Before I decided to get a pet bunny to keep me company, I did a lot of research.
I wanted to ensure my home was bunny-proofed and that I was ready for the commitment of owning a bunny by knowing and understanding what was involved.
Part of my preparation was setting up my rabbit’s cage/hutch with all the things a rabbit will need to call their enclosure home.
If you are a first-time rabbit owner, this article is for you! Here’s everything you need to know about what a rabbit needs in its cage.
When you set up your rabbit’s cage, ensure your rabbit has plenty of space to move around.
Then set up a cozy, dark, and well-ventilated sleeping area, litter box with rabbit-appropriate litter, bedding, hay dispensers with hay, water bowls or bottles filled with water, and scattered toys.
Twice a day, you’ll feed your rabbit, so your rabbit will need a food bowl with yummy pellets and leafy green veggies. Your rabbit may also need a bunny friend if you don’t have enough time to spend with your bun.
The Contents of a Rabbit’s Cage: What Does a Rabbit Need?
Here’s exactly what you need in a rabbit’s cage. I’ve included what the item is (where relevant), what you need it for, and whether it’s a must-have or optional.
In your rabbit’s cage, you need:
1. A Sleeping Area
A sleeping area for your rabbit is a must-have. How would you feel if you didn’t have a nice, safe space to sleep in?
There are various options when it comes to sleeping areas for your bun, and ultimately, you may just have to try out a few to see what your pet bunny will like.
The resting area should be big enough so your rabbit can comfortably fit inside.
My pet rabbit (Miss Cotton Tail) can stretch out in all directions in her sleeping area, and she can also stand upright without worrying that her ears will touch the top of the cage.
I made sure the sleeping area is dark, well-ventilated, and soft. I simply upturned a cardboard box and cut a big enough hole in the side so Miss Cotton Tail can easily get in and out.
My bunny likes sleeping with a fluffy towel, but before you give your rabbit a towel or blanket, ensure they don’t chew on it.
You can line the bedding area with extra bedding so your bun can almost burrow in the bedding to make it nice, cozy, and soft.
Or, you can buy a non-toxic, eco-friendly woven grass mat so your bun can rest or chew on it.
Also read: What to Put at the Bottom of Rabbit Cage? 9 Bedding Options!
The bedding is actually optional since it depends on where you place your rabbit cage. During the summer, Miss Cotton Tail likes to chill out on the tiles because it helps cool her off.
In winter, I have a mat that I place on top of the tiles, and then I put some towels and blankets so my bunny can burrow and warm up when she wants to.
I don’t like hay as a bedding option because then my rabbit simply poops where she eats. If I used recycled shredded paper, then she uses the whole cage as her personal bathroom, making cleaning up a nightmare.
You can’t have your rabbit move around on the wires of a rabbit cage since this will hurt their sensitive feet and can lead to sore hocks.
Bedding options for your cage include:
- Shredded paper or newspaper with non-toxic ink
- Kiln-dried aspen shavings
- Old towels or sheets
- Paper pellets
- Kiln-dried pine shavings
3. Hay Dispenser
I like a good hay dispenser for my rabbit cage. This ensures that my rabbit isn’t eating hay where she does her business, so the hay stays urine and poop-free.
In fact, I have two to three hay dispensers – one by my bun’s litter box since rabbits actually like to eat while they go potty, one in the cage area, and one in the play pen.
This ensures my rabbit has access to hay the whole day, and I also check a few times a day to fill up the hay dispensers when needed.
Your rabbit needs all-day access to high-quality hay.
Eating hay keeps their sensitive digestive systems in working order and ensures their chewing wears down their teeth as these are prone to overgrowing and causing health issues.
For a young rabbit, you need alfalfa hay, and sometimes an older rabbit also needs alfalfa because of a health problem.
But in general, adult rabbits need to eat mostly timothy hay, but you can mix this with orchard grass hay, meadow hay, fescue, ryegrass, marsh, bluegrass, oat hay, or herbal hay.
5. Food Bowl
Technically, the food bowl will only be in your rabbit’s cage when you feed your rabbit their yummy leafy greens, herbs, and veggies twice a day.
But a good food bowl is a must.
There are many options available, and you can – in general – choose a:
- Chew-proof ceramic food bowl
- A tip-proof food bowl so your bun can’t tip their bowl over while eating
- A slide-and-lock bowl that attaches to the cage and helps eliminates food spills and wastage
6. Rabbit Food
Twice a day in the early morning and evening, you’ll add food for your pet rabbit.
The hay your bunny chews all day long doesn’t count as “food” even though the hay-chewing does serve important purposes too.
But if your rabbit just eats hay and nothing else, their nutritional needs won’t be met.
So what can you feed your rabbit?
You should feed your rabbit high-quality rabbit-friendly pellets and leafy greens.
My two-pound dwarf rabbit needs at least one cup of leafy greens a day. So I split this in half, meaning my bun gets ½ a cup of leafy greens with herbs in the morning and ½ a cup in the evening.
I don’t give my rabbit the same leafy greens day in and day out; I like to switch it up between the two to three kinds of greens I feed her a day.
Together with the leafy greens, I feed my rabbit pellets too.
A two-pound rabbit should get two tablespoons of pellets a day. Again, I divide this quantity in two, so my rabbit gets one tablespoon of pellets in the morning and one tablespoon in the evening.
7. Water Bowl
A water bowl is another must-have item, and you need at least two to three water bowls to ensure your bun has access to clean drinking water every day.
I chose a water fountain for my bunny so the water can move and stay fresh all day. But you can also consider chew-resistant plastic or ceramic water bowls or a slide-and-lock bowl.
Make sure the bowl isn’t too deep or big so your rabbit struggles to drink from it or takes an unexpected swim.
Some fur-parents like to give their rabbit a water bottle instead of a bowl from which to drink, so see what your pet bunny prefers.
Your rabbit needs clean drinking water all day long. In summer, your bun may drink more, so regularly check on your rabbit to refill the water bowls or water bottles.
In winter, if you live in a cold area, the water may freeze, meaning your rabbit won’t be able to meet its hydration requirements.
So it’s all about checking on your bunny’s water and also ensuring they are drinking enough. If your rabbit isn’t drinking enough water, monitor the situation and try to find out why they are drinking less.
Add some herbs to try and coax them to taste the yummy water, or take your bun for a vet checkup.
Also read: How do Wild Rabbits Get Water in the Winter?
9. Litter Box
Rabbits are smart enough that you can train them to use the litter box. You’ll need lots of patience and treats or praise to reward your bun.
Place the litter box where your bunny likes to do its business, but you’ll find that you need at least two litter boxes per rabbit.
So I place one litter box in the corner of my rabbit’s cage and the other in the play area.
Ensure your rabbit can easily hop in and hop out of the litter box.
The litter box obviously needs litter. Never opt for clumping litter or most litters that are cat-friendly as these are harmful to your rabbit.
Rabbit-friendly litters you can use for the litter box are:
- Shredded paper
- Kiln-dried aspen shavings
- Paper-based pelleted litter
- Pelleted straw litter
- Compressed wood stove pellets
Your rabbit needs plenty of toys to keep them entertained.
Playing with toys will also keep your bun physically active and mentally stimulated so they don’t become bored and engage in destructive behavior.
When choosing toys for your rabbit’s cage, remember that the toys need to be rabbit-friendly and safe.
Rabbits chew everything, and you don’t want your fur-ball to ingest something harmful.
You can opt to buy rabbit toys, make them at home, or just use objects around the house.
I sometimes like to spoil Miss Cotton Tail with toys I buy online, but I’m careful since my rabbit sometimes destroys one of those toys in less than a day.
When choosing toys for your rabbit, play to your bun’s natural strengths and needs. Your pet rabbit needs to dig, chew, jump, hop, run, climb, burrow, and forage.
Great toys for your rabbit in their cage or hutch are:
- Straw baskets
- Grass mats
- Toilet paper rolls
- Thick cardboard sheets or boxes
- Brown paper bags
- Straw placemats
- Towels and blankets
- Untreated wood pieces
- Willow branch balls or chew sticks
- A grass hut or two
- Activity tables
- Pumice toys rocks
- Treat ball
- Mobile toys
- Hiding castle
- Obstacle course
- Cat tree
- Puzzle toys
12. Companion Rabbit
As a social animal, rabbits need plenty of interaction. When a rabbit’s social needs are met, you ensure your bun doesn’t become bored, depressed, destructive, hyperactive, or lonely.
Your rabbit can bond with you, and if you have enough time to play with your bunny during the day, then you don’t need a companion rabbit.
However, if you are busy with work or out for long periods, then it’s recommended to get a second rabbit so your first rabbit can have a playmate.
Bonding two rabbits is a time-consuming process but oh so worth it, so your rabbit can be the happiest they can be.
Also read: Can Rabbits Live Alone Happily?
13. Enough Space
So not technically a thing you need to place in the rabbit cage, but an important consideration for your rabbit cage and something your bun needs is enough space to move around.
The rabbit cage or hutch you choose should be big enough for your bun and all the items you need to place inside.
The minimum recommended size for a rabbit cage with one rabbit is 12 square feet, but your space requirement depends on how big your rabbit is or how many rabbits you own.
I always think more is better, and you can’t go wrong if your rabbit has plenty of space to move around.
Too little space will cause your bunny to feel cooped in and trapped.
As a result, they can become bored, stressed, and depressed, and illness can set in. Your bun may also try to escape if the space is too small for them.
If you can, ensure to add a rabbit exercise run to the rabbit cage. The run needs to be a minimum of 32 square feet, almost three times the size of your rabbit’s living area.
You can place the majority of the toys in the exercise run, as well as a litter box, water in a water bottle or bowl, bedding if the flooring is wire or too hard, and hay in a hay dispenser.
Final Thoughts on What a Rabbit Needs in Their Cage
A rabbit needs quite a lot of stuff in their cage, hutch, or living enclosure.
As such, I prefer to have “too much” space for my rabbit rather than too little. And the “too much” space usually equates to enough space since I’m not a rabbit and my bun can’t tell me what she needs.
Enrich your rabbit’s environment with the items on my checklist, and be sure to only add rabbit-safe items to your rabbit cage.
Have fun when setting up your rabbit cage and make it a place your rabbit can really call home.
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