Life with Free Roam Bunnies
Updated: Oct 16, 2021
One of the most popular topics these days in the Instagram pet world is how you should home your bunny. It seems a lot of people are starting to steer away from keeping their bunnies in a hutch outside or in a small wired-cage inside.
When I first learned that some people don't have a cage for their bunny and they just let them wander the house, I was so confused. I couldn't imagine what that looked like and had no idea what it entailed. I was excited about this idea, but to be honest, it sounded like one big mess (and I'm a neat freak). We have learned so much over this past year and in this post we will be covering our experience with having free roam buns and show you that it is possible to have free roam bunnies AND a clean house as long as you put the time in.
Bunny proofing your house:
Before you let your bunnies free roam, you need to bunny proof the house. You can think of it like puppy proofing your house, it's really not a whole lot different. Here are a couple of main things that you'll want to pay attention to:
Bunnies are known to chew wires and cords so it's important that you condense them as much as you can and find wire covers. I also put plastic caps over the outlets in the areas they spend the most time just to be safe.
Solutions for chewing:
Be prepared for bunnies to chew on different things in the house. Their favorite things are typically wood furniture or pieces. There are a couple of solutions that been helpful for us like no chew tape or bitter apple.
We are fortunate that our bunnies don't like to chew baseboards but this is a very common problem people have, if no chew tape or bitter apple spray doesn't work, you could try adding a cover to your baseboards or blocking them with a play pen or gate.
Steps we took to having free roam bunnies:
1. Give them their own area no matter what
As much as bunnies like to be around you, they need their alone time. They are also prey animals, so they naturally feel a lot safer if they have their own area that they can go to when they want to be alone or hide for awhile.
You can think of their own area like a "cage". Whether that's a room, a nook of the house, or a play pen, you can get creative with it! I've seen a lot of creative ideas on Instagram and Pinterest for different bunny areas you can create. In this area they should have a bed, a litter box, toys and maybe even some sort of hiding house.
In our house, we have a bunny room. When we first got them, our plan was to have them live in this room but as time went on, we realized how much they loved coming out of their room to explore and roam around. As we let them out more and more we got the idea to expand their living space to the whole upstairs (excluding the guest rooms). For about six months of letting them out to play a couple times a day, we payed attention to where they liked to hang out in the house the most and noticed the potential trouble they could cause being out and about on their own.
2. Modify your house to stop the chewing
Once you've supervised your bunnies exploring around your house and have noticed where they like to go, you can modify the areas that they might potentially cause trouble. In our house, the bunnies mainly like to hang out in the living room and one of the things they liked chewing the most was some of our wood furniture. We had a wood coffee table and they just loved to chew the legs, I realized this wouldn't stop so we updated to a metal-legged coffee table in the living room and now they completely ignore it. Success!
Another thing the buns liked to chew was our large area rug. They loved to pluck all the long hairs out and pull it apart. They didn't do much visible damage to it because it was already a raggedy style, but man was it annoying! So again, we updated to a new carpet. (great excuse to update the house) We now have a larger, different textured area rug that isn't as tempting to chew.
(Old rug left, new rug right)
Another thing that you can do to stop chewing if they really won't quit is spritz them in the butt with a spray bottle. This is a very popular method for dog and cat training as well that is very effective. This was a game changer for me. If there is a spot or something that they keep chewing on and you've tried everything and they just won't stop, give them a quick spray RIGHT when they lay their teeth on the spot. The key to this: spraying them RIGHT when they start to chew it. They are very smart animals and will associate the spray with the action and after a couple of times of doing this, they will learn VERY quickly not to chew that spot.
(Note: It is very important that bunnies don't get their whole body wet, this is why I say to spray them in the butt, very quickly)
3. Test it out!
Once you have supervised your bunnies roaming the house and modified areas that need it, you are ready for this step. You should be at a place where you feel confident enough and trust them enough to let them roam free without supervision. This step doesn't usually happen over night. We didn't let our buns go from 100% supervision to 0% supervision. We started off by leaving them out around the house and going to the grocery store for an hour. We started expanding their time out alone and as we gained their trust, (not destroying anything, etc.) we allowed them to be out for longer periods of time without supervision. Don't be surprised if there are some set backs, you might come home one day to a destroyed pillow or a chunk out of the carpet. That's okay, don't let it discourage you from trying again. We once came home to a hole in Chloe's dog bed. We simply removed the dog dog bed and put a cardboard box where it was. By doing this, they now love playing in this box and they know it's the only thing in the living room they are allowed to chew on. If you are worried about them destroying something important, don't leave valuables lying around in the beginning stages. The slower you move with this process, the more luck you will have. We just started letting our bunnies be 100% free roam after a YEAR and are still careful.
I hope this post helped those of you who are interested in having a free roam bunny and interesting to the rest of you! There are always countless questions with this topic, feel free to reach out through our "contact" page or direct messages on Instagram, I love to help!
Make sure to follow us on Instagram (@thebeagleandthebun) to keep up with our daily life, see lots of cute photos and watch funny videos of us hanging out with each other!