Bunny proofing your home
Bunny proofing your home is part of living with a house rabbit. It includes preventing damage to your property, protecting your rabbit from harm, and giving your rabbit safe and fun chewing alternatives. Wild rabbits chew through tree roots and brambles to make their burrows, and their domestic cousins, our pet rabbits, will instinctively chew items in their environment, too. The joy of living with a house rabbit is well worth the effort of protecting both his well being and your valuables.
Electrical and phone cords: Deter your rabbit from chewing cords by encasing them in split loom tubing (available at RadioShack, Ikea and at home centers like Home Depot and Lowe’s), plastic shower rod covers (houseware stores), plastic wire channels and raceways (home centers and online through www.cableorganizer.com) or for stubborn buns, PVC pipes. Block cords and outlets with furniture so the rabbit cannot reach them.
Carpet: Cover a favorite chewing area with a large ceramic tile or a plastic office chair mat. Choose low-pile carpeting that may be less tempting.
Baseboards and corners: Use plastic or decorative wood corner protectors (home centers). For baseboards, you can attach a “sacrificial” piece of untreated wood to their favorite chewing surface.
Furniture legs: Cover legs of a “chosen” piece with cardboard or PVC tubing. Provide them with alternative rabbit-safe chew sticks.
Box springs and upholstered furniture: Rabbits love to burrow and some will get into the soft underside of upholstered furniture and bedding. Protect the entire underside with plywood or hardware cloth, or create a barrier underneath with a 2x4 framework.
Houseplants: Remove poisonous plants from rabbit areas, but also be aware of falling leaves. Some common poisonous plants are amaryllis, daffodil, elephant ears, holly and ivy berries, mistletoe and philodendron. See list of toxic houseplants.
Insecticides: Prevent access to roach/ant traps and powders, as well as all other poisonous household products.
Getting stuck: Be aware that a rabbit can become entrapped in recliners, heating vents and toilets, as well as behind and between appliances and furniture. Keep the hanging cords of your drapes and blinds out of their reach, as they can entrap or choke a fleeing bunny.
Barriers: Keep unsafe areas off limit, or the bunny confined to a safe area, with a portable baby gate. Avoid plastic gates or those with vinyl-covered grates, as they are chewable. Metal puppy pens can be configured to fit most areas. You can make a custom gate with hardware cloth (a metal mesh material) and wood, but note that a rabbit can chew through chicken wire. Make sure that the spacing of the wire in any enclosure is tight enough so that a bunny cannot get caught. How high the enclosure needs to be depends on the determination and athletic ability of the individual bunny.
Deterrents: Some people find that a little spritz from a clean spray bottle filled with plain water can be used as a temporary and immediate deterrent when your rabbit discovers something new that he shouldn't get into. Some swear by the deterring power of a bar of Ivory soap rubbed on items not to be chewed. Your results will, undoubtedly, vary. Clapping your hands and/or saying "No" loudly will also let your rabbit know your displeasure, until you can find a permanent solution if your rabbit is determined.
Diversions: Hay, bunny-safe baskets (no paint or varnish) and grass mats to chew. Cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rolls to toss. Purchased toys including hard plastic baby keys to shake. Plastic and willow balls to roll. Cardboard boxes, willow tunnels and cardboard concrete forms to explore. Shredded paper or junk mail in a box to dig in. (Internet sources: The Busy Bunny, The Bunny Bunch Boutique, Bunny Luv, and Bunny Bytes. ) (Article on bunny gifts.)
OUR DISCLAIMER: Expect the unexpected. Don’t be surprised to find your bunny where you were sure he couldn't go. Bunnies are as different as we are…some are more adventurous than others. Left unattended, some can definitely get into trouble, as seen below…
See The House Rabbits Society's rabbit-proofing page for more information.