House Rabbits just have so much personality. If you’ve ever had an apple, a banana, or just about any other food ripped from your hands by your bun – just as you were about to take a bite – you already know that. And, those personalities just explode when a Rabbit is a treasured member of the family.
Another way to really get to see your rabbit’s personality? Give her the opportunity to free Roam. But, be prepared first or else you’ll lose a lot more than a few bites of that juicy apple your bun swiped from you.
What does free roam mean?
Imagine being stuck in a closet or an office cubicle all day long, every single day of your life. How long do you think it’d be before you started to go stark raving mad? That’s pretty much what life is like for those rabbits who are relegated to life in a cage and little free time out to play and to socialize.
Once upon a time, rabbits lived in cages. Today, however, cages have given way to spacious pens, homemade condos, and free roam. Not everyone has the space or the ability to allow their rabbits to be free roam. But, if you do, you’ll definitely want to consider it for your rabbit(s).
Choose a space
Do you want your rabbit to have free run of your whole house? Or, are there specific rooms or a room that would be just perfect? If you have multiple non-bonded rabbits, you’ll likely have to choose different rooms for the rabbits. Try to opt for a space where your rabbit will have plenty of interaction with the rest of the family.
Spend time rabbit-proofing
Start thinking like a rabbit. That means identifying everything you’d chew if you were hopping around on all fours. Lamp cord? Yummy. Pick it up or cover it with a cord protector. Phone charger? Keep it out of bunny’s way or just make sure you’re stocked up on extra chargers. Those carpets sure look diggable and mighty tasty, wouldn’t you say? Add plenty of chew and digging toys to keep your bun from chewing what she shouldn’t.
That, of course, is just the start. Chances are you’ve already done significant rabbit-proofing for when your little one has free time out of her enclosure. For a good refresher, click here to read an article on rabbit proofing from the House Rabbit Society.
Prepare the space
Yay or nay to the cage?
Is your bun currently live in a cage, a condo, or an X-pen? You’ve got a decision to make. Will you leave it in place as a so-called home base when your rabbit is free run or will you get rid of it all together? That’s really a personal decision. You might want to use the home base for a litterbox, food and water bowls, and the hay rack. Or, you might prefer to find a space in the room for those things.
You’ll need the cooperation of your furry friend for this one, especially when it comes to where to place the litterbox(es). You might think you’ve got the absolute perfect place to put your bun’s litterbox. She just might have other ideas. That means you may just have to give her what she wants, as long as it makes sense. (A litterbox on the couch, for example, wouldn't really work, although some buns might like that!)
Put a litterbox – or a few – in each room that your rabbit has free run to help cut down on accidents.
Give your bun plenty to do to keep her mind off of chewing carpets, baseboards, and other things she shouldn’t chew. Click here for some good ideas.
Bunnies love boxes and other hiding spaces. Make sure your bun has plenty of places to hide in the rooms to which she has access. (Hint: You may want to block off spaces like under the couch. More than one curious little rabbit has burrowed a hole into the bottom of a couch to sleep.)
Baby gates – or even a homemade gate your rabbit can’t jump over – are great for keeping your bun out of rooms you don’t want her in.
When was the last time you had a front row seat to an epic poop war in your home? Any time a rabbit explores new territory, she’s going to leave her scent with little poop pellets everywhere. That’s why you want to start slow with the free roam. If your rabbit(s) will have free run of the entire house, start slowly with one room. After she’s got the hang of using the litterbox in that room, extend her space to another room. Once she’s got the hang of that, move to another room. You get the idea.
Be prepared to make changes
The teacher might not have believed the dog ate your homework. But, rabbits? That’s a whole different story. Kids leave their homework, books, clothes, and all that chewable stuff on the floor? Tidy up that item before it’s decorated with bunny teeth. Oh, and it’s not just the kids. How many times do we leave our favorite shoes or drop a bill we have to pay on the floor within reach of excited bunny teeth?
We have to make changes when our buns are free range. That means putting stuff away if we don’t want it eaten. And, we have to make sure the buns can’t reach those things that pose a danger – like toxic plants.
No one’s perfect. Your bun will have accidents. You’ll inadvertently leave something within her reach and she’ll chew it. Life with a free range rabbit(s) is certainly an adventure – especially when you wake up in the middle of the night to a furry bunny butt on your face – but don’t expect perfection from your rabbit or yourself. Just have fun with it!
House Rabbit Society
House Rabbit Society Wisconsin
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