Rabbit-proofing one’s home involves two things:
- Preventing destruction of your property
- Protecting your companion rabbit(s) from harm
Preventing rabbits from chewing on electric cords is of utmost importance, since the rabbit can be badly burned, suffer nerve damage, or electrocuted. Always block access to them. Some ways of doing this follow:
- Plastic tubing (similar to that used in fish tanks, or with swamp coolers) from a hardware store can be slit lengthwise and wire tucked inside. A harder, black, pre-slit tubing is also available in car parts stores
- Decorative gold, white, or wood grained wire-concealers come in strips and corner shapes to hold the wires inside and stick to the base of walls
- Wires can be run under furniture or carpeting to hide them
The consequences to the rabbit of biting into an electric wire are too severe to risk relying on training alone.
Many houseplants, if not most, are toxic to companion animals. Some are only mildly toxic, however some plants can kill your friend. With some plants the danger is only presented by a part of the plant, however a patio tomato plant without leaves – what’s the use of that?
There are some generalizations to help guide you if your plants may be dangerous for your rabbits. Traditional Christmas plants such as poinsettia, mistletoe, Christmas cactus, and amaryllis are all on the danger list. Any bulbs you may be forcing inside should not be accessible to your rabbits. And fruit seeds of any kind may be toxic.
Beyond these guidelines, you may visit the rabbit.org site for a more comprehensive list. Be aware, however, any list may not be complete, so you may want to research any specific plant you have in your home.
Putting toxic plants on high furniture may not keep a rabbit away. Hang them from the ceiling if you have an active rabbit. Or create barriers around them the rabbit cannot break through.
Baseboards, Furniture, Carpeting
Chewing and digging are natural activities of rabbits, and you will need to meet these needs to minimize their craving for household items you don’t want destroyed. Rabbits tend to chew, in part, based on textures and orientation of items. So to satisfy a specific rabbit’s chewing needs, you need to observe what he goes after in your home, and do your best to duplicate it with something you don’t mind the rabbit chewing on.
For example, if a rabbit keeps trying to chew on baseboards in your home, attach a pine 1 x 2, or 2 x 4, to the bottom of his crate, so he has his own “baseboard” to chew on. Being able to chew on this for hours at a time will give him the satisfaction he craves. Then rub a bar of plain soap on your baseboards to make them less palatable. Chances are that doing both of these things will result in the rabbit no longer chewing on your baseboards. In general, give your rabbit something that is as much like what he is chewing on or digging in, as possible, to satisfy his cravings.
Another way to distract rabbits from chewing on your property is to have some small apple tree branches that you make available only when the rabbits are out of their crate or pen. Most rabbits greatly prefer these to chair legs and baseboards. Don’t give these delicious chew-sticks to the rabbits except when they are out of their crate or pen. You want them to continue being special.
Rabbits can’t resist digging at the end of tunnels, which to them is any place where furniture forms a narrow path ending at a wall. To protect the carpet in such a space, lay a piece of wood or hard plastic at the end of the tunnel, holding it down with the furniture on either side to protect the carpet. You can also provide a digging place by putting scrap carpet on top of the board and nail it down, so the rabbits can dig to their hearts’ content.
Upholstered furniture and beds which are several inches off the ground are wonderful places for rabbits to hide. However, some will burrow up into the soft underside and make a nest. A flat cardboard box or frame of 2 x 4’s (or whatever size is needed to fill the space from the floor to the base of the furniture) smaller than the area of the furniture base will keep rabbits out and won’t be seen from human level.
Taking these few precautions can make all the difference between your home being safe or being a potential death-trap for your rabbits.