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So, you’ve caught your stray rabbit and fed it. But what do you put it in?
Firstly, you don’t need a hutch. In fact, you’re better off with a pen.
Please bring the rabbit inside if you can – don’t put it outside in a shed or outhouse unless there is no other option. That being said, if that’s the only way you can protect it from a particularly intelligent dog with a taste for small furries, then it’s better than nothing.
I’m going to assume you don’t know anything about rabbits so apologies if this sounds super obvious, but it’s one of the biggest misconceptions about rabbits (and there are a lot of those) – rabbits are destructive by their very nature.
Yes, they chew when they’re bored, but they also chew because… rabbits chew. They have constantly growing teeth that need to be worn down. There are certain things that they like the feel of (like cables, and apparently mild/severe electric shocks) and sometimes you can’t provide them with an alternative they prefer.
It’s not like training dogs not to chew skirting boards – you can redirect a dog onto a toy that gives treats and they will (hopefully) prefer that. Rabbit love chewing skirting boards in and of itself. There may be no better alternative.
That’s just a fancy way of saying: if you like it and don’t want it chewed, don’t let the rabbit have access to it.
Rabbits are extremely agile, fast, and surprisingly good climbers, especially when they’re young. You may have one that isn’t interested in chewing and prefers to sleep a lot, but there’s no guarantee, and rabbits can destroy furniture impressively quickly.
They will chew sofas, beds, carpets, baseboards, and even walls that you wouldn’t have thought they could get purchase on.
Again: if you like it, protect it.
If you can’t get hold of an xpen, try blocking the rabbit into a portion of a room. Dog crates aren’t ideal because a startled rabbit could catch one of their feet in the bars and break it BUT you can always line the inside of the cage with cardboard (that the rabbit will shed, so be prepared to replace it).
Bathrooms are a great place to set up a pen because they tend to be tiled.
If all else fails, put bunny in the bath BUT put a towel in (they can hurt themselves on slippery surfaces). The bonus here is that a towel will provide a rabbit (and you) with literally hours of fun (or as long as it takes for the towel to be destroyed).
Seriously – they throw them about, dig in them, shred them, and do that thing where they gather it all up under their belly with their front paws and then spread it all out again. Rabbits love doing the spreading motion, where it looks like they’re smoothing out a bedspread.
If you do put bunny in the bath COVER IT. A sheet will do – weigh the ends down with something heavy enough to keep the sheet in place but not so heavy that it’ll hurt the rabbit if it falls in – jeans work weirdly well!
Put. The. Toilet. Seat. Down.
You don’t want to have to deal with a wet, angry rabbit.
A shower cubicle would also work if you don’t have a bath – this isn’t an idea for keeping rabbits long term, just for keeping them secure if you find a stray and have no idea what you’re doing.
Some rabbits can jump INCREDIBLY high, so don’t assume that you don’t need to cover something like a child’s playpen. They are weirdly acrobatic and extremely tenacious, especially when it comes to getting into spots they’re not meant to.
Things to avoid
It is extremely difficult to get a rabbit out from under the bed when it’s firmly ensconced, and they WILL destroy your carpet, bedframe and mattress if they feel like it.
They may also pee under there. They’ll definitely poop.
Rabbits LOVE under the bed – it’s dark but provides great visibility, and if it’s a double, they’re hard to reach.
You can let them on the bed if you like, but a good 80% of rabbits will pee on it.
Like beds but worse, because they’re easier to destroy
Anything soft, like a pet bed
They’ll pee on it.
When you give a rabbit something soft, they must pee on it.
If you get one that’s exceptionally well potty trained or are very lucky, they might not (but they probably will).
Something inside a rabbit’s brain demands that if something is soft and cosy, it must be peed upon.
Most rabbits don’t like warm and cozy. They prefer to lie in very uncomfortable looking positions on stone floors, simply because rabbits hate being hot and prefer to be cooler. And they love to pee on stuff.
That being said, it’s perfectly possible to potty train a lot of rabbits pretty much immediately. I’m not including poops here, because rabbit poop is dry and doesn’t smell, so expect the odd poop here and there. But once they pee, give them something to pee on (something that’ll soak it up, like an old t-shirt) and they’ll continue to pee there. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s better than having a rabbit and a bath covered in rabbit pee.
Rabbit pee is bizarre stuff – it’s extremely strong in smell and comes in a veritable rainbow of colours. You have been warned.
I hope this was helpful, and has saved your furniture. If anyone has any tips for containing a stray rabbit overnight, please leave a comment.