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A few rabbit questions

Pixlet

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I'm getting a rabbit this weekend from a friend whose two year-old neutered males stopped getting along.

I'm planning on eventually letting him have free run of my bedroom when I'm home and having his 'cage' be a pen in one corner. I liked the idea of using a puppy x-pen, but I realized that grids would be cheaper. It'll be up against a wall on two sides with just one grid and on the 'outside' it'll be 2 or 3 grids high, depending on how much of a jumper he is - he's on the small side. Does anyone have experience keeping rabbits in a pen-style cage?

He's pretty much litter trained, but I figured moving him to a new home hours away and without his brother might be a bit of a setback. I don't want to keep him in a cramped space, but I also want to make sure not to overwhelm him with too much space right away...is 4x4 adequate?

Also, I keep my guinea pigs on fleece on top of a layer of plastic and then newspaper. Would this be ok for a rabbit? Like I said, he's litter trained, so absorbency isn't really a big issue...I just want something to cover the plastic and in case of 'accidents'. I asked about fleece at another forum and the only reply I got was telling me that rabbits must be kept in cages with wire floors :eye-poppi

Also, for those of you who have litter trained rabbits, how reliable are they? I've 'met' this rabbit and his brother before, and after a while of being loose in the room, they left a few pellets on the floor. Is that something I should always expect, or will that go away with time and effort?
 

Djakarta

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I house my foster bunnies in a combination of cubes and x pens. I have found that a lot of bunnies can jump over a two grid high enclosure.

I now make sure my enclosures are at least 36" high. I use a sheet and clothes pins to make a cover over enclosures when I'm not sure if a bunny is a jumper ( They can also climb the sides of enclosures, so beware !). Shade cloth is also a good cover material.

To protect carpets, I have used plastic carpet runners ( duct taped into the required width) with indoor/outdoor carpet over that. I make sure that the edges of the carpet are beyond the edges of the pen, so the bunnies can't chew on them.

While serving as moisture protection, that set up doesn't provide complete protection if the bunny is a determined digger.

A better solution is a hard plastic chair mat. The House Rabbit website details how to use a plastic chair mat as floor protection here:

Beyond Cages: The Possibilities of Pen Living

This is the excerpt pertaining to chair mats-

"A floorless pen leaves carpet vulnerable to bunny digging, chewing, and water or urine spills. This problem was solved by HRS educator and fosterer Karyne Cutler, who routinely houses rabbits in pens on her carpeted living room floor. Karyne buys hard plastic chairmats, sold to go under office chairs, to make floors for her pens. She tucks a bed sheet over the mat, and sets the pen walls inside the edge of the floor, so the edge is unavailable to the bunny. The result is a bunnyproof, waterproof play area that is easily cleaned."

The chair pads are slippery, so the sheet provides some traction. Carpet squares can also be used.

Some carpets ( especially indoor/outdoor carpets) can be harsh against the feet and can lead to sore hocks. Check your bunny's feet regularly.

Bunnies can dig and chew, so fleece can be very quickly destroyed and may be harmful if ingested. Some bunnies like to pull yarn fibers from carpets, they don't always eat them, but just pull the fibers, treating the carpet as a chew toy.

I remove things I suspect the bunny is ingesting.

Most bunnies will leave scattered, dry droppings when they are first introduced to a new space. It's a form of territory marking. Also, when you change the carpets in their existing cage, the bunnies may mark the new carpet for a few days.

Usually, the scattered droppings will stop when the bunny feels accustomed to the new space. If there are other animals in the house that he can smell. he may continue to leave droppings at the boundary of his enclosure.

If you find a pile of droppings, it may be that the bunny would like to have his litterbox (haybox) placed there. In fact, it's a good idea to have multiple litterboxes when introducing a bunny to a new space.

As the bunny becomes more familiar with the space, you may be able to remove some of the litterboxes.

See HRS : FAQ: Litter Training

The most important excerpt:

"Even if your goal is to let your rabbit have full run of the house, you must start small. Start with a cage and a small running space, and when your rabbit is sufficiently well-trained in that space, gradually give her more space. But do so gradually! If you overwhelm her with too much freedom before she's ready, she will forget where her box is and will lose her good habits."

Find out from your friend what the bunny has been eating and try to avoid abrupt changes in diet. You may want to transition your bunny to a different food, but an abrupt change in diet can cause tummy problems.

Good Luck with your new bunny !
 

Pixlet

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Thanks! A very informative reply.
 

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