Bunny Proofing Your Home
Rabbit's make wonderful house pets, but in preparing your home for a rabbit you need to consider their natural instincts to dig and chew, both for their safety and the preservation of your furniture and belongings.
For more information on rabbit's behaviour and instincts, you might like to try my book 'Understanding Your Rabbit's Habits'.
The basics of rabbit proofing are:
- Move items you don't want chewed out of reach
- Protect items with covers or barriers to limit access
- Block access completely to areas you can't bunny-proof
- Provide alternative outlets for chewing/digging behaviour
How much rabbit proofing you need to do will depend on your rabbit, things that constitute a safety hazard, such as electrical wires and poisonous plants, should always be protected, but other areas you may address on an adhoc basis if your rabbit shows a particular inclination for chewing there.
Electrical wires should always be rabbit-proofed for you and your rabbit's safety. Wires are particularly tempting to rabbits, probably because they are used to severing hanging tree roots in their burrows and treat wires with the same attitude.
Wires can either be protected individually or access restricted to them completely.
- The first thing to consider is can the wires be moved, for example running a cable up and along at a height your rabbit can't access. Devices like chargers can be plugged in somewhere your rabbit doesn't have access to.
- A good option for permanent wires is trunking/conduit, a plastic tunnel attached to the wall/skirting that wires are run through. It's available in a variety of colours and shapes designed to blend in with your decor. Some are self adhesive, making it very easy to fit.
- An alternative to fixed trunking is to use a cable tidy which wraps around wires or the DIY version, hosepipe split lengthwise that cables are pushed into.
- Blocking sockets with furniture or wire grids is another option.
Keep in mind rabbit's chewing abilities when deciding the best method for your home, some forms of protection will act as a deterrent and slow down an attack, but won't necessarily stand up to prolonged chewing.
Curtains/blinds that reach the floor are often a target, not because they are tasty to chew but because your rabbit is trying to create easy access through them. Without opposable thumbs, your rabbit needs to use his teeth to move them out the way. This means that sometimes simply pinning up a corner or using tunnel to provide easy access behind them can stop chewing.
- If your curtains are longer than your window, having them adjusted so the bottom edge is out of reach also works, for a temporary solution, use safety pins to pin them up.
- Reinforce edges with heavy material, that way it can be replaced, leaving the actual curtains untouched.
Carpet can be a casualty to rabbit's natural digging instincts, they particularly like room corners which in their eyes would make ideal burrow entrances. As well as physically protecting your carpet, you should also consider whether the digging is a behavioural issue that needs addressing: Stopping Your Rabbit Digging.
- Block specific areas e.g. corners with heavy objects, a tile or wood board.
- Place a digging box e.g. a storage box filled with paper over the area.
- By-pass the area with tunnel.
- Cover larger areas with cheap rugs, carpet protectors of pieces of lino.
Like the corner of rooms, the gap under or along the back of sofas trigger rabbit's natural burrowing instincts. This can become a problem if they decide to extend the burrow into the sofa itself.
- Run a tunnel along behind the sofa so they can use the space but can't access to the sofa.
- Limit access to the underneath by putting a wooden frame the height of the gap under the sofa.
Wooden chair or table legs are tempting to chew. You can limit access by:
- Wrapping legs or hotspots in sisal (this will need replacing as it's chewed to retain protection).
- Slotting cardboard postage tubes over individual legs, you can slit tubes lengthwise to slip over horizontal bars.
- Similar to cardboard tubes, plastic pipe can also be used.
- Expensive/heirloom furniture is best kept completely out of reach.
Edges of cupboards, doors and furniture
Protect the edges of cupboards and doors from your rabbit's chewing by:
- Using L shape corner protectors (available in metal and various colours of plastic) to protect edges.
- Clear perspex sheets can protect more complex beading.
- 'Kick plates' can be used to protect against scratching.
Skirting boards can be difficult to protect because of the shaped edge and there is a lot of them! It's best to focus on areas that your rabbit has shown an interest in chewing. In those places you can:
- Use the same L-shape edging designed for protecting the corners of walls.
- Tack a second 'scrap' piece of wood over the top so any chewing is directed at that piece rather than the skirting itself.
Some rabbits are adept at wall paper stripping! If your rabbit has got a habit for redecoration then you can:
- Replace wallpaper with paint.
- Use clear Perspex sheets to cover lower part of wall.
- Suspend toys so they hang over the area being chewed and create a distraction.
- Use a puppy pen to fill the room but prevent access to walls.
Many house plants are poisonous and should be kept completely out of reach. Even if your plants are non poisonous they'll need keeping out of reach all they'll be treated as a snack!