Indoor Rabbit Housing Options
Keeping rabbits inside as house pets is becoming increasingly popular. Some owners give their rabbits free-range of the house or their own room, others prefer to setup a cage or pen and provide supervised access for exercise.
Even though house rabbits do not have to cope with changing weather or predators they still need access to an enclosed area to retreat too. Unlike hutches most indoor cages do not provide this so you will need to add a separate sleeping box.
The most common options for indoor housing are listed below:
A wide range of indoor 'rabbit' cages are available, but only a few provide enough space to meet the minimum guidelines on housing size. Most designs are similar with a plastic tray forming the base and a wire section for the top. You'll need to add an enclosed box to provide a sleeping/hiding area.
These cages are neat and easy to clean. However, large cages are expensive compared to the amount of space they provide, and not available in most pet shops so you'll need to order one in or buy online. Unless your rabbit will be spending a lot of time free ranging out of the cage, you'll also need to factor in the cost of attaching an exercise pen.
Cost: 5' x 2.5' rabbit cage £120
A dog crate makes an excellent and cheaper alternative to a rabbit cage. A large dog crate will cost around half the price of a similar size rabbit cage. Dog crates are wider than most cages making the floor area roughly equivalent to a 6'x2' cage. The extra height (as they are designed to accommodate dogs) means there is plenty of room for a shelf to increase the floor area further. The down side with dog crates is the shallow tray, which does not contain mess, but this can be remedied by adding a large storage box as a litter tray.
Cost: 4' x 2.5' crate £50
More information on dog crates
Homemade Cube Rabbit Cage
Making your own custom cage is a good alternative to commercial cages. It allows you to create something that fits the space you have available - ideal if you want to build up, in a corner or have an L-shape space. You can also build something that matches your rabbit's needs for example a large flat cage for an elderly or mobility impaired rabbit or a high cage for a rabbit that likes to climb.
There are lots of different ways to build a cage - you can start from scratch, customise a piece of furniture or use readymade materials. Storage cubes are an easy way to make a cage even if you aren't comfortable with DIY. They are simple grids that you fix together with cable ties to create the shape you want. These are very flexible and you can extend later by adding addition panels.
Cost: 2 packs (34 x 14" panels) £40 will build approximately a 5'x2' cage.
An indoor playpen is a good way to provide an exercise area if you have a cage or dog crate, but it can also be used on its own instead of a 'cage', just with a sleeping box for shelter.
Pens are available is a wide variety of sizes and many can be extended by adding extra panels. Most pens do not include lids or floors so you may need to make some adjustments to protect your flooring and prevent escapes. One big benefit of a pen is you can walk in and sit with your rabbit.
Cost: 2' x 6' pen £50-60
Free-range rabbits can have access to the whole house or an individual room(s); this is a great way to provide plenty of space and exercise. Some rabbits free-range all the time, others have a pen or cage for part of the day or to use a base with free access in/out. Your rabbit will need an area they feel is their own where their litter tray, food bowls etc. are available and they need a private area to sleep/retreat to.
Before allowing your rabbit access to your house you will need to 'rabbit-proof' anything they should not have access to and may chew or damage.
Cost: Initially free, but may require replacement wires, carpets, books etc. if rabbit-proofing is not thorough!
More information on freerange house rabbits