Monday, June 11, 2018

Cleaning My House Rabbit's Cage

Rabbit, my house rabbit

Having a house rabbit in a small studio apartment may sound like it is a lot of work. Not really as long as your rabbit is a true "house rabbit" and is not confined. My house rabbit, Rabbit, has a good sized cage where I keep his litter box, his hay and his water. I bought it on Amazon. It is called the Kennel-aire A Frame Bunny House (if you click that link it will take you directly to it on Amazon). What I really liked about this cage was the room and the fact that it has casters so can be rolled from room to room easily. It has two doors, one for the bunny and one on the roof for you to open it and clean the cage or feed the rabbit from the top. It is not that expensive for the quality. I keep the door fastened open so Rabbit can go in and out as he pleases. He loves his cage though. He will lay in it for hours just snoozing. It also has a tray underneath that can be pulled out to be cleaned.

Rolling walker, brake on, next to cage.

When I moved into my studio, I was worried about how Rabbit would take to the move from our house. Well, he took to it very easily and I was so surprised. Everything I worried about was useless worry. I have carpeting in the main part of the studio and the kitchen and bathroom are tiled. So when I figured out how to clean the cage, it was a no brainer to move the cage to the bathroom every day to clean it. Hay will get on the floor during the cleaning process so it is much easier to clean up from the tiled floor than the carpet. Since I had a lot of trouble with standing in one place for a long time and for bending over, I started using my new rolling walker to sit on while I clean the cage. I tell you, this walker has made my life so much easier and happier!

Grocery bags used to clean the cage.

First thing I do is to fasten the top door so it held by a tie to stay open. That way I do not have to deal with it closing on me while cleaning. Then I remove everything inside by putting my garbage bag inside the cage, then I have two recycled boxes that are cut down to fit. They each have a plastic mailer on the bottom of the box, then a doggie pad (which I buy on Amazon) folded in half. The bigger box has two pads. Then I put newspaper over that. Now there is a lot of discussions on the internet about the wire bottom on cages for rabbits. Some people think they are good for the rabbit and makes cleaning it easier. For me, I think of my bunny's comfort first. So I put flat pieces of cardboard on the floor of the cage then put the boxes on top of that. By picking up the newspaper on one end and rolling it toward the other, it keeps the wet urine and droppings to a minimum. Then place it in the garbage bag. That way not much gets on the floor.

Newspapers put down to absorb the urine.

I make sure the layers are plastic wrapper or bag, doggie pads and newspaper. Rabbits are very clean animals and they seem to naturally use the litter box. As anyone who knows me, knows that I got my pet rabbit by accident. He was dropped at my house by an owl. I did not know anything about a pet rabbit. My brother had one when we were kids and she lived outside in a shed, that we opened during the day and she went in and out. She was not caged up like most outdoor rabbits. It was my research online about pet rabbits that I learned that he could be litter trained. Well at first I just put him in this new cage and was going to keep him like that. I did not know any better.  Once I learned online about house rabbits, I wanted to try that method of keeping him. Because I was already hopelessly in love with him!

Hay kept in box in my studio.

Eighty percent of a house rabbit's food is hay. I feed Timothy hay which is the same hay we feed to our horses. I use a couple of flakes, if that, in a month. Not only is the hay his food but is also his litter. I should say bedding also, because my little boy does sleep in his cage often (his own choice and he is NEVER locked in, unless there is a reason, but none since we came here). Now the one thing I see in all the rabbit forums and articles is concern for how dirty hay in your home can be. Yes, hay is full of hay chaff and that really makes a mess! This is how I handle the hay. I keep it in a Rubbermaid container in my storage area and every few days, I go down with a box that fits on top of my rolling walker. Then I keep that box in my apartment and it is closed so nothing ever falls out. When I am cleaning the cage I add the hay lastly, on top of the pad and newspaper. He can hardly wait to get in the clean cage, coming out of wherever he is while I am cleaning it. So he does, indeed, appreciate my work!

That is about all the hay I get on the floor.

After I am done with the hay I put the box right back immediately. I keep it under my table on top of the carrier. I keep my carrier easy to get to in case of a fire and having to transport Rabbit to safety with me. My emergency instructions included with my lease was that in case of a fire, I would need help due to not being able to use stairs and help getting my "companion animal," which is a rabbit out in a cat carrier. That hay box is never opened except in the bathroom due to the carpeting and trying to keep the hay off the carpet. I have done a good job of that so far and on one of my bunny forums, that seems to be a big issue. Carpeting and hay does not mix! I want to keep my carpet so I can sit on the floor with Rabbit. Hay all over your floor and embedded in your carpet would not be comfortable or look nice.

Moving the clean cage back to our bedroom area.

Thanks to the casters on the cage, it is so simple to move from room to room. He does have two lengths of vinyl floor covering under the cage. That protects in case he overshoots the box edges along the bottom of the cage, due to being a bunny BOY. That does not happen very often, but if so, it will be on the floor covering not my carpeting. All that is left to do is to shake out the sheet I keep on the front floor area of the cage where he likes to eat. I give him pieces of firewood and various types of sticks and brambles from the forest. Chewing keeps his teeth down. He is kind of like a horse in needing to chew for that reason or the teeth will grow too long. The sheet is also placed on top of the vinyl floor covering. I try to cover all bases with my little companion. 

A clean cage ready for Rabbit!

I just wanted to point out that this cage is roomy for my rabbit. It is 29.5" long by 16.5" wide and 24" high. He has plenty of room to stretch out, to do complete turn arounds with no obstruction, he can stand on his hind feet and check out the top. He loves it and is very happy with it. He does not feel confined in it. Even when I was still living in my house, and there was period that I was forced to lock him in it at night for his own safety. He was comfortable in it and did not act like he hated it or wanted to get out. Of course, he is a very adaptable boy and easy going too.

A dustpan with a handle is essential!

When I am all done, I use my broom and a dustpan to sweep the floor which takes me all of a half of  a second. Nothing wet or yucky on the floor to clean up. Just sweep and I am done. The handle on the dustpan has been a godsend to me since bending over has been murder on my legs. I quickly get it all done and I also sweep the vinyl floor covering before I put the cage back. Most days I vacuum the whole carpet after I do the cage so anything that dropped, usually a little piece of hay or something, can be vacuumed up quickly. It does not take me long to do this.

All done! Clean!

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Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

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