You’ve picked out the perfect bunny cage and maybe a cute name for your new pet, but you want to make sure your rabbit’s new home is ready for their arrival. Once you have all of your cage accessories and supplies ready, it’s time to setup your bunny’s cage. Here’s everything you need to know about how to setup your rabbit’s cage.
How to Set up a Rabbit Cage
Select the Perfect Bunny Cage
When shopping for a rabbit cage, there are a few important factors to consider. Keep these facts in mind:
Cage size should be 4 to 6 times the size of your rabbit and tall enough they can stand on their hind legs
Should have solid floors or you need a plan to cover wire floors to prevent sores on your rabbit’s feet
Needs a door your rabbit can hop in and out of for exercise time
Should have adequate ventilation to prevent overheating
Often the rabbit cages sold in pet stores are way too small for a rabbit to live in long turn. We usually recommend building a bunny condo (like pictured above) or using an exercise pen as a cage. If you haven’t bought a cage for your rabbit yet, check out our recommendations for the best indoor rabbit cages.
Must Have Rabbit Cage Accessories
If you haven’t already, it’s time to go shopping for rabbit cage accessories. These are the must have items for your rabbit’s cage:
The placement of a rabbit cage in your home is as important as the cage you select. Your rabbit’s cage must be set up in your house, not outside. Rabbits need to be in an indoor space where temperature can be controlled (so they don’t get too hot or too cold) and they are safe from predators.
When selecting a room for your rabbit’s cage, you should pick an area in the home where people often are, usually a kitchen, living room, or other main room works well for this. This allows your rabbit to be more a part of the family, especially if they spend most of their time in their cage. Rabbits are social animals, so in addition to out of cage playtime, it’s good for them to be able to see and hear their family members as they go about their day-to-day lives.
Since rabbits are messy animals that require daily clean-up and tidying around and inside their cages, that may influence your decision on what room works best. Sweeping a hard floor like tile or wood is often easier than lugging out the vacuum, which is why many families have their rabbit cages in the kitchen.
Arranging a Rabbit’s Cage
Once you have your cage and accessories, it’s time to set everything up. If your rabbit is new to your family, actually setting up all their accessories will be a little bit trickier as you aren’t familiar with them or their habits. You’ll have to make a guess at where to put each item.
If your rabbit’s cage has a wire floor, you will need to provide them solid surfaces to rest their feet on and prevent sores. This can be done with large tiles, cardboard, grass mats, or towels. Just keep an eye on your bunny and if they start eating any materials that are dangerous for them. If you’re using a pen or cage on a hard floor, you may want to use a cheap rug, cardboard, or newspaper to give them better traction. Rabbits often slip and slide on floors like hardwood or tile.
Litter Box – This is usually the first thing I start with. Litter-trained rabbits are very set in their habits and they usually have one corner of the cage that they prefer to use as their bathroom. If you know which corner that is, put the litter box there, otherwise take a guess.
Hay Rack – Most rabbits like to eat while they’re in the litter box, so it makes sense to reduce mess by hanging the hay rack over their litter box. Some owners forego the hay rack completely, and just put the hay directly in the litter box.
Food and Water Bowls – For cleanliness purposes, I will usually put these on the opposite end of the cage from their litter box and hay. It helps to keep the water cleaner. If you don’t use bowls that bolt to the side of the cage, your rabbit may move them around throughout the day anyway.
House/Hutch – This is probably the largest “accessory” in your cage, but it’s an important one since it gives your rabbit a safe space to go to sleep or de-stress. Put it in an empty corner away from their food and litter box.
Toys – Toys can go anywhere! And unless they’re hanging toys, your rabbits will probably move them all over the cage.
You may think you’ve designed the perfect cage setup, but your rabbits might have other ideas. Bunnies love to redecorate and rearrange their cage. Sometimes it’s out of boredom, so adding more rabbit safe toys can give them something else to do. But if you notice they keep dragging their food bowl to the same corner or peeing on the opposite end of the cage from their litter box, you’re not going to be able to change their opinion. Instead, it’s better to rearrange the cage to match their habits and preferences.
Cage accessories are a very important part of your rabbit’s health and happiness. A rabbit in a barren cage with the minimum supplies and accessories will be bored, stressed, and unhealthy. Instead you can turn their rabbit cage or enclosure into a comfy and happy home with the right accessories. This article covers all of the essential rabbit cage accessories and supplies you need to meet all of your rabbit’s needs. You can use this page as a guide or checklist for all of the things you need to buy for a new pet rabbit or check out our printable rabbit supply checklist.
Rabbit Cage Accessories
This article is divided into different categories for the different types of bunny cage accessories. Bunny care essentials are accessories that are necessary for basic rabbit care like eating. Furniture means things you rabbit will sleep on or under, climb on, or otherwise enjoy. And, of course, rabbit toys and fun is all of the things that keep your rabbit happy and entertained in their cage or enclosure.
Rabbit Care Essentials
Timothy hay based pellets are an important part of a rabbit’s diet, and the easiest way to serve them to your bun is with a food dish. Stainless steel coops and ceramic crocks are popular among most owners because they’re easy to clean and toss in the dishwasher. Check out some of our favorite food dishes.
Water Bottles or Crocks
Hydration is important for a bunny’s health, and most owners and vets feel that a water crock or bowl is the best option for rabbits. A water bowl will allow rabbits to drink in the most natural way. But some rabbits refused to use water bowls, so a water bottle would be your best option. Many owners offer both, with the water bottle available as a backup in case the water crock is tipped over or dirty. Check out our favorite water bowls for rabbits
Timothy hay makes up the biggest part of a rabbit’s diet. While you can just toss some on the floor or add them to your rabbit’s litter box, many owners prefer to use hay racks or boxes to keep the hay clean.
An essential part of your rabbit’s cage is a place for them to go to the bathroom. While some owners opt for bedding to line the entire floor of their rabbit’s cage, most owners find litter training with a litter box to be the best option.
You will need at least one litter box for your rabbit’s cage (maybe more if you have multiple rabbits) plus litter boxes for any area your rabbit plays. If you have a free-roam bunny, you will need litter boxes throughout your house to make it easy for them to go to the bathroom. There aren’t a lot of requirements for rabbit litter boxes. Plastic litter pans (often sold in the cat section of the pet store) are cheap and come in large enough sizes for multiple rabbits or to give your bun space to lay down and relax. Make sure you select a rabbit-safe litter to use that is absorbent and reduces odor.
Check out our article on Rabbit Litter and Bunny Litter Boxes to learn about the safest rabbit litter option and see recommended litter boxes for all types of rabbits and litter training issues.
Houses & Hideouts
Since rabbits are prey animals, they need a safe space to go where they can feel protected. This is good for when they feel scared or just need some alone time away from other bunnies or people. At a minimum, there should be one hideout inside the bun’s cage/pen and one (or more) in their playpen or play space where they have out of cage time.
You don’t have to spend big money to provide your bunny with a hideout. Use a recycled cardboard box (just cut doorways and windows) that can be easily replaced whenever your bunny chews it up. If you want something a little more sturdy, check out some of our favorite rabbit hideouts and houses.
Rabbit Toys and Fun
Toys help stave off boredom and also give your rabbits something to chew to help them wear down their teeth. You should provide a variety of rabbit safe toys.
Whether your rabbit lives in a cage, exercise pen, or is free range in your bunny-proofed home, they’re going to need a few hideouts. Because rabbits are prey animals, they have a need to have a safe, covered placed to hide if they’re feeling stressed or bothered by the rest of the family. Your bunnies need at a minimum one hideout in their cage/home and one hideout in their play space. If their play space is large, like a whole room or the whole house, you should provide multiple hideout options throughout. Make sure your rabbit(s) don’t have to go far if something suddenly scares or startles them.
Some cages have a wooden hutch built-in, which may be enough to meet their hideout needs within their cage. If you have multiple bunnies, it’s good to provide a separate hideout for each in their cage/home so they can get some alone time. Luckily there are tons of options for hideouts for your bunny, from free cardboard boxes to more durable wood hideouts. Check out some of our favorite ideas.
Best Rabbit Houses & Hideouts
DIY Cardboard Rabbit House
If you order a lot of things online, you inevitably end up with tons of cardboard boxes. Medium and large-sized boxes are perfect for making DIY hideouts for your bunnies. Use scissors or a box cutter to cut doorways and windows into the box. Your rabbit will help pitch in by “customizing” the house through chewing.
Because they’re so cheap and easy to make, a cardboard box house is perfect to provide plenty of hideouts during playtime. You can even combine multiple boxes together to create tunnels or elaborate bunny mansions. The only downside to a cardboard house is they are easy to destroy, so make sure to keep some extra boxes around to easily replace them. If you get frustrated with your bunny destroying a cardboard hideout too quickly, check out some more durable wood houses below.
Mini Haven Carboard Rabbit House
If you aren’t very creative and don’t want to make a DIY cardboard rabbit hideout, this two-story rabbit house from BinkyBunny is a great alternative. The precut cardboard pieces easily slide together to form a fun playhouse perfect for one or two rabbits.
If you want a cute hideout for your rabbit that’s more like a home, this cardboard bunny house is a fun option. Delivered flat and easy to assemble, the cardboard pieces let you construct a cute house with two entry doors and an upper-level balcony. This creates a safe place for your bun to sleep and hangout. The pointed roof and decorating “windows” makes it extra cute!
Give your rabbit their own cute little house to hang out in. This easy to assemble house is made in the USA by Tokihut from untreated baltic birch plywood. It ships flat, which lowers the cost, and can be put together without tools. Your bun will enjoy lounging inside or hopping up on the second level porch to survey the land.
If your rabbits already rule the house, then now they can be the king or queen of their own castle. Small Pet Select makes these awesome rabbit castles, and since they sell each piece separately, you can customize the hideouts for your rabbit’s needs and your budget. All pieces are made from untreated pine so it’s safe for your bun. Use just the tunnel as a hideout in your rabbit’s cage, or build out a sprawling estate in their play area.
Playtime and exercise are an important part of your rabbit’s daily schedule. Not only is it good for their physical health, but the stimulation of playing with toys and exploring a space outside their cage helps prevent boredom and curtail destructive tendencies. If you don’t have your entire home rabbit proofed, an exercise pen is the perfect alternative to a free roaming bunny. Using a playpen, you can create a dedicated area for bunny playtime while keeping them away from electrical cords, furniture, and other items they shouldn’t chew or eat. Check out our recommended playpens and the list of must-have accessories to keep your bunny happy during playtime.
Bunny Rabbit Exercise Pens
You don’t need anything special for a rabbit pen. Any type of metal or wire pen works well for bunnies–you can even buy generic pet pens often sold in the dog section of the pet store. You will want to avoid any “playpens” made of fabric or other materials your rabbit can chew through.
If you’re planning on using an exercise pen in place of a rabbit cage, the playpen you buy should have at least 8 square feet of space per rabbit (meaning 16 sq ft for 2 rabbits, etc.). If you are purchasing the pen for playtime, you’ll want something that provides 20 sq feet or more of space so your rabbit has plenty of room to hop and stretch their legs.
Here are some of our favorites for you to consider:
Marshall Pet Products Small Pet Playpen
Made specifically for small pets like rabbits, chinchillas, and ferrets, this playpen is perfectly sized as a cage alternative for a single rabbit. The panels are extra tall to prevent your bun from hopping out. If you want to use it as an exercise pen, you can use it as a “fence” in the corner of the room to create a safe area for your bunnies to play in (that’s how I set it up), which will double the play area to 24 feet.
Marshall also makes playpen mats to help protect your floor and carpet. The mat can also be used as a “lid” or “roof” to protect your rabbit if you decide to take the playpen outside.
If you like to take your rabbit outside to exercise, this is one of the best pens available. Designed for chickens and other birds, this pen features a roof to keep them safe inside. That makes this pen perfect for bunnies because it protects them from predators like hawks that can swoop down and snatch your pet, even if you’re right there. Constructed from the same wire materials used for dog crates, this pen is sturdy and will keep your rabbit from chewing through and escaping. With a height from 28″ to 41″ at the peak there is plenty of room for your rabbit to stand up and stretch. There are also three door options to easily let your rabbit in and out. (My main complaint is that you can’t open up the roof panels to reach in and pick-up your rabbit, so consider if that might be an issue for you.)
As a bonus, this pen comes with a waterproof panel that attaches to the roof of the pen, providing a sunshade where your rabbit can lounge if they’re getting too hot. The pen is also easy to set up and take down so you don’t have to leave it out in your yard when you’re not using it. This is great for outside playtime but it is not a good option for a rabbit to live outside (rabbits should be kept indoors).
If you need a playpen that’s super portable, this enclosure from Amazon Basics may work for you. This pen is collapsible and folds up, making it easy to take outside or pack in the car if you travel with your rabbit. This pen works well to use as a temporary cage on the go. It also comes pre-assembled so you can just set it up and use it immediately.
This pen provides over 16 square feet of play space, so it’s perfect for a home for two rabbits or an everyday exercise pen. It’s designed for dogs, so it’s made from sturdy wire that can be used inside or outside. More sizes are available so you can get an even bigger pen to meet your needs.
Play Area: Over 19 square feet
Panel Size: Each panel 24″W x 24″L; Gap 1.5″W x 5.5″L
If you want a lot of hopping space for your bun, this exercise pen has it in spades. Designed for dogs and puppies, this pen is big, providing 66 square feet for your bun to exercise. It’s great to set up in a basement, living room, or backyard where you have a lot of space. If you don’t need that much space, the panels are removable, so you can make the enclosure smaller. You can also use it to build two pens to keep unbonded bunnies or different pets separate during playtime.
The panels are made with steel wire, making them chew proof. The pen comes with two door panels so you can easily step in and out. The shape is easily adjustable to fit whatever space you want to use for your chinchilla’s exercise time.
All right, now that you have your exercise pen, you want to make sure you provide your rabbit with all the essential supplies during playtime–especially if they won’t have direct access to their cage while in the pen.
Toys – Playtime is all about fun, so rabbit safe toys are a definite must-have! Make sure to provide a variety of toys (chew toys, dig boxes, puzzles, exploring toys) and you can even rotate toys to prevent boredom.
Water – Your bun may work up a thirst while exercises, so make sure to have water on hand in a crock or water bottle.
Hay – Rabbits are always eating and should always have delicious timothy hay on hand for when they need a snack. You can put this on the floor or use a hay rack inside the pen.
Litter Box – When nature calls, your rabbit will need somewhere to go. A litter box in the corner of the playpen is important to help reinforce your bunny’s litter training and keep messes contained.
Safe Spot to Hide – Since rabbits are prey animals they can easily become startled or scared, even if there’s no danger. Make sure they have somewhere they can go to hide. This can be as simple as a cardboard box with a doorway cut in the side.
Eating is an important part of your rabbit’s day. You’ll notice they’re constantly munching on hay or pellets to keep their digestive system running smoothly. One of the most important parts of your rabbit’s cage or pen is all the accessories need to give your bunny food. The main parts of a rabbit’s diet are hay, pellets, fresh vegetables, and water. To help keep your rabbit’s cage clean, their food fresh, and help you keep track of how much they’re eating, you’ll need dishes to contain all of these elements.
Rabbit Food Bowls & Dishes
These dishes are great for feeding your rabbit pellets, though you may also find them useful for serving veggies or even water.
Stainlesss Steel Rabbit Food Dish
Designed originally for birds, this stainless steel food cup is perfect for bunnies as well. They’re completely chew proof and easy to clean and sterilize–plus it’s dishwasher safe.
The best part, this dish comes with a holder that mounts to the side of your cage with two bracket mountain clamps and a wingnut. These dishes come in a pack of two, so use one for pellets and the other for water. This is great for those bunnies who keep knocking over their food dishes or throwing them out of their cage.
This food dish is perfect for rabbits who are free range. It’s a heavy ceramic dish that’s design with a sloping side making it “ergonomic” for your rabbit to each out of. It’s reasonably tricky to flip it over, but a determined rabbit will find ways to push it around.
Another plus is the curved lip keeps pellets inside the bowl, which is helpful for buns who make a mess of their food. I recommend the large size for most bunnies, but if you have a dwarf rabbit the small size will work better.
If you feel like you’re in a constant battle with your rabbit to keep them from tipping their food or water bowls over, this may be the solution you’re looking for. The STAYbowl is designed to stay put, meant for guinea pigs that are always tipping their food bowls over. Unsurprisingly, it works for rabbits too. It’s a short bowl, just under 2 inches high, with a wide base that keeps it flat on the ground.
This bowl is easy to clean and dishwasher safe. It is made from a BPA free food grade plastic, so if your rabbit is a chewer, this bowl may not work out for you.
If you’re looking for a cute set of bowls for your bunny, these are adorable. Custom made by Cat Tail Studio arts, these bowls are hand made and then custom painted to your preferences. They will even personalize them with your bunny’s name. They offer 18 different color choices and you can even mix and match.
These bowls are made by hand on a potter’s wheel from natural clay and kiln fired. Because of this, it does take a couple of weeks to receive the food dishes. They are food-safe, as well as dishwasher and microwave safe. These also make a great gift for any pet lover.
If your rabbit tends to scarf their pellets down quickly or you’re looking for more ways to entertain your rabbit, adding a fun feeder (or two) to your rabbits routine can help. These feeders require interaction from your rabbit to reveal the food or treats inside. You can use them to feed pellets, treats (like dried or fresh fruit) or a combination of both.
Rabbit Treat Ball
This is a classic and fun toy for rabbits and other small animals. It’s a hard plastic ball with a slot on the side where you can add pellets or small treats. Then you put the ball on the floor and as your pet bunny nudges it around, the treats or pellets will fall out. You can adjust the size of the opening to make it more difficult for the contents to spill out.
This will give your rabbit something fun to play with while they enjoy their food, which makes it a win-win and a great boredom buster.
If you’re looking for a food dispensing toy that has a variety of challenging configurations. This Living World food dispenser has three “levels” of difficulty, so you can ramp up the challenge as your rabbit figures each one out or just offer some variety in their routine. The toy is a flat base that sits on the floor. It has eight wells that you can fill with treats or pellets and a variety of “covers” to put over them. Your rabbit must use their teeth or nose to bump or move the covers to access the treats.
This toy will slow down any bunnies who eat their food too quickly and also provide some stimulation and entertainment for your pet rabbit.
Give your bunny a little challenge to get their treats or pellets with this “logic” board. This simply designed toy entertains your bunny by making them search out and uncover their treats.
It features seven treat wells perfectly sized for pellets, herbs, dried fruit, or even small pieces of fresh fruit. Each has a plastic cover with a little handle perfectly sized for your rabbit to grab with their teeth. Once your bunny learns how to use it, they’ll be excited every time you bring their snack board out.
This is a very simple–and affordable–hay rack, but I love it. I’ve used it for the cages of my rabbits and my chinhilla and it does the job just fine. It’s a single piece that hangs off of horizontal cage bars. Fill it with tastey hay and it’s good to go.
Since it is all plastic, I recommend hanging it on the outside of the cage to discourage chewing. Easy to clean and easy to use.
If your rabbit is a big chewer, then a metal hayrack might be a better alternative. Made by Quality Cage Crafters, this hayrack is made from galvanized steel sheet metal and designed to hang on the outside of your rabbit’s wire cage or pen. The attachment wires bend to form a secure attachment, so it works with a variety of cages with horizontal bars.
I love this hay holder because it’s perfect for free range rabbits or play time. This wheel is actually a ball, with solid plastic sides and a wire center where the hay goes. The wheel can either go directly on the floor to roll around like a ball or it comes with a stand to hold it in place while your rabbit spins it. The stand can also hook onto horizontal bars to hang it on the side of a cage or playpen.
Fill it up with your rabbit’s favorite hay. You can even hide some treats or pellets inside for extra fun.
It’s a true, but funny, fact that rabbits like to eat while they sit in their litter box. Well, this hay rack is designed to support just that. Handmade by Buns, Beds, and Beyond, they take kiln-dried pine and construct a bunny safe wooden hay rack. It also includes a “bed” which holds a large plastic litter pan.
The pan easily lifts out for cleaning and disinfecting. The top of the hay rack has a lid that hinges up for easy refilling. If you have a little pan you already love, they will build you a custom rack for those dimensions.
If your bun is free-range or lives in a pen, this is a fantastic hay rack that doesn’t require mounting to a cage wall. Appropriately named the “Hay Tower,” Etsy seller ScratchyThings makes this rabbit-safe rack from pine and birch wood. It helps to stimulate your rabbit by allowing them to eat low and high, getting a little extra exercise by standing on their hind legs. It’s also easy to refill from the top.
Perfectly sized for 1-2 rabbits, this is great for anywhere you rabbit hangs out. It keeps hay fresh and clean and off the ground.
It’s kind of funny when you realize this is one of the most hotly debated topics in rabbit ownership: is it better for a bunny drink from a water bottle or a bowl? While owners all have their personal preferences, there is one thing everyone agrees on: hydrated is best. If your rabbit is picky and prefers to drink one way or the other just go with their preference.
The general advice from vets and breeders is that drinking from a bowl is the most natural way. In the wild rabbits are drinking from streams and other small bodies of water, which is more accurately mimicked by a water bowl. There are several pros and cons for each option. A bowl or crock is the most natural way, but it requires cleaning and replacing at least once a day and maybe even more often if your rabbit tips it over or kicks debris into it. A water bottle is easier to keep clean, though the water should also be changed every day. The bottle also requires the rabbit to do more work to get the same amount of water. It’s recommended to have multiple water bottles available, especially if you have more than one rabbit.
Some bunnies will absolutely refuse to use one or the other. They may also change their preferences suddenly. Many owners have found a nice middle ground in offering their rabbit both options so they know there’s always water available. That also works for rabbit pairs who have different preferences.
Our general advice is: water bowls or crocks are best for bunnies at home. A water bottle can be offered as a back up. Water bottles are best for travel.
If you want to offer your rabbit water in a bowl or a crock, any of the dishes recommended in our food bowl recommendations will work. If you want a water bottle, here are our recommendations:
Oasis 31 oz. Rabbit Water Bottle
Perfectly sized for a bunny or two, the Oasis water bottle is made of plastic with a stainless steel drinking tube. The clear plastic makes it easy to monitor your rabbit’s water level. It even comes with a wire holder to hang it on your rabbit’s cage or pen.
Some downsides with this model: owners report having issues with leaking. In my experience, I find if you don’t screw the top on properly to a full bottle of water it will leak. A small amount of leaking is expected with any water bottle, but if the bottle is completely draining, then there is a problem. Another downside, the holder that comes with it does not allow you to hang it on the outside of the cage. If your rabbit is a chewer this could be a problem. Consider a glass bottle, like the Lixit below.
Lixit makes some of my favorite water bottles for small pets. I’ve used them for rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, and even birds. It’s a bit on the small size for rabbits at 16 oz., I would recommend getting at least two for their cage or pen. The bottle is fully glass and it’s strong. I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally dropped it without even causing a crack. The stainless steel nozel is perfectly sized for bunnies.
It also comes with a spring to easily hang the bottle from a cage or pen wall. You can hang it inside or outside the cage, whichever you prefer. All parts can be sterilized for easy cleaning.
What is ‘Scatter Feeding’ and should I use it for my rabbit?
Scatter feeding is a type of feeding meant to simulate a more natural eating environment. In the wild, rabbits are munching on various plants, veggies, and fruits as they encounter them. To scatter feed you can lay out hay on the floor or in a hay box and then sprinkle the daily amount of pellets over the top of the hay. The pellets will fall through and your bunny will have to forage and nose around in the hay to find the pellets. This helps entertain them, stimulate their curiosity, and slow down their eating. Another technique to consider if scatter feeding won’t work for your rabbits is the fun feeders recommended in that section of this page.
The technique of scatter feeding for rabbits works well for bunnies who tend to suck down their pellets as soon as you put them out. It’s also good for bunny pairs where one rabbit is a bit of a pig and tries to eat the other rabbit’s pellets in addition to their own. It will slow down their eating and make it harder for them to hog all of the food.
One of the downsides of scatter feeding is it makes it harder to keep track of how much your rabbit is eating. Make sure to diligently pay attention to their poops and urination to look for signs of sickness, low appetite, or gastronomical upset.
What should I feed my rabbit?
A rabbits diet is made up of four main parts: water, hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables. They are also allowed to have a small amount of treats (usually fresh fruit).
Water and hay should be available 24 hours a day because your pet bunny is constantly eating. Pellets and vegetables should be given in limited amounts once or twice a day. Learn about the proper rabbit diet, including food recommendations.
One of the challenges with new pets is learning to deal with their bathroom habits. Luckily, with rabbits, they are very similar to cats. You can litter train your rabbit and keep their messes confined to an easy to clean litter box. It will take a little work, especially with a young rabbit, but it will be worth it once your rabbit is trained. Just like everything else you buy for your rabbit, you want to make sure you’re using a safe rabbit litter for your pet’s health and safety.
If you’re new to rabbit ownership or already have a messy bun that needs some help, this article covers everything you need to know about rabbit litter and litter training.
The Best Rabbit Litter Options
Like everything that goes in your rabbit’s cage, you want to make sure your litter is safe for your pet bunny. There are certain materials that are toxic or dangerous to rabbits. Rabbits spend a lot of time around their litter, often laying on it or even nibbling on it. To ensure your rabbit stays safe and healthy, you should only use litter options that are safe for bunnies.
In addition to safety and health considerations, rabbit urine also has a very strong odor. Because of the offensive aroma, there are certain litter types that work better to absorb and mask the smell of your bunny’s litter box.
To help you shop for rabbit supplies and a safe litter for your rabbit, here’s all the do’s and don’ts of rabbit litter.
Safe Rabbit Litter
Paper Based Litter (like Carefresh and Yesterday’s News)
Compressed Sawdust Pellets (these a prossessed in a way that that removes the toxic phenolic compounds so they are safe for your rabbit no matter the type. They’re often very affordable.)
Aspen Pellets or Shavings (a hard wood that is safe for rabbits)
Grass Based Pellets
Shredded Paper (needs frequent changing)
Never Use These for Rabbit Litter
Soft Wood Shavings like Pine & Cedar (learn more at Rabbit.org about liver diseases caused by wood shavings)
Clumping or Clay Litters for Cats (toxic)
Corn Cob Litter (can cause intenstinal problems if ingested)
Recommended Bunny Litter Brands
Here are some of the best brands of rabbit litter available. We’ve tried every one of these at one time or another with our pet rabbits and they’re all great options. Each litter has its own pros and con and the type you buy will be based on your own preferences for cost, odor absorption, and availability.
You will notice we do not recommend aspen shavings, even though they are safe for rabbits. While Aspen shavings are very cheap we find that when you use shredded newspaper, hay, or straw for your rabbit’s litter that while they are absorbent, they do absolutely nothing for odor. Instead. you have to change the litter frequently and deal with more unpleasant smells. A lot of bunny owners also complain that shavings and shredded paper stick to their rabbit’s fur and get tracked all over the house, which means, even more messes to clean. Our recommendations are better at absorbing odors than these cheaper options.
Kaytee Wood Pellets Rabbit Litter
My top recommended litter for rabbits is some form of wood pellets. We’ve used many different brands throughout the years (generally depends on what was on sale when it was time to buy more) and they’re all generally the same. If you live somewhere with access to a feed store you can often buy large quantities of wood stove pellets at a super cheap price and may be able to find them at home improvement stores in the winter. Wood pellets are dust free and very absorbent. When your rabbit urinates, the pellets break down as it absorbs the urine, leaving no liquid behind. It’s easy to sweep up or dump out into a trash bag.
In addition to absorbing urine, wood pellets also do a great job of counteracting the odor of your bunny’s urine. As long as you are changing out the litter every few days, you should experience very few unpleasant smells. The Kaytee brand is easy to find at most pet stores or to order online.
If you live in an urban area where you don’t have any options to buy wood stove pellets, you can get the same experience at an affordable price with Feline Pine. This wood pellet litter is sold in the cat section and made with 100% natural pine. It’s also perfectly safe if you’re shopping for a new rabbit litter. Just like other wood pellet litters, it has no dust and fully absorbs urine, eliminating odors. It is then easy to sweep up or dump out.
Since cats are so common, you’ll find this litter at pet stores, grocery stories, and places like Target or Wal Mart. You can also order it online. Feline Pine is also more often available in larger quantities than other litters marketed to small pet owners. You may be able to get wood stove pellets for cheaper elsewhere, but this is a great option for urban rabbit owners.
Available Sizes: 7 lbs., 14 lbs., 20 lbs., 40 lbs.
Carefresh is a brand well known and loved by many exotic pet owners. It’s no surprise that their bedding is one of the most often recommended bunny litters. One of the big downsides with Carefresh is the price, they are usually one of the more expensive litter options. For some rabbit owners, that’s fine, but if you have multiple rabbits that extra cost can add up. Their soft bedding is made from reclaimed pulp, producing a dust free rabbit litter that is perfect for a litter box or an entire cage floor. They advertise it as 99% dust free and 3x more absorbent than wood shavings.
From my experience, Carefresh is great at absorbing urine and reducing odors compared to other rabbit litters. I would say it’s about on par with wood pellets and Yesterday’s News (reviewed below). Carefresh is generally only available at pet stores or online, though there are many knock-off or generic versions you may be able to find elsewhere. Make sure you read the packaging to look out for any dyes, perfumes, or other ingredients that are harmful to your pet rabbit. It’s also a great option for households that have multiple types of small pets as this is one of the few litter and bedding options that are safe for multiple types of exotic pets. It’s a great litter for chinchillas, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, and many other small pets.
Note:Whenever buying Carefresh, always buy the “Naturals” version (brown). All other versions are either bleached, contain dyes, or perfumes that can be toxic to your rabbit.
Another soft paper bedding option is offered by Oxbow. It’s sometimes harder to find in pet stores, but it is becoming more common. The pricing is usually similar to Carefresh. Made from paper pulp, this is a soft bunny litter that absorbs urine and controls odor easily. The pieces are like tiny soft pieces of cardboard, making it gentle on bunny feet. It’s 99% dust free, making it an easy litter to clean up and it won’t cause respiratory issues for your pet.
Oxbow offers a “Natural” and a “Blend” option. Always buy the “Natural” one. This litter works great for other small exotic pets as well.
Here’s another bunny litter that we need to go to the cat section to find. If you consider yourself green, then you’ll love this litter even more. Yesterday’s News is quite literal in their name–the pellets are made from recycled paper and they’re compostable. The result is a dark gray paper pellet similar in size to many rabbit food pellets. It is not as soft as Carefresh, but a more affordable paper-based option. This litter is 99.7% dust free and super easy to clean up. It’s great at absorbing odors and easy to sweep up or toss out in the trash.
Since Yesterday’s News is marketed at cat owners, you can often find it at grocery stores and places like Target in addition to pet stores and online. It’s usually cheaper than Carefresh or Oxbow, and depending on where you live may be about the same price as wood pellet litter. Cat owners and rabbit owners are similarly smitten with this brand, so it’s a great option if you have both kitties and bunnies.
Note: When you are shopping, always make sure to buy the “Unscented” variety. They also sell a “Fresh Scent Version” that has perfumes in it which you should avoid for rabbit use.
A litter box is an important part of your rabbit’s cage. The type you get will depend on the age and size of your rabbit, the number of rabbits you have in a cage, and your rabbit’s personal preference. If you’re a new rabbit owner with a young rabbit that needs litter training, we will cover that in the next section. For now, we’ll just cover the different types of litter pans and recommendations for you to buy.
Note: You should avoid any litter pans with a grate that your rabbit sits on instead of sitting directly on the litter. Grates and wire cage bottoms are terrible for rabbit’s sensitive feet and can cause hock sores. As long as you are using one of the safe litters we reviewed above and clean the litter box out frequently, there is no reason your rabbit can’t sit or lie directly in their litter box. In fact, you may discover your rabbit spends a lot of time hanging out in there.
Standard Rabbit Litter Pan
A wander through the cat section of the pet store will give you plenty of options for an affordable, basic litter pan for your pet bunny. If you have multiple rabbits that live together, I highly recommend getting a pan that both of them can fit in at the same time. Our pair loved to sit in their together and munch hay. (An alternative is to have as many smaller litter pans as you have rabbits, but there may be disputes over who gets to use their “favorite” ones.)
A plain, plastic litter pan works great. You don’t need any bells and whistles. Just enough space for your rabbit to get in and do their business.
Rabbits instintively go to corners to urinate. While this is usually fine for most litter boxes, some rabbits have a bad habbit of backing their bum up too far when they go. This can result in them peeing outside their box–or even outside of their cage! If your rabbit is giving you headaches with all the messes you have to clean up, then a corner litter pan with a high back will be essential.
Kaytee makes a couple versions of this design, which is a compact litter pan that fits perfectly in the corner of any cage or enclosure. This particular model is the tallest they offer. I recommend this one because it really keeps messes inside the litter box, plus it comes with a “quick lock,” which is perfect if you have a rabbit who likes to do occasional “redecorating.” Our rabbit, Barney, had a terrible habit of dumping his litter box out or pushing it out of his cage when he got bored. The quick lock (plus some new tossing toys) helped stop that behavior.
These litter boxes are only big enough for one adult rabbit at a time, so you should order one for each rabbit in your cage.
Many rabbits like to eat hay while they hang out in their litter box. To help encourage this behavior you can either “hack it” by putting hay in their litter box or hanging a hay rack over it. Or you can buy one of these awesome combo hay feeder and litter box.
Handmade by Etsy seller Bunny Rabbit Toys, this pine wood feeder features an easy to clean plastic litter pan encased in rabbit safe wood. This is a great option for free-range rabbits that don’t have cage wires to hang a hay rack on. It also looks a little nicer sitting in the corner of your living room than a normal litter box. The only downside is the price.
If you have an elderly or disabled rabbit, they may have difficulty jumping in and out of a normally litter box. Luckily there are some litter pan options on the market known as “easy entry” boxes. They have a side that is lower than the others so they can easily step into the litter box instead of jumping in. The rest of the sides are high enough to keep litter and messes inside.
If your pet store doesn’t carry any of these easy entry boxes, a trip to the home improvement store or a garden shop may give you what you need. The litter box pictured to the left is actually sold as a portable potting tray. The design is absolutely perfect for an easy entry rabbit litter box. Most elderly or disabled rabbits will be able to use this litter pan easily. You can fill this with any rabbit litter or bedding of your choice and the front lip will keep the litter and poop inside.
If your rabbit is a free-range bunny or a particularly messy digger, you may find a covered litter box to work better for you. These are great for living rooms and other public areas of the house as they keep messes and odors contained and look a little nicer for guests. They also keep frisky rabbits from kicking their litter out of the box when they are in the mood to dig.
There are many different styles of covered litter boxes available, especially if you check out the cat section of the pet store. The majority are plastic and have a removable lid so you can easily clean out the inside of the litter pan. If you’re willing to spend a little more, they even make litter boxes that look like furniture so that your guests will have no idea what’s inside.
Rabbits are fairly easy to litter train and once they’re trained, they will not stray from their habits. Older rabbits are easier to train than young rabbits, but young rabbits usually just take a little extra time. If your rabbit is spayed or neutered it will make the process much easier. An un-altered rabbit will be less likely to use their litter box because their hormones make them want to “mark their territory.” Because of the health and behavioral benefits that come with spaying and neutering, we recommend getting your pet bunny fixed as soon as they are old enough. In the long run, it will definitely save you many litter training headaches.
Before you start the process of litter training your bunny, you need to understand a few things about their behavior. First, is understanding how your rabbit usings droppings or “pills.” You will notice that your rabbit leaves little pills around their cage or play area. This is a territorial behavior that they use to mark their “home.” You will not be able to completely break them of this habit as it is ingrained in them by nature. However, a properly trained rabbit will leave the majority of their pills and only urinate in their litter box.
To make sure your rabbit only drops territorial pills in their cage, make sure to respect it as their home. That means you need to stay out of their cage as much as possible (keep food dishes near the doorway so you do not need to reach in very far to refill, do not clean the cage when your rabbit is inside, etc.). You should also avoid grabbing your rabbit and taking them out of the cage or forcibly putting them inside. Instead, they should be able to freely come and go from their cage. When it’s play time, open the door and let them come out as they like. When play time is over, you can put them near the door, but let them hop in themselves. When your rabbit feels that their cage is clearly marked as “theirs” they will keep all pills inside.
With that in mind, here are the steps to litter train a rabbit:
Limit your rabbit to a reasonably sized area that includes their cage and a bunny-proofed play area. If you give them too much room it will make litter training more difficult. Once they’re training you can increase the size to a whole room or even let them free roam your house. An exercise pen is a great option to create this safe space.
Place one litter box in the cage and a couple boxes in the play area. Rabbits like to urinate in corners, so try to place boxes there. If your rabbit seems to prefer a different corner, move their box. Play hay in the box or hang a hay rack over it to make it more enticing.
Start just observing the rabbit in their cage. Once they start using that litter box, you can let them into the play area. When you first see your rabbit use the box, immediately praise them and give them a treat.
You must be actively watching your rabbit when you let them out to play. If you see them try to urinate in a place other than their litter pan, immediately yell a loud “no.” Try to guide your rabbit back to their litter box. Do not chase them or scare them too much so they don’t view their litter box as a punishment.
If your rabbit goes outside their box and you don’t see it happen, sweep up the pills or mop up the urine with a paper towel. Place these in the litter box so they understand that’s what the box is for.
Once the rabbit has mastered using the litter boxes in the play space, you can expand to a whole room. Make sure there are conveniently located litter boxes, especially when you expand to other rooms or floors of your house. Take this step very slowly. Do not suddenly open up your whole house to your rabbit. Add one room at a time once each previous one is mastered.
Once your rabbit is a litter-trained pro, you can reduce the number of litter boxes in some areas. Try to keep the same routine, your rabbit is habitual and dislikes change.
If your rabbit refuses to stop urinating in a certain spot, put a litter box there. This is a fight you may not win since rabbits can be so stubborn.
Common Litter Training Mistakes to Avoid
Do not let your bunny play outside their cage without supervision. If you don’t “catch” your bunny in the act of urinating so you can correct them, it will take longer to train them.
Don’t give your rabbit free run of your house before training is complete. It will be more difficult for them to learn to use their litter boxes and they may build some bad urination habits that will be hard to over come.
Don’t rush your pet rabbit. Litter training takes time and as long as you are willing to put in the time you will end up with a well-behaved bun that will bring you endless joy.
Do not invade your rabbit’s cage. Respect it as their space. Like we said above, your rabbit can become territorial and leave droppings outside the cage to try and mark their space
Every rabbit needs a home within your home. This is a place where they will sleep, eat, and even play. For some rabbits, this may be a cage, others may call and exercise pen home, or very lucky bunnies may have an entire room to stretch out in. No matter what kind of space you have or what budget you can spend on a rabbit cage, your pet bunny will require a minimum amount of space and daily exercise to be healthy and happy. This article covers all the options available (including rabbit cages and exercise pens) so you can decide which one will work best for your home and your pet.
Rabbits should be kept indoors where the air temperature can be controlled and they are safe from predators and the stress of outdoors. All of our cage and housing recommendations on this page are for indoor house rabbits.
Rabbit Cage Requirements
The first thing to take into consideration is the cage’s size, which we will cover in its own section below. Then you want to consider what the cage is made of. Generally, you want to avoid any cages with a wire floor. Many cages marketed for rabbits come with these wire floors and a pan underneath as a way to make them easier to clean. These wire floors are actually bad for your rabbit as they can damage their feet and cause sores. If you do have a cage with a wire floor you should provide them flat and sturdy surfaces to rest on like a tile, piece of wood, or cardboard.
The cage should have a door that your rabbit can easily come and go from inside the cage during exercise time.
You’ll also want to make sure the cage has good ventilation so your rabbit does not overheat during warmer months.
Rabbit Cage Measurements
Size is one of the most important requirements for a rabbit’s cage. You should give your bunny (or bunnies) as much space as possible for their home. Many experts recommend a living space at least 4 to 6 times the size of your rabbit. I know many people do not have enough room in their house to dedicate that much space to a cage or pen for their rabbit. Instead, you can have a smaller cage and make sure your rabbit has access to a larger space (like an exercise pen or a bunny proofed room) for several hours of exercise and play time each day.
If you’re looking for specific measurements, most rabbit experts recommend at least 8 square feet of cage or enclosure space in combination with 24 square feet of exercise space. That size will work well for a single rabbit or a bunny pair. Your rabbit will require about 3-5 hours of exercise time each day.
The height of your cage should be tall enough for your rabbit to stand on their hind legs without its ears touching the roof. Usually, a height of at least 2 feet should be good for most breeds. If the cage has multiple levels, they should at least have some space where they can fully stand uninhibited.
Most of the rabbit cages you see in pet stores–especially starter cages–are not appropriate for housing rabbits long term (though they may be OK for travel or temporary housing). We have recommendations for appropriately sized rabbit cages in the next section.
Can my rabbit live loose in my home like a cat or dog?
If you are new to rabbit ownership or have a new bunny in your home, I do not recommend this. Before you can even consider letting your rabbit run loose 24/7, your entire house will need to be bunny-proofed. You will also need to make sure your rabbit is litter trained and comfortable enough with the house to not get in trouble when you’re not around.
Once you get to know your rabbit and understand their behavior, you may eventually decide to let your bun live “free range” in your home. Even at that point, they will still need a “home base” where they sleep, eat, and can go hide if they’re feeling stressed or in danger. A cage with a door that is always open works well for this.
Recommended Rabbit Cages
It is very tricky to find rabbit cages that meet the minimum requirements for a rabbit’s needs, especially for larger rabbit breeds. These rabbit cages work well for small rabbits and can work for larger rabbits in conjunction with proper exercise time or an exercise pen extension to the main cage.
SONGMICS X-Pen Rabbit Cage Kit
Finding a good rabbit cage is so hard that it’s not surprising our top choice isn’t quite a cage. If you’ve heard about DIY x-pen cages for rabbits, SONGMICS sells an entire kit with everything you need to make your own (including a rubber mallet!). Thanks to the included instructions, you just have to follow along to build your own x-pen bunny cage.
In addition to the wire panels, the kit has plastic connectors to hold them together, along with zip ties for extra safety. There’s also non-slip pads you can put on the “foot” connections to prevent the cage from slipping around on hard surfaces. Because it’s customizable, you can change up the layout or even make the cage larger by buying additional panels. You will need to provide some sort of solid surface for the second level floors as the wires are bad for bunny feet.
As long as you buy the extra large size, this rabbit cage from Living World will work well for many rabbits. They call it a “hybrid cage” because it’s made from a solid, plastic base (with a solid floor to protect your rabbit’s precious footsies) and wire walls and roof for good air ventilation. To access your pet bunny, the cage features a sliding side door they can hop in and out of and the roof opens up to easily reach in for cleaning or picking up your rabbit. Some reviewers have said their rabbits figured out how to open the side door, so this cage may not work for you if your bun is a troublemaker.
The cage will ship flat and require assembly, though no tools are required. Some owners have even connected two of these cages together to create double the living space for a pair of bonded rabbits. This cage comes with some accessories that you may want to replace, including a “balcony” which is a shelf with ramp creating a second floor and a “tip proof” food dish, plus a plastic water bottle and a hay rack.
Yes, I know. This is a dog crate. But sometimes exotic pet owners have to think outside the box to find appropriate and affordable cages for their rabbits. The nice thing about these dog crates is they are more affordable than many cages and are collapsable which is great if you travel with your rabbit. To meet your bunny’s needs, this crate has plenty of room to stretch out. The metal construction walls will keep your rabbit safely contained. The floor features a removable plastic pan, which makes cleaning easy and protects your rabbit’s feet from sores.
This crate also comes with a removable divider panel, though you probably won’t need it. The 48″ model (which is the one you should buy for your rabbit) comes either with a single door or a double-door option. I would recommend the double door for the ease of cleaning and accessing your rabbit.
This rabbit cage from Ferplast is a great option for a single bunny. It comes with the normal rabbit cage, plus a detachable wooden hutch to give your bunny a safe places to sleep. The plastic base features a smooth floor with tall guards to keep messes inside the cage. The wire walls and roof allow for plenty of ventilation, and the one side opens up entirely to make it easy to get inside to clean.
This cage comes with some accessories that you may not want to use, including a plastic hay feeder, a water bottle, and a food bowl with a plastic shelf. We only recommend using this cage with the attached hutch because otherwise, the cage is too small. If you don’t like the idea of a wooden hutch (they often hold odors and are difficult to clean), Ferplast makes a version with a connecting wire section instead. You could also buy two of these cages and hook them together (without the hutch) to create double the living space.
You may find building a home for your rabbit is easier and less expensive than buying a rabbit cage. This allows you to create a custom home of any size for any number of rabbits. Many rabbit owners have used “nic cubes”–Neat Idea Cubes or wire storage cubes–to build elaborate cages for their buns. These cubes are easily purchased online or in stores like Wal-Mart or Target. While they’re meant to build customizable shelving units for closets or basements, they’re absolutely perfect for build a rabbit condo.
It does require a little bit of creativity, but the only materials you need are the NIC cubes, zip ties or cable ties to secure each panel and material for flooring and shelves (or buy this kit).
For flooring, a piece of linoleum or a tarp will work well for messy rabbits who don’t have great litter habits. Corrugated plastic (like those used for outdoor signs) can work well if you find a large enough sheet that you can cut to size (try contacting local custom sign stores to see what sizes they have).
If you want a second (or even third) floor in your bunny condo, you will need to build shelves. The shelves will have NIC cubes as their base, reinforced with wood planks or wooden dowels underneath them. Since rabbits should not be on wire floors, you will need to cover the panels with wood, linoleum, tiles, or other solid materials. If your rabbit isn’t a carpet chewer, carpet or other thick fabrics may be a good option. If you have high shelves, you may want to provide a ramp or ladder for young or elderly rabbits to hop up.
For an excellent guide with step-by-step instructions to build a custom rabbit condo or cage, check out this article by the Brey Family. It includes step-by-step photos on how they built the condo pictured below:
Don’t forget, once you’ve built your bunny condo, you’ll need lots of rabbit cage accessories to keep your bunny happy.
Exercise Pens Instead of Cages
An exercise pen is a great option to house your rabbit, either as an extension to your bunny’s cage (creating a yard) or to work as a cage itself. Exercise pens are great to fence off a corner of a room or create a freestanding pen for your rabbit to live in. You may need to add a tarp, rug, or another type of “flooring” to protect carpet or hardwood floors from your messy bun. Otherwise, you can just set up the pen and add all the cage accessories they need.
There are exercise pens on the market specifically for small pets, but often pens meant for dogs work well, are easier to find, and a little larger in size. Usually, a pen at least 24″ or 2 feet in high is best, though you may want to purchase a taller one if you plan on adding houses your rabbit can jump on. The same with cages, we recommend getting the largest exercise pen you can accommodate in your home. More space is always better for your bunny.
Here are a few different exercise pens that work well for rabbit cages. They can either be used in conjunction with a wall or corner to create extra space or set up as a freestanding pen to keep a nibbling rabbit away from walls.
MidWest Rabbit Exercise Pen
This x-pen from Midwest Homes for Pets is marketed for dogs, but it works perfectly as a rabbit enclosure and cage alternative. Available in a variety of heights, each pen provides 16 square feet of enclosure area for your rabbit to play or live. Set up is easy and requires no tools. It also comes with ground anchors if you plan to use it outside in your yard.
Available in black or gold zinc, make sure you buy the version with door built in so you and your rabbit can easily come and go from this exercise pen. (Note: if you have a smaller breed rabbit they may have difficulty hopping up and out of this pen. Instead, you can opt for the doorless version and just create a “doorway” out of one of the panels.)
Dimensions: 8 Panels. Each panel is 24″ wide and your choice of height: 24″, 30″, 42″, 48″
This sturdy metal pen from OxGord is another great option for housing your bunny. Made from 8 metal panels, this pen is easily assembled in any combination or set-up. One of the panel includes a doorway with two locking closures to keep your bunny safely inside. This model only comes in one height (24″) but that should be good for most rabbits. If you ever want to expand your enclosure, it’s easy to add additional panels.
The metal is coated with a rust-resistant material, which is great if you use this exercise pen outdoors or if your bunny is messy with their litter box habits. This pen also easily breaks down, so it’s great for people who travel and want to bring a larger enclosure for their rabbits.
A cardboard pet house can be used to create levels for your rabbit inside of the pen and provide cozy spaces for them to sleep.
You can either build one yourself from cardboard boxes or there are many available marketed towards cats that work great for rabbits. This cat castle (pictured left) from Napping JoJo is an excellent option that adds multiple levels to an exercise pen.