit's digestive system keeps moving. Provide fresh salad greens daily. Having food and water in sturdy containers you can easily clean and refill is crucial. Monitor to ensure your bunny is eating, drinking, pooping, and peeing normally. Contact your exotic vet at any changes. With proper nutrition provided, your rabbit will thrive.

A Litter Box or Tray

Unlike cats, rabbits are not born knowing how to use a litter box. However, they can be trained to use one quite easily with a bit of patience. Providing a litter box in your rabbit's cage helps keep their environment clean and organized.

Rabbit-savvy litter options include:

  • Paper-based litters like Carefresh or Yesterday's News

  • Aspen wood shavings

  • Recycled paper pellets or citrus pellets

  • Timothy hay or straw

Avoid clumping clay and scented litters which can irritate airways.

Place the litter box in the corner your bunny seems to favor as their potty area. Once they are consistently using it, start placing droppings into the box to reinforce the habit. Some bunnies will learn in just a few weeks! Clean the box at least once a day to encourage continued use.

Having a litter box makes cleanup much easier. But if your rabbit has accidents outside of it at first, remain patient. With the right litter and ample space for their needs, litter training your rabbit is attainable.

A Separate Sleeping Area

Rabbits appreciate having a cozy, private area to curl up and sleep in their cage. This gives them a sense of security and comfort. To create your bunny's sleeping space:

  • Section off one corner or side of the cage using cardboard, wooden dividers, or storage cubes

  • Line the floor with soft bedding like fleece, straw, or shredded paper

  • Consider nesting boxes, tents, or hiding huts with multiple entrances

  • Stuff the area with hay for burrowing and snacking

  • Add some favorite toys for comfort

Resist over-crowding the space to prevent your rabbit feeling trapped. Ideally the ceiling should be at least several inches higher than your bunny's head when sitting up. Maintain the area by changing out soiled bedding promptly.

Giving your rabbit their own safe sleeping zone prevents litter contamination and supports natural nesting behaviors. They'll look forward to snoozing in comfort each night!

Toys and Entertainment

An engaged, active rabbit is a happy rabbit! Providing a variety of toys and enrichment items prevents boredom and destructive behaviors. Recommended rabbit cage toys include:

  • Chew toys – Apple tree branches, untreated wood blocks, etc

  • Digging boxes – Hide treats in boxes of dirt, shredded paper, etc

  • Tunnels – Cardboard tubes, paper bags, hide holes

  • Foraging toys – Puzzles with treats inside

  • shred sticks and balls – Great for chewing and tossing

The key is variety. Rotate different toys in and out regularly to keep things interesting. Provide toys that appeal to natural rabbit behaviors like chewing, digging, foraging and shredding. Both mental and physical stimulation is important.

Set up toys so your rabbit can interact with them in different ways. For example, hang a chew stick from the top of the cage for standing playtime. Scatter treats in a dig box for hunting. Place toilet paper rolls in varying orientations to run through. Change toys weekly or monthly to add novelty. Get creative and have fun with it! A mentally stimulated bunny is a happy, healthy bunny.


Rabbits are highly social creatures that thrive when able to interact regularly with humans or fellow bunnies. Spending time each day interacting with your caged rabbit is vitally important to their wellbeing.

If you have a single rabbit, aim to spend at least 2-3 hours per day actively playing with, holding, grooming, and supervising them outside the cage. Bored rabbits may stop eating, groom excessively, or become aggressive.

Ideally, house rabbits should have nearly full run of bunny-proofed rooms versus being caged. If you must keep a single rabbit confined for periods, provide ample toys and consider getting them a compatible bunny friend to interact with.

Rabbits kept in pairs or trios enjoy constant companionship. Bonding does take effort and patience for successful matches. But once bonded, a pair of rabbits will bring each other great joy! Just be sure to house and supervise pairs/groups 24/7.

Whether you have 1 rabbit or 10, they all need daily attention from their human caretakers as well. Spending quality time together each day keeps your relationship strong and your rabbit mentally and physically healthy.

Should the Hutch be Set Up Indoors or Outside?

When housing a pet rabbit, one decision to make is whether to keep their hutch indoors versus outdoors. There are advantages and disadvantages to both setups. Here are some things to consider when deciding where your bunny's home should be:

Indoor Benefits:

  • Better temperature control, away from extreme heat/cold
  • Safer from predators like dogs or hawks
  • Reduced risk of illness spread by wildlife
  • More opportunity for social interaction
  • Easier to see if rabbit is well/in distress

Outdoor Benefits:

  • Bunny has access to sunshine and fresh air
  • Natural temperature variations rabbits can handle
  • Hutch odors dissipate quicker outdoors
  • Less rabbit hair and mess inside the home
  • More space for large or multiple rabbits

Key factors in deciding are your climate, housing size, how much time you can spend with an outdoor bunny daily, risk of predators, bunny's personality and your lifestyle. An elderly or sensitive rabbit may do better indoors. A young active one may enjoy outside more.

Try setting up both an indoor and outdoor housing option if possible. This allows flexibility to adjust their location based on weather or health factors. With proper attention paid to key needs like temperature, light and security, rabbits can thrive in either environment.

Does an Outdoor Rabbit Hutch Set Up Differ from Indoor?

Setting up housing for an outdoor rabbit differs in some key ways from an indoor set up:

  • The hutch should be fully enclosed to protect from weather elements and predators. Include a sleeping area rabbits can retreat into.

  • Use waterproof roofing materials like treated metal, tarps or shingles. Have roof overhangs to keep interior dry.

  • The hutch must be raised off the ground by legs, bricks or stands. This prevents water pooling and allows air circulation underneath.

  • Use wood that is thicker or heavier duty to withstand weathering – like 2x4s or marine grade plywood. Avoid flimsy materials.

  • Hardware cloth or wire fencing must be 1/2 inch spacing or less to prevent predators from reaching in. Use metal mesh on windows too.

  • Anchor the hutch securely to the ground with wood or metal stakes to prevent tipping.

  • Provide a shaded, covered playpen area for times they are not in the hutch.

Monitor temperatures closely when rabbits are outdoors. Bring them in during extreme heat, cold or storms. While outdoor hutches need fortification, the indoor amenities like toys and bedding materials stay the same. With proper planning, outdoor rabbits can stay healthy and content.

Temperature Maintenance of an Outdoor Hutch

Rabbits housed in outdoor hutches require special consideration when it comes to regulating temperature. Here are some tips for maintaining a safe, comfortable temperature range:

  • Ideal temperatures for outdoor rabbits fall between 45-75°F. Avoid leaving bunnies in temperatures over 80°F or below freezing.

  • Provide a well-insulated hutch made from thick wood and plastic. Have a sleeping area stuffed with straw for burrowing into.

  • Use tarps or cardboard to cover parts of hutch wire fencing to block wind, rain, and sun as needed.

  • Set up the hutch in a sheltered location with natural shade coverage to protect from elements.

  • Hang reflective window tinting or space blankets inside hutch to conserve body heat in winter.

  • Place ceramic tiles inside the hutch in warm months. The tiles stay cool for bunnies to press against.

  • Freeze water in 2 liter bottles to place in hutch to keep cool in summer heat. Wrap in towel so not direct contact.

  • Position the hutch to best utilize shade and breezes in summer but be blocked from wind and wet in winter.

  • Bring rabbits indoors if temperature is not able to be regulated to safe range day and night.

Monitor temperatures diligently, especially during extreme seasons. Check that rabbits are not showing signs of heat or cold stress. Adapt the hutch as needed to maintain a healthy air temperature year round.

Providing Light to an Outdoor Hutch

Rabbits in outdoor hutches still need exposure to adequate daylight cycles each day. Here are some tips for providing proper lighting:

  • Position the hutch to receive natural light for as much of the day as possible. Avoid too much direct sun.

  • Supplement indoor lighting on shorter winter days. Install fixtures to provide 8-12 hours of light inside the hutch.

  • Choose outdoor safe lighting. Use durable LED fixtures, cage clamp lamps, or strand lighting. Avoid open bulbs.

  • Hang lighting from the ceiling rather than setting on the ground where rabbits may knock them.

  • Ensure lighting does not generate excessive heat in an enclosed space. Monitor temperatures.

  • Use timers to regulate photoperiods automatically, turning lights on in the morning and off at night.

  • Provide areas of shade or retreat if a rabbit seems irritated by lights. Observe behavior.

  • Bring rabbits indoors if unable to provide adequate daylight lengths or if showing signs of stress from disruption.

Proper lighting is crucial for a rabbit's circadian rhythms and preventing depression. Provide ample illumination without glare or overheating their living space when housing bunnies outdoors. Adjust lighting as seasons change.

Ensuring a Rabbit’s Safety in an Outdoor Hutch

Housing rabbits outdoors poses some unique safety concerns from predators, insects, illnesses, and injury. Here are tips for keeping outdoor bunnies protected:

  • Use thick hardware cloth or wire fencing material with openings no more than 1/2 inch to prevent entry. Bury fencing 6+ inches into the ground.

  • Check perimeter for holes, loose spots, sharp points or openings daily. Perform thorough weekly inspections too.

  • Keep grass trimmed short around the hutch perimeter to discourage pests and remove hiding spots.

  • Install latches on doors that predators cannot manipulate open. Use carabiners as extra insurance on closing doors.

  • Eliminate places predators can climb onto the hutch, like tree branches hanging overhead or crates against the side.

  • Bring rabbits indoors at night when predator risk is highest. Or ensure they use hide boxes with smaller entries.

  • Use daily tick/flea prevention medications recommended by your exotic vet during warm months when pests are active.

  • Clean and disinfect the hutch at least weekly to prevent infectious illnesses. Quarantine new rabbits.

With diligent maintenance and protective measures, rabbits can stay safe and healthy in their outdoor enclosures. Always supervise time spent outdoors. Bring bunnies in if you have any concerns for their wellbeing.


Providing the essentials like adequate space, soft flooring, nutrition, litter habits, comforts, enrichment, and companionship lays the foundation for housing a happy rabbit. Monitor your pet's health and behavior closely, and adjust their habitat to meet their needs. With a clean, spacious cage and attentive care, your bunny can thrive indoors or out.



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