What makes a house into a home? For me, it’s not so much about the rooms or décor or the neighbourhood — it’s who you share it all with. And pets are as much a part of that equation as people.
I love just about all animals, from dogs and cats to fish and reptiles. But there’s a special place in my heart for rabbits. They’re funny and affectionate like dogs, self-sufficient like cats, and quieter than both. Plus, there’s nothing like waking up to a bunny nuzzling your chin.
So I do everything I can to make my space as safe as possible for my rabbit. Here are the basic steps in making your home rabbit-proof.
1. Protect Wires and Cords
Rabbits have a natural urge to chew things. Sometimes, they exercise this instinct on objects you’d rather keep unchewed, like books, furniture, and rugs. Just about anything you leave on the floor could become a bunny’s chew toy (in fact, I think that’s one of the benefits of having a rabbit: it forces you to keep your floors tidy!)
One of their favourite targets seems to be power cords. No one’s sure why — some theorize that cords look like tasty roots to a rabbit, but that sounds far-fetched to me. Regardless, you don’t want your rabbit destroying your expensive electronics and potentially hurting themselves by chewing through a live wire.
Since most power outlets are located near the floor, you can’t always keep cords out of the rabbit’s reach. You can block the outlets with furniture, but that’s not always feasible, since it also blocks your access to them. A better solution is to wrap your cords in plastic cord protectors, which you can find at most electronic supply stores.
2. Block Access to Stairs
Stairs pose a serious danger to rabbits. Some rabbits can navigate up and down the stairs without issue, but it’s hardly worth the risk. Rabbits are fragile animals, and they can easily injure their back or legs if they fall even a short distance.
If your rabbit has access to a room with stairs, you should block access with a plastic or wooden baby gate. This is an inconvenience, so it may be better to keep the rabbit out of that room altogether.
3. Add Rugs to Slippery Floors
Rabbits have a difficult time walking on hardwood, vinyl, and tile floors. Some will avoid these surfaces completely. Others will tread carefully, but they’re still at risk of slipping and falling, creating the potential for injury.
If you want your rabbit to spend time in a room that has slippery floors, add an area rug for traction. Conversely, you can remove the rug if you want to keep the rabbit out of the room
4. Put House Plants Out of Reach
Rabbits love munching on greens, and they’re liable to take a bite out of any plants left within reach. However, many house plants are poisonous to rabbits. Rather than take the chance, it’s best to keep all your house plants on high shelves or the rabbit can’t get to.
5. Keep Dogs and Cats Away
Yes, it’s possible for rabbits to live in harmony with dogs and cats. There are plenty of adorable videos on Youtube showing bunnies playing with big, friendly dogs and napping next to sleepy cats.
But this is by no means the norm. Rabbits are prey animals; cats and dogs are predators. Dogs have an instinct to chase, and cats play rougher than what is safe for rabbits.
This is a bit of a controversial subject in the world of rabbit owners. Some insist that it’s possible to ‘bond’ cats and dogs to rabbits the same way you could bond them to their own species. Others believe it’s never worth the risk, as a dog (and to a lesser extent a cat) could seriously injure or kill a rabbit in seconds.
If you have your heart set on keeping your pets together, always follow the steps in House Rabbit Society’s guides to bonding rabbits to dogs or cats. In the meantime, you must keep them separate, especially while the rabbit is still adjusting to its new surroundings.