- Large enough for your rabbit - this depends on the breed of rabbit. Some guidelines I've seen include 4 times the (adult) size of the rabbit, and a square foot per pound of rabbit (for the smaller breeds). This is assuming your rabbit comes out for exercise daily. Roughly, for a small to medium sized rabbit, a cage approximately 24" by 36" is adequate, and a slightly larger cage is needed for the larger breeds.
- Easy to clean - in rabbit caging this has historically meant a wire floor or slatted floor that droppings and urine can fall through to a tray below. But because wire floors can irritate rabbits' feet, any wire floor should not have spacing more than 1/2" x 1" and something (wood, towel, several layers of newspaper) solid to provide the bunny's feet a rest from the wire floor. Keep in mind that rabbits are pretty clean and if a litter box is supplied a solid floored cage should be fine.
- Easy access for rabbit and supplies - ideally the rabbit should easily be able to get in and out of the cage on his or her own. Failing that, you should be able to get your rabbit out if necessary. Also keep in mind that you'll want to be able to get a litter pan in and out of the cage, and easily be able to access food dishes and water bottles for maintenance.
If you don't like the cost of cages that are large enough for your rabbit, you might consider building your own. If you are handy, a roomy home made cage might be just the thing for your house rabbit. Some ingenious people build nice looking and roomy cages out of wire storage cube panels (see "Elsewhere on the Web" on the right).
Our own homemade cage design was inspired by the arrival of Specky, who lived in a large dog crate for a couple of days. The cage took just one day to assemble, and is working out quite well for Specky. It may not be the most attractive piece of furniture in our house, but it works well and doesn't look bad in its corner of the family room.
My husband is responsible for the element that makes this cage fairly easy to clean. Many cages we saw had wire bottoms and a pull out tray, which are easy to clean but didn't really lend themselves to home design/building. So the idea arose to put a wire floor in, but right underneath it a solid surface that, being on hinges, could be "dropped" or swung down to allow feces to fall through the floor for easy cleaning. The idea was not perfect because sometime softer feces get stuck in the wire and needs to be scraped off when the bottom is dropped, but a plastic spatula meant for applying drywall mud makes this pretty quick. The other major drawback is that the wood frame is difficult to clean effectively, so that if your bunny hits it with urine it will be very difficult to remove the odor.
With the bottom latched up the floor is very solid, but I am not sure this is enough to prevent irritation to Specky's feet. As an added measure of comfort we have a solid piece of wood inside the cage as a solid surface to sit on, along with a litter box (which so far Specky has been using very well!). We are going to build him a nestbox out of wood, but we're not in a hurry because he loves his cardboard box! A photo of the cage can be found in the upper right corner of this article.
The other thing we should build is a ramp so Specky can get in and out on his own. For now we put a plastic container with a lid on in front of the cage as a kind of step, and he uses that to get in and out.
Next page: Explaining the Drop Down Cage Bottom