So you’re thinking about using an old dog crate for your bunny’s new digs? Sounds like a solid decision since dog crates are larger, taller, and often better all-around for housing than your typical rabbit cages. You can also find used dog crates that are cheap or even free through garage sales, neighborhood groups, or word of mouth.
Your rabbit deserves a safe, comfortable, and healthy place to call home. A few specifics can help give that dog crate a fabulous make-over for your special new pet. To help you get started, we have put together a walk-through of eight steps to turn your large dog crate into the perfect rabbit cage.
1. Clean the Crate
Bunnies make great indoor pets because they are clean, cute, and affectionate. When repurposing a used dog crate for your fluffy friend, wash it to remove dirt, bacteria, and other residues from the cage’s previous life.
Note the crate’s features, such as which sides have opening doors, whether the door locks work correctly, and how the dog cage folds up. You don’t want the enclosure to accidentally fold up or collapse with your bunny inside. Note that the largest dog crate measures 42” long x 28” wide x 30“ high.
2. Add a Comfy Base Layer
Use an old, soft blanket or towel and fold it into a few layers. This process makes the bottom bars of the cage more comfortable for your rabbit to sit and walk on and prevents its haunches from getting chafed or sore. Even if the cage has a solid bottom tray, the blanket or towel adds comfort and can be easily changed out when cleaning the cage.
3. Provide a Hidey-Hole
Inside your bunny cage, add a cardboard box with two holes, an upside-down plastic bin with an entry and exit hole, or another similar container to provide a hidey-hole for your bunny. In the wild, rabbits live in dens underground. Providing your pet with a faux den provides a safe place and a sense of security.
In the wild, rabbits are prey animals. They must have a small safe spot to hide to keep them feeling secure and happy. Bunnies that do not have dens in their cages could develop anxious behaviors such as biting or excessive chewing. Turning a heavy-duty dog crate into a rabbit cage may help with chewing problems.
4. Add a Bunny Bathroom
You can litter-train pet rabbits to use a litter box just like cats. Rabbits take to it quickly, and this training makes it easier for you to keep your bunny’s cage clean far longer. Rabbits need to spend a reasonable amount of time outside of their cage, so litter training also ensures that you won’t find bunny poop all over your floors.
You can get various plastic tubs made just for bunnies at big-box stores and fill them with regular cat litter. It’s better to use a big box so your bunny can easily turn around without knocking litter out or missing the box altogether rather than one too small.
5. Provide Fresh Water
You can place a water bowl in the bunny cage, but depending on your bunny’s activity level, the water can become foul quickly with food particles and bunny poop. Many pet stores carry water dispensers for rabbit cages, including a closed water reservoir with a dispenser tube.
For easy refills, you can get a water dispenser that mounts on the outside of the cage. These dispensers have a drinking tube that goes through the cage wires for your pet to access inside.
6. Set Up a Hay Station
Domesticated rabbits mainly eat hay, and this grass is vital to keep your rabbit healthy and happy . Hay is not the same as straw, and straw has little nutritional value. Timothy hay has a coarse texture and helps keep your rabbit’s teeth in good condition. Orchard hay is another option, although due to its softer texture, it’s not as beneficial for your pet’s teeth.
You can get a wire hay rack and attach it to the outside of the cage. Let your bunny have fun pulling the hay through the rack’s bars. If you add hay directly into the rabbit’s cage, such as a layer on the crate floor, your rabbit may destroy the hay by urinating on it.
Here’s a bunny fun fact: Rabbits often poop out the old while eating the new food, so some people recommend putting the hay rack over the litter box or even putting the hay right in the box. This way, your fluffy pal can eat and go #2 to his heart’s delight without messing in the cage.
7. Add a Second Story to Your Bunny House
Adding a platform or shelf inside your bunny crate increases your pet’s space to hop around inside the cage, like adding a second story to its home. You can create a shelf out of wood or purchase wire shelves that attach to the crate walls.
Along with the shelf, don’t forget to add a ramp inside the cage for your rabbit to use. The ramp gives him a way to walk up to the platform. Make sure the ramp’s surface has rungs or a non-slip surface for your bunny to grip onto.
8. Don’t Forget the Toys
Rabbits, like other pets, need intellectual stimulation and playtime. Bunnies also have an instinctual drive to chew on wood objects such as sticks to keep their ever-growing front teeth from getting too long. Experiment and see what kinds of toys your bunny seems to enjoy. If pups need the best interactive dog toys, so do rabbits.
Pet stores typically have many choices. Rabbits especially love toys made with willow, aspen, or applewood. You can also provide fresh, untreated pine lumber. Hay, another good chew toy for rabbits, comes in compressed cubes and sticks, which offer the dual benefit of food and playtime.
To give your bunnies a place to burrow, you can provide cardboard boxes or paper bags filled with torn or shredded paper and junk mail. Add cardboard rolls from paper towels and toilet paper too. Bunnies love to dig, and untreated wicker baskets make sturdy burrows for digging, chewing, and hiding fun.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How do you make a dog crate into a rabbit cage?
Choose larger size dog crates. Clean it before converting it into a new home for your baby rabbit. Check that the cage can close securely. Next, lay an old blanket or towel on the bottom to protect your pet’s feet.
Add a den, so your bunny has a hiding place like his home out in the wild. You can also attach a shelf inside with an access ramp to give your pet more space and a two-story home. Add a hay rack to hold his food, then add water, some toys, and a litter box. You can also add untreated wood sticks for your rabbit’s chewing pleasure.
2. Can you use a dog crate for a rabbit cage?
Yes, you can use a dog crate for a rabbit cage. In many cases, the dog crate works better because it has a higher ceiling. This added height allows even larger bunnies to sit up inside the cage. Put food and water inside, and don’t forget that your rabbit needs to have a den to feel safe and secure. You can also cover the cage at night to help your rabbit get used to the cage and feel calmer and safer.